THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Tuscany and back
There was nothing sinister about my radio silence

The romance of the Alps

I am booked onto an indoctrination course in lieu of penalty points at present, so I drove very carefully to the Eurotunnel Terminal at Folkestone. I am, as they say in football, "on a six pointer." If I pick up another ticket before attending my course I will get back the previous three points as well as the new ones. So I experimented with the odd notion of total compliance. I left home before five am.

At that time of day you would think it would make little difference and indeed I did arrive on time. However it was like driving in a different world. As the drivers of mommy vans passed me with puzzled expressions I found myself stuck with the trucks in the inside lane. At one point one threatened to pull in and crush me (so far was I below his line of sight) and I had to accelerate briefly to escape. Because of that I did not comply completely. To do so, I would have had to choose to die.

It was awful and would have been worse during the day. I don't want to drive stupidly and am happy to stay within 20% or so of the limit, but not being able to keep up with traffic is just ridiculous.

I can't imagine what hypocrisy the tutors will offer at the police-mandated course. If they claim to comply themselves, I will have to suppress a snort of derision. No-one complies. No-one. I stuck out like a sore thumb - all the more for being in a frustrated Ferrari.

Mis 397
I boarded the 0720 shuttle to Calais arriving in time to be on the road at 0900 French time as planned. The trip computer readings tell the story of the day. For most of it I was on a well-worn route to the South of France, passing places I have seen many times before. Then I turned off towards first Geneva and Turin to reach my home for the night in the shabbiest hotel I have ever encountered in France. It's like a gypsy encampment without the romance - and it doesn't have air conditioning. I know. First world problems. I am tired enough to sleep in it - despite the odd whiff - even if I have to sleep in a cold bath.

I am in a good mood though. I had a brilliant run and thoroughly enjoyed the driving. I saw a part of France I didn't know before and it was prettier than I expected. I drove through alps ('tunnelling' V8 roar, lovely!) and over alpine valleys on high viaducts.

Tomorrow I will rise early again because, entirely by coincidence, old friends from New York are flying in for a holiday at Forte dei Marmi, which is directly on my route. My blog post yesterday alerted them and we have arranged to meet for lunch. Then I hope to have coffee with cuffleyburgers of this parish in Lucca before heading on to my friends and our villa near the cookery school in the early evening.

Touch wood, Speranza's electronic issues appear to have gone away. The satnav played up briefly, but I knew my way out of Calais well enough and it then settled down. Essentially she performed impeccably and - driving with the roof down in glorious sunshine all day - it was hard not to feel like a very lucky man indeed. Although looking at my burned self in the mirror, I may prefer air conditioned comfort tomorrow.

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Tomorrow's more "leisurely" programme