September 1, hoorah, in my book, the first day of the new year. Whoever thought January was the perfect start; four weeks of misery, followed by February. I guess March 1 would be a contender but I love the autumn, so for me it’s right here and right now. Children back to school, normality creeping back into the system and we’re right at the start of the game season. Not to mention the harvest festival, trees and hedgerows groaning with fruit and berries, Halloween, Guy Fawkes night, and my birthday. So four months of absolute joy to look forward to, light the Aga, stack the firewood and invite friends round while there’s still enough hot sun, shining in the garden.

Two things I’m particularly looking forward to this month are the releases of new cookbooks from two of our previous guest chefs here at Longford Farmhouse. Out now, is Diana Henry’s 10th book called ‘Simple’ – effortless food, big flavours. Diana is an absolute genius cook and food writer. Her recipes are meticulously researched, tried and tested, so you are in very safe hands as she guides you to produce wonderfully exotic but simple dishes to wow your friends.

Out on September 22 is Gill Meller’s second book called ‘Gather’ – “A philosophy for a more mindful way to cook and eat.” Gill is executive head chef at River Cottage and has worked alongside Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for over ten years. We had the pleasure of working with him at the Somersault festival in North Devon last year. His presence in the kitchen was both quiet and awesome, guiding the chefs along a clear path to produce outstanding, yet really simple food. At the time, to say we were under pressure would have been a rampant understatement and to this day I remember his advice as he laid a calming hand on my shoulder; “I want you to take a moment and really think about how you’re going to get the next course out”. “Take a moment and really think”, that’s great advice for right now really, the start of the (new) new year.

Talking of guest chefs, our next one is Sam Clark, owner and head chef at Moro in London. I guess there are many of us who have a couple of his cookbooks stashed away for ready reference, if you don’t, you should have. He and his wife, also Sam, do Moorish Spanish like no one else. Full of authenticity and heaving with flavour. So if you’re at a loose end on Saturday, October 8, give us a call and book a seat; 01722 326581. Moro doesn’t come to Salisbury often, so just keeping you all in the loop.