All good things come to an end - all amazing, incredible, brilliant things come to an end as well.
I left my last blog as our commentary team prepared to take our positions in the Rostov Arena for Belgium v Japan, a game that most of us privately thought would be a relatively straightforward victory for a powerful and much taller Belgian team...but then we'd forgotten that this is World Cup 2018, where sheer madness piles on top of craziness.
We began our World Cup commentary games in sunny Sochi - on our 2nd visit it had become a somewhat soggy Sochi, but on this 3rd visit for the Uruguay Portugal game, it was most definitely sweltering Sochi.
I may have to come up with a new title for this blog, as I am most definitely not 'Mit Low' anymore at this World Cup.
Hard to believe that Jogi and the boys would be jetting home before me, but there it is - for the 3rd such tournament in a row, the holders have exited stage left without troubling the knockout stages. Italy, Spain and now Germany...perhaps Die Mannschaft had nothing left in the tank after a hectic domestic season with a desperately intense and close run title challenge combined with no winter break to recharge the...oh, wait...
I think Matt Holland put it best when he turned to me on our walk back to our Sochi hotel from the Fisht Stadium and simply said, "Dants, we are absolutely having one!"
As I type this, I have a very different view from my Sochi hotel window than I did when our crew were first here for Portugal v Spain a week or so ago. It's a good deal grimmer outside as opposed to the scorching sunshine that greeted us on our previous trip to the Black Sea. There appears to be the threat of rain and/or thunderstorms all day, but a weather forecast for Sochi has to cover a huge surface area, so it remains to be seen if threatening clouds pervade over the Fisht Stadium a mile or so away from my vantage point - not that I can actually see it from my room this time.
I'm back in Moscow for a day of prep and, more importantly, washing, after our team's 4 day trip to Sochi & Rostov - we rounded off that particular excursion with the Brazil/Switzerland game at the Rostov Arena. It's a mightily impressive looking construction right on the banks of the River Don that cuts a huge swathe through the centre of the city. The old port city itself is nowhere near as modern as the stadium, and it does look a little at odds with its surroundings as a consequence, but it's something for fans of FC Rostov to be undoubtedly proud of.
It's Sunday morning and I'm deep in the heart of a more 'traditional' part of Russia than the cosmopolitan capital city that I left behind 4 days ago. But before we got here to Rostov-on-Don, our team had first flown further south to Sochi by the Black Sea, and enjoyed 2 glorious days of unbroken sunshine and scorching temperatures...followed by the greatest football match I've ever had the privilege of commentating on.
It's day 5 of my 3rd World Cup trip abroad for talkSPORT and as I type I'm sat in my hotel room in Sochi from which I can see the Fisht Stadium complex about a mile away - and that's where my tournament as commentator properly starts in earnest later on.
Up until 20 years ago, nobody called me 'Dants'
I had my nicknames of course…Dougie Howser MD, Aitken Drum, Aitken Thespian Bland, Willy, Colin Medantos, Mr D, id, Scruffy, Harry Cliché, The Dr Of Shop, Rhythm, Pigpen, Piggy, Piggy Penster Man Not From Leominster…and the equally wordy Ian Danter Stalking Black Panther The Beast Of Bordesely Green.
Maybe it's just as well that 'Dants' has stuck lately.