Back in Wellington after a few weeks in the electorate, I went for my 6am walk around the maze of paths in Wellington's city suburbs.
Everyone asks if I have "had a good break".
Fresh from receiving accolades for my parliamentary Christmas card I also got a lot of questions about how much painting I did over summer, and the answer is a disappointing "zero" with respect to brushes on canvas, but I painted cupboards, doors, ceilings and other bits and bobs.
Last Saturday I was due to paint my back fence, which was an ugly corrugated iron construction and had needed paint for 25 years. My neighbour leaned over the fence and, within minutes, he had loaned me a compressor and the doings for spray-painting the fence. While I'd been prepared to paint and roller, sweat and grizzle my way through the job, 25 years of neglect was rectified in three hours with two coats of fresh paint. Apart from a bit of overspray on the grapes and tomatoes, it looks pretty sharp. Another job was crossed off the list on the fridge.
I did find that painting the fence had a whole heap of political analogies, such as that a thin layer of paint can cover a multitude of imperfections - politics is often more about polish than underlying substance.
The spiders' webs hanging in the ruts of iron were remarkably resilient to the water blaster, defying all logic as to their comparative strength - a thin wisp of belief attached to a well-anchored principle can withstand the full blast of attack. The huge task of painting was done and dusted in double-quick time with the right approach, as listening to someone else's good idea in this case saved a lot of bother.
I found long-lost kids' playthings like marbles, balls or Matchbox toys someone had left out by the fence and long forgotten. They brought back memories, and what had been lost and decaying became a precious reminder - the values we discard as irrelevant in today's world still have meaning.
This year the Government is continuing on a programme of building growth in the New Zealand economy and so future. Encouraging more investment in NZ; boosting skills and supporting jobs; renewing infrastructure and re-building Christchurch; growing export markets and capital markets; and encouraging innovation. Most of these targets will be achieved with a mixture of time honoured approaches and values, and new ways of attacking the same old hoary chestnuts of challenges. There won't be innovation without education, or infrastructure without skills, or investment without confidence.
The Opposition will hang on to the tenets of socialism and argue against any fresh idea or modern approach. When the job's done half the community will wonder what all the fuss was about, and the other half will say they always knew it would work.
And just like the pen-pusher training for the so-called "fun run" the remaining old adage holds true. "No pain, no gain." In this first column for 2013, I wish everyone a good year.