Whether it is a mini retreat, walk or new hobby, here are some ideas that will fill the autumn months with colour

Great British Life: Get the Oktoberfest feel with The Bierkeller Boys.Get the Oktoberfest feel with The Bierkeller Boys.

Get your Oompah on!

For entertainment with a bi of oomph head to The Farm Yard in Tewinbury Farm. On October 6 a Bavarian Oompah Band will be bringing the German experience to Herts promising non-stop music and fun. Expect lots of foot stomping music and thigh slapping entertainment with an Oktoberfest feel. The Bierkeller Boys comprise of front man Jim, Ivan the ‘giant’ on trumpet and ‘Oompah Impresario’ Andy on the Sousaphone. You’ll think you are at the Hofbräuhaus rather than in the heart of Hertfordshire.

Cosy pub

One of the joys of autumn is finding a cosy pub. The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden not only fits the bill, the pub serves great food - its last award was for Dining pub of the Year from Britain’s much coveted Good Pub Guide. In the autumn months you'll be welcomed with a stunning wall full of reds and golds from the Virginia creeper which adorns the front. Warm up with hearty dishes including parsnip and celeriac soup, best end of lamb with butternut squash puree and dandelion and burdock sticky toffee pudding. Walk it off and enjoy the autumnal tints with a walk around the Chess Valley.

Mini retreat

Great British Life: Stay at Bethnal & Bec. Photo Binky Nixon PhotographyStay at Bethnal & Bec. Photo Binky Nixon Photography

Bethnal & Bec

‘Relax, restore and reconnect’ say owners Vicky and Chris Saynor. Enjoy the space of your own private garden or take time out in the large bath or hot tub. Breakfast as you like it, when you like it and fall asleep in the day and watch Netflix all night.... Retreats have their own private deep soaking tubs and white fluffy towels, robes and slippers come as standard. The retreat tucked away in the Cottered countryside is just the place to unplug and reconnect with nature and each other. Where do we sign up? bethnalandbec.com

Forest art

The Broxbourne sculpture trail in Broxbourne Wood National Nature Reserve trail winds its way around a one kilometre circuit though mixed woodland. There are nine sculptures by the talented Dan Cordell including a life-size Roman soldier, a curved seat representing one of the uses for hornbeam wood and a family of wild boar. Even better, paths along this route are suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. The woodland is part of Hertfordshire's only National Nature Reserve. Look out for the fantastic fungi and colourful leaves at this time of year or just take in the feel of the forest. Forest Bathing is simply about being calm, quiet and mindful as you walk among the trees. Turn off the mobile, breathe in the scent and listen to the sounds of the natural world around you.

Great British Life: Create pottery at Birch. Photo Tom HullCreate pottery at Birch. Photo Tom Hull

Get creative with clay

If you have felt inspired by Channel Four’s Great Pottery Throw Down now is your chance to have a go. Delete all distractions and potter about in one of Birch’s pottery classes. Overseen by Birch’s in-house studio manager Bryony Applegate, a ceramist and graduate of the Royal College of Art, there’s a programme of pottery classes in October for all levels. The two studios are equipped with kilns, glaze and tools and you will find everything you need to learn new skills from beginners having a go to fully immersing yourself in the joys of making and shaping forms. It’s a wonderful experience to create something truly unique.

Wicked watercolours

If you feel there’s an artist in you waiting to be discovered or would like to develop your skills Wicked Watercolours have a class full of colour. ‘Watercolour is definitely the easiest medium to handle with the minimum fuss and mess,’ says teacher Fiona Pruden. Classes include Starting Out for absolute beginners and Splashing Out for more experienced students. Over the term the class covers techniques including composition, drawing skills, colour theory and contrasts. ‘Many friendships grow up in these classes and students tell me they get completely absorbed and they forget all their worries while they paint.’ What better way to brighten up those dismal winter days and darker evenings?

Get cooking

If we have learned anything over the past few years, it’s that having a good immune system is vital to our health. This one-day eating for immunity cooking class will teach you how to incorporate healthy foods into exciting and tasty recipes in an uncomplicated way. Previous cooking knowledge is not required, just a desire to cook and learn. Discover the top ten must-have foods and the nutritionally rich herbs and spices to add flavour. Recipes are designed to deliver delicious, flavoursome meals from breakfast to main meals and quick fixes. Alternative recipes can also be provided for other dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-intolerant options. Eating healthily doesn’t have to be boring. Eat well to live well runs on October 25. thecookingacademy.co.uk

Great British Life: The grounds of Brocket Hall taken on a smartphone photography safaris. Photo Jeanne WalshThe grounds of Brocket Hall taken on a smartphone photography safaris. Photo Jeanne Walsh

Take a safari

You don’t need to don khaki and bring your binoculars for this one, just bring your phone. Jet Black Squares’ smartphone photography safaris hold workshops around Herts including in the grounds of Brocket Hall, Heartwood Forest, Hitchin and Hertford. Learn how to take creative photos with the camera on your phone and get that perfect Instagram-able image. All safaris combine practical hints and creative photography, as well as how to edit your photos using free apps. Tutor Jeanne Walsh says: ‘Capture autumn with its stunning palette of earthy colour and beautiful lighting.’ jetblacksquares.com

Catch a classic

Whether you love a thriller, comedy or classic, catch a movie at this historic cinema on London Road, St Albans. After standing derelict for years, The Odyssey was restored to its 1930s splendor and opened its doors again in 2014. Sit back on comfortable seats, (there’s even blankets and pillows if you want to get cosy) and enjoy a glass of wine and one of the popular cheese plates while watching a film. As well as new releases, there are foreign language films, cult rep screenings and classics including this month The Shining, Ghostbusters and political black comedy The Death of Stalin which is accompanied with a Q&A with director Armando Iannucci.

QI quiz

Have you ever wondered what David Attenborough has to do with yellow tennis balls? Why Victorian doctors feared the outbreak of ‘bicycle face’? And if the Scots really did invent golf? The QI Elves will be returning to Chorleywood Memorial Hall with more fantastic facts for this sports-themed quiz night. Get prepared for an evening of entertaining sporting stories – from prehistory to the present day. Tickets £38 - include a copy of Everything to Play For: The QI Book of Sports and a two-course supper. Teams of eight or go along and join the pot luck table. October 27. chilternbookshops.co.uk

Great British Life: The horsehead nebula and flame nebula. Photo Kevan NobleThe horsehead nebula and flame nebula. Photo Kevan Noble


Look to the stars and discover what is beyond our planet. Hertford Astronomy Group welcome those from novice to expert, all you need is a fascination with the subject - the club holds regular meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. Alternatively, The University of Hertfordshire’s Bayford Observatory has public open evenings once a month from October to March. The observatory is one of the best equipped teaching observatories in the country. Enjoy a tour around the night sky in one of its planetariums and the chance to attend talks, meet researchers from the university and members of Hertford Astronomy Group. ‘I feel that there is a lot of awe and wonder just standing under the night sky, each season brings something new,’ says chairman of the group Alan Wilson.


If you read our article in last month’s edition, you will know how fascinating foraging is. Learn from the experts how to identify some commonly growing foods to forage and how to avoid their not so nice lookalikes on these autumn foraging walks. An introductory walk to foraging and wild plant medicine led by Katy Neale is being held on October 1 in Borehamwood. Learn about native plants and discover what is edible, the different ways to eat and prepare the plants and some of their uses in traditional herbal medicine. The walk includes wild food snacks and drinks to try. embodiedevolution.co.uk
The Foraging Course Company have a walk on October 6, Tring Park foragingcoursecompany.co.uk
Jane Simmons aka The Hitchin Forager will be leading a foraging walk on October 14, book through trianglegarden.org

Great British Life: Enjoy music in the stunning setting of Hatfield House. Photo Hatfield House Chamber Music FestivalEnjoy music in the stunning setting of Hatfield House. Photo Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival

Lost in music

If music be the food of love … Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival is back for its 12th season with concerts in the stunning location of the Marble Hall and Old Palace and this year's theme is A Family Affair. The repertoire includes familiar as well as lesser-known works. Community is at the heart of this musical gathering with musicians from the Purcell School collaborating with illustrator, James Mayhew and a young musician’s platform. The musical history of Hatfield House is celebrated from the reign of Elizabeth I and there are workshops alongside the festival events. Orsino Winds, Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, Julian Bliss Jazz Quintet, Johnston Brothers, Bevan Family, Ben Goldscheider and Orion Orchestra are set to perform. September 28 – October 1 hatfieldhousemusicfestival.org.uk

Attitude is all

‘Life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the real thing and time is very precious,’ says Tanya Wheway. At this two-day retreat at Champneys in Tring you will be given practical and effective strategies and techniques to take control of your life. It includes daily ritual sessions with Tanya, talks by specialists on fitness, healthy eating, weight management, vitality and anti-ageing, plus tools for dealing with stress and relationship guidance. The retreat on October 8 and November 12 aims to give you an action plan for achieving the life you want. ‘Together, we will explore what can block you from being the best you can be and enjoy the best life you can have,’ adds Tanya.