THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Cutting the mustard
Photo essays from the Cote d'Azur

Home again

There is little I like better than a well-maintained open road through pleasant countryside and a great car to drive on it. I had wisely decided not to venture out in search of food last night. I used "Uber Eats" to have a young Frenchman on a bicycle bring me soup and sashimi. Thus refreshed, I tried to relax by watching a movie but found myself so exhausted I couldn't stay awake. So I gave up and went early to bed. I woke very refreshed by a solid eleven hours of sleep. This may seem excessive, but the demands of my photo workshop led to my staying up several times to the early hours editing my shots. I had felt unsafely tired on yesterday's drive and it had taken many breaks and coffees to ensure my safe arrival in Dijon.

It's really not wise to drive a supercar in such a state. Or any car for that matter.

My sleep deficit eliminated, I sprang into enthusiastic action. As soon as I was showered and dressed, I loaded the car and returned to the hotel to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the autoroute. I use this modest hotel because it takes me only a couple of kilometres off the road. It's simple and clean and (when I am feeling more energetic) has a couple of modestly decent restaurants at hand. I've never uttered a word of English there because the lady d'un certain âge on reception really seems to appreciate a bit of effort to speak French – and speaks it herself so clearly and elegantly that it's not such a strain to cope with as it can be elsewhere. It's in a little development on the edge of town that no-one without business there has any reason to visit. The plentiful parking is therefore quite secure. I have never had a problem on this or my previous visits. Indeed I've never seen anyone but another hotel guest admiring Speranza – and she normally draws quite a crowd.

She has been thoroughly on song this trip. She handled delightfully as we headed north. I set off with her roof down but raised it on refuelling as it was quite cold for a while. The bright, clear conditions were perfect for driving though and it warmed up enough to lower it again for the final stretch. It took us four and a half hours to cover the 580 km to the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. Add to that one brief stop to refuel and a couple of short breaks to stretch my legs and answer calls of nature and I was parked up at the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais by 2:00pm – a bit early for my 5.50 pm train!

Speranza on the Flexiplus car park at Eurotunnel Calais

I had breezed through the well-automated check in. The UK border police had asked a couple of impertinent questions but hadn't delayed me unduly (as they never do in this direction though they always search the car on my outward journey for some reason). The advantage of the more expensive Flexiplus fare (apart from the rather nice lounges and "complimentary" food) is that you can travel on any Shuttle. So I gave myself a half-hour break to eat at the lounge (no food being permitted in Speranza's cockpit) before boarding the train scheduled to leave at three minutes to three. This got me back to Folkestone earlier than I left, thanks to the time difference. Soon I was refuelling on home soil before facing the nationally-degrading contrast between motoring in the North of France and South of England.

We used to console ourselves that our crappy infrastructure reflected the lower taxes in the U.K. Now that's no longer the case, it's clear our public servants are either less competent than French Énarques, or just less keen on doing honest work. Probably a bit of both. I suspect our politicians are also keener on creating non-jobs as "gender coordinators" or "diversity tsars" than hiring engineers. For the French, lip-service to such egregious nonsense is the very most that is required.

By 4.30 pm London time I was parked up at home and working out the logistics of my next trip – a more modest one than this 2,000 mile adventure. On Friday I am driving to North Wales to celebrate my father's 80th birthday. Mr Paine Senior came to fatherhood early, as witness the fact that I am 61 and often (to my irritation) mistaken for his younger brother!

I realise that my burblings about touring the Côte d'Azur in my beloved Ferrari are probably not helpful to the usual purposes of this blog. It must certainly irk those with any taint of identity politics and confirm the prejudices of any passing SJWs. In some ways it might be better to write about travel and politics on separate blogs, but since I think all opinions should be evaluated in the pure and indiscriminate fire of Reason, I am inclined not to worry. Those people who take the medieval approach – now fashionable again – of evaluating ideas according to the status of the person expounding them are already lost to Reason!

Normal political service will therefore resume as soon as I catch up with the news I have missed while artistically engaged. I understand President Trump, for example, has been busy trying to earn the Nobel Peace Prize that was handed to his predecessor gratis. Let me get back to you on that one!

In the meantime, if you care to read more about the workshop I attended, you can find my classmate Tammy's blog here. The completed record of my journey on Track my Tour is here.