To explain my recent absence, Mrs Mac and I this year decided to do something different from many people’s idea of a summer holiday.
No languid broiling of our fleshy areas on a Greek beach – we spent our vacation fund on a road trip across Germany. And while it would certainly have been way cheaper for us to holiday in a Mediterranean resort where the ambient temperature was that of fresh magma, sunbathing has never done it for us. So we instead opted for a meandering adventure through the Fatherland.
Having fallen out of bed at 3am, our first port of call was Gatwick airport. On our last few trips we have used one of those valet parking firms and, even though it was the middle of the night, our usual contact was there to take care of the car. It’s a great idea: you hand them your keys and they disappear with your car in a cloud of exhaust smoke.
The first time this happens, you do wonder if you are ever going to see your motor again, but thankfully we have used the same company a few times, so the risk of them absconding with our 10-year-old Daewoo was small, for two reasons. 1) if they were going to rip us off, they would have done it before now; and 2) it’s a 10-year-old Daewoo, for Pete’s sake.
Of course, the best part of the arrangement is that, on your return, as you are waiting for your bag at the luggage carousel, you call the company and, by the time you get through Customs, your car is waiting for you. It’s not cheap, but I’d recommend it all day.
We boarded our flight to Munich, which touched down a couple of hours later and, given our nocturnal start, we were barely sentient and very messy-haired as we disembarked. In fact, we were so out of it that we completely forgot we had luggage to pick up and stumbled straight through Customs. Suddenly realising our mistake, we stood gaping at each other. My wife, who works in travel and flies frequently, was chalk-white. “They’ll never let us back through!” she whispered.
Swallowing my terror, I slapped my face to try to wake up and, feverishly trying to recall my A-level German, walked gingerly towards the nearest border guard, who looked like he hadn’t smiled since 1974 …
Find out what happens next week.