THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Home again

All good things do have to come to an end. Safely back in London our honeymoon is already a happy memory. Any nervousness about attempting such a trip in a ten year old car — it’s Speranza‘s birthday this month — seems silly now. She acquitted herself magnificently.

It’s not the years but the mileage of course and after this tour hers now stands, as she cools off downstairs in her home paddock, at 83,055. I’m proud and happy to have driven all but 7,000 of those myself. I bought her because I feared death bed regrets if I didn’t take my chance to be a Ferrarista. I imagined selling her after a couple of years, having checked that off my bucket list. I little imagined she would loom in my life as she does. I love the marque but — having been through so much together — I am now mainly an enthusiast for this particular example  


Mrs P II has been there for many of those miles and amusedly accepts Speranza’s rôle in our life together. This was her first such major road trip in “Spezza” as she calls her and I worried if she would like it. She says she’ll pack even less luggage for the next one to reduce the constant repacking and hauling of bags but enjoyed our life on the road. I love a good road trip so that’s great news. I already knew she was a keeper — reader I married her — but this just confirms it!

On her first visit to Continental Europe she got to visit six countries, experienced a high speed German autobahn run, ate Belgian waffles, drank Italy and France’s best wines, was received into a beautiful French home, drove a Côte d’Azur corniche in a convertible, shopped at two French hyper markets, listened to dinner table banter between Brits, Germans, French and Dutch and received the VIP treatment at the casino in Monte Carlo. She heard the proud Italian account of that country’s sporting, design and engineering prowess in the Ferrari factory (“Italy’s beating heart” as it describes itself) and ate at the tables of two Michelin-macaroned chefs as well as several humbler but more representative establishments 

It was a broad, quick introduction to our historic continent — home of all the imperialists who ever showed up on hers — but I think she now has a better sense of who we Europeans are (and how we interact) than many of us do ourselves.


This morning we had our last French breakfast for a while and found a car wash to remove two and a half thousand miles worth of dead insects from Speranza before a leisurely run to the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. I worked towards reacclimatising to Britain’s damnably low speed limits by strict compliance with France’s more generous ones. I was helped in this endeavour by the knowledge that the French government likes to top up its coffers by trapping speeding Brits on the Autoroute des Anglais as they rush to their train or ferry. 

We arrived in good time after a beautiful run and took five minutes to grab a packed lunch from the Flexiplus Lounge before catching the next train. We reset the computers and clocks as we rode and then ate our food. We refuelled on the English side, topped up with screen-wash and headed for home. As always, British roads seemed awful after the French experience. The M25 provided its usual frustrations but we arrived in time to meet our grocery delivery so that we could eat at home and rest. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed accompanying us virtually on our tour. This blog will return to political rant mode in due course. Right now I’m too mellow for that so don’t hold your breath. 


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I love reading your travel posts. You do a grand tour whereas I do a based tour and explore an area in great detail and find unexpected gems.

I find planning a long tour in the way you do quite stressful although I like both approaches to a holiday adventure :-)

Rant & Moan?...

I think you need another holiday ;-)

James Higham

Spezza? :)


Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed reading it. It’s a relief to write about joys when the usual fare on my blog is the whinge, the rant and the moan.

David Bishop

Thank you for sharing your tour. It's been an immense pleasure being taken with you and your wife, and noting the evident joy you derive from your stunning car and your touring in her. I thought I didn't like Ferraris, but yours is utterly gorgeous.


Small world. I grew up just over the Welsh border from Chester and that was where I  shopped, pubbed and clubbed when I was young so I can certainly see why you hear “Spezza” in Scouse! Ta for sharing lad. 


I spent 25 years of my early life in and around Chester and shared my school years with a fair few Scousers - one remains a good friend all these years later. I hope you and Mrs P II will forgive me this but my "inner voice" lapsed automatically into Scouse when I read "Spezza". It was dead ace.

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