In a few hours I will feel elated. Then despairing. But at 11am, as I pull out of my south London street in a Toyota Auris estate, I am trying to feel calm. It’s a new career. I’m about to start my first shift as an Uber driver. You don’t join Uber for a laugh, or even a feature in a Saturday magazine. It has taken me six months and £550 in admin costs to get here. There are criminal record checks, medicals, training in how to navigate using the London A-Z – there’s no GPS in sight during training.
In crowded Britain, villages like this would be overrun by city dwellers seeking pretty weekend cottages. But France is littered with beautiful villages â€“ what to do with them all?
Through my aircraft window, the river resembled a snaking green lava flow. A couple of days later Iâ€™m swimming in it, a wetsuit protecting me from the 13C chill.
Four days - that was how long it took. When the Queen Mary launched on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1934, an ocean liner was the only way for most people to get across the Atlantic.
It may look like a sewage works on a choppy day but in the glorious jargon of London 2012 this is an "early legacy".
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.
In a pretentious moment, one might call Hardy a writer of terroir. Far From the Madding Crowd, while lacking the tragic grandeur of Tess, Jude or The Woodlanders, is the first novel to refer to Wessex by name.
A mile and a half across the bay, lies the prize of San Francisco - a thicket of skyscrapers shimmering in the early morning haze.
Two new books with almost identical titles illustrate the rise of a new literary phenomenon - the wild swimming tome.
Britain's equivalent of Oktoberfest comes far closer to being a real beerfest, although it, too, is built on a glaring contradiction.