We should be proud of our country and quirky ways

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Total rest and relaxation. Recharge those worn-out batteries and return reinvigorated and ready for life and all that it throws at you.

That’s the plan for our annual two-week holiday, although it seems we didn’t need to come to the Cote d’Azur to find Mediterranean heat – we could have stayed at home!

But that’s not the point. If we’d done that, I could have tuned in to the radio or picked up a paper and I’d have been right back at work.

Yes, I know you’re laughing as it’s 28C in Alverstoke right now. But at 11pm here we’re still sitting outside, so nah.

I love France. The culture, the food, the countryside and the language. Sampling a different culture is so exciting.

With it, though, comes the despair of being British.

The French may just see us as overweight, loud and uncultured louts who enjoy bland food and warm beer.

So do we have anything to be proud of? Well, next year’s Tour de France starts in England and, fingers crossed, the last two winners of the competition will have been English.

Then, in our villa, I stumbled across the book Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson, an American author who lived in the UK for 20 years before returning home.

He wrote this book about his love of England and of all our quirky ways.

Our politeness, love of queuing, excitement over the arrival of a hot cup of tea and how we always look on the bright side of life.

We so give ourselves a hard time. But we should be proud of our beautiful character pubs with peculiar-named ales. And as for roast beef, can a cow taste any more pleasant?

Sitting in the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo, trying to seem like a well-travelled person while looking at steak tartare and bouillabaisse on the menu, all of a sudden I felt I was doing the country a disservice.

After reading all Bill’s wonderful observations about us, I filled with pride and dropped any kind of pretence at being ‘European’.

I ordered roast chicken and tutted at the French family pushing in to the queue (but didn’t say anything). How British.