Tuesday, 28 June 2011

From Wimbledon to Queen Victoria Hospital, via Bruges!

Well, hello everyone!

Busy weekend and beyond - hence lack of posting till today! We were lucky enough to be given two tickets to Wimbledon on Saturday, so off we toddled on the train and tram to SW19. Our tickets admitted us to number 1 court, where we saw Nadal play Muller: they had played one set the previous day, which went to tie-break and the same thing happened with the second set. We both thought that Nadal wasn't playing like a championn and in fact, Muller was holding his own service game to love and getting points from Nadal during Nadal's service game. However, once Nadal won the second tie-break, it was as if he moved up a gear and Muller lost a lot of his fight. Nadal was playing at a different level and it all got very exciting to watch. Next up was Serena Williams, playing Maria Kerilenko ( I think!) - both of them grunting fit to burst. What is it with tennis players nowadays, that they have to make really loud grunty noises?? After that, we saw a bit of the Soderling-Tomic match but by half five I was feeling quite weary, so we set off back home.  Oh, forgot to say, we had strawberries and cream  - but not the hugely expensive Wimbledon ones, oh no! We took our own and had them with clotted cream (Waitrose's finest!).

Up very early on Sunday to go to Bruges - since we can't really plan to have a proper summer holiday this year, we thought we would at least get a couple of days away before the next phase of treatment starts. My lovely husband sorted it all out and we caught an early tunnel crossing, which meant that we were eating breakfast in a very pretty Belgian town by 9  in the morning (8 a.m UK time!). Why is it that croissants and pains au chocolat taste so much nicer over there, even though they're made exactly the same way as the ones we have in the UK??

We arrived in Bruges then took ages to find our way around the evil one way system to get to our hotel, which is slap bang in the middle of Bruges. Finally managed to find it and were very lucky because they gave us the only garaged space they have, rather than taking our car and parking it for us at the car park they use for most guests. We couldn't get into our room, so we went for a wander around Bruges, armed with a map and cameras. What a beautiful city!! Wonderful architecture, a real sense of history and tradition, shops overflowing with the most intricate lace, chocolate by the bucket-load and more beer than you could sample in a month of Sundays!  We had planned to sample the traditional Belgian delicacy of moules-frites, so found a place with a lovely seating area outside and ordered moules-frites for two - big mistake!! They brought us the most enormous domed casserole, stuffed to the gunnels with delicious mussels in a cream and garlic sauce, with celery, onions, carrots and some unidentified green stuff. And a massive bowl of fries as well, those lovely crisp, skinny chips that you only get on the continent. Despite our best efforts, we couldn't finish it all but we gave it a damned good try!! We didn't need to eat for the rest of the day, put it that way.....after a slow walk back to our hotel, we were able to go to our room and I slept for about two hours (well, we had got up at quarter to five, so I was entitled to be a wee bit weary!).

Our room was absolutely fabulous - you get great bargains when you go last-minute and don't stay on a Saturday night! We had a tiny balcony, with views of the bell tower and the church spires. For the first time in my life, I slept  in a four-poster bed -oh, I felt like a princess (but not in a spoilt, pink, sparkly kind of way!). Then a nice long soak in the bath before we got changed to go out - we were originally planning to go out for dinner, but we were both still stuffed from our mammoth lunch! We stopped at a cafe right on the canal-side and had a drink in the evening sunshine - it was really warm and so nice just to watch the horse-drawn carriages go by and listen to people talking in Flemish (sounded to me like a cross between Dutch and German and certainly I could recognise some of the written words because they reminded me of German). Neil was enjoying one of the many Belgian beers available. One of the nice things is that, in common with other European countries, in Belgium you get the glass which matches your beer and they all have slightly different shapes or embellishments. I was, of course, drinking fizzy :-D We wandered around a bit more, enjoying the evening as it gradually cooled down and then stopped in a pretty little square for another drink - this time I tried a fruit beer (raspberry) and actually rather liked it. It was a bit like Pimms, though - tasted innocuous and just like a fruit cordial so you have to remember that it's actually alcohol! Back to our hotel for a cup of tea before bed - served in the "library" - and then off to bed, where our bed had been turned down and a chocolate placed on each of our pillows. That reminds me, we haven't eaten them yet!!

Breakfast the next morning (after another soak in the jacuzzi bath and my physio, because you all know I am a diligent girl....) was amazing. The usual fruit juice, tea, coffee etc, but also a glass of champagne (the real stuff, not ersatz) and an array of pastries, meat, cheese, fresh figs....needless to say, we couldn't face any lunch later in the day as we were still too full from breakfast! We waddled into town and did a boat tour around the canal, learning something about the history and architecture of the city. It was a lovely way to get to know Bruges. To work off some of our indulgent breakfast, we climbed the 366 steps to the top of the belfry and got great views of the rooftops. More wandering around, back to the hotel for a final cup of tea and then we set off for home, with a sneaky visit to a supermarket once we got to Calais. Unfortunately, due to a train having stopped in the Tunnel, all the departures to Dover were severely delayed and we ended up leaving two hours later than planned, which meant we didn't get home till nearly midnight, both of us tired but having had a truly lovely break. Highly recommend Bruges as a short city break.

Hospital this morning to see my consultant and ask him a few questions; will my shoulder always be this stiff and sore (no, but it will be for a few months yet); why does my left nostril keep getting blocked up (long medical explanation followed but it boils down to loss of facial nerve) and why is my eyesight in my left eye not as clear as it used to be (something to do with tears (rhyming with "years" not rhyming with "pears"!!). While we were there, my lovely MacMillan nurse chased up the Royal Marsden, as we hadn't yet heard anything about my referral, and she was able to tell us that they have all my documents and scans etc there and will probably want to see me this Friday (if not, then very soon thereafter) - that was good news and hopefully it means the next stage of my treatment can get started within the next few weeks.

I did have a small moment of smugness when the consultant said I was a "treat" for a doctor, as I am fit and otherwise very healthy <buffs nails modestly>. It's thanks to the intensive bootcamp and other exercise I did earlier this year, and to which I hope to return at some point in the future.

Neil and I were talking (we do that sometimes, you know) on the way to Bruges and were thinking about a top ten list of famous film quotes. We couldn't come up with a list of ten! What we did come up with was:

ET, phone home
Nobody puts Baby in a corner
Play it, Sam
Gerry, we have the stars - don't let's ask for the moon
Oh Captain, my Captain
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
You've been a long way away from me. Thank you for coming back to me.

What would be in your top 10? Answers on a postcard, please  - or, alternatively, write it in a comment :-D


  1. I've got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals

  2. May the Force be with you, literally :) x

    Apart from that:

    Do, or do not. There is no try.
    I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.
    Who is Keyser Soze?
    You can't handle the truth.
    Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings
    Good Morning Vietnam
    I’m in the dark here
    It ain't about how hard you hit.
    And this scene with Al Pacino (at the moment!)

  3. Shouldn't that be Gooooooooooood morning, Vietnam?


  4. I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

    And in that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before

    Sounds like a fabulous short break :-)


  5. Goooooooooooooooood point well made Ali.

    Madge - Awwwww.

  6. Ali my brave angel:

    "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." Silence of the Lambs
    Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" She Done Him Wrong
    "La-dee-da, la-dee-da." Annie Hall

  7. A few from my favourites:

    He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy.

    I'm making out the report now. We haven't quite decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape. (Casablanca)

    We've gone on holiday by mistake. (Withnail)

    We're going to need bigger buns. (Calendar Girls)

    Good luck for Friday, Ali :o)

  8. "It'll be easy-peasy lemon squeezy"
    "No it won't. It will be difficult, difficult, lemon difficult" (In the Loop)

    "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" (The Italian Job Original & Best)

    and the one I personally live by....

    . "As long as there's sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll". (Spinal Tap)

  9. Esther British Home Stores30 June 2011 at 06:46

    My favourite from Bladerunner
    The candle that burns twice as bright burns for half as long

  10. Black lights flashing black on a black background (HHGTG)
    womble x

  11. You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off