This week saw midwinter's day here in the southern hemisphere, and of course the start of the Inca and Aymara year, the new year being 5529 by their count.
Ever since I briefly worked for CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems division, where we had pancakes on midwinter's day - because that's what the scientists stuck on the ice apparently had - I've felt that we should mark midwinter's day in some way, if only to enliven the gloom of midwinter.
Every year we've made plans, or actually every year we've made the same plan, make a large traditional Scottish New Year steak pie, invite some friends over, light the outdoor firepit, and stand around talking, drinking whisky and claret.
And every year, for some reason, it hasn't come off.
This year was no different.
Our reason this time was that J had to go back to Melbourne to see her surgeon. When we first went down, we went on the train, but since then we've had a coronavirus outbreak and a lockdown, so we decided to drive and stay in a small European style aparthotel close to the hospital.
We chose an aparthotel as it had a kitchen, meaning we could cook, or at least heat up takeaway or ready meals if all the cafes and restaurants were still closed. (While it was a worry when we booked, lockdown had eased sufficiently so it wasn't a problem by the time of our visit).
So, off we went to a strangely quiet city - yes, there were still trams, trains and traffic, but nothing like the normal levels of traffic. People were still hunkering down, and while there were cafes and restaurant open, none of them were really that busy.
J's meeting with her surgeon went well - and given that the initial course of guided steroid injections to reduce internal swelling in the hip joint and allow the tear to heal naturally hasn't worked, it's going to be surgery in two weeks time - one of the odd side effects of lockdown is that a lot of people have cancelled or delayed elective surgery.
I guess some people don't want to risk a hospital stay, making it relatively easy to get what is a fairly minor procedure scheduled.
We had originally planned to go to the French Impressionist exhibition at the NGV in the afternoon, but the opening had been postponed because of lockdown, so after J's appointment, we walked down through Treasury Gardens to the city for some socially distanced shopping and then back to the hotel.
That night we treated ourselves to dinner at a small Italian restaurant half way between the aparthotel and the hospital.
Up till then the weather had been cold and damp - typical Melbourne winter weather - but the next day the weather changed bringing heavy rain.
We drove back via Healesville, Alexandria and Mansfield, all the time just ahead of the rain.
We'd planned to stop for a coffee and a cake at the Mansfield Coffee Merchant, but we'd forgotten they were closed midweek, so rather than loop round via Benalla, we foolishly pressed on through Tolmie, over the mountains to Whitfield.
The rain caught us up outside of Tolmie and we had a fairly unpleasant drive through low cloud down to Whitfield, and then home through increasingly heavy rain.
The next day I'd planned to go down to the pharmacy for a day's documentation, but the weather was so appalling - nearly 60mm of rain overnight - I cried off, which was just as well as the dishwasher which had been limping along finally decided to die and squirt water over the kitchen floor.
It's an old Smeg dishwasher that came with the house, meaning it's at least six and looking at it, possibly ten years old.
While it had probably been quite classy in it's time, it had been becoming increasingly erratic and clearly was due for replacement, and not really worth repairing.
So yesterday we had a belated midwinter celebration, just the two of us. A decent bottle of wine and a pork roast. It was still raining so we couldn't stand outside by the firepit and look at the stars, but we still had a nice time.
Maybe next midwinter's we'll finally get to do the steak pie thing ...