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A little early for January, I know. But now seems a good time to look back andlook forward.

Two years ago, I was sitting in a featureless room together with most of my colleagues, being told that the workforce had to be reduced by well over 50%. This was a week before Christmas. It had pretty much come out of the blue and we felt betrayed. We'd spent four years working bloody hard to get our collections ready for moving to a brand new building and then we'd survived an amazingly successful opening year and a bit.

I was lucky - I had a job I could apply for within the organisation. Other people attended that meeting to discover that their section, never mind their job, didn't exist any more. It took eight months of uncertainty, indecision, wrangling, and surviving some of the worst hands-on management I've ever endured, before I was confirmed in the part-time post I'd managed to secure.

The winter that followed was odd. I'd had to adjust to being part-time but once that had happened, I didn't quite know what to do with my time. I am not a good self-starter, especially when it threatens to take me out of my comfort zone (and many things do that). So I felt rather at a loose end and my mind, in particular, was starting to feel just a little rusty. It also affected my mood.

This is where GA came in. I've said elsewhere what effect this site and its wonderful inhabitants have had on me. I'm pleased to report no such problems this winter. Rather, I'm wondering on some days whether I really need to go to work because I have a chapter sculling busily round my head which I would much rather be committing to paper. (And I do mean paper, to be written on with a pencil ... )

In many ways, this year has been (and continues to be) a true annus horribilis on so many levels. I am going to buck the trend in my own small way, and say that this year has been the best for a long time. I feel a very English urge to apologise for my good fortune but I have managed to ignore it so far ... :)

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