The last day of the year always brings conflicting emotions, but on the whole, I won't be sad to see the back of 2006. Like most years it began promisingly for us, with the works on our house in Derbyshire nearing completion and our family finally settling into some sort of normality after the change and upheaval of the past few years.
The defining moment of the year came on Good Friday, April 14. I had broken up for the Easter Holidays and we spent most of the day in the garden, planting new shrubs and trees ready for the summer.
Gill and I went to bed that evening feeling tired but happy with a week off work stretched out ahead of us. Then, at 3.20am, we got the news that my American brother-in-law Mitch Hodge had been killed in a road accident near his home in Arizona.
We have had many things to be thankful for over the past 12 months, not least the joy that our son George continues to bring us. But when we look back on 2006 in the years to come, it will always be tinged with sadness.
Tonight, as has become our custom in recent years, we will see out the old year over a meal with some of our oldest friends - or perhaps I should say auldest acquaintances.
New Year is, above all, a time of hope, a time for fresh starts. I feel that it's not just in the sphere of British politics that we need one of those.