Last day of our Europe leg

17 July 2018

I can’t quite believe that it’s the last day of our European trip today. The last eleven weeks have flown by!

We were annoyed by our tent neighbours last night who partied until about 01:00. I stuck in my headphones and watched some Netflix to drown out the noise, until I was so tired, I fell asleep without being disturbed further! I was feeling like a really grumpy old sod!

Going for a run always cheers me up, and as I was still surviving off the calories from the pancake fest yesterday, got myself up for a run in the cooler morning sunshine.

When I returned, Bugsy was up and dressed and Ian was making porridge for us. What a way to start the day!

It was then time to pack up, so I did my bit, then played the treasure hunt game with Cornelia as Ian loaded Bluebell for one last time. Cornelia also squeezed in a quick game of ball with Lisa and Chris, before they set off to the beach for the day and we headed off in the direction of Calais.

I drove all the way quite happily, and as we made pretty good time, Ian suggested diverting to Bruges in Belgium for lunch. It was very difficult to park, but we eventually found a side street that was almost empty of parking, so stopped there and bought a ticket for a couple of hours. It was mid-afternoon by now and we really needed some lunch. On our unintentional tour of Bruges seeking a parking spot, we’d seen a big square lined with cafés, so found them and chose a good table (half in sun for me, half in shade for husband and toddler). Cornelia devoured a big bowl of spaghetti bolognese, I opted for a goats cheese salad, and Ian had a Croque Madame with a very large beer… from which I concluded that I was driving again in the afternoon!!

Ian did a quick bit of research re top things to do in the area, and discovered a chocolate museum that was suitable for children and adults. And when in Belgium…! We scurried off there via the 83 metre high Belfry – a tower containing 47 bells that were ringing out a recognisable (but currently unidentified) melody, but all the while we were mindful of the ticket expiry time on the van.

In fact, when we arrived at the museum, Ian suggested he return to re-ticket the van, while I explored the chocolate museum with Bugsy. Result!! By the time he returned, I’d bought three kilo bags of dark, milk and white chocolate giant buttons, a chocolate beer, a chocolate liquor, a box of chocolates for Ian and some huge milk chocolate buttons with Smarties for Cornelia. 😂

The museum itself was really interesting and had, as a bonus, a variety of free “all you can eat” chocolates dotted around the various rooms. I was very good and limited us to one out of each dispenser! The museum explored the history of chocolate from the Aztecs and Mayans to modern chocolate techniques. There was also a chocolate demonstration but the chocolatiers looked a bit stroppy and it was too warm to hang around in a packed room. Of course, missing the demo gave me extra shopping time in the empty store, before Ian returned.

With another hour to play with, we meandered through the streets, admiring the medieval buildings, and enjoying the ambience of the town, before finding ourselves back at Bluebell.

Calais was just an hour away and we’re staying in the delightful Ibis Budget (not even the regular Ibis!!) – no prizes for guessing who booked this hotel as our final stopover in Europe….!

We dumped our stuff and aimed for the nearby shopping centre to find somewhere for supper. That somewhere happened to be offering a free kid’s meal, so naturally that got our vote. But the service was abysmally slow! My Welsh Rarebit was a block of melted cheese with ham on a piece of bread – weird but with a bit of Dijon, as a cheese lover, I scoffed the lot! Sadly, it was accompanied by an unpleasant glass of rosé, which soured my attempt at celebrating the successful completion of my degree and award of a 2:1 BA (Hons). I had to gulp it down, of course, but it wasn’t worth the calories!

Poor old Bugsy was knackered but soldiered on through her chicken nuggets (again 😫) but by the end of the meal, she was ready to fall asleep on Ian’s shoulders! We returned to our charming accommodation and she was up on the top bunk again, but completely refused to go to sleep, climbing down the ladder for a cuddle in our bed, then stropping when deposited back in her bed, saying “Every ten minutes if I’m still awake, then I’m throwing another gang member out”… then counting to ten, before dropping each of the six of them out and onto our bed. When they were all gone, there was a slight pause before she said “I’m bored without my gang. Can I have them back, please?!” We had to put our hands over our mouths to stop the spluttering of laughter but finally, at around midnight, she succumbed.

The room was very warm and had no air con, and there was a big sign saying that guests were warned not to open the windows due to the invasion of mosquitoes, so we lay there silently, until eventually sleep took us too.

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