How and why we ended up taking a child who doesn't even like to go beyond our front door is a long story and I won't bore you with the details, except to say that our decision was a triumph of hope over experience (also, the deposit was non-refundable).
I booked the holiday months ago, in the naive belief that a week in a quiet, beautiful place might transform our son, restoring his faith in trying new experiences.
In a way, I was right. My son did undergo a transformation, but unfortunately it was from bad to worse. The one crumb of comfort is that it is much easier to restrain a 12-year-old than a teenager, so things could have been far grimmer.
During our stay we caught brief glimpses of the holiday we could have had - family trips to the beach, meals out and visits to historical towns - but sadly we were caught in a momentum that we couldn't control and ended up operating a shift system around our son.
In spite of everything, the holiday wasn't a complete disaster. The first night, spent on the rooftop of a Seville hotel, was a magical experience in which the spires of the largest cathedral in the world were complimented by a full moon, darting swallows, a rather nice Spanish beer and a naked woman hanging her washing out on the building opposite. Life doesn't get any better than that.
I also enjoyed my terrifying drive into the centre of Seville, during which an old man on a bicycle led me around a labyrinth of back streets that were barely wider than our car. Quite how I managed to reach our hotel without scratching the vehicle or crushing anyone's foot will remain a mystery.
Seville is apparently the hottest city in Europe and even at the beginning of June, the temperature reminded me of Death Valley. Kerbside tapas bars tried to alleviate the stifling heat with nebulising water spays, but they were no match for the thick stone walls of Seville Cathedral:
Mrs Steerforth and friend
The cathedral was awe-inspiring, but my favourite place was the stunning Royal Alcázar palace, with its Islamic-influenced architecture and breathtakingly beautiful gardens. We went in the evening, outside the normal tourist site opening hours and were able to experience the ethereal tranquility without having to jostle with coach parties of visitors:
After a day in Seville, we drove down to Los Caños de Meca - a very pleasant seaside resort that is slightly spoiled by an excess of dog excrement and hippies (not the nice, eco-warrior ones, but the old, leather-skinned variety whose brains have been addled by four decades of marijuana), where we stayed in a German-owned modernist house.
With the exception of a bizarre trip to Gibraltar (which warrants a separate blog post), we didn't do an awful lot. My wife occasionally went running with the friend who'd bravely agreed to come on holiday with us, whilst my sons pottered around in the grounds of the house. I read a book about London and drank Cruzcampo.
In many ways, it was idyllic. The weather was perfect and the only sounds we could hear were of birds and the distant roar of the surf, but in spite of this (or because of this) both boys kept asking when they could go back to England. For them, paradise consisted of bad food, computer games and mild weather.
I have learned my lesson.