I’ve spent the past 10 days living in San Francisco on an extended trip for work. I’ll be spending more time here this year, all going well, and I can’t find too much to complain about. Mostly, I like San Francisco. I mean, it’s stupidly expensive and everyone takes themselves a little too seriously, but it’s a good sort of serious. Like they’re seriously into their thing, man.

In the tech capital of the world. Lots of people reading, but I’m yet to see a Kindle. HOORAY for books!

We promised to take Mr B’s parents away when they came to Europe this year. Being who we are, we suggested Iceland; after all, there’s nothing quite like taking someone from Australian autumn and introducing them to Arctic spring. This isn’t cruelty; it’s educational. After some uncertainty on account of a spat of poor health (mine), I booked us late flights for a 5-night escape to the northern edge of Europe.

Of the many things we would tick off our list of cultural experiences in the US, I hadn’t really considered low-budget air travel as high on the list. We were flying Frontier from Des Moines to Denver, dumping our “executive SUV” (as the Budget salesman pimped it when selling in the upgrade; we were so over-tired and jetlagged we didn’t even notice we were being upsold, we were too busy nodding and signing anything he put in front of us) that had so comfortably conveyed us across the past 1300 miles.

It was in South Dakota and Grinnell when it sank in: Americans really are nice to each other practically all of the time. And they mostly seem to really mean it. This comes as complete culture shock to any Brit, I suspect, but particularly to Londoners. Our lives as social animals revolve around restraint, concealing or counterfeiting emotion, exuding disinterest or engaging in combative exchanges of chiselled sarcasm. Nothing is so terrible that you can’t make a joke about it, and snide comments are just another way in which we protect ourselves from baring our souls. London takes everything and nothing seriously, so oscillates between gaiety and aggression in a whirlwind of sniggering, shouting and rude remarks.

Our long late summer is finally fading into autumn. I love autumn. Every year, I get excited by the return of cold crisp air, and the brief rich colours of the trees. I never used to notice the shortening days (only the darkening mornings), but now that I run, this is autumn’s down side: getting used to running through the dark.

Most magical tale of our Scottish weekend* – being told that if we went far enough up the largely uninhabited** glen, we’d find a lake, and in the lake would be an island covered in rhododendron bushes.

* but only spooky if you read the right books as a child. Looking at you, @helpful_mammal.

** this autocorrects to uninhibited. That would be quite different…

In case you aren’t partial to Twitter and Facebook, the faeries didn’t get us last weekend in spite of their best attempts at Otherworldly mists.

Skye was spectacular as usual. Our cosy and very comfortable B&B looked down on the swoop of heather and peat that descends into Portree, positioned to admire the rain lashing the town below and catch the winds face first.

For windy it was. We laughed in the face of the elements, wrapped in Goretex and a Fiat500, and went exploring.

Yesterday, I had a lovely relaxing day with @katejkatz. Tomorrow, I fly north with my boy to escape over the edge into the wilds.

After a friendly suggestion from BA that we might like to take a trip before mid October, accompanied by that threat that if we didn’t we’d lose our dragon’s hoard of accumulated airmiles, going away seemed obvious. It didn’t take long to settle on Scotland; we used to go almost every year, but it’s been 3 since we last got there, when we nearly (but sadly didn’t) got stranded on Islay by storms.