January. If you're a self-employed motor racing journalist it means two things. First, you're knee deep (not so high in my case) in receipts. No longer can you ignore the Inland Revenue's January 31 self-assessment deadline. Second, it's booking time. With the new season fast approaching you've got to make sure you've got flights and beds.
In the interests of economy, as well as the fact that they're bloody good blokes, I tend to travel/room with Autosport colleague Mark Hughes and Motorsport News's Simon Arron.
If you think a bunch of fortysomething guys sharing hotel rooms is all a bit sad, you're probably right. But it does help offset the cretinous hotel charges levied around a Grand Prix. And you can be sure that if you do find yourself in deep doggy doo at any time, 'Tabs' and 'Tubber' are sure to... laugh.
Mark and I are north-west based Geordies - a bit sacrilegious, I know, but blame 'er indoors in both cases - while Simon, although from Cheshire, has kids at school in the south and is still stuck down in the Smoke. It was all pretty straightforward until a couple of years ago. Having looked at all the frequent flyer programmes we opted for KLM's Flying Dutchman programme and tended to hook up at Schipol in Amsterdam before flying on to wherever.