It turns out that a trip to Italy with five days in Venice and four in Verona was just the ticket to cheer us up for a while away from an increasingly chilly Dublin.
"17 degrees at home", the young lady in the check-in queue at Marco Polo airport said. A shiver went through my marrow and a sudden desire to stay in the sunny south was almost overpowering. However, back over the Alps we came and yesterday a rattling good thunder storm, with a noisy fall of large, slow to melt hailstones consolidated our return to "Winterland".
I have a vast body of beautiful photos to prove that our visit to the land of Tintoretto was really worth getting up far too early for (twice), being reminded of how I hate crucifiction (much energy was spent finding agreeable normal looking art works to admire and avoiding those most admired by people like Henry James and Ruskin), keeping ahead of the Pope's possee as he took over Saint Mark's Square for an afternoon during the first visit by a Pontiff for 25 years and eating myself into a contented fudged state of mind that has helped to fight off a sore throat and racking cough that may be due to the swampish waters of the lagoon or to the fact that, in typical Norther European fashion, I persisted in showering on our last morning in Venice, even though the people running the pleasant monastery where we stayed had forgotten... probably overwhelmed by spiritual zeal caused by proximity to His Holiness... to turn on the hot water.
However, I cannot complain. Italy will, from now on be a favoured holiday destination and "tant pis pour la France", an increasingly inward-looking whingy place that is insisting on Ireland being screwed to the wall in order to repay debts that nobody actually believes should exist.
From now on, no French wines in this neck of the woods. Italy has such a warmer, more hearty vignoble. And much as I admire French writers, no more book buying that would only encourage them to think that they can treat old allies with disrespect. One of my grandparents spent several years in the trenches in the Great War. He would be puzzled, I guess, by the small minded little nation that has evolved over time to be a place that I would actually happily pay money not to have to visit.
The Hexagone has closed its borders to refugees from Libya. It won't notice the absence of one litte housewife whose goodwill they have lost... though presumably if they stop veering politically to the right, things may, in time, change and look up again.
I had a lovely chat with a kind French family on holiday from the Auvergne and it does not come easily to write what I have put down above. However, French is spoken daily by hordes of visitors to Venice and I can always visit the Alliance Francaise in Italy in future.
I'm already planning another trip to Venice, a dream world without cars...