Complete guide to autumn

As the in-between season, autumn is the perfect time for all those odd jobs which get pushed aside by the heat of summer and the desire to hibernate in winter. Get stuck into home maintenance, have your health checks early, discover Rachel’s foolproof tip for clearing out your wardrobe, find out which preserves are in season and learn a low-cost recipe to keep your skin healthy.

Home maintenance
As the leaves begin to turn and the rain starts to fall somewhere other than Queensland, it can be easy to forget about your guttering and downpipes. It is important to clean your gutters out a couple times over autumn to avoid leaves and debris clogging the pipes up. You should also check your downpipes for damage and ensure that the flashing around your chimney and any skylights to avoid a leaky roof.

Health checks
Autumn marks the beginning of the cold and flu season and the best way to avoid the sniffles is to arm yourself early. Start by having a yearly check-up. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart problems and have missed your usual appointment, make one now. Get your flu shot early (it’s free for people over 65 and those with heart conditions) and be sure to get lots of rest to give your immune system a fighting chance.

A great way to save space in your wardrobe is to pack away your summer clothes during winter and vice versa. As you pull your cosy jumpers out of storage this year, why not take the chance to clear out the pieces you simply don’t wear any longer. If the decision is too difficult, start the cooler months by turning all of the hangers in your wardrobe around to face the wrong way. When you wear a piece of clothing you can turn the hanger back around. At the end of the season you will know which pieces you haven’t worn at all, as they will be the only ones on hangers facing the wrong direction, and you might consider donating them to a charity.

Jams, jellies and chutneys are fun and easy to make. Now is the right time for making crab-apple jelly, plum jam, guava paste, kumquat marmalade, quince jelly or a fruity autumn chutney. A word to the wise: I have found that you can halve the amount of sugar used in most traditional jam and jelly recipes for a healthier spread where you can really taste the fruit.

After a season of hot weather and sun exposure, autumn is the season to get the glow back into your skin before the drying air of winter sets in. Try giving yourself a facial mask once a week – if you don’t want to fork out for overpriced beauty products, try mixing two tablespoons of honey with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and applying it to clean skin for twenty minutes. Honey is a humectant and natural antibiotic which heals and moisturises. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance the pH of your skin and soothes damage.