In Bruges Without Punching a Dwarf in the Face!

25 08 2011

H and I had a couple of days off this week, so pre-empting a washed out camping trip to Swanage, we booked some cheap ferry tickets from Dover to Dunkirk and headed to the quaint Belgian city of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage site and throughly lovely place to have a beer.

We arrived at about midday and had a walk through the city to our hotel in the North of the City, to find our room overlooking one of the cities canals.  The Hotel Ter Brughe is lovely, but has terribly thin walls (more of which later) but for the amount it cost it should have been.

After dumping our bags we headed out into the city, where the first stop on our agenda was the Haalve Maan (Half Moon brewery) home of Bruge Zot (Bruges Fool) and Strafee Hendrik (Strong Hendrick) beers for the tour.  Full of many interesting facts, and some oddities (4% beer is for children) our guide was excellent and obviously enjoyed her job.  Once the tour was over we got a free sample of Bruges Zot (6%) and not the 11% Straffe Hendrik, which was probably lucky as I would have fallen asleep soon afterwards.

From there we had another mooch about the city and its waterways before heading back to the hotel to get changed before going out for dinner in the evening.  After the thickest piece of Sirloin steak ever we headed back to our hotel for a well deserved sleep (we had been up since 4am).

At 2am, the Spaniards in the next room arrived back, and started talking.  To say that they were loud was an understatement, and they had woken both H and I up.  After nearly an hour this got too much for me and my over tired self just shouted through the wall for them to “shut the hell up!”, which seemed to work, but scared the hell out of the dozing H.

The next morning brought drizzle, so we had a leisurely breakfast waiting for the rain to pass, before heading to the Belfry tower to climb its 366 steps.  I have never been particularly brilliant with heights, but the view was good but what made it worth the 8 Euros was seeing the mechanism ring the 46 bells.  A brilliant piece of engineering.

Back at ground level we headed off on a half hour boat tour around the cities waterways.  A lot of which consisted of the age of the bridges, but it was a great way to see this city. Before we headed home we had enough time to go to the cathedral hand have a look around before we had a meal of Moule et Frite (Mussles and Chips.  MMMmmm!) and a mooch around a Convent grounds and the park before our 26 hours in Bruges came to an end.

If you go to Bruges in the future by car, park in the train station, it cost us £3 Euros for 26 hours of parking, where as if we had got parking through the hotel it would have cost £30.  You can even get a free bus to the centre of the city.


Book Addiction

4 08 2011

I seem to have gone a little mad with buying books recently.  Damn you ebay and Car boot sales, so now I have about 30 unread books lying around.  Including George RR Martins complete epic Song of Ice and Fire (on which Game of Thrones is based), 6 more of Stephen Kings Dark Tower Books (I have read the first one, The Gunslinger now) which I bought at a car boot sale for a bargain £3.50.  I still have 3 more John Carter of Mars books to go (a series which  I am still loving), 5 of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser. 

Others include Orcs by Stan Nicholls, Pies and Predjudice by Stuart Maconie, The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, The Last Templar (by somebody).  Its quite a mix.

I am trying to get through them, but finding that I am buying more than I am reading, and I am reading quite a lot.  H however isn’t pleased with this.  Mind you, not that there is anything good on TV at the moment, and an addiction to words is better than an addiction to most other things.  The only problem is that I might need a new book shelf.

Sorry, a bit of a random one,

The Warlord Chronicles

2 08 2011

I have just finished reading Excalibur, the final book in Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy.  The three books, The Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur are a re-telling of the King Arthur legend (I guess the last one gives it away) setting the stories in the Dark ages and dealing with the Saxon invasion.

Told from the perspective of Arthurs 2nd in command Derfel they deal heavily with Oaths that are made and broken between men and kings, as well as the rise of Christianity and fall of the old Pagan Gods.  They take well known characters from the King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table stories, mix them with a bit of historical fact and voilá, you have a set of excellent books.

Now I know in some circles, Historical Fiction is seen as a bit of a joke, taking fact and bastardising it to your own ends, but he- ho, I like it and Bernard Cornwell must spend most of his time researching before actually writing.   If you like the original King Artuhur story, you might like these, but then again, what you already know of Arthur and his Knights is all historical fiction anyway. 

By the way, St. Derfel, on whom the character of Derfel Cadarn was based, was a 6th Century Christian Monk.  Mind you, this has come from Wikipedia, so this may be fiction too.