There is a poetry in the trees as their deep red leaves fall to their death after a brief fling with summer.

As the clocks go back, our homes become havens from the darker days and colder, longer nights. The children however seem to relish in the mystery of the night and forthcoming Halloween. Years of experience has taught me to agree costumes early October to avoid frantic midnight trips to Tesco Extra only to find an odd-looking clown costume in the wrong size hanging unhappily on the empty rails.

My brother was born on Halloween, so in the early 80’s my childhood was most accustomed to smoke, stink bombs and even firecrackers being thrown through our letterbox. Luckily Wimbledon 2019 is a much calmer affair, yet the same rules often apply; if there is a pumpkin lit up outside the front door then the house welcomes little Trick or Treaters. No pumpkin - no knocking - no treats. The night is full of mischief and rather than the candy, the fun is often found in dressing up and being let out at night - not so different from one of my own parties.

It’s easy to become a little despondent this time of year. Climbing out of a warm bed on a dark morning takes a little more effort, whilst the grey sky can cast doubts on what we are doing and why. However, there is magic in the air and no-one knows what lies behind the next corner.

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People, places and things can change our world in an instant. As I was reluctantly scrolling through my Instagram feed, an old house caught my eye. I’ve always heard of Southside House, but never took the time to find out where or what it was. Given a once in a blue moon Sunday afternoon to myself, I messaged to see if I could visit. To my utter delight I was invited at 11am for a private tour.

Situated directly opposite the Hand in Hand and Crooked Billet is Southside House behind a huge fence. As the gate opened, I stepped into a different world. I gazed upon the mansion before me and stood perfectly still. I could feel the gargoyles laughing at me as my heels got stuck in the gravel and a naked statue of a man wearing flip flops lounged in the autumn sun behind me. I was soon welcomed by the warmest smile and offered a smooth Brazilian coffee by the man who lives there. I was transfixed more about him than my surroundings as I listened intently about his story as a writer and the secrets this house were about to tell me.

As the old clocks ticked loudly, the morning soon turned to afternoon and it was my time to wander through the corridors and discover rooms that literally made me weep. ‘Close your eyes’ he said. I could hear two large old doors open. First, the scent of the fireplace embers made my heart sing. I opened my eyes to a dining room untouched for hundreds of years. It was set up ready for the next dinner party. He showed me paintings of women he said were the Lady Wimbledon’s of their time. They wore the finest clothes, hats and threw the best parties. It was simply breathtaking.

We stepped into the gardens. Wilderness, order, woodland, secret pathways, classical follies and streams were all entwined. Juan allowed me some time to explore it all. In my bag was the Sunday paper and a copy of Little Women and Good Wives, (perhaps I love the irony for I’ve never been either) which I took out and read. It was that moment I honestly felt I was living a ladies life that belonged to the soul of a 17th Century woman in Wimbledon.

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Later that afternoon, Juan told me about the musical concerts that are held upstairs and the writing classes, art students and a wealth of life that still breathed into these old walls. My eyes shone as I imagined hosting the most delicate Christmas soirée at this extraordinary house.

My world had changed. I had fallen in love with the house and it’s history. I’m sure the gargoyles winked as I walked out of Southside House with renewed energy from the mystery October holds within its skeletal hands. It’s taken me 20 years to discover Wimbledon’s most beautiful untouched jewel. Who knows what is around the next corner.

Halloween is not just for kids. I hope you also get your freak on. If you would like to celebrate Halloween, I am throwing a party at The Dog and Fox in Wimbledon Village on 30th October, 7.30pm. Tickets are available on EventBrite or visit