Looking forward to Sports Personality of the Year
I distinctly remember David Coulthard saying, "Have a good winter off, son", as we boarded our plane home after the final grand prix of the year in Abu Dhabi. You'd have thought that after 15 years in F1, David would know by now that there is no such thing as a 'winter off' in a sport as ceaseless as this.
Driver moves aplenty, Renault calling emergency meetings to discuss their future, Toyota's sad but not wholly surprising departure from the sport. And talking of surprises, who really expected Jenson Button to make the move to McLaren after both he and Brawn GP claimed it was 99.9% likely they'd remain together just weeks earlier?
I was actually with Jenson on the day his dramatic move was announced.
The two of us were in a boardroom at Brawn's Brackley base as I was interviewing him for Sports Personality of the Year (more on that later).
With a delicious irony to which JB would have been totally oblivious at the time, he was actually describing his emotions the very moment he crossed the line in Brazil as my phone buzzed. I looked down to see the simple message "Jenson announced at McLaren". If that wasn't surreal enough, he disappeared off a few moments later to thank the factory staff for all they'd done for him that year... Mmm, I'm guessing their phones were buzzing moments before as well!
Lewis Hamilton's new playmate at the McLaren Technology Centre is certainly the biggest news of the off-season so far but I suspect the most welcome was this week's fantastic announcement that, finally, the British Grand Prix has been saved and Silverstone is once more the home of the race.
I was fielding question after question every day on my Twitter account about what the 'inside news' on the negotiations was, and while we all hoped for the best, everyone I spoke to felt genuinely in the dark as to the specific details.
However, 17 years seems to be a contract duration that gives Silverstone the security it needs to do the work to the circuit we'd all like to see. In fact, I think it works for all concerned, as I know the teams were very pro-British GP, and let's remember F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is a motorsport fan at heart, too, and certainly realises the importance of having a race on his home soil.
I look forward to seeing lots of F1 fans over the race weekend, and I suspect I'll see a few more in Sheffield in just a few days' time when the Sports Personality of the Year juggernaught rolls into the city.
For years Sports Personality was a pre-Christmas tradition in the Humphrey household. Dad Rex would hold court on the sofa, enjoying just a glass of strong cider with Mum Liz, while us kids were allowed to stay up a little later to see the sporting year reviewed - and we loved it.
That was back in the early 1980s. My sister was delighted when ice dancers Torvill and Dean did the business in 1984, and I remember seeing Nigel Mansell winning his first trophy in 1986 after finishing second in that year's F1 championship.
What was incredible was that Sports Personality always seemed to remain relevant to me.
I remember Des Lynam coming into his own as the show moved away from just being a straight awards show to also offering an entertainment element, which I always enjoyed. Sportsman of the Century being given to Muhammad Ali and Pele's lifetime achievement award just four years ago are two more recent stand-out memories of a programme that's always been part of my life.
So, it was against this backdrop that I almost fell of my chair when my bosses asked if I'd like to walk in the footsteps of Des, Frank Bough, David Coleman and Steve Rider. What I didn't consider was that the sheer scale of this show can be quite daunting. A roaring V8 engine and a busy pit lane has nothing on this.
I remember Sue Barker telling me that I'd start off being delighted by such an opportunity, but that those feelings would quickly give way to abject fear. How right she was.
Last year, Sue, Gary Lineker and I were pacing about in the backstage corridor as the famous theme tune rang around Liverpool's Echo Arena. I was just wondering how someone who won the French Open and a former international footballer could possibly be nervous about the big crowd. My previous experience of such an audience was performing 'Jake The Peg' at the Hillside Primary School Talent contest in 1988!
Three years ago the nation thought Darren Clarke would win it, but Zara Phillips took the crown. Twelve months later Joe Calzaghe upset the odds, and last year I remember everyone telling me Lewis Hamilton was the winner - but people hadn't reckoned on the power of the Olympic stars, particularly Sir Chris Hoy, who has been an excellent ambassador for the award.
So how do you split world champions Jenson Button, Tom Daley, Jessica Ennis, Phillips Idowu and Beth Tweddle? Does Ryan Giggs deserve it for such a stunning year on the football pitch? How about the fact we've once more got a heavyweight champion of the world in the shape of our very own David 'versus Goliath' Haye? Then there's cycling star Mark Cavendish, Ashes winning England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, and world tennis number four Andy Murray.
Thankfully, I only have two hours of live TV in an 11,000-seat arena to worry about, not the much more daunting challenge of picking a winner!
Olympic cycling champion Chris Hoy beat Lewis Hamilton and Rebecca Adlington to last year's award
Talking of the arena, once again we've escaped the confines of Television Centre and I'll be on the train to Sheffield on Friday morning as Sports Personality arrives in a sporting city that is well deserving of hosting such a prestigious evening. In fact, we're live at the Sheffield Arena, home of the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team. Let's hope the atmosphere doesn't heat the arena up too much as I don't want to swim to where Beth Tweddle is sitting!
And Mum and Dad? Well once more I get to watch the show in their company as they're traveling from Norfolk to see their boy in action. I'll just have to politely let them know that sitting in their finery with a glass of scrumpy really isn't the right look!
P.S. I'll be posting regular updates and sneaky backstage photos via my Twitter account during the build-up to the big night. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jakehumphreyf1.