LET'S be honest, we don't do summer particularly well in Scotland. If we are not getting sunburnt we are getting bitten to bits by midges.

So that chill in the morning air is a welcome sign that summer is drawing to a close and autumn will soon be closing in.

Now, autumn isn't officially here until September 22 but we all know, as sure as the nights are drawing in, that the season of falling temperatures – and leaves – is on its way. And that is something to celebrate as Scotland comes into its own in these shoulder months.

Autumn means no more barbecues, no more forced jollity in someone's back garden eating food that is either too cold, too hot or just plain burned. It also means men, if they have any sense, put their legs away until next spring as their shorts get shoved back into the cupboard where, to be frank, they should probably have stayed.

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For many of us, it means the summer diet can be safely abandoned, and replaced by a baggy jumper which hides so many sins.

September means fewer tourists, which means quieter roads and shorter queues at attractions. It also means that you might have a better chance of getting dinner in Highland hotspots once the tide of staycationers has receded and the route followers of the North Coast 500 have gone.

Autumn suits us more than summer's cheap gaudy thrills. Think of the qualities Scotland possesses and you may find it has a lot in common with the colder months. Neither are flashy or make promises that they can't keep, unlike those teases – June, July and, worst of all, August. They are both dependable in a rather grand and timeless (if occasionally foosty) way.

Even our national anthem pays tribute to the coming season – The hills are bare now/And autumn leaves lie thick and still.

Sorry, summer, you just can't compete with the Corries.

When it comes to clothes, think tweed, tartan, woolly hats and warm, comfy boots. There's no place for sandals or those rubbery monstrosities Crocs – and that has to be a good thing.

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For food, shove the salads and their foreign ways and replace them with thick warming soups, succulent lamb or oysters.

And then there's pubs. Can anything be nicer than sitting in a traditional pub, with a roaring fire enjoying a fine single malt?

That's without even mentioning leaf peeping, which may sound dodgy but is a popular past-time amongst our transatlantic cousins. The term comes from New England and refers to enjoying the colours of autumn. Well, anything the Yanks can do, we can do too. Try Perthshire, especially around Dunkeld for a bit of Scottish leaf keeking.

So enjoy it, before the traditional lockdown season, or winter as it is sometimes known, comes knocking at the door like an unwanted guest.


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