So finally we came back to England. Goodbye France, land of wine, wit, women, and wonder; hello Blighty, land of telly, twiglets, Tuborg, and taxation.
We were a bit tired after all that driving, but not nearly as tired as you poor buggers whose flights were cancelled from all four corners of the planet after Iceland blew up. Serves you right, I say; if you will ignore your carbon footprint by flying everywhere, then you have to expect a bit of Divine Retribution now and again.
Besides, walking home from Portugal is a great way to get fit, so stop moaning and get marching.
I like coming home. There's something comfortably incompetent about England. The ferry arrives (late) at Portsmouth Harbour, which is dominated by the lovely new Spinnaker Tower; 500 feet of gleaming white metal1. It was originally to be called the Millennium Tower until it became clear it wouldn't open until 2003. On the grand opening day, the swanky outside lift broke down halfway up, and trapped the mayor and several local VIPs. On a quiet night, you can still hear their plaintive cries.
Portsmouth is also home to HMS Victory. She was built in 1763 and is still a commissioned ship of the Royal Navy. Given relentless Navy cuts, she soon may be the only one. Should we be pleased at the peace dividend, or concerned? Dunno. All we can send to exciting international wars is five kayaks and an old car ferry painted grey. I blame the global recession, and Gordon Brown.
The Family Von Grump are great travellers so we are reminded of other comings and goings. We've been back and forward across the Atlantic a bunch2; we lived in Washington DC for a couple of years, then London, then my favourite: Atlanta. What a cool town Atlanta is. Everything's big! Big-hearted people! Big cars! Big houses! Big potholes! Absolutely stupendous insects! When we had to decide whether to stay or return, I was sorely tempted to stay. But Mrs G was strangely drawn to her roots, even though she grew up near Birmingham. Well, someone had to.
So home we came. And in the end Mrs G, and England, won; because at heart we are dozy and lazy. In America 'I'm pissed and I'm packing' means I'm very cross and I'm going to shoot you. Here I'm pleasantly drunk because I'm off on vacation. Again. Whoopee!
1 - Or plastic. Or it might be concrete
2 - Until we realised how big our carbon footprint was, naturally