I look forward to December in Slovenia. After the rain and fog of November, my first two Decembers brought fun and festivity and I'm sure this year will be no exception.
I am an enthusiastic (if not very competent) skier and look forward to the new season - indeed the possibility of regular skiing was one of the things that attracted me to this posting.
And as Christmas gets closer, Ljubljana becomes a more an more lovely place. The lights in the centre of town and (with a bit of luck) a bit of snow to make the old town look chocolate-box pretty, kuhano vino to warm your hands and heart, and with Christmas approaching a general sense of celebration. This year my family will join me in Slovenia for Christmas for the first time and I am excited about showing them the delights of the season here.
This December will bring a fresh challenge in my professional life here as I take over temporary leadership of the Embassy when our current Ambassador, Andrew Page, leaves shortly before Christmas. I will have six or seven weeks in charge before our new Ambassador, Sophie Honey, arrives to take up post. Since this period is likely to coincide with a challenging period for Slovenia, as the results of the stress tests are due to be published and the ramifications of this information begins to be known, me and my Embassy colleagues are likely to be busy trying to understand what it means and writing reports for our bosses back in London.
Although it is difficult to say with certainty what will happen in 2014, there are a few things that we can easily anticipate. Firstly our new Ambassador will arrive. I have enjoyed working with Andrew very much, but it will be fun to work with a new boss who will bring a new perspective and new ways of doing things with her. On the political side, May will see elections to the European Parliament, the first time that EU citizens will have had to pass their judgement on some of the momentous changes that have happened in the last few years.
2014 will also mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. The War was an unmitigated tragedy for Europe so its centenary will be a time for remembering those that fell in the conflict, no matter which side they fought on. This series has been a snapshot of my life here. I hope that overall I have managed to convey that I really love living here. I have much to look forward to and have no doubt that the second half of my time in Slovenia will be just as enjoyable as the first half.