Of 2012 that is. It's just about a year since I wrote 'The Last Post' from the house of los abuelos in Valladolid with little real knowledge of where we were going or what we were going to do. The year that has passed has brought about such a difference.
The children and I spent the first week of 2012 in England with my family and friends and we had a wonderful time...more of which in a moment...but what struck me was the mounting sense of excitement on the journey back from the airport as we approached Alcala la Real and our first view of La Mota again. For me, it was intense and as we arrived back at our (still rented) house and walked in the door, I definitely had that 'we're home' feeling. And it was good.
Our visit to England was for a week and I think we packed a whole month's worth of things in; including a visit to a perennial favourite, Chester Zoo, where the real highlight - as well as going as a group of nine people, which was fantastic - was the baby tapir, born just four days previously. And still in her pyjamas and slippers!
Another Christmas Day dinner and family gathering around the Christmas tree, in anticipation of presents and games - and we were not disappointed.
Solo performance by my one-handed non-musical father who has recently claimed to be enjoying dancing Zumba-style at his stroke club...
A post-prandial game of Beetle threw up some interesting interpretations! William's tiny VW version is probably my favourite though Dad was deemed winner for finishing first.
Although it was technically the same day as our (second) Christmas Day, later on, we enjoyed a New Year's Eve Concert - not the Messiah this year! We saw the New Year in with Cesar and los abuelos an hour earlier thanks to SKYPE!
The next day, we went on a long, long walk along a wild and windy ridge with Judy, Rob and their two dogs (no photos, forgot camera). And then on the following day, we had a great (unphotographed, grrr) day out in Huddersfield which appeared to begin badly as I couldn't hire a car but turned out to be a rather fun adventure on a series of trains, (including us getting on the wrong one and nearly going to Sheffield - but no panic, I would have called you, Andy! If I'd had your number, that is...) Once safely in Huddersfield, we had lunch out whilst Mateo met his friends, and then, by relying on a series of well-timed and well-executed and very gratefully received lifts from one place to another, we had nowhere near enough time (but absolutely better than no time) with several of our friends and eventually arrived safely back at the railway station, pretty well laden-down with gifts of giant space hoppers, (actually, just the one), DVDs and books. I was so chilled and cheerful by then that the fact that the train to Knutsford was cancelled didn't phase me at all! Strange, that!
We hopped on one to Stockport and my lovely sister came to fetch us. Better than a bus that wouldn't arrive until after midnight...you can have too much adventure in one day if you're not careful.
On Tuesday, we went to Liverpool, where my clever niece, Emily, is studying to be a vet. I've grown very fond of Liverpool in recent years and still have a lot of it to explore. We really enjoyed our noisy, chilly look around the streets and the docks on the Yellow Duckmarine with a comical tour guide - surrounded, rather surreally, by Spanish tourists as fellow passengers.
It was chilly - no Andalucian blue sky here. And look, the evidence that Mateo has ggrroowwwnnnn - he's just about as tall as I am now!
And of course, in between and as well as all the gadding about enjoying ourselves, I got to spend time with my favourite sister.
OK, she's my only sister, but if you can only have one, then this is the one to have - and she's mine!