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In the Northern Hemisphere, today is officially the start of autumn, and it got me thinking about what different seasons mean to different people.

For some, when the kids first start school, autumn marks the start of a whole new chapter of events in family life.  The first Halloween party, the first Christmas school play, and the endless round of chasing your tail going from one activity to another, until your car virtually does the rounds from after school club to friends house, to swimming and karate all in auto pilot.

Then, of course, you get to the last autumn term before they are due to leave school, and you wonder where the time has gone.

My most favourite season is the summer, and when the time comes, at the end of the holidays, to persuade my Dad to come and pack the cases away in the loft for another year, I get quite melancholy.

A couple of weeks ago, I dusted off some old photograph albums that had been nestling quite nicely in more years of dust than I care to remember, and had a good laugh at the photographs from summer holidays that I have enjoyed with family and friends.  Some of my friends reading this blog will remember America ’87, and some may even go back as far as America ’82.  Some may even be able to reminisce about Haighmoor in Jersey and the summer of ’81.  Charles and Diana got married and we rolled around the garden in plastic bin bags – without any dubious thought even entering our heads as to what the use of black PVC would look like.  How times have changed!

Looking back, some of my most memorable achievements have come to fruition in the summer.  Aside from being lucky enough to pass my School, College and University exams, I was blessed with the birth of a wonderful son in the summer of 1995.  And not to be forgotten, I published Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes during the summer months of 2007.

Looking through those old photographs made me realise that we all evolve rather like the seasons.  The priorities, goals and ambitions that we had 25 years ago do change.  Expectations become more realistic, and are tempered with an appreciation that moving into another generational stage in life, should be viewed as a challenge.   My roots are now firmly entrenched in making sure that my family are happy and I relish every moment I spend with them – even if we do have the occasional battle over whether James should do his homework before going off to the gym.

Steve’s favourite seasons are early summer and early autumn.  If anyone has been fortunate enough to spend time in London or Paris during those times, you will know why … Early summer blooms and early autumn colours – what more could you ask for.  Well, only perhaps for a summer that is a little longer so that I can keep my suntan for a couple more weeks; an autumn that keeps the leaves on the trees with those stunning autumnal colours for a while longer, and a winter that is just a little less cold.

However, that wish-list won’t please everyone, and so it is probably just as well that we are stuck with what we have.  But never despair, just think … in about three months time, included in the Sunday paper supplements we will find the 2011 holiday guide.  The weather men will be predicting another record breaking sizzling summer; and I will then be thoroughly depressed because I will be the mother of a school leaver, rather than the “Mummy” of an early year’s primary school pupil!

By then, a significant birthday will have passed, I shall start to receive unsolicited mail from SAGA and my roots will need more attention that the old beech tree in the garden.

So what will I take into the new seasons?  Well how about pleasing myself about what I do, and when I to do it … and starting that philosophy immediately.

Now, the first thing I must do is not to get Dad to put the suitcases in the loft, and then I’ll get my PA to pack my summer gear.  Next I’ll book a ticket to Greece, and change my name to Shirley Valentine or even Τριαντάφυλλο (meaning Rose) …

Alas, there is just one problem; a Greek waiter could never do my hair to my exacting standard.  Thank goodness for a long-suffering husband who can wield a heated hairbrush as well as mine can!