A late winter followed by a wet spring then a a long hot summer resulted in a bumper grape harvest.

No doubt other flora benefitted too for how rich and vivid have been the colours of autumn.

My favourite location to enjoy autumn tints is in two storm wood in Richmond Park. Fenced to keep out browsing deer, the wood was created in 1993 to commemorate the great storms of 1987 and 1990.

There is a wide variety of trees within from lofty ancient oaks to one of Britain's rarest species namely the wild service tree.

The woody fruits were once known as 'chequers berries' (how topical) and used as a cure for colic and dysentery.

On this unseasonably warm October day, fading backlit leaves are aglow in russet, gold and green.

Speckled wood butterflies flutter among shafts of dappled sunlight filtering down between the trees and when they alight on the ground, their yellow spotted brown wings blend in perfectly with the leaf litter, rendering them almost invisible.

Strolling through the kaleidoscopic myriad hues I almost stumble upon a magnificent double shaggy parasol mushroom fully seven inches tall. Nearby another has been nibbled, probably by slugs.

There is an essence of tranquillity about this wood. Birdsong is muted apart from the old fashioned wooden football rattle call of a magpie while a jay utters a rasping screech. Once, a little owl mews in the distance.

Nearing the end of my walk I lean back against a six hundred year old oak for folklore tells us that we will gain strength from so doing.

An old wives tale? I wonder!