Best day this week
I think Thursday 30th was the most enjoyable.  We arrived on the Isle of Wight on Wednesday evening, to thick fog, and just went straight to our hotel.  On Thursday it looked brighter and I was really keen to visit Osborne House, which I just about remember from my last visit in 1963.  Many attractions on the island are closed over winter, but I knew Osborne was open so it was a must.  Unfortunately parts of it were closed (including the Swiss Cottage and the upper floors), but we had an interesting tour of the ground floor rooms including the newly restored and reopened Durbar Room. 

In the afternoon we went on to Carisbrooke Castle, where we climbed the battlements and walked all round, enjoying spectacular views over the island.  We also saw the donkeys and I reassured myself that they aren’t overworked and are actually very well treated.  I remember being quite upset about that at the age of six!

The day was all the more enjoyable on account of both visits being free, as we’re English Heritage members.  So a thoroughly interesting and entertaining day out that didn’t cost us a penny, save the odd postcard and guidebook. Excellent!

Best decision of the week
To go to the Isle of Wight for new year (although that decision was taken much earlier!).  We had a really good time, with the right combination of getting out and about seeing the sights, and relaxing in the hotel. 

Favourite meal of the week
This is an interesting one.  We had some excellent food during our stay in the hotel, and a couple of good meals out earlier in the week (including a very nice quattro formaggi pizza followed by coffee ice cream), but what stands out is an extremely tasty sandwich that I had in the coffee shop at Osborne House.  Sometimes memorable meals are about context and appropriateness for that moment, I suppose.  This was a very well filled prawn and rocket sandwich on granary bread, and it was followed by a naughty-but-nice slab of Victoria sponge filled with a thick layer of buttercream, and marmalade instead of jam. 

Favourite TV programme of the week
Probably not fair to answer that one, as we have things still to watch from over new year.  I always watch Jools’s Hootenanny, either live or recorded, and I have to say I don’t think this year’s was a classic, though I did enjoy Bellowhead, Cee Lo Green, and the chap with the catastrophone.  I’m looking forward to catching up on the second part of Three Men go to Scotland, and I enjoyed the Oz and Hugh programmes.  Miranda Hart Unwrapped would have been very disappointing except that I’d watched it last year and knew what to expect.  Somehow I don’t think that format suits her nearly as well as her sitcom.  One of the funniest programmes was Giles Coren and Sue Perkins’ recreation of a Good Life Christmas – I hadn’t been following their series but caught this one programme and although it was very silly, it was also very funny.

Key objectives for the coming week
Take down Christmas decorations (sob!)
Prepare for Bedford meeting on 22nd January
Re-read time management books

Favourite moment of the week
The hotel put on a firework display on New Year’s Eve, which was lovely.  I’m not sure why it was early evening rather than at midnight, but that’s a minor point; the fireworks were beautiful, and surprisingly good for an amateur event.

Least favourite moment of the week
Getting lost on the Isle of Wight trying to find Osborne House, taking a wrong turning in Ryde, and having to phone to rebook ourselves on a later tour because we weren’t going to make the one we were booked on.  The signposting around the island wasn’t as good as we’d hoped – though in fairness we didn’t have a very good map.  Once we’d bought ourselves a proper roadmap of the island that evening, miraculously everything became much easier the next day!  We did actually get to Osborne just in time to join the original tour, which confused them, but they were very accommodating and allowed us to join it anyway.

Mad purchase of the week
A handbag that I’m not sure I need.  I’ve been moaning for ages that my normal handbag, which was the most expensive one I’ve ever bought, but was just right for what I needed at the time, doesn’t accommodate my netbook (which I acquired more recently).  I often carry it around in a separate bag if I need it, but it does make for rather a bulky cluster of bags on my shoulder.  Chris saw some larger bags in the hotel shop and suggested I see if my netbook would fit one of them.  They weren’t very expensive so I found one large enough and bought it.  I hate having to get used to where everything is in a new handbag, so I was immediately grumpy about it, and even though the netbook just fitted I still had to leave some other things out.  I must admit it was very useful round the hotel, where it was handy to be able to check emails whenever I fancied (wifi didn’t reach our room so we could only do it in the lounge).  However, since I got home it has been emptied out, everything else is back in the “proper” bag, and the new one is relegated to the cupboard.  But it will be perfect for the odd occasion, and I suppose for a tenner it wasn’t that mad really.

Sight of the week
The Needles on the western tip of the Isle of Wight – and all the better because it was about a mile walk from the car park to the viewing point.  It was a shame the Visitors’ Centre was closed for the winter, but the view alone was well worth the effort. 

What have I learned this week
One thing I’ve learned is how car ferries are loaded.  Obviously I knew they are drive on, drive off, but when we arrived at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth, I could see there were two car decks and I wasn’t sure how the cars got on the upper deck.  I didn’t find out then, as we were on the lower one, but I did coming back.  There is a built-in ramp up the side of the ferry, and then you swing round on to the deck so the upper deck cars end up facing the other way.  I was worrying about whether there would be any tight turns as I have an MPV, but it was no worse than a multi-storey car park. 

I wish I could share some more profound learning from the final week of the year, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind!