17

Aug
2012

The Horrors of PHRET

Last week I returned from a wonderful holiday in Switzerland and Italy, rested and rejuvenated, my batteries recharged, chock-full of unused clichés and ideas. In fact, I have so much to blog about, I’m not sure where to start.

Should I tell you about Switzerland, which I had previously only ever seen gift-wrapped in ice and snow: the incredible diversity of its fragile flora in summer; the Swiss families harvesting hay while the sun shone; the wonderful walks along Alpine ridges with glorious valleys dipping away on either side; the almost constant desire to loudly sing songs from The Sound of Music; the tiny lift that edged its way up to our sturdy chalet, Jägerheim; the brief glimpse of the ferry to Luzern, far below, setting off across the deep blue from Altdorf, where Wilhelm Tell was born?

Or should I tell you about the Italian province of Umbria, where I found an old friend living a new life in a glorious, thick-walled villa just under a hilltop overlooking Lake Trasimeno: the winding hairpin road leading through the spicy woodland to the ancient fishing village of Passignano; the ambling tours of the medieval cobbled streets of Gubbio and Cortona; the Eternal City of Rome, where the heat embraced us like an overbearing Italian mamma; where we stood on the sun-baked upper level of the Colosseum, babbling our awesomes with tourists from all corners of the globe; where we slowly ate our lunch in a pool of shade under four umbrella pines beside the basketball court in the orchard of the Villa Borghese; where we fled to a lake in an ancient volcano and watched fire-fighting planes dipping like swallows into the rippling waters?

Should I discuss with you the horrors of PHRET – Post-Holiday Re-Entry Trauma – or should I bloody well count my blessings and keep my promise to Jasper at KLM to deliver the next instalment of my alphabet blog about the origins of city names beginning with I and J; explaining that the Turkish city of Istanbul gets its name from the Medieval Greek phrase for “in the city” or “to the city”; that the name of the Indonesian capital Jakarta comes from the Old Javanese/Sanskrit “Jayakarta”, meaning “victorious deed” or “complete victory”; and that Johannesburg is named after two surveyors – Johannes Meyer and Johannes Rissik – who were sent out to inspect the goldfields that gave birth to the city and clearly thought this task was important enough to warrant naming the new city after themselves?

Or should I just go on another ungrateful, pointless rant about the counter-evolutionary joys of camping? About the fact that my wife and children are out on the beach enjoying the sun while I sit at home writing this blog?

I really don’t know where to start