How to make the most of fall travel now that the crowds have dispersed


I usually love the month of September, when expectations are lowered, crowds get thinner, clothes get more interesting, and the relentless pressure to be outside for fun eases. But what’s strange about this September is that it doesn’t look like September at all. In Margate, the air is delicately scented with barbecue smoke, the beach is teeming with vacationers clad in Hawaiian shirts and floral dresses, and all of our local bars and restaurants show no signs of stopping alfresco table service. I have four weddings to attend this month; September Weddings are the 2021 version of May nuptials.

It is no surprise that we are not ready to let the summer pass. I’m happy to report that I had a fabulous summer, but I skillfully prepared myself for a fabulous time by having the worst winter of my life. I’m never at my best during the colder, darker months, and this year I had a lockdown alone in my apartment and a painful recovery process after shoulder surgery to really make sure. that I was miserable in March. Ten weeks of putting on sweatpants with my teeth and typing with a finger (plus the existential terror and aching pains of missing family and friends that we’ve all normalized over the past 18 months) has certainly set me up for a summer of comparative comfort and joy. I think most of us felt the same; even the wettest of UK summers is a major improvement over a winter lockdown. Whenever I was tempted to moan about the rain in August, I only had to remember the beginning of April and shudder in horror and shut up.

In the context of winter confinement, it is only natural that we cling as much as humanly possible to our holiday spirit. One of the ways I’ve extended my summer is by waiting until now to book my first international vacation – to Rome and Ibiza – at the end of October. And I plan to spend those intervening weeks by the sea every morning, wearing summer dresses – with black tights if necessary – and planning picnics, like it’s July.

I remember a time in Edinburgh at the end of April, when I was offered an outside restaurant table in bright sunshine, or an inside table, and I begged for the table at the inside because being inside seemed like such a tumultuous novelty. For months, I had been forced to meet all my encounters outside, balance take-out coffee cups on trash cans, bring hot water bottles to pub gardens and organize business meetings during rainy walks in the park. I’ll never forget that first rooftop restaurant meal, an extravagant seafood platter at LeftField (leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk) overlooking the meadows, with one of my best friends. We felt like queens and it was the padded seats that made it.

Today, at the end of September, I can’t imagine choosing the inside over the outside, when there are surely a few more weeks to pretend it is summer. And I see similar stoic summer stretchers all around me. Friends with kids who have returned to school maniacally plan weekend outdoor activities, grateful for a little break from babysitting but just as determined to keep the summer vacation schedule going desire. I certainly attend more family barbecues now than in July. As soon as the leaves started to rust, my friend Amber and I rushed headlong into the spirit of summer. We planned a bike trip to Whitstable for the oysters, the most summery of the tours. Tonight we’re going to eat frozen mezcal margaritas at our brand new Mexican bar, Mariachi (mariachimargate.com). I booked a bank holiday weekend to surf in Sligo next weekend – it doesn’t matter if it’s not a holiday. In my flurry of texting to friends, my panic buying summer plans, I (very annoyingly) renamed October “August” and luckily the weather is in full agreement with such plans. We were treated to fall weather all summer long, so really, there shouldn’t be a noticeable difference between August and October.

Time is just a construction, and everyone in Britain has been hardened by blizzard-topped exterior pints in April, so I see no reason why we cannot collectively suspend our disbelief and prolong the summer until November. Planning a getaway in October and November is one of my tips; dressing like I’m on vacation is another. I’m even writing this column sitting outside in my garden, slightly shivering. Winter? What winter?

To read more articles by Anna Hart, see telegraph.co.uk/tt-anna-hart

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