My dad has always had a thing about going to Bruges. No idea where this has come from. I have only been to Belgium once and found it a slightly odd place. It is best know for being the head of the EU, home to Poirot and Chips and Mayonnaise. With that combination of government buildings, crime and fast food it’s the sort of Swansea of Europe. Also people just pass through it to get elsewhere (again, a bit like Swansea). It doesn’t really have it’s own language either. They speak mainly Dutch, German or French (this is going to be fun for me and dad. 3 languages to not understand). It does have the Euro and before that it’s currency was the…errr…the….I have no idea. That’s how much attention I have paid to Belgium.Bruges however does look lovely. Karen and I had decided that we would take mum and dad for their Christmas, Birthday, Mothers Day, Fathers Day present all rolled into one. On Christmas day, we presented them with a guidebook to open. Confused faces (but there again dad had started or the sherry by this point. It was after 10:00 am). We then explained that we were taking them away. They seemed happy. Dad celebrated with another Sherry.
Prior to telling them, we had been doing some research into the best way to get to Bruges. We could fly using the flag carrying airline (Air Belgium? Brussels Air? I really, really have no idea about Belgium). That would get us into Brussels where we would then get the train to Bruge. It would take at least half a day door to door. The other alternative was that we fly with Ryanair for half the price to an airport to the south of Brussels, or France as its more commonly know, then get a bus through Brussels and onto Bruges. Half the price, but 3/4 of the day to get there.
The other option was the Ferry. Bruges is only 8 miles from the coast, Ferries sail from Hull to Zeebrugge. Might be an option, but we hadn’t looked into it by Christmas day. On Christmas Morn, I was dragged out to do my usual “carve” the turkey routine. (By carve I mean butcher it into random sized chunks. Having a sherry beforehand does not really improve my knife skills). I left Karen and dad discussing the holiday (fatal). By the timethe Queen’s Speech came on the two of them had planned our route, decided on cabins and I think dad was even planning what breakfast he was going to have. The ferry it was then.
We drove over on the M62 to Hull. Me being my typical neurotic self I was obsessed with getting there on time and so we set off way too early. I was concerned about the roadworks on the M60. To me this “smart motorways” upgrade is my nemesis, to mum and dad it was like a tourist attraction.
“What’s in those blue pipe And?”
“Errr, no idea”
“Why are some cones blue?”
“Errr, no idea”
“Do these Smart Motorways work?”
“Errr, no idea”
I think the Highways Agency have missed a trick there. They should have day trips to the roadworks. They could be like the Alton Towers for pensioners.
“Ooooh we’re going on the contraflow”
I guess the words “Hull”, “Ferry’ and “Terminal” in the same sentence should have prepared me for Hull Ferry Terminal, but it was a bit disappointing to say the least. We checked in (we were the only people there so it took about 2 mins) and then we headed through to security. Now I haven’t been on a ferry for a while so didn’t know what you can and can’t take on board. As we got closer I noticed that you couldn’t take knives on. I have a small Swiss Army Knife which l take with me most places. I always take it out when I travel on planes, but didn’t think anything of it today.
At this point mum pipes up “I’ve got my knife with me”. I know that mum has a small knife which she uses for fruit, so I assumed it was that. I went first. After a quick mooch through my undies, he frisked me. I explained about my knife. He seemed more impressed with my USB stick in my pen knife than seeing it as a security threat so he let me through.
Next mum and dad went through. I could see a something was amiss so I went back. At this point I discovered that mums knife was not a small fruit knife but something akin to a Samurai sword (all be it in a pink plastic case). It was confiscated.
I think the security man must have thought that we had come tooled up for trouble.
“What on earth did you bring that for?” I asked. “It’s when we get tough meat in Spain”. You could butcher an entire swine with that knife I thought. Luckily he let me take mums knife back to the car so that was saved (and he never found her numb chucks or knuckle dusters). We finally got to the lounge and enjoyed the red hot liquid from the drinks machine. Half an hour later we boarded. What happened on the ship. I’ll tell you tomorrow.