Regular readers of this blog will have noted an unaccustomed protracted silence? Perhaps not! However, in case you were wondering, the principal reason for this has been my absence from the UK shores for almost a month on a round-the-world cross-generational journey. My wife tries to visit her parents in New Zealand every year – her mother will be 83 in January – and I tend to come with her every 3rd trip or so. As if this wasn’t incentive enough, the timing of this particular journey was very much prompted by wanting to attend my cousin’s 80th birthday in Los Angeles and my father-in-law’s 87th in New Zealand. As we managed to score an inexpensive stop-over in Hong Kong on the way out, I can confirm that one can indeed proceed in an easterly direction and that, if the captain of the ship maintains suitable bearings, one returns to one’s point of origin without having to engage reverse gear. I have every reason to believe that this works going west as well. And I am still alive to tell the tale; no mean feat given that 600 years ago making a claim like that could have been a life-changing prognostication. This notwithstanding, I am clearly still a child of the pre-21st century as I travel with a sense of wonderment that a few hours of jet travel can carry you to a different place and a different season. Now I am not one to say that: “If The Lord had meant us to fly, he would have given us wings”, but I must also admit to an archaic belief that such long distance is something beyond our ‘natural state’. My principal evidence for this is the ‘3rd companion’ that accompanied us round the planet – jet lag. It’s real and no amount of Melatonin and/or planned behaviour modification seems to avoid the unwanted effects of one’s body being in one time-zone and one’s bodily functions in another. And is it just skewed observation that leads me to notice how airplane-operatives seem to show the signs of advanced ageing sooner? So stone me if you disagree!