So, the year has turned. All crackers pulled. All puddings eaten. It's time to gather ourselves for whatever 2017 will throw at us. After last year ... surely there will be some wound-licking, some serious reflecting, and maybe a change of heart or two.
However, for a few weeks, I shall leave most of that to you. Because I'm off to Malawi on Thursday. Why Malawi? I've had so many people ask me, so I'll share my somewhat tortuous decision-making with you.
I want to go to Africa, because it's the only continent apart from Antarctica (too cold) where I've not travelled independently. But - where to begin?
I fancied Madagascar - most of the time, I'm sure, it's wonderful, but there were too many reports of marauding gangs with knives for me to feel comfortable. Taxis travel in convoy, because it's safer. I was told I'd be fine if I had a guide with a gun ...
So, where else? The east coast can be very wet at this time of year, so I looked west, and was intrigued by Senegal. It looks fascinating, and not that difficult to get around. I was ready to book when I did my final check - on the UK Foreign Office website. They said that most visitors have no problems, but travellers should remember that it is UK policy not to pay ransoms if anyone is kidnapped ...
So then I went on the Lonely Planet forum. Where, I asked, would you go for a first visit to Africa. The first - and very quick - reply was Ghana or Malawi. There were elections in Ghana last November - largely, as it turned out, trouble-free. But I don't visit any country around election time, as feelings can run very high.
Which left me with Malawi. Which is relatively stable, and safe, and - I have discovered - beautiful. For those unfamiliar with African geography, it's north of Zimbabwe, east of Zambia and south of Tanzania. It's long and narrow, spanning most of the west shore of Lake Nyasa, with a high plateau in the north and mountains in the south. Livingstone, apparently, loved it.
What will I do there? I'm not absolutely sure. It is the wet season, which might make roads a bit too interesting to get to the more remote areas, but will bring plenty of birds. I know they have power cut problems from time to time - and one place I hope to go has no electricity at all. Who knows what I'll find in the way of wifi?
But I'll do my best to blog from time to time.