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French lessons

That’s me back from an early summer holiday – with a little bigmouth on the way, a late summer holiday ain’t happening – and it’ll take me a few days to get back to normal. So here’s a few quick thoughts:

* One week away, 897 spams to wade through on my return. Arse.

* After a week driving on (uniformly excellent) French roads, coming back to the UK is an eye-opener. The combination of congestion, bad road surfaces, traffic cameras and aggressive driving – in the south of England in particular – manages to suck every iota of fun from driving. For all my moans, Scotland is a million times better. But every time I go anywhere in Europe, I still feel our roads are about 300 years behind.

* Ferries: rubbish. The occasional clean would improve the interiors no end.

* Anti-smokers: bastards. The fast ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg is non-smoking throughout, which is fair enough. But there’s a little, exposed shelf of a viewing deck that’s in the open air. You can’t smoke there either, presumably because bloody non-smokers have whinged about having three square feet of boat that isn’t their exclusive domain. Gaaah.

* Sat-nav: brilliant.

* Opera Mini: brilliant. Particularly its RSS support. Mobile internet access really comes into its own when you’ve no idea of where you are and you need to find something specific.

* I’m really embarrassed by my lack of languages. Need to do something about that.

* The new .net is out (spotted it in a service station somewhere). I don’t think it’s online yet but my column in the current issue (black cover) is that rare thing: something I’m really proud of writing.

* Saab seats are superb, but they’re not superb enough to fix a really duff back. I can still barely walk. It’s pretty obvious that long-haul flights don’t agree with me, ’cause I’m still sore from Vegas and back.

* Factory outlets in the UK are amazing. So many unfit-looking people in sportswear. The sportier the kit, the fatter the kid.

* Catching up on UK news via RSS feeds is a superbly surreal experience, because you end up thinking that the country’s gone mad. And then you come home, and you realise it has.