We went via coach, overnight ferry with dinner and entertainment, to land in Zeebrugge for a short trip into Bruges for a day. Bruges was a beautiful tour from the medieval through to the eighteenth century, by foot, canal boat and horse gig,
on narrow cobbled streets where the bicycle reigned in anarchic supremacy, tinging bells at you from all directions. There didn't seem to be any rights of way. Chocolates and Belgian beers predominated among the mighty gilded churches and the reis of
the canals. It was stunning and a glorious day. The sea sunsets en route by boat overnight were astonishing, with real violets and pinks in the lights falling down into the water.
On board ship, the entertainment was varied, starting
on the coach in from Hull with a Geordie stag group in full flight verbally and on the dancefloor (night one), by night two past cutting a caper, despite the live act's encouragement to stand up. Night one had been enlivened also by French, Russian and Dutch
holidaymakers, uninhibitedly gallivanting about together and accompanied by some stately jiving from a few elderly English holidaygoers, whose blood was up. On night two, all these foreign influences had departed and only phlegmatic British northerners
were left. Nobody danced, it being far too public out there to make a show of yourself. The singing duo, a lively pair of young women doing their best to drive some life into their attentive but silent audience asked, "Anyone from the South? London?
The Midlands? No? All from the North? O.K. We'll take a short break now. Get some more drinks in from the bar, people!"
Everyone did but reserve was still in place. By the third set, the last dance invitation
to 'all you loving couples out there' to at least stand up together, met with a similarly stony response. Amongst some clearly long wedded folk, there weren't any, it seemed, who felt they fitted that description. The stag Geordies were too far gone
to do more than clap occasionally. Earlier, two perfectly hair helmeted woman, faces smoked into crevasses long since, had joined us sitting on the deck before dinner, to say they'd been coming for years, but only for the fags. They didn't like
art or history, they told us firmly, when we asked how they had found Bruges, and in the past you had three choices of meat at the carvery. A poor do, these days, then, for them. Well, apart from the discount ciggies, that is.