With the build-up to Christmas, December gets a bit truncated on the writing front, and a combination of interviews and impending deadlines made for a busy few weeks before the crackers could finally be pulled and the silly hats worn.

Early in the month, my favourite ‘Egg Man’ Stephen Turner once again invited me into his ‘world’. Although our planned Skype call had to be replaced at the last minute by a chat on the mobile, thanks to ‘technical’ issues with the Egg’s solar power system i.e. it had packed-up, nevertheless Stephen provided another evocative insight into life on the Beaulieu Estuary. His adaptation to the seasonal changes happening around him are an intrinsic part of the daily experience, the minutiae  of which can also be enjoyed by viewing the regular Exbury Egg blog posts.

Two men very much in the thick of things during the festive season were Steve Jacob and Ben Errey, aka Petersfield Festivals. Having masterminded another successful Christmas event their thoughts have now turned to a brand new Beer & Cider Festival which they plan to bring to the town in February. Talking to these young entrepreneurs you have to admire their enthusiasm and get-up-and-go attitude. And researching deeper into the local real ale scene for Hampshire Life it doesn’t take long to see that from established microbrewers like Triple fff to new start-ups like Alfred’s Brewery the glass is definitely half full. I also discovered the exciting news that the county’s first micropub, The Butcher’s Hook is set to open in Southampton this year. Cheers to everyone for making such a positive contribution to the local landscape.

Another launch that’s already happened is the new Vantage Point community magazine. Best wishes to Stefan, Marcus and the whole team for a successful 2014. My first article for this title appears in the February issue and writing -up the piece about local rose grower Seale Nurseries (there’s a St.Valentine’s link there somewhere) brought back instant memories of warm summer days.

And as the first shoots of spring tentatively break cover, ahead of the inevitable frosts, a family foraging piece for the spring issue of Baby Hampshire (plus Surrey and London editions) also gave cause to look forward to the New Year with relish. Although having spoken to some of the hardy experts, I now realise that to take full advantage of nature’s larder, you need to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you. Me, I think I’ll wait for the rain to stop first before I break cover.