There are few things worse than waking up with a start at 4:30 in the morning; one is waking up with a start at 4:30 in the morning realising you forgot to set the alarm.

You may well ask why your correspondent is so concerned with getting up as such times in the morning.

Due to the increases in living costs, the German Government has made it possible for people to use local trains for a month with one 9€ ticket. It seems no-one stopped to think that with holiday season approaching, making rail travel throughout the country effectively free may mean a lot of full trains.

The previous week I’d learned the hard way that the only solution would be to get on the first train at silly o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately because it takes an hour to get to the main station, this meant an even earlier start, and now I was half an hour late.

After extensive experimentation, I can now say with some authority that swearing doesn’t slow time down. Fortunately I managed to catch the tram to central Stuttgart.

…and caught the train. Then I remembered that Stuttgart has a period in the morning when bike carriage on trains requires a ticket.

Unfortunately I couldn’t remember when that was, or when I would reach the edge of the Official Stuttgart Metropolitan area. I solved this by not saying anything when the ticket collector came by.

As we approached Freiburg, passenger numbers increased and I suspected I was approaching peak hours again, so I bailed at a place called Lahr im Schwarzwald and started what I call a “Utility Tour”; I was touring, but basically transporting myself from A to B. Not to mention schlepping all manner of stuff for being with the family…

Once out of the town of Lahr, there was the road, stretching away…

This being Germany, every few kilometres there was a village in the fields, which was a welcome chance to stop, get a drink and take some pictures and I absolutely didn’t get lost in any of them; honestly…

Soon I reached my old commuting route, so things got a bit quicker after that. On arrival I remembered that there was no food in the apartment, so out came the Xtracycle for a shopping trip.

With my usual level of organisation I went and bought a big pack of toilet paper, then opened the cupboard to find an unsealed bag full already there…