Been time travelling.
My parents, in their nineties, are preparing to move from the family homestead of more than fifty years, to an apartment. My mother is boasting that she has not thrown out even a bus ticket since 1950. So I joined my brother and sister in getting some momentum into the process of emptying the house. My childhood and teenage years were in that house in that city. But that is a lifetime ago. Going back there raises so many memories that it is like going back in time. An effect reinforced by all the junk, stuff, books and memento's being brought to the surface. (My mother presented me with a fairly comprehensive collection of my artwork from primary school. A salutary confrontation.)
And the journey was seamlessly handled by the interconnecting components of the travel machine. Rather like the round green door of Bilbo's house, from which the road leads down and onward to a myriad places, the travel machine begins at the bus stop two minutes walk from my house. The bus stopped to pick me up on time at 13:54 on Friday and delivered me in eight minutes to the intercity station. As I ascended to the platform the intercity to the airport rolled in. Just time to grab a cappuccino from the Kiosk before the train departed - the marketing machine nibbled at me "normal cappuccino, sir, or would you like the winter cappuccino with a hint of cinnamon?".
There were only a few students in the afternoon train. Having been visiting university open days with Sophie in recent weeks, my mind has been wandering over the choices I made at that age. Another aspect of the time travel effect. I passed the time on the train with the opening chapters of "The Time Traveller's Wife".
There was some problem on the track, so we were treated to a tour around three sides of Amsterdam without stopping in any stations. The city has become familiar through our student daughters. Spotting landmarks from the train was like travelling through the last ten years - the AMC, the Heineken Music Hall at the ArenA, Philips headquarters at Amstel, the Indische Buurt where Catherine lives, De Ponteneur, the anti-squat where Karwan lived, the ugly new blocks along the waterfront, the view of the city skyline from the approach to Central Station, the island where Ruth and Karwan live, Maina's tower in the distance. Cities have something - energy, excitement, a myriad possibilities at every turn.
The intercity delivered me to the tunnel under the airport and the budget airline took over smoothly. There was time to spare on the airside wandering the electronic shops. Things screaming to be bought. Lots of CDs that really should be in my collection - new ones, old ones, reissues of music from my youth. Go back in time to the music of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, U2, and Mark Knopfler. I bought "The Economist" with a cover article on America's vulnerable economy and the comforting analysis that the world will be saved by the combined energy and strength of the developing economies and fled from the shops to the multifaith meditation centre. A sign on the glass door announced Holy Communion at 11:30, but it was now late afternoon. Sun was setting in the west and the meditation centre provided a space for several Muslims to orient their prayer mats to the east. I walked into the holy space with my boots on while they were shoeless. I sat quietly on the chairs facing the table used for the Holy Communion and tried to pray to Jesus. My back was to the Muslims whose backs were to me. An unspoken confrontation of faiths. I gave up. There was just a nice space of time for food and drink before boarding.
The budget airline brought us smoothly to EDI. The airport terminal was covered in advertising for Royal Bank of Scotland. Young Dutch guys on the flight relived the pain of the recent takeover of the flagship Dutch bank ABN AMRO by a consortium led by RBS. "The Dutch management had really been sitting sleeping" when time caught up with them.