No place like home
So back from Tuscany and I've been telling people how it's the sort of place you visit and can imagine yourself living there. But do I really mean it? I mean, really mean it...
Upon arriving back at Bournemouth Airport, possibly one of the most joyless airports in the country that charges you £2.50 just for the privilege of driving through the gates, the kids couldn't have been happier. As we waited for our taxi, they were running and dancing around the grotty verge of the car park like they were off to Disneyland.
Even the long car journey back to Cornwall wasn't about to faze them. Son and daughter were getting on better than they ever do in the back of the car, laughing and joking instead of fighting and snapping.
Then came the stop at Little Chef, which, on the south coast stretch of road between Poole and Yeovil at least, has upped its game considerably. A great choice of meals all for a fiver. The kids devoured their main courses and had fun decorating their pancakes with marshmallows and Smarties for dessert. Trips to Little Chef usually end in tantrums about wanting to buy the shoddy merchandise by the till. Not today. A simple bag of sweets (mainly for me) and we were away.
Their high spirits continued even as we hit Cornwall and the journey became wearisome. They kept asking how long before we were there, but never with tears. In fact they barely moaned. A big goal was in sight.
'Are you looking forward to saying hi to your room?' the boy asked his sister.
She just smiled.
Finally, we were there. Despite our 13-hour journey from the apartment in Tuscany, the kids had more energy than ever. They ran in, going upstairs, presumably to say hi to their rooms, then down again where despite an initial surge of desire to unpack, the wife and I both ran out of steam before either of our charges did.
But thinking about it, there had been moments of joy to the journey. Not Bournemouth airport, obviously, but some of the drive along the south coast features scenery as glorious as any view in Tuscany. And the cup of tea I had in the Little Chef was the best brew I'd had in over a week.
So forget living in Tuscany, for the time being anyway. As the kids finally snuggled up contentedly under a duvet on the sofa, I realised they summed up that well worn but totally spot on phrase.
There really is no place like home.