Happy New Year and a big welcome back from OutdoorsMagic, I hope you've all had a mellow, relaxed break and, hopefully, managed to sneak a few good hill days in alongside the whole festive palaver.
You couldn't have picked better Christmas weather, well, not if you like snow anyway. My local hills in the Peak were nicely dusted with fresh-ish snow and okay, some of it lying treacherously over sheet ice from the last thaw, but mostly there was enough to do scenic and stunning, but not so much that it made walking, running or riding difficult.
And for once, I stayed local for Christmas and managed an epic mountain bike ride on Christmas Eve, riding sheet ice on studded ice tyres past Edale Cross and down Jacob's Ladder, then the brightest and cleanest of Christmas morning outings on sparkly snow-crusted paths above Hayfield, to build up an appetite.
All of which seems ages ago now. As, strangely, does New Year proper. But somehow, this first day back feels more like the 'real' start of 2011 and oddly, from nowhere - because usually I'm a grumpy post-festive git and mostly immune to 'blank canvas fervour - I feel all bright eyed and positive about 2011 and about OM in 2011.
There are so many things I want to do this year, some personal, some OM-ish, and once I've finished my toast and coffee, I might even do some. For starters, this month I'm off to Le Grave in the French Alps with Mountain Hardwear for the launch of their new waterproof fabric - DryQ Elite - which is all about breathability, they say, and due out next fall 2011. Watch this space...
Closer to home, I've been badgering the LDNPA - Lake District National Park Authority - to let me accompany one of the Weatherline fell-top assessors up Helvellyn for ages now, and this year they've finally agreed, so at some point shortly, I'll be seeing at firsthand exactly what the guys get up to on their daily information-gathering trek up the mountain.
And of course, we'll be bringing you the latest outdoors news, reviews and information on the best and most innovative outdoor kit, regular Friday morning mountain weather updates and loads more, not forgetting the forum, gallery, reviews and routes sections of the site.
Phew...I think I need to lie down again now...