On reflection, 2017 could have been better – and a lot worse. Try as I might I lost interest in blogging: this is my first in over two months. It might have been longer but for a couple of very positive messages recently by people who love reading my blogs, so here’s hoping I make a better effort this year.

My travel bug hasn’t diminished, and we managed an amazing trip to Dubai, Hong Kong (where we met up with Sarah Jane and Tadhg), and Vietnam in May/June. Next up was a three-day shuttle to Paris to see U2 in July, a fantastic trip that rekindled our love of the city. U2 were amazing live. And just before Xmas we spent four nights in a cold but enchanting Krakow, our first venture to Poland.

Armed with vouchers, we are already looking forward to 2018 travels, maybe Rome for starters. Our plans will be guided by one major event though – Sarah Jane’s wedding in May, which promises to be extra special. Luckily, we saw Sarah Jane a few times during the year, including Christmas, which was lovely.

Finally, after much effort, I finished the first draft of my much discussed book. It’s very much a work in progress, and certainly far from the finished article, but I have had a lot of encouragement from people to finish it, so that will be my focus for 2018 – apart from the wedding!

I discovered the writing of Danielle McLaughlin during the year and she was kind enough to meet up for a coffee, a good chat, and even signed her book a copy of which I had brought along. I was also delighted to meet writers Lisa McInerney, Sinead Gleason and Sara Baume, who autographed their books. Meeting up with former colleague Clodagh Finn was also a big thrill. She also had a fine book out called A Time to Risk All, about Cork woman Mary Elmes who help save hundreds of Jewish children during the Second World War.

On the subject of books, I managed to read over 100 during the year, from Mary Morrissy to Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, Fergal Keane, Sophie Chen Keller, John Boyne, Richard Ford, Isabel Allende, Sally Rooney, Colum McCann, George Saunders, Mike McCormack… The list goes on.

I’m lucky to have a fine bunch of friends, and 2017 saw me add to the list. You know who you are and thanks for your company, friendship, advice and laughs. Sadly, for various reasons, I didn’t meet or contact some others during the year. Some of that was down to me, while others didn’t respond for whatever reason. These things happen even with the best will in the world. Here’s hoping we reconnect in 2018.

As always, Trish  has been a wonderful support during the year. I’m such a lucky guy. Thanks too to our fabulous kids Daire and Sarah Jane, who always know how to stop me losing the run of myself!

As for 2018, my brother-in-law Leonard marries the lovely Louise on January 5, so we’ll be there to celebrate. Then we can look forward to the wedding of the year – our daughter Sarah Jane and Tadhg next May. That’s a lot to look forward to.

Happy New Year everyone.