Last week – or was it two weeks ago? How time is flying right now! – I drove halfway to my mums house to hand over the kids. It has become a regular summer thing – the kids get a week of being spoilt by Granny, with trips to the seaside and new scooters at the park, ice-cream and haircuts (not so much a treat as a necessity) and making lego robots, while Mr G and I get a week of apparent relaxation, although I think I explained last year why that is just wishful thinking.
And then – a casual conversation began with my sister-in-law about, would you believe, the price of cigarettes, and within minutes we had decided to go shopping.
Because – look, no kids.
It felt just like being a responsibility free twenty something again. Monday morning we jumped in the car – and by lunchtime we were sat on the M25.
For an hour.
We finally made it to the Chunnel (for you ‘Mericans, that’s the Channel Tunnel), where we spent a lovely 20 minutes discussing how, precisely, we were meant to affix those daft reflector things to the headlights of the car.
Then, bonjour et au revoir France, and we were on our way to Bruges, just a hop, skip and a jump over the border.
We sat in a cafe on the square, eating mussels and enjoying a Belgium beer,while the bells in the belfry rang out with music – ending on Auld Lang Syne. I got to celebrate New Year, in Bruges, in August.
The next morning we had a few hours to wander around the city – a truly beautiful town with cobblestone streets and chocolate shops on every corner. We looked around tat shops and beer stalls, examined the architecture and even did a spot of geocaching.
We sat by the canal and drank hot chocolate while reading a book. We wandered the streets and bought freshly cooked waffles from a street vendor. In fact, we ticked off all the boxes in the ‘Things to do in Bruges’ guidebook. (Although we did give the french fry museum a miss – time was short, after all.)
And then, as any self respecting twenty something would do – we stopped at Plopsaland on the way back to France – just because, well, you would have to, wouldn’t you?
Things I learnt in Bruges:
1. Everyone except the sister-in-law and I had seen a film called ‘In Bruges’ before coming and were apparently expecting assassins up every tower.
2. Waffles are nice, but I wouldn’t want them regularly.
3. You can spend 3 hours looking at amazing chocolate displays and examining statues of a peeing boy, but it’s only in the last 10 minutes before you have to leave that you start panic buying gifts for family.
4. Belgium beer is almost thick enough to chew.
Of course I did miss the kids while I was away. I made sure I stopped at a Belgium chocolatier and bought them delicious treats, I rang them every night of the week and enjoyed talking to them about their sprained ankle from falling off a scooter that required Great Grannies walking stick to be urgently pressed into use as a crutch (Sackgirl), the huge graze down one cheek caused by using the face as a break after lying on the swing instead of sitting (Sackgirl) and the lack of appropriate gaming equipment at Grannies house (Botboy).
But I also enjoyed taking some time out, and going wherever I wanted for the sheer hell of it.
And then – we got home, and the next day I drove off to be a thirty-something mummy again, where I got the biggest snuggles with my babies ever. Perfect.
When was the last time you felt uninhibited?