If you are like me Christmas has rather snuck up on you this year. One minute it was early August, and I was thinking about a nice little holiday with relatives who live in Brittany, the next minute it was the end of November and the number of SDTCs (Shopping Days To Christmas) was diminishing rapidly.
It is not normally like that for me. I tend to be one of those irritating people who have everything under control: presents are bought by mid November, Christmas holidays are planned well in advance, there is no room for irritating last minute rushes buying inevitably trashy gifts that the recipient will neither need or want. If I buy gift tokens, it is because I think the recipient will find them useful, not because I canâ€™t think of anything else to buy.
But this year I seem to have come a cropper. What to do? Well, part of my gift-giving this year will involve recycling some of the gadgets currently laying around the house that I donâ€™t use either because they no longer appeal to me or theyâ€™ve been left behind as Iâ€™ve upgraded to better ones.
In my line of business it is both a dream and nightmare combined - and also quite simply a fact of life - that over the course of any year I end up with quite a few bits and pieces in the review cupboard that are in a kind of limbo land. This happens by design and not by guile or cunning on my part. It is quite legitimate.
Though Iâ€™ve seen websites carry reviews of kit that has not even been released for review, I need to actually use kit before I am willing to tell others what I think of it, how well it works, etc. Usually it has to go back quickly enough, but sometimes that is not the case.
There is a legitimate argument for living with something for a while in order to get to grips with how it really works and what oddities turn up when you use it day to day, for weeks on end.
To that end there are occasions when companies want to leave their kit with me for longer than the standard review loan period. This is good news all round, and not, as some might have it, some sort of â€˜extended blagâ€™.
It means I get to be even more familiar with a particular piece of kit, to know its foibles even better. When that company comes up with an upgrade, or a new version of something, I know what I think should have been improved. If the improvement is there I can comment on whether it really is better, and how. If it is not there, Iâ€™ll want to know why.
Over time this knowledge builds into a strong understanding of a line of products. That understanding makes me a better reviewer, gives the company from which the kit comes good quality feedback, and lets me put deeper insight into my reviews, which I hope are of a higher quality as a result.