WINDMILLS AND CHOCOLATE…
I hadn’t forgotten I was going to tell you about my holiday. Since I returned, though, I’ve been locked in the deadline cave finishing a book that was just a little bit overdue. However, SECRET BABY, SURPRISE PARENTS has now been delivered, revised and is safely in copy-editing. I do have two more books to write this year. They’re linked and I’ve spend the last week playing with plots, finding my heroines – and more importantly my heroes. Pages have already been written and as a reward I’m now here to tell you about my trip.
We began our adventure by train, first from Swansea to London where we stopped for the first night. We stayed in one of those vast brick and marble hotels in Bloomsbury and our first stop was the British Museum where we’d booked a table in the upper courtyard for lunch. The last time the dh was there, with the dd, he was mistaken for someone else (he has “poet’s hair” and these days does look like a grand old man of letters!) and whisked past the queue to a reserved table overlooking the reading room. This time he had to be contend with being Mr Liz Fielding – and the reading room was blacked out because they’re constructing the Hadrian exhibition -- but the service was wonderful and so was the food. We called in on the Mummies (what have they done with “Ginger”?) and then had a look at an exhibition of American prints.
Next morning we went to St Pancras to take the Eurostar to Lille. We went early so that we could explore this fabulous cathedral to the railway that was saved from demolition at the last moment largely thanks to Sir John Betjemen.
The trip on the Eurostar was wonderful. The service from beautifully trained young French men and women something that is only dreamed of these days on the Great Western, sigh. We drove from Lille to Bruges and then out to walk the City. It’s very old (unlike Belgium which only became a country after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo) and very beautiful. The traffic is basically one-way, but cyclists can go where they like and everyone else had better watch out. Only the horse drawn carriages have more respect, in fact the carriage drivers have their sculpture – Zeus, Pegasus and Leda in a carriage!
Bruges is famous for two things. Chocolate and lace. We bought both – lace table clothes for the dd and d-i-l and some bits of pieces for me, but I was very restrained with the chocolate despite the constant temptations. I’m not sure how many chocolate shops there are in Bruges, but here are a few of them! I was helped by the fact that it was very warm – not chocolate weather – and the constant scent of the stuff seemed to fulfil the senses. Eating it would have been almost too much! I did have just a taste at the chocolate factory, but it really was a case of “if music be the food of love…” We walked a lot, saw a fabulous Michelangelo statue, took a carriage ride, went on the canal – in other words behaved like total tourists! We did have loads of scrumptious food, though, and the odd glass of Belgium beer. Oh, and of course chips, for which the Belgians are justly famous.
Then we took the train to Brussels and from there to Holland. Travelling by train in Europe is just so much fun. Last year we did it in Italy with our trip from Rome to Matera, this year we really extended ourselves! The service is so good, the staff incredibly helpful. (On our return from Velp, when we had to change, we received a little print out with our itinerary.)
Holland is delightful. This time we took a trip to Velp, wooded and hilly, it’s the highest point in the country, a river bus to Rotterdam and visited the fabulous windmills at Kinderdijk.
In seven days we saw not one spot of rain and scarcely any clouds and we finally flew home, totally exhausted!