Hit & Run: Find a branch near you
Wednesday 28 October 2009
The Met Office has declared that this autumn is officially an Indian summer, predicting balmy temperatures of 21C in the South-east and Midlands tomorrow. What better way to celebrate the arrival of "summer" – and save some money during half-term – than with some leaf peeping? This activity – taking a walk in the woods to admire the glorious leaves, not spying on your neighbour through the garden hedge – has been popular in the US for years. But while New England's trees certainly put on an impressive display, our own woodlands also make a splendid seasonal splash. Here are some of the best spots for kaleidoscopic leafy loveliness.
1. Brede High Woods, East Sussex
An area of outstanding natural beauty which is ablaze in autumn. The 647-acre site contains 10 ancient broad-leaved tree woods, with coppices of sweet chestnut and hornbeam. Woodlandtrust.org.uk
2. Pepper Wood, Worcestershire
Going for gold? Try this oak, birch and hazel wood, a remnant of the historic Forest of Feckenham, which dates back to the 13th century. Benches have been built by local woodland lovers, so after a stroll through its pretty lanes you can sit back and admire the leaves falling around you. Pepperwood.co.uk
3. Westonbirt, Gloucestershire
The Natural Arboretum at Westonbirt has a stunning collection of maple trees, including brightly coloured Japanese varieties. Revel in autumnal glory in the 'Colour Circle' – a leafy amphitheatre planted in the1800s. Forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt
4. Faskally, Perthshire
Where better than Scotland's big tree country to enjoy autumn on a grand scale? Faskally Woods surround Loch Dunmore, so you get double the colour with beautiful reflections too. Perthshirebigtreecountry.co.uk
5. Cwmcarn Forest, South Wales
You can leaf peep from the comfort of your car at this valley woodland, which has a seven-mile forest drive. The rolling hills of south Wales will be awash with reds, yellows and golds. Caerphilly.gov.uk/cwmcarnforest
6. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
This ancient forest is a popular choice with children, but Robin Hood is not its only legend: check out the Major Oak, a huge tree that's 800 years old. Nottinghamshire.gov.uk Holly Williams
A hand-held blockbuster is born
Things that go bump in the night aren't normally followed by the ringing of a cash register. But Paramount Pictures executives are hearing just that after releasing Paranormal Activity, a £10,000 horror film currently topping the US box office. Bought by the studio from first-time director Oren Peli, the movie took more than £13m during its opening weekend last week and is being unleashed on British audiences next month.
It all sounds very 1999. That year, cinema-goers were enthralled by The Blair Witch Project, a horror flick that relied on word-of-mouth and hand-held camera techniques for its success. In the case of Paranormal Activity, Paramount used a guerrilla marketing campaign encouraging fans to "demand" the film's release in their town by signing up to a special website. The film sees Micah (Micah Sloat) move in with his girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston) after she complains of strange noises troubling her at night. He sets up a home-made closed-circuit television system to prove she is imagining supernatural shenanigans. Thankfully, for audiences at least, he is proved wrong.
So why do we love a shaky camera? Well, it has something to do with the unknown. A high-definition camera can turn a creepily ambiguous splodge into misplaced sound equipment. Poor contrast can give people's complexions a creepy bent. And while these projects rely on their stories, they don't always have a happy ending. Like their characters, Blair Witch's directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, haven't been heard of since. Rob Sharp
Grooving beyond the grave
This is it. Is it? Really? When it comes to dead musicians the answer is equivocal. As Michael Jackson releases a "new" record, a primer on the key posthumous albums of the past 20 years...
Johnny Cash, American V (2006) The final instalment of his acclaimed collaborations with producer Rick Rubin.
Tupac, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) The biggest-selling rap record of all time.
Nirvana, MTV: Unplugged in New York (1994) Acoustic recording that spawned "About a Girl".
Jeff Buckley, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk (1998) A collection of studio demos that at times reaches the grace of Buckley's revered debut album. Larry Ryan
Paint it (matt) black
Matt black is the new black. Or so it seems on the streets of Britain. Everywhere you turn, some sleek supercar is gliding by, painted the colour of a stealth bomber whose owner has no intention of staying under the radar. There are entire blogs devoted to sightings of matt-black Audi R8s in Germany, or matt-black Ferraris in Switzerland. I don't doubt they look cool, but I still can't quite shake the urge to start writing on them in chalk. Tim Walker
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