Well years ago, when gentry and the aristocracy sailed to India, the best cabins had rooms that overlooked the land as you sailed away. This would have been on the Port side. And then to sail home the best cabins would be reserved on the Starboard side thus the acronym of Port Out, Starboard Home (POSH) was born. I love that I know that bit of Trivia. Although saying that, when we sailed from Hull on Sunday night, all the cabins faced seawards as we sailed directly east; leaving the land at the rear.
My sister, her family and Belle and I set sail for Bruges in hopes of having some half term fun. Embarking the ship was a real kerfuffle because when P&O state you have to be ferry ready at a certain time - they lie like cheap Japanese watches. To entertain ourselves during the wait and to prevent the kids going stir crazy, we all sang to my sisters 80's pop music CD; bringing life back to T'pau and Hue and Cry. How her 4 and 2 year old know all the words is beyond me because I struggled to remember the words myself. Good job that la-la-la's are acceptable in this day and age. When my niece and nephew sing, my god, they sing like they are taking their last breath - I couldn't see for the tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.
When we got on board, the kids were so excited. Harry said he wanted to go home but then he says that 30 times a day even when he is in his own home! We got our cabin keys and went to drop off our belongings before exploring the ship. The first port of call (if you pardon the pun) was the kids play area. Its not exactly a huge place but the kids didn't mind and they always make the most of what they have, don't they? We let them run wild for half an hour before Charlotte screamed "We are sailing". We hadn't noticed that we had set sail, bang on time at 7pm. Eating on board is a very expensive affair so we settled for hot snacks which the kids shovelled down their necks with more excitement. I love to see kids enjoying their food more than I do having to eat it myself. Id rather go without to see them devouring every mouthful.
My brother in law, David, ushered their kids to Bed whilst my sister, belle and I hung about to scour the duty free. With £20 birthday money I was sure to get a bargain and I did. Radley purses had been reduced from £40 to £19.99 and I was delighted I finally joined my friend Rosie's little appreciation society in ode to the doggy bag.
As the ferry was a bit rowdy in the public places, Bex and I decided to go back to Belle's and my cabin to play cards. Bex bought a bottle of champagne to enjoy the trip with and Belle settled for diet coke. I love spending time with my sister, she is the funniest person I know and every moment with her is precious. We have had some fall outs over the years and we have both decided that as much as we often don't like each other, it doesn't stop us loving each other - so we make the most of the little time we do have. She is currently based at an RAF unit in Lincoln and has a very important subordinate within her command right now. Lets say he is a very red headed royal family member - but would she part with any juice? Not on your nelly, she wouldn't....dammit. Anyway, we quaffed the champagne and played various card games that I found easy to play (snap for starters) and went to bed. Swell, rock and groan went the ship and by the morning, my sea legs were still quivering.
We all got up to disembark the ferry in good time and drove to Bruges. We parked up really easy and got there in time to sample continental breakfasts. The cafe we went to was typically European only serving croissants and rolls with ham and cheese plus teas and coffee's. Now we have those as a treat but the Belgians have this everyday but sadly no Pan au Chocolat. The kids loved their croissants and belle gorged on ham, ham and more ham. To go with it, she drank Looza milk, I mean....come on!!!
When you order tea here you get alittle pot, a little bicky, two chockies and loads of sugar cubes. me thinks they likes it sweet over here! As we sat and enjoyed our breakkies, we kept on seeing horse and carriages go by. The kids were screaming with more excitement (can these kids get anymore excited???) and I could see the want in Ellie's little eyes.
We hoovered up our munchies and set about exploring the city. Now when my mum told me Id love Bruges, I thought "yeah well you are old and you love that kind of thing". To be honest, a day out in Bruges was more about Belle getting a stamp in her passport and fun memories for her. But my mum was right (Mums are always right, right?) and the more we went deeper into the city, the more we all gasped at how beautiful it was. We ended up in the city square which was huge and quite busy. the weather was cool but not cold and the kids were able to run around in fleecey tops which they loved. As we hung about taking in the views we could see the horse drawn carriages picking up and dropping off tourists. And I wondered. I thought about how much Ellie would love a trip on one of those but Belle and I were on the tightest of tight budgets and I could see her trying to catch my eyes (and heart) because the want in her eyes was so desperate and pleading. We didnt have to discuss the impending disappointment but I bent over to her and said that when we go to London in the summer, we could go on one then. And she didn't whinge and moan or get a cob on.
Little did I know that my Bro-in-Law had approached a carriage about the price and it turned out to be 35 Euros for a half hour trip around the city. So with that in mind I suggested to my sis that they go with Ellie in tow and I would forfeit a place just so that she could devour that treat. So I paid a portion of the fair for Ellie and off they went. It was like I had given Ellie the world and I was so so happy for her. So whilst they trot around the city, I went to find little nooks and crannies to take pictures. They were happy and I was happy. Job done!
When they got back they told me that there was much more to the city than the route we had trod on so we retraced their trip by foot and it was just the best thing that they took that trip because we would have never have seen all this:
My little Charlotty-loo-loo-laa-laa-fifi-trixabelle
Belle - grinning like a little bear......probably thinking ...ugh, I touched a boy (namely little harry to her right!)
La ferry!Beautiful houses in BrugesThumbs up Belle - for a treat horse ride around the town!My sister, clowning and making me laugh as ever.
We will live here, I know it!
Me and my schwester xxBruges is packed with beautiful walkways like this.My sister chatting with her kiddies at the end of these lovely railings.Me and La Belle on the brow of a bridge - thanks David xxHe he heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... we were tempted to leave them there!
Little nooks and crannies always please meBex and the H-meister :)I dont know why I took this but I like the geometrics, I suppose.Belle nestled in a corner of some beautiful walled gardenNow these freaky little bronzes of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse looked kind of intriguing from the front but when you took a side profile glance at them, they had rather jaw dropping rudeys that would make your eyes water....know what I mean? I swear to god, these Belgian sculptors are not shy.No wonder Bruges is called the Venice of the north - its stunning canals makes you feel all "Just one Cornetto!!"
Little side street restaurants looking forlorn yet inviting.That water did not look inviting for a swim though.Architecture on the main sqaure was stunning.This little side street bistro was gorgeous, I want to own it.He he heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - she is such a dolly :)
Man eating chips - mmmmmm, okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayThe best, of course.......I love this alley wayBikes, the best for of transportation ona land as flat as Holland.Another alley way.Her carriage awaitsDetails, details, detailsNon of the Belgian shops and cafes had removed their Valentines hearts....which was a bonus as the whole place was bedecked in redness.My sis and her kidlets who are my fave little peeps on the planet right now.More architectural gorgeousnessWe had a lovely lunch in a cafe where they spoke excellent English and served yummy food (Ellie couldn't shove this fast enough in her gullet) and the kids enjoyed crepes, sandwiches and fruits a plenty. Belgian lunchtimes are yummy!
Soon time came to get back to the car and time was of the essence shall we say. We bought some waffles and nutella with cream to finish off the day with and got back tot he car to head back to the ferry. Oh no! The Belgians failed big style on the road markings and I didn't want our trip to marred by anything and up until that point it was perfect. Panic, 24 minutes, panic, 18 minutes, shit, oh no, dammit and beads of sweat including stoppage of breath was all that could be seen or heard in that car (adults of course, the kids couldn't give a damn and Harry was fasto as it was!). We had practically gone full cricle on the ring road before we saw a sign for the ferry terminal. We made it to the gate with seconds to spare only to actually embark the ship at 6.15 instead of 5.30 as requested......... P&O are big fat fibbers.
We got aboard and back to our rooms and this time a few of us went out on the deck to inhale the brine and enjoy the views. Then the kids did play area thing again and hot snack tea with squeals of delight from the kids. These kids are the best kids ever! It was an absolute dream of a trip. When the littlies had gone to bed, Belle, my sis and I found a quiet corner and played cards with Ellie and talked about our day again and again and again. And as much as the road marking were dire, we loved Belgium and their hospitality and beautiful city and of course chocolate. Talking of chocolate, I forgot to mention one little thing. Im not sure if any of you know but the Europeans are not, erm, inhibited in the least. Beaches are packed with half nakeds and shops are full of nakedy rudeys at the best of time. And one particular chocolate shop had mens rudey bits (made out of choc) in the window even with unsavoury attention to detail on the confectionery. The kids looked in the window oggling the chocolate display and Charlotte piped up "Oh look Mummy, chocolate bones". Yeeeks, quickly we usher them away but she did not shut up about those choclate bones all day long. LOL. Kids are the best medicine, you know.
We landed in Hull this morning and were a little late getting to the car (which meant almost 50 cars behind us were waiting to disembark....oops) but you know, we were not going anywhere fast as clearing customs took forever anyway. David dropped me back off at my car and we said our goodbyes. It broke my heart to be torn away from my seriously cute niece and neph but that's the way a good trip should end! We then set off to go to my Mums where I sit and type after spending most of the day in bed (I was a bit icky and not sure if it was sea sickness.... put it this way, I can feel the swell now!). But after a belated birthday cake from mum after my tea, Im feeling a bit more together and ready to hit the hay again to dream of Bruges but not bones ;)
Im back tomorrow, on form with more samples from my new CD. The DT have been superb by making up the most loveliest of cards. Even my mum has had a go tonight and she gave me a gratefully received thumbs up. Phew, Mums know best ;)