My first blog 'report' since April means it's been a longer summer break than ever, and I was looking forward to a quiet spin at the Co Durham track for 'Ladies Night'.
However, it turned out to anything but quiet thanks to the incessant babble from Thommo's mike, while the replacement of the 'big screen' with a somewhat smaller version, but in HD, meant watching was farcical as the commentary was a few seconds ahead.
No doubt the delay has been added at least in part to deter the 'face-timers' relaying the pictures back to their in-running trading pals, but it made for a poor on-track experience at a course where viewing using binoculars is almost pointless.
So once again I left wondering if I'll ever return, that view bolstered by the fact that I was lighter in the pocket than on arrival.
Sendiym had form of 11411 at the track in hurdles over 2m3f-2m5f and looked worth a small poke each-way despite reservations that his mark is still a shade high.
But he lost it at the start after getting left, and Hughes had to use up a load of energy just to get him in the firing line. Fourth was almost an inevitable outcome.
There was money for Irish Hawke off a very low mark, and his only piece of worthwhile form was when he thwarted a good bet on Our Three Sons last term - a horse now rated in the 120s.
McCain's horse finally came good again as the front three pulled clear, the sizeable Smith youngster Mathayus showing some ability from a workable mark, but this was low grade stuff.
The market got it wrong in the novice hurdle as Gibson Park failed to impress in the paddock, being rather big and cumbersome for a four-year-old, but his Fontwell form looked strong in this context and he ran right away from the favourite Man Look, who was again really novicey at his obstacles. The rest look really moderate.
Sue Smith's Perseid was the only northern trained runner in the five-strong handicap chase for novices and he and Pemba were expected to make this a test at the minimum trip.
However, it looked like Quinlan was happy just to get a clear round in on the diminutive Perseid and P Brennan was allowed a soft lead on Pemba.
The subsequent moderate gallop meant this turned into a bit of a dash and that didn't suit the favourite Capsy De Mee, who is a little unfurnished at this stage and appears to lack a turn of foot.
He was left for dead in the straight as Brennan kicked for home but Skelton was able to use Ashoka's flat speed to cut down the advantage and essentially outbattle the opposition.
While the winner has plenty of size, I'm not sure this took much winning and it remains to be seen if he can make a go of it over fences, while Pemba missed a big chance and remains one to oppose.
Stealing Mix had made mistakes in his previous novice chases and this tall, quite gangly individual came down in the back straight which is quite hard to do here. Back to the drawing board.
Almost Gemini, Cape Of Glory and Craig Star vied for favouritism in the following handicap hurdle which meant perennial front runner Danceintothelight went under the radar at 16/1, but came here fresh and well and was allowed an enormous lead.
With the market principals all essentially 'hold-up' types they were too hesitant to close down the advantage, Hughes having to do the hard work in the end on Cape Of Glory.
They never landed a blow, but he, in particular, looked a victim of circumstance and he should be capable of better when bearing in mind his useful flat form. He could be a real stayer as well, so keep him on side.
Much hope was pinned on the headgear for Craig Star but he appeared to have every chance back up in trip and he is another that I want to keep opposing, while Honkytonktennessee won't make it to Christmas at the Skelton yard. Almost Gemini wants further and/or softer now.
In the handicap chase, there had been money for Friendly Royal before racing but I had remarked that young Mrs England would be the trainer of the year if she had this soft-ground staying chaser ready to win after 18 months off.
Cheaply bought from the Smiths, the 'money' proved to be the work of guessers and he drifted like a barge when he arrived looking quite a bit above his racing weight. He'll be an interesting project and is in very good hands.
I figured Highbury High was a good favourite, albeit not a very backable one, more by default than the fact he's due to go up 6lb already. That he had to work to get the better of handicapper's friends Brother Scott and Muwalla means he's another I'll be looking to 'get' in the weeks ahead.
Oliver's Hill ran very badly while Coopers Friend traded short when looming up on the home turn but once again proved himself the piggiest of piglets, beaten 20 lengths.
The two closing events held little appeal, although P Kirby's Nemean Lion was interesting having apparently gained plenty of condition since arriving from J O'Brien. He looked a handful beforehand but gave a straight forward account in the race and battled back well to beat Bal De Rio, who ran in snatches and seemed to quit close home.
Shrubland had more about him than most in the finale but that wasn't saying an awful lot, however he made it three on the night the Skeltons, who will have enjoyed picking some low-hanging fruit.
I'd like to say I'm back in the game and although there's another meeting here next week I'll be giving that the old Spanish Archer as Couch used to say, so it looks like a month of video watching as we build up to some proper racing in October.