COLUMN: The Ely Grumpster says ‘life is never a permanent holiday’

The Ely Grumpster

The Ely Grumpster - Credit: Archant

• As SCNF 9043 trundled into London St Pancras at 17:30 last Saturday, it marked the end of the 2018 Grumpster Italian adventure (Bay of Liguria).

Sad, but accepting of the fact that vacations are temporary moments in time, on which the curtain must inevitably fall. Life is never a permanent holiday, unless you are Prince Andrew.

• I am conscious of the fact that I am a curmudgeon who needs to improve his image, so my missive will focus on the positive. I am intrinsically incapable of penning 400 words without a moan, so the structure will be: 2 poor experiences; 2 “could have been better” and 4 “great”.

• So what wasn’t good? (1) Genoa. Port disappointing, town had a seedy feel, noisy, poor accommodation, plus half the mossies in Italy feasted on me for two whole days. (2) The campers near us at Levanto who decided to party until 3 am. A few well aimed egg mortars brought that nonsense to a close (though Doris somewhat unimpressed at missing out on her breakfast omelette).

• “Could be better?” (1) Too many nice beaches are private, where rapacious property owners charge you a small fortune for the privilege of sitting on a tatty sun lounger. (2) Torino. Fascinating place but awash with graffiti, even on ancient buildings. Prosecute the philistines and make them clean it up (ideally at the hottest time of day and wearing a thick coat).

• Great? (1) Trains. What a wonderful way to travel. Reasonably priced, quick and fun. Security at St Pancras and Paris nowhere near as awful as the airports. Not one bad journey; (2) Pas d’anglais. A solitary nasal cockney whine assailed my eardrums – complaining in a restaurant (quelle surprise); (3) Levanto. Truly exquisite. Attractive beaches, rocky coves, great walks, quaint shopping area, affordable eateries and to trump it all, an apartment in the hills with a terrace overlooking the Bay. The experience of sitting drinking white wine and watching the sun go down cannot be put into words; (4) Portovenere. A small island with a historic town, fortress, churches and delightful harbour-side bars. Accessed by twin-outboard motorboat. Lost my Kent hat, but hey. Highlight of the trip.

• Conclusion? Just love Italy. It has everything. Just hope they let us in when the BREXIT crew drag us out of Europe next March.

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