We set off from Horley railway station: small shops, weedy car-parks, and the yellow stockbrick Victorian house with a neon sign upstairs advertising tattoos. I have to force myself to notice things so familiar.
South London arrives with angled lines of near-black brick terraces. Next to the track is a jumble of garden sheds, tarpaulin-covered shacks and secret dens. At Clapham Junction a weatherboarded station building with sash windows looks out of time. A sole trainspotter registers our engine's passing.
Into Victoria and onto the tube; from the outer reaches of the Picadilly line I see a sign for Heathrow Palace Guest House.
Carrying my bag along interminable corridors at Heathrow, the walking shoes begin to make sense: "Ugliness well spent" is B's verdict.
Eventually, we get out to the plane (18 rows of seats - not exactly jumbo). Aeroplanes puzzle me. They travel so fast, but no part of them appears to move: speed with zero haste. With rigid wings and engines whose working baffles me, they seem sustained by a joint suspension of disbelief in the intuitive truth that such a thing cannot possibly fly. No flapping, no feathers, not even any sails; only the sight of re-fuelling robs them of their mystery.
About three-quarters of the way to Munich, the pitch of the engines drops, and shortly afterwards my ears pop. For many more minutes we are in cloud, then suddenly we see land, much closer than I expected. Far lower than at Heathrow we are still over countryside, the fields divided into strips, not a scrap wasted or uncultivated. A brown river curls between separate halves of land.
Very close to the ground we are still turning, and as we land we seem to bounce and brake sharply. Then the opening announcement is in German: we have arrived. Glorious sunshine, Simpsons clouds, and the wonderful feeling of being just far enough away from home.