Gaby Soutar: Autumn is nearly here. I'll be glad to watch the squirrels and drink Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte. Not.

There’s only six days of summer left
Pic: AdobePic: Adobe
Pic: Adobe

It’s still summertime.

I know, so odd, how can it possibly be, it’s felt like autumn for weeks.

Today, I had my first sighting of a human in a snood. Just a few days ago, a squirrel bunged a conker at me and it nearly took my eye out.

It doesn’t get more aggressively autumnal than that.

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You might feel as if we’re already halfway through the season, as they say there was a bit of a ‘false autumn’ this year.

In parts of the UK, this was triggered by a particularly hot summer, which caused the signature leaf fall to occur prematurely, as the trees attempted to retain moisture, and brambles to ripen early. But, no, despite climate change’s interference, the official date is September 23.

Thus, we have six days left to fire up the chiminea, wear flip-flops and drink Aperol Spritzes before it’s taps on (and heating remaining off interminably) for another, oh, ten months.

RIP summer of 2022. You were a weird one.

I used to love this time of year, but with age I’ve become more of a warm weather person. It’s my old bones and gammy knee, you see.

If hibernation was an option, I’d probably take it. Perhaps I could build a burrow, fill it with shredded copies of Scotland on Sunday and snuggle down there with my colleagues. They would love that as a team building exercise, I’m sure.

I am blocking winter - officially starting December 21 - out of my thoughts for now, as planning to get through the harshest months has started to feel like a battle for survival. I am definitely no Bear Grylls. I am his softer and more pathetic second cousin, Hamster Sous Vide. The one who has just bought an electric over-blanket from Amazon.

Anyway, in order to ease myself into the next couple of months, and say goodbye to summer’s precious last days, I’ve listed a few things that I do enjoy about this time of year.

1 Those squirrels. Yes, I got heckled by one, but generally, they are lovable idiots and it’s enjoyable to watch their enterprising geocaching activity at this time of year. As well as having conkers punted at me, I was once screamed at by a squirrel, while walking through Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. I followed the blood curdling shriek, in case it was a spirit that was attempting to communicate but, no, it was a huffy-faced grey fellow, who resembled a blow-dried John Major, glowering down at me from a branch. Apparently, they get quite territorial, and make this noise to scare trespassers off. The sweet little reds would NEVER behave like this. They’re too busy spiking their fluffy ears up, like Keith from The Prodigy, posing for calendars, cards and Scottish tourist bumph, and getting run over by cars.

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2 The smell. While summer smells dusty and thick, it’s like you can breathe again in the autumn months. The cooler air is oxygenated, smells earthy and your nostrils feel as if they have expanded to the size of a camel’s. Then there’s that leafy bonfire scent that unlocks all the nostalgia portals in your brain. Despite this, if the neighbour starts their own bonfire, it stinks and you hate them.

3 No moths. They have been plaguing us all summer, as they waft around the wardrobes like hemp-clad hippy fairies, planting their larvae on our finest cashmere. Unless they accidentally land in the sink, before swooning and dissolving into any drops of water, the only reliable weapon is camphor balls, but your aim has to be really excellent. Sadly, you will soon get your favourite knits out - another enjoyable part of autumn - and discover they are now doilies. NB. The only thing that prevents this is to deep freeze your sweaters and scarves before packing them away over the summer. We should’ve said earlier. We also enjoy the autumn/winter absence of bluebottles. Apparently, they hibernate. Through the warmer months, no window or door could be opened without a winged imbecile inviting itself inside, then dunting itself against every sill. Night night, chubby and revolting flies.

4 Cinema. One of the worst things about summer is all the terrible films that are released, presumably for the school holiday crowd. Everything is Marvel or Minions and four months worth of Top Gun: Maverick, in every single screen and available in 3D, 4DX, Double D and XXX Premium Strength. Come autumn, and we’re into the horror and thriller season, and we can do triple bills of Bodies Bodies Bodies (excellent), See How they Run (I’m going soon, can’t wait) and Three Thousand Years of Longing (disappointing, but it has Nairn-based Tilda Swinton in it, and we still love her).

5 The light. When you’re young, you’re beautiful all year round. For the middle-aged, summer light is unforgiving and you find that your face suddenly resembles a slice of cheap luncheon loaf, or a piece of greaseproof paper that's been scrunched and unwrapped. At least there are sunglasses, to hide 30 per cent of the crinkle cut shame. In the autumn, the light is softer, especially in the evenings, whenever you get one of those amber sunsets. This is when you take all your Irn-Bru hued selfies.

6 Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte. Tastes revolting, but we’re sucked in by the name and the marketing, so buy one every year, before feeling horrified and repulsed after three sips. How much sugar can be dissolved in liquid? And this year, Starbucks is offering an Iced Salted Maple and Caramel Latte, which will surely be worse. Still, at least autumn has squirrels.



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