Having had a euphemistically 'quiet' November, December has really taken off, and the pipeline looks good for the New Year too. Typically, as the work hots up so has the social front with Christmas approaching and all that.
Last weekend was one of contrasts - Saturday morning L-B completed her swimming levels (and knocked off 72 lengths of the pool to celebrate!), Saturday night saw Jac and I foot-stomping away to the saw Doctors at Shepherds Bush Empire, and Sunday saw Rory and I undertake our first and probably last pilgrimage to Stradey Park.
My 12 year old has always been a bit of a fish in the water and over the past couple of years she has worked her way through a set of levels that test everything from stroke to speed to stamina via agility and courage. I'm immensely proud of her - she has a towel full of achievement badges and is far and away the best swimmer in the family. I'm also delighted that I'll no longer have to get up at 7am on a Saturday to take her down to the pool for an 8am start! Anyway, she now has a term off, and then is going to train as a lifesaver - and I'll bet she'll be a good one!
Having already been up for more than 12 hours when we got to the Empire on Saturday night, I was waning a bit and could have done with a sit down. But Saw Doctors gigs aren't like that. This is where the folky end of country meets punk in a football crowd.
It was the first time Jac had been to a SD gig - and she confessed to being a 'little too English' as 2,000 members of the diaspora communed in all things Irish. There's more than a sentimental edge to the SD's lyrics, with plenty of hand-wringing over leaving the 'oul country' and heartfelt commitment to the green and red of Mayo and the claret of Galway. But it's done with such fun and such energy that it's impossible not to be swept up in the football song refrains that infuse just about every slab of Saw Doctor material.
So for about three hours drinks passed overhead, strangers hugged and jigged and we were all back on the N17 (stone walls and the grass is green) - a great night.
Up early again next morning to hit the M4 and the 360 mile return journey to Llanelli. Now with Wasps having drawn one and lost one of their opening Heineken cup fixtures, this was a must win occasion. They didn't. They lost....tamely.
Still I'm glad to have visited Stradey Park, the west Welsh acre that spawned Carwyn James and Phil Bennett. To tell the truth, it's not very impressive - less intimidating than Bewery Field in Bridgend for instance and with a softer, friendlier crowd than some other Welsh venues. Like so many historic sporting homes, it's set to disappear under a housing estate in a year or so as Scarlets move to a new home on the edge of town.
It was a long drive back in the fog, but good to spend a day chatting with Rory - even if the rugby lived down to expectations.