Travelling often gives one the sense that the grass is greener on the other side of the Channel/Atlantic/World (metaphorically if not always literally in a heatwave summer) and this back-to-school-week may have many of us questioning our choices.
I spent part of last week staying in 12-bedroomed splendour in a friend’s mother’s retirement project chateau.
It is a grand, 18-century stone mansion, spread over three floors with a naturally filtered swimming pond in the back garden and a sweeping carriage driveway at the front. In London that type of property would scream multi-millionaire.
But in rural France it cost all of €150,000, which would not even stretch to a parking space in some parts of the capital. Others have snapped up property in deserted Italian villages for as little as €1.
How and why do any of us resist the temptation to switch London’s crazy prices and cramped properties and up sticks to more affordable lands?
Setting job considerations aside — and they are fairly major for many of us — the fact is that by a certain age we should all be wise to the deceptive charms of the summer fling.
Life in an Italian hilltop village, Greek island or Cornish farm is heavenly in the golden summer glow, soundtracked by the cosmopolitan chatter of holidaymakers.
It is bleak once the high season hordes have rolled out of town, the restaurants have closed and the arts fairs and festivals are in 2024 planning mode.
It is fine to give yourself to the fantasy for a whirlwind fortnight but, like any long-term relationship, you should always be honest about where you’d rather come home to on a dreary day.
Returning to London this week I appreciate that I may be sacrificing space, beauty and a lot of cash to the city gods, but I do still contend I am gaining other things (a vibrant social and cultural life, anonymity and a world’s worth of eating options) in the process.