[Tuesday 18th March]

Even though I understand how it works, flight always amazes me. When you're sitting in a 747, thundering down the runway, it's always something of a surprise when the thing gets off the ground. Like a magic trick, knowing how it works just impresses you more. Mind you, taking off is the easy bit -- all you have to do is balance a few tonnes of aeroplane on the rear wheels to get a bit of a draft under the wings, get up to 330 mph, and hey presto, you're airborne. Or so I'm told -- I've never tried it myself. No, the real skill is in landing. I should say that the real skill is in landing safely -- gravity tends to take care of the getting to the ground thing without any intervention.

The best bit about flying is seeing great landscapes from the air. This trip wasn't particularly spectacular in that respect, but on a flight to San Diego, I spent most of the trip with my face pressed to the window, marvelling everything below. There were glaciers, terminal morraines and drumlins galore -- it was the whole of my physical geography A-level laid out before me, but would have been a lot more useful before my A-level.