Santa Claus has been very good this year and given me a bag that I’d admired but never dreamed of owning. Also appreciative of his generosity was Alfie, my travelling bear, who quickly purloined it as his preferred means of transport.

Alfie truly proved his worth when we got stuck in a Jordanian desert following the volcano eruption of April 2010. While I fretted in my room, he was calmly relieving the hotel of its whisky supply. No matter where he is, Alf manages to lead a (somewhat disolute) life of his own.