"I am a woodlander; I have sap in my veins," Roger Deakin writes. The late author is on a mission to get to the heart of something huge and elemental - to understand not just trees, but the very essence of wood.
The sleek, cramped Eurostar glides out of St Pancras at lunchtime; a couple of hours, a nip across Paris and weâ€™re at Bercy, boarding the Palatino. The name conjures up in my mind an age of glamorous European sleepers but the train doesnâ€™t live up to its heritage.
Britain's equivalent of Oktoberfest comes far closer to being a real beerfest, although it, too, is built on a glaring contradiction.
It's the last word in sensual languor. And one of the most famous bottoms of all time.
Before dawn on 5 July 1943 explosions lit up the Russian sky and the earth shook to a huge bombardment. As the sun rose, waves of German panzers began rolling across fields of sunflowers and wheat.
There's a perception that children's literature involves endless picnics where the strawberry jam and lashings of ginger beer never run out.
Stress is a word we throw around like confetti, yet no one knows or cares much what it means. "It's like defining sex, it's pretty impossible," says the managing director of a company selling stress tests.
The image went round the world: the body of Terry Ford, a white farmer killed by Zimbabwe's notorious "war veterans", being guarded by his Jack Russell terrier. For many the sight symbolised the country's descent into tyranny under Robert Mugabe.
I remember the radio broadcast - three bodies found in the Channel, a yacht missing. But I only took a close interest a few days later when it was reported that accident investigators were examining the hull of the P&O ferry Pride of Bilbao.
It may look like a sewage works on a choppy day but in the glorious jargon of London 2012 this is an "early legacy".
In the 1970s, idealistic young activists created a wave of experimental schools - no compulsory lessons, no timetables, no rules. So what happened to the kids who attended these free-for-alls? You wait an age for the green man to let you cross Liverpool's Scotland Road.
'They put a gun to the back of my head. I heard them cock it. It jammed'