The only time airports and aeroplanes are drawn to my attention in everyday life is via the news, TV dramas and movies. So once I'd booked my flight to Amsterdam my brain had decided there was probably about a 95% chance of crashes, terrorist activity and/or body cavity searches before I'd reach my final destination.
I was heading over to Holland for a workshop with a master of storytelling photography, Peter Kemp, but it's over 10 years since I was last on a plane. Having had to renew my passport, sort out my EHIC and book an outrageously expensive parking space at the airport, I was feeling more than a little apprehensive.
For those who are seasoned travellers, I guess it's just a glorified bus or train ride, with a bit more in the way of security checks and passing time in waiting areas. But for me it's a strange and unfamiliar world where I'm unsure of the rules and expected forms of behaviour. My entire time at the airport is spent in a state of mid-level anxiety of the kind when you notice a police car behind you and while you're pretty sure you are within the speed limit, you are not entirely certain you don't have a bald tyre.
I sit in the departure area wondering if it's OK to take on board the exorbitantly priced bottle of fizzy water I'd purchased 10 minutes earlier. I know they can get really twitchy about liquids these days and I'd already had to put my toothpaste into a clear plastic bag as I passed through the x-ray and metal detection zone. I'm pretty sure... well, mostly sure... well, not sure enough to stop me worrying about it - that stuff bought this side of the barrier is all right. I decide to leave it in my pocket and push away visions of being wrestled to the ground by big burly men in suits, sunglasses and earpieces, confiscating my spring water and leaving me in a cell somewhere until my flight has departed.
Once on the plane I remember a cartoon strip I saw many years ago, where a woman is looking out of an aeroplane window and her husband, sitting next to her, is saying, "They are ants, dear, we haven't taken off yet..."
As the plane accelerates I wonder at what point it is going faster than the Aston Martin Vantage I drove back in the summer. Suddenly the nose lifts - it doesn't feel like we're going fast enough yet - and then we're airborne.
I deliberately chose a window seat. I'm staring out the small portal with the grin and excitement of a 7 year old child. It's magical.
The ground drops further away and starts to look flatter; the cars, houses and fields become smaller. The sun is now bouncing off the clouds below us and this new environment reminds me more of scenes from an alien planet in a Star Wars movie than anything I'm familiar with.
Between Scotland and Holland
Despite all the previous fears, the flight was uneventful, the passport checker didn't pause and look at me in a strange way, and I wasn't called over to one side by customs officers to see if I was trying to sneak an illegal haggis into the country.
In the end the biggest problem I encountered on my trip was once I'd left the airport and was on the train to Delft - I discovered my mobile phone wasn't connecting to any networks in Holland, so I couldn't call or text Peter to meet me at the station, and I didn't have an address for him either...