By the time you read this column parliament will have broken up for its annual summer recess, but contrary to public opinion MPs do not simply all stop working and go off on our summer holidays for six weeks until we return to the House of Commons.
As far as I am concerned, I see the weeks ahead as an invaluable opportunity to spend so much more time in my Wansbeck constituency.
When parliament is sitting MPs are away from our ‘home’ bases so often because of the requirement to be at Westminster, which leaves the weekends for constituency work and, believe me, that is very often not enough time to do all I want to do.
Clearly, the time we spend at Westminster is central to the role of MPs, but to me, my constituency work as just as important.
I am fortunate in having a wonderful team supporting me to ‘mind the shop’ when I am down in London. Each year they deal with thousands of requests from individuals, groups or organisations seeking my assistance with problems and concerns they have and, of course, they keep me fully briefed about all of them.
As I said, the summer recess offers me valuable time back in Wansbeck.
Before I penned this column I looked at my diary for the next six weeks to see that it is brimming full with local engagements and meetings.
I also need to find time, however, to meet and talk with Wansbeck people to gauge their views on issues both local and national so that I am fully in touch with their opinions.
When we go back to parliament in September the sessions we will be involved in will surely rank among the most momentous that have ever been dealt with at Westminster.
As well as being able to spend time in our constituencies, the summer break will also give us time to reflect on where we are going with so many issues that are crucial to our future as a country.