I'm on a flying visit back to my roots in Birmingham, UK. Always good to take a fresh look at the old place. Nostalgic? Relieved to be 'home' and speaking my own language again? Well, yes and no.
Managed the notorious Paris Peripherique ringroad without taking our usual argumentative 'scenic route'. Arrived at Calais in one piece and even navigated through the screen registration process and onto the Tunnel train without mishap. But, listening to the tannoy announcements, I don't think French is meant to be spoken with a strong Estuary accent somehow. But then we hit a rainstorm in Folkestone. Things didn't improve when we were stuck on the M25 (London orbital route) for hours, cars stationary with no explanation whatsoever, grey leaden skies above, windscreen wipers going like the clappers, anxious people everywhere.
Hotels are always interesting, the best ones not always the ones you expect. Scores for the Ramada Jarvis in Watford? 2/10. Sorry Ramada, but non-arrival of our room service breakfast and then blithely saying 'Oh, we must have forgotten' did not go down well, nor did the trickle of cold water from the shower! By complete contrast, the Westmead Hotel in Hopwood, just outside Birmingham, scores 9/10. Breakfast very good, shower fast and hot, room large, clean, and with free Wi-fi access so that I can write this. Full marks Westmead: you've beaten London hands down.
So, should we stay or go back to sunny France and sunny people? Answers on a postcard please.