We've had some big times over the last couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago, my mind was focused on grading, on the day when I would be tested to see if I would be awarded a blue belt for kick-boxing. Everything reminded me of grading, or was bad because it might harm my chances, or was good because it would help, or was too big to think about before grading. All plans and thoughts passed through the nexus of that cold Sunday morning in a large indoor dojo.

On the day, I felt this strange mix of confidence and uncertainty. I was healthy, I had trained hard, I knew all of the techniques, my teachers said I was ready and I really wanted that belt, but I had never done anything this physically demanding or "sporty" before and I didn't know if some rebel part of my mind would tell me to quit half-way through.

The grading was hard, but I passed. I've been awarded my blue belt, and I have to say that there are few achievements of which I am more proud.

If all I'd done over the last two weeks had been to get this belt, it would have been a big two weeks.

But of course, I also went ice skating. It's not the first time I've been in ice skates on a rink, but it's the first time I've actually skated in those ice skates on a rink. It's fun, but it's stressful in the same way learning to drive in London is stressful, something is always veering out in front of you daring you to maim it with your beginner's ignorance.

I have also done my woefully late Christmas shopping, a great Pyrrhic victory in which I lost hours and sterling and self-respect. I wish I had a better knack of demonstrating affection through the giving of gifts.

Christmas shopping, ice skating, kick-boxing, what else? Oh yes, Barcelona. Joliette and I spent the week there with friends and it was wonderful. I got a little ill during the middle of it, which meant that we lolled about indoors as much as we strolled about outside. Even so, we saw some great things.

Sagrada Familía has been renovated since I last saw it. All of the interior scaffolding has been taken down and inside it's almost complete. To describe it would only be to belittle it. We were speechless and amazed for ten full minutes after we crossed the threshold.

There's more, of course. Over the last couple of weeks I've walked among ancient wonders, seen Herbie Hancock play live, heard beautiful and pure voices sing carols at the Royal Albert Hall, had an actual decent plate of eggs benedict in London and drank a mug of the most chocolatey hot chocolate that ever was.

Sadly, I never got to try the panther milk.