This time of year reminds me of going back to school. Girls, in particular, have a real thing about new stationery. I still love claiming ownership of a new book - exercise or address - by writing my name on it. But what I really like is buying my new diary each year. I'm not talking about the "Dear diary" kind, although I've kept one of those since I was seven (then it was all descriptive: "I am wearing my M&S knickers with the rosebuds on and had cornflakes for breakfast"). No, I mean a diary for appointments and notes that has a section at the front for your name, address, blood group and so on. Each year I've played around with new ones until, quite by accident at the end of 2003, I fell upon the most perfect one of all.
Guerlain had sent me a Christmas present of a Smythson Portobello desk diary (life is tough when you're an award-winning beauty journalist). It was bound in fuchsia leather, and one of the most decadent things I'd ever seen. I shall be honest and say I thought of selling it, or giving it away, until I convinced myself that it was OK to actually keep it. But I assuaged the guilt by gifting it to my three-month-old daughter and would write in it, every day, what had happened to her: "first tooth", "first taste of Yorkshire pudding", all the important things. But as I worked with it, I realised it was the perfect diary for me, and every year since, I have bought myself one.
This causes a lot of people angst because the diary costs - depending on the colour - about £150. Seasonal colours cost about 25 per cent more on top of that, but luckily I don't care about such things. I once justified its expense to a friend with a two-paragraph email, whereas now I just say, "Yes, expensive, isn't it, but don't you think I'm worth it?" I use it several times a day - it's the most practical diary ever - and it keeps my life in order. It also gives me a tremor of excitement every time I use it. Now that ain't bad going. But there are cheaper, smaller, handbag-sized ones available.
If you like to run a brisk kitchen and pantry, then the Daylesford Kitchen Diary is for you: recipe ideas, tips on organic gardening, seasonal food to watch out for. And all at a much more affordable £15. I plan to use mine as a gardening diary, however, which I think makes much more sense, because my actual kitchen doesn't need an agenda.
Organised mums or dads (though the latter will have to live with a name which, basically, says that dads can't be organised) might like the Organised Mum set of diaries: a Life Book or pocket-sized version, which helps you organise your whole household. You get tear-off shopping lists - fabulously useful - and you get stickers, which I find really rather exciting.