We are at last heading south, to our Italian bolthole. At the Swiss border a guard congratulated us on our ‘collection’ before carefully placing the 2013 vignette in place on our windscreen, bringing the collection up to eight. Eight! Whatever they may say about built-in obsolescence our trusty car, with us since 2005, seems somehow so far (touch wood) to be set steady for a few years yet. I wonder if what we are doing is, from an ecological, as opposed to more narrowly economical, point of view a good thing. But we have both inherited from our parents a loathing of throwing away something that is still good or still works. Sorting out their effects after my parents died I found myself in a quandrary as to what to do with the pieces of string and old keys that my father had religiously saved and hung in his garden shed. In the end, the string went, but I still have the biggest bunch of keys you ever did see.