A blush spreads across the trees. Gremlins, ghouls and freshmen anticipate All Hallows’ Eve and pumpkin spice lattes. It is autumn in England! As a Pakistani who grew up in Multan’s desert heat, autumn was always a briefly snatched season, with the trees barely changing colour before winter arrived. In Exeter, autumn paints trees and vines red and yellow and burns them orange, in a brief little cheer before winter. Drawing on from how I spent a day recently, here’s a guide to an autumn’s day in Exeter.
On a regular day, you can’t really get around that class schedule. You might have to get up on a chilly morning, and you’ll need a warm scarf. My best scarf advise is to make sure that it is basically a duvet- large enough to cocoon yourself in, soft and warm. And luckily, the campus is pretty enough to assuage some of those early-morning blues (with autumnal reds).
For a warm morning drink, I usually pick between coffee or chai. I recommend trying chai as it makes a nice change from the widely available spiced coffees. Chai is a spiced black tea with milk, and although the entire Indian subcontinent chugs it (literally) all year round, it is especially wonderful in the autumn.
For lunch, there are the plethora of eateries to choose from in the Forum. However, if you are doing a packed lunch, I have a recommendation: try daal, a lentil- based dish that is a hearty mix between a soup and a stew. It is vegan, super cheap to make, and it is the ultimate Pakistani and Indian comfort food. My middle-eastern friends tell me that they make regional variations of daal as well, so a quick Google search will give you a bunch of recipes to pick from.
You’ve had your chai (or coffee), you’ve had daal (or a sandwich), and now, if the rain clouds let up, you can head over to Holland hall to take in the view. It offers a spectacular view of the city, the river Exe, and some hilltop pastures.
In the late afternoon, take a walk downhill towards the city centre and the lovely river Exe. Wind through the town and stop by Exeter Cathedral. If it has just rained, which is highly likely, there will be a bright play of light and water accentuating the cathedral’s architecture.
Finally, I recommend winding your way down to the Quay.
If you’re lucky you’ll catch the sunset. The gentle sound of running water will mingle with a lilting tune playing in one of the riverside restaurants, and you’ll breathe in the sharp evening cold. The lights will come on as it gets darker, and their reflections will twinkle in response on the water.
For dinner, make sure you round up a group of friends with large appetites and head over to The Old Firehouse for twinkly nights, Devonian ciders, and (probably) the best pizza in town.
And finally, with a full belly and tired feet, you’ve gotten through a red-and-gold autumn’s day in Exeter.