As a typical mother, news of an upcoming school trip to soak up the archaeological delights of The Petrie and British museums in central London for my nine-year old elicited excitement plus the usual set of concerns. Will two chocolate biscuits in his packed lunch be enough? Will he be too warm in his coat or too cold without it? Can I really trust him to take and bring home his school cap?
On the La Coruña road in Madrid's sedate northern suburbs lies the royal palace of El Pardo. On a scorching summer's morning, the royal hunting lodge, with its tapestries woven from cartoons by Goya and Bayeu and its magnificent oak-tree-lined grounds, is eerily quiet.
Just as people said everyone had given up, hundreds of people packed out a conference hall in Tel Aviv last week to hear politicians and analysts drawn from across the religious and political spectrum debating the possibilities of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
When the European migration crisis reached its latest peak earlier this year, a Jewish friend said to me: ''This will come round to hurt the Jews - you'll see.'' At the time, I dismissed it. ''The only group this might affect are Muslims,'' I replied. He knew better. ''You'll see," he warned. And now I have.
I stood at the flimsy, makeshift fence that separates Greece from Macedonia, which pens back thousands of refugees making their way to a new life in Europe.
Two Greek border patrol officers allowed them to pass through a small gap, single-file and in small groups; mothers with babies in their arms, young men carrying sheets of cardboard to save them sitting on the cold, hard ground.
Zionism was a utopian dream of creating a safe homeland, born in the minds of Jewish refugees fleeing the horrific pogroms of Eastern Europe in the 1880s and 1890s. Some 30,000 Jewish utopians took the boat to Palestine, erecting tents and building the first idealistic socialist communes, the kibbutzim.