Hey peeps.

We had the best time in Holland last weekend with some of our most favourite people, and while I enjoyed the hustle and bustle (and of course the very many different beers), I’m glad to be back in the relative tranquility of home.

It’s our third visit to the Groningen beer festival, which is in a beautiful old church and generally a very civilised way to spend an afternoon.

The day was started, as is now the tradition, with a good old stomach lining of kroketten. For the uninitiated, they are deep fried cylindrical breadcrumbed delights, usually filled with a kind of stiff bechamel sauce mixed with meat. Like a totally pimped Findus Crispy Pancake. I was properly concerned that I couldn’t have them this time, but no, behold the vegetarian version, with potato and cheese! You eat by smooshing them into buttered white bread and applying mustard. Love them!

Afterwards, my other favourite Dutch delicacy, stroopwafel, made fresh in the market while I watched and the size of my head! Happy days indeed!

Then, into the beer fest. Beers with such names as “I like big hops and I cannot lie”, “Witcheshammer” and “BBC Four” were quaffed and enjoyed. Plus a fair few others…… We had the best afternoon, you know when everything is just right, people are just happy and generally a bit silly. Lots and lots of fun.

Be thankful I didn’t share the footage of the ladies singing along to the Moana soundtrack…..

The following day, after a lovely brekkie and saying our goodbyes, we headed off on the train to Amsterdam for the afternoon, and for us overnight at the airport, as we were flying back to Stanstead the next morning.

Was roasting in Amsterdam, the most beautiful day, so of course we found a dark dungeon of a bar…. We 6, were the only people in, but fortunately the Aperol Spritzes were massive, although the beers came in night nurse cups to the dismay of the boys. There were weird pictures of negligee clad ladies from the 60s pasted to the ceiling, and about 10 minutes in, we were treated to live ear-splitting accordion music, which was interesting. We only stayed for the one…..

Carla had done some epic foodie research and we took a short tram ride to Foodhallen, a most excellent street food vendor collective, housed in huge industrial hangars just outside the city centre. There were multiple stalls selling everything you could wish for, and a load of vegetarian choice for me which given France is so terrible at this, I was taking full advantage of. Bao buns and gyoza, vegetable tempura including artichoke and sprouts, and tofu summer rolls for me, just delish. You could have had everything from iberico ham, sushi, tacos, pizza, mezze, hot dogs, there was also craft beer and a gin bar, so much choice. I had frozen yoghurt to finish, with strawberries, cinnamon granola and white chocolate. So damn good.

After we were done, we headed back to the Citizen M hotel, which is right next to one of the many runways at Schiphol. Your bed is against the window so you can just watch the planes, I kinda like it. It’s a quirky place, and the room is controlled via tablet, lights, blinds, tv, temperature etc, so the tech mad hubby loves it. I’d prefer to not have a shower in a Houdini escapology tank right next to the bed but hey, it is a good shower. Space and design is everything in this room, some of the solutions are quite ingenious as the rooms are fairly small. It’s all giggles until 2 of you are trying to pack and brush teeth at 6.00am, where every move turns into a weird tango just to avoid constantly being in each other’s path. I see why he loves it when he’s here for work, and it is a fun hotel, but no more than a night at a time for me, otherwise it would start to annoy….

Slight flight delay, about 35 minutes, so with a connecting flight from Stanstead to Limoges we were a bit anxious, but fortunately Craig’s insider knowledge as Mr frequent traveller, of where to stand on the terminal shuttle at Stanstead, meant we were first through security and made our connection with ease.

I had priority boarding, due to being allowed a cabin bag then, so Craig was in the normal queue, while me, my cabin bag, and about 3/4 of the rest of the flight all seemingly also had priority boarding. What’s the point of that then?

As we were rushing to get to the gate, down a fast moving but narrow-ish concourse, a couple of ladies with large bags, just stopped dead in the middle for a casual chat. Grrrrr…. Then, in the boarding queue, a lady with resting bitch face and no indoor voice was bellowing at a little girl for no real reason, other than liking the sound of her own voice. Then behind me, a couple of (as we ooop North would say 😉), shandy drinking Southerners, clearly having taken their travel knowledge of France from a couple of episodes of Allo Allo, were banging on about French food. “It’s all them escargots and them frogs legs innit!” My palm immediately goes to my face. FFS.

Then I realised. People. I can’t be around most people. I’m just too intolerant of their nonsense. I need my dogs, and the birds, and the cows and the quiet. I’m old, I’m grumpy, and here’s the thing, I’m pretty OK with that.

So here we are, back in the frosty morns and blue skies of rural France, and I couldn’t be happier. Poly tunnel is up, veg has gone into the veg patch, and we even bravely ventured into the village Co-operative shop, where Craig accidentally bought cider vinegar instead of actual cider, much to his distress. Fortunately I spotted it before he tried to drink a glass….


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