BIRTHDAYS, CHAMPAGNE AND A LOT OF RAIN...
It’s so long since I took a proper holiday, I’d forgotten how exhausting they are, but the dh and I have birthdays within a week of each other and we decided, this year, that we’d celebrate by giving ourselves a break.
We booked a car to take us to Cardiff International Airport (that would be on the bijou side of “international”) to catch the Cityhopper across to Amsterdam. Since we live in Wales the driver offered to get in bread and milk for us for our return. You just have to love this place!
We stayed at the hotel where John and Yoko had their love-in for peace back in ’69. We could have had the same suite but decided against it – it really would be too pathetic, wouldn’t it? I swear the eye-watering cost had absolutely nothing to do with it!
The dh thought his luck was in when he discovered a “pillow menu” by the bed. What kind of room service were they offering? This was, after all, Amsterdam! But no, it was exactly what it said. A pillow menu. You could phone the housekeeper and ask for ‘warm and soft’ or ‘multi relax’ or ‘extra flat’ (er, and what would be the point of that?)
At some point during the booking process, we had to provide our dates of birth –something to do with security, apparently. On the morning of the dh’s birthday, breakfast was interrupted by the maitre d’ and staff walking through the restaurant with a lit firework, a cake and singing “Happy Birthday”. We both looked round to see where the kid with the birthday was sitting. No. They headed straight for us, opened a bottle of champagne to go with the orange juice and eggs Benedict and my poor blushing husband had to acknowledge the clapping of a room full of total strangers. In the evening the hotel sent another bottle of champagne and another cake to our room. Believe me, we scarcely noticed the rain!
Did I mention the rain? No. Petty to bother about the weather when there was so much to see. Great art, fabulous diamonds, windmills, Delft, a clog making factory. It did let up on the day we visited windmills – although in keeping with the occasion it was jolly windy. We walked in the rain, had a lunch party with friends at a harbourside café, took a train ride – they have double-decker trains in Holland, how cool is that! And it stayed fine for our candle lit evening dinner cruise when we toured the city by boat -- strongly recommended by my editor and much enjoyed.
I returned to a pile of work – and, oddly, three Dutch translations of my books. The page proofs have been dealt with, now all I have to do is deliver a short story by the second week in June. Which is ... eeek...