This year has been a strange one, but ultimately the happiest of my life. At the end of 2009, the company I had worked for was taken over. In January we were “integrated”. By March it was clear that it wasn’t going to work, so I decided to retire early (eight years early!!). Since then, I have enjoyed life. I’ve had quality family time for the first time in fifteen years. I’ve read books, listened to music and done a decent amount of backpacking. What could be better? In a way I feel a bit guilty. However, we must make the best of the time allotted to us, so I am turning down offers of work to concentrate on my family, charity/community work (still sorting this out) and backpacking. I know some of you have had a difficult year. All I can say is keep hope alive, things usually improve. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year. Oh, and my back has almost returned to normal.