So we come to the end of another year - the sixth that this blog has operated in - full of highs and lows in equal measure.
On a personal and business level, this year has been the most challenging and troublesome that I can ever remember so I'm ecstatic to see the back of it. Fortunately, 2014 promises (at this very early stage) to be far more rosy, fingers crossed. It is these work pressures which have led to fewer articles being posted here than in previous years, though it's very heartening that there has been an increase in readers nonetheless; this year attracting more traffic than any previously and July in particular setting a new record for the number of unique visitors in a month.
As far as matters concerning us here, though, the announcement that plain packs was being shelved back in May stands out as a Champagne moment, as does the scrapping of minimum alcohol pricing - only to be countered by facepalm strokes of stupidity such as the spineless (or politically inspired, as some believe) decision by the coalition to re-consider the former, and the transparently pathetic war against e-cigs by the EU and MHRA.
However, one thing has become crystal clear during 2013 in my humble opinion, and that is that the tax-leeching public health industry's accelerating extremism is increasingly being recognised - by a wide variety of previously uninterested people - as being a threat to the public's calm enjoyment of little pleasures in life and also as having little to do with health. That, I think you'll agree, is entirely a good thing for those of us on the side of the angels, and a mood-swing that I hope continues in 2014.
Tonight the Puddlecotes are off out to an old-fashioned house party - kids all collected upstairs with their new Christmas gadgets, adults enjoying a raucous smokey-drinky downstairs, floating towards midnight on a river of beer, spirits, wine and cocktails. And it's only up the road so a mere tenner cab fare there and back. I can't think of a better way of ringing in the new or - in my case - sticking two fingers up to the old.
Thanks to everyone who has swung by this corner of the internet this year, a Happy New Year to all of you from Puddlecoteville. Have a great evening!