They say the best time to bow out is when you are at the top - and I am about to do that, quite literally.

This is the last of these columns I am going to write, and when it goes to press, I will be standing on Poon Hill, Nepal, having a close encounter with the Himalayas.

At 3,210m above sea level, it will be the highest point on the earth that my feet have ever stood, or ever will.

You could say it’s all downhill from here.

My wife and I have been treating ourselves to a magical trip of a lifetime in India and Nepal, but writing this column has been a trip of a lifetime too.

Or at least a journal of a significant part of my life.

It started in October 2004, when the then-editor asked me to write a weekly column “about life in your forties”.

In fact, I have subsequently also written, at length, about life in my fifties and sixties.

When I wrote the first one, our children were both at school, and in the case of our son, it’s still true - as he is now a teacher.

Like everyone’s life, mine has seen many ups and downs since 2004, some of them as profound as life ever gets, and I have written about most of them.

But one constant has been the privilege I have always felt in writing for so long for a newspaper that I grew up with, and which is so much a part of Swindon’s history.

Since 1854 ‘the Adver’ has been recording the changes in the town, and I have had the honour of writing for it since 1989.

Even though this column has reached the end of the road, I still hope to be associated with the paper in other capacities.

In other words: you haven’t heard the last of me yet.

I have a renewed passion for local heritage which was, quite frankly, futile until there was a change of administration at SBC last year.

I truly believe that there has been a sea change: from seeing Swindon’s heritage as a liability, to recognising its potential as an asset.

Even better: Swindon has the huge benefit of being truly multicultural, so we have many heritages to celebrate.

My pride in being a Swindonian has been another constant in these columns, and although there is much that needs rectifying in our town as the result of neglect and poor management, both national and locally, it is inevitable that we will bounce back - because Swindonians can do almost anything.

We have a bright future, but only if we exorcise the demons within.

I am talking about those who are quick to point out Swindon’s problems, but are the least willing to do anything to solve them.

The rest of us should stand up, choose change and make a new start.

So my final message (out of the more than half a million words I have written in this column) is this: VIVA SWINDON!

Over and out.