Land at Hannover Airport. Pick up rental car. I say car, it feels so alien it might as well be a flying saucer. No visible ignition or handbrake and steering wheel on wrong side.
Go back to rental desk for help. Woman looks at me like I’ve got a brain injury. Drive down autobahn (for first time) in the dark in complete terror and wearing prescription sunglasses packed by mistake. By some miracle, arrive at mate’s empty flat in the Harz mountains at 11.30pm. Pitch black, total silence.
Whole night feels like the first 30 minutes of every horror film you’ve ever seen. Unpack. Asleep within seconds.
Next day visit one of Germany’s many Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pools. Daughter #2 beats daughter #1 in a race for first time ever.
Daughter #1 puts it down to ‘that poncey swimming club she goes to’.
Fathom car and its satnav, which is so advanced it doubles as a teleport.
Visit places we’ve never seen or even heard of. State-of-the- art water parks in the middle of forests, Disney-style spa towns with houses like cuckoo clocks and cable cars to mountain tops with air like silk.
Talking of cable cars, take one to the top of a mountain with daughter #1. High. Really high. And wobbly. Then we roll down to the bottom on Monsterrollers, giant scooters with tyres so big and wide they could fit on a tractor. Mountain air is like anaesthetic. Sleep for 11 hours.
Restaurant serves up the worst meal of our lives, on plastic logs. Waxy cheese the size of ice hockey pucks. Tasteless, but stink like they’ve been scooped out of Angela Merkel’s belly button.
Fall off rubber ring on children’s waterslide and nearly drown in three feet of water. Cycle halfway up a mountain as old ladies with Nordic walking sticks yomp past us. Gingerly inch back down with brakes on.
Double decker train to Berlin. Four-hour cycle tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours around a city with a fascinating history, much of it murderous. Great tour, superb guides. If you go to Berlin, do this. Find them directly under the huge TV tower at Alexanderplatz.
Pack up, fill a whole suitcase with unworn clothes, lug cases down two flights of stairs, program satnav the kids christened ‘Karen’, sedate nervy passenger wife and drive to airport. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was our holiday.