Why the Suez Canal is my Watford Gap

If you come from south eastern England, there is a good chance you have heard of the Watford Gap. It has gained a kind of mythical status as the gateway to London and return to civilisation from the savagery of the North. It is a modern day Hadrians wall where south represents normality, and the comforts of home and North is where you venture only to see your Great Aunt Mabel or because your team is playing away. For most southerners passing the Watford gap represents leaving the north behind, the taste of a cup of Tetley’s almost in sight. In reality of course it is just ubiquitous service station on the M1 a fair distance North of London.

The Suez Canal is, in reality is just a 100 mile long ditch in the desert that allows ships to visit the pirate hunting grounds of the Southern Red Sea without having to circumnavigate the continent of Africa first. For me however it has that same mystical status of the Watford Gap. Passing northbound through the Suez means you are departing the unfamiliar cultures, dialects and cooking of distant lands and returning to the warm familiarity the Mediterranean, almost understandable languages, familiar looking people and of course decent beer.

Today we are passing northbound through the canal, returning to the blue waters of the med after a 5 month absence. In 10 days or so we will reach Ukraine where Tania and I will disembark DIscovery, our home for the last 9 months, and take a well earned rest. But first I get to visit two new countries in two days, a remarkable feat mainly because I am running out of new countries to visit. Tomorrow we will be in Beirut Lebanon, which quite honestly is something I didn’t expect to be doing, the following day I will be in Syria, number three of the five “Axis of Evil” countries proclaimed by George W. Libya and Cuba are the other two I have been to, in case you were wondering.

But for now, I am just enjoying our slow and steady passage North in this desert ditch, swatting flies and dreaming of a cup of Tetley’s

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~ by jasonrow on April 16, 2009.

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