Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Across the canal

Two weeks ago today, we took the plunge and went across the North Sea Canal, from Belgium to the United Kingdom by ferry. Roads were icy so we anticipated we had to leave extra early to be on time for the ferry check-in. We left home at around 4:45am... ugh!! That's in the middle of the night for me!! But, all went well and we arrived safely in Ostend. There, I completely forgot that while the UK is a member of the european union, it is not one of the Schengen group. We got checked inside and out, passport controls, etc. Unbelievable for a country that's part of the EU. Oh well. We find ourselves a good comfy seat on board and stand outside when we leave the port. It's beautiful. The lights on land that slowly disappear, then the sunrise a bit later. Just plain gorgeous.

I've been with the ferry to the UK before, I think I was 10 years old. Lots to do on that boat, there were different places to get something to eat, several bars, shops, kid's corner, movie theatres (albeit very small ones), etc. Of course, these were the times there was still tax free shopping on board and those were the days before the high speed trains. Now, there was absolutely nothing on that boat. Kid's corner? Yep, but closed. For goodness' sake, give kids something to do on a 4 hour ferry ride!!! Heck, give the grown ups something to do! I don't *need* the tax free shop, but a shop nonetheless. Ya know, it would have been nice, with some magazines, newspapers, souvenirs, just something to do while crossing the canal. I wouldn't have been so bored!!! Good to know if we ever do this again that I need to take something with me so I don't go completely nuts. Good also that this was very early in the morning, and I still needed to catch up on some sleep. LOL

ohhhh, I see land!! there it is! There is good ol' England!! We get off the ferry in Ramsgate and drive to Margate for lunch. Hmm, not much there it seems. We end up going to a KFC coz  we were looking for something fast too.
Across the street is a W.H.Smith and I *know* the new Craft Stamper issue is out, so I go look for that. I find a new bead magazine that I've never seen before, but not what I came in for. I ask the young girl at the register... and this is what the conversation went like...
"Hi, I'm looking for The Craft Stamper. Do you have that?"
"No, we don't have Stampers" huh? kind of a strange answer I thought, but I'm not easily deterred...
"Do you know where I could get it?"
She rambles something about a couple of stores, some of which are at least a 2 hour drive from there. HUH?
Me again:
"Strange that you don't have it, coz I checked and you carry all the other cardmaking magazines."
"Oh, it's a magazine??" errr, say what????
THUD----> the sound of me falling over in amazement to this utterly crazy response.

It starts to rain (what else in Britain, right?) so we head back to the car and drive all the way up to Southend-on-Sea where we will spend our first night on UK soil. I'm quite tired, so I take my afternoon nap. In the mean time, Jan goes out for a walk and exploring where we might have dinner. Of course we are way too far from the Pier, unlike what it said on the website where I booked the little hotel. He couldn't find much he said. "Well, did you go down to the Pier?" "Nope, too far" "I agree, but did you go down near the sea?" "Nope, I couldn't see any lights so there's nothing down there." Okay, so we walk around in the pouring rain, both having a big umbrella and still managed to get soaking wet, and finally we find this chinese place that has buffet. Yumm! We go in... where's the buffet?? Hmm, strange. I get a menu and the only thing on it is the buffet. Jan has a menu that's totally different from mine. Again, hmm, strange. As it turns out it's a buffet "on order". Huh? yep, you can order up to 4 starters and if you want more you can order other starters or more of the same, but only if you ate everything. Same procedure for the main course. How funny!! But clever too, I must admit. Not so much wasted food this way, right?
The next morning we take a drive along the seaside to pass the Pier too. And what do we see??? Riiight!!! All kinds of neat little places that serve food! The look on my face when I turn to Jan.....


1 comment:

cockney blonde said...

Oh Wezz, I'm afraid I had to giggle. If you want something doing its always better to do it yourself....
Still, beautiful sunrise photo, x

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