Quickly going from barbies to baubles

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LESLEY KEATING: A white-knuckle pursuit ending with a lesson in trust

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How can it be that as I’m packing away my barbecue tongs and fish slice, other people are whipping out their baubles?

Summer morphed into autumn over the course of an afternoon. I remember that lovely sunny day in August paddling my kayak around Hill Head, making a big decision – salad or barbecue?

In the time it took me to get home to Portchester, that had all changed and soup was served.

The ‘winterfication’ process has started at home too. Particularly in the garden, where it’s been a bouncing, kicking and hula-hooping hive of activity for the past four months.

With two highly-charged youngsters, the garden is our saviour – a place where energy can be legitimately burnt off in the hope that the sofa and our sanity can remain intact.

The systematic dismantling of the Little Tykes equipment is a weekend’s work on its own. Similar to giant building blocks for parents (with very little building ability), panels, slides and steps are shoved, unlocked and cajoled apart.

Molly has hammered the stuff over the past five years. It has to survive for at least another five so that Jack can dish out the same treatment.

The clothing turnaround is another annual landmark event. Bags of sandals, shorts and vests make the short trip skyward to the loft, as their thicker, bulky and fleecier relatives descend in the opposite direction.

I’ve got a coat that is as old as Portsdown Hill. It’s tatty, torn and the dog flatly refuses to be in the same room as the beast.

Every year I think about getting another coat, every year I de-bag it from its summer getaway and think “ah, just one more year…or until that sleeve comes off completely’.

Our retail chums seem to have no problem switching from one season to another. One day you’re in the shop buying firelighters, then the exact same spot 24 hours down the line is offering you a Halloween fancy dress outfit for an Alsatian.

I’m happy to admit I’m not particularly organised, but surely there can’t be anyone who is actually thinking ‘Oh, I’d better hurry and get down the Co-Op and pick up a witch’s nose, only eight weeks to go – I want to beat the rush.’

Then there’s the C word. Whilst we’re still slapping on the aftersun, trying to eek out the ever-fading suntan, supermarket giants are plotting schemes to start the Christmas chaos.

One particular store is already offering a buy one-get-one-free on the giant tins of festive chocolates. They know full well that fools like you and I will buy them now intending to squirrel them away as seasonal treats, but those tins will be ravaged by the weekend.