This year is quite obviously a year of big events and celebrations. The first British Olympics since 1948, a Diamond Jubilee for her Majesty, but more importantly for my other half, it’s the tenth birthday of her business.
So move aside Mo Farah, excuse us please Ma’am, we’re off to celebrate so we headed for Amsterdam on the Eurostar for a social. Choosing the train not only saves a few pounds in these austere times but is a very sociable way to travel allowing not a few drinks, nibbles and a lengthy Yahtzee championship to take place over the four hours it takes to get there.
Despite being a tad chilly, the weather was dry and the team were welcomed with open arms by the town’s shops, bars and restaurants. In fact we had trouble leaving some of them. Our Hotel, The Rembrandt would not win a top award in a poll for food or comfort but it would have fared well in one for warmth and convenience.
One of the team, who had contacts there, kindly fixed up a canal boat ride with his chum “Captain Dan”. Our imaginations quickly ran to powerful engines, sleek lines, sundecks and a well-stocked bar. So it was something of a surprise to be ushered onto what could have past for a 9-yard skip with a motor attached.
“Can you swim?” asked Cap’n Dan hopefully as we gripped our packed lunches and slid aboard down the greasy ladder. Originally a rowing boat, now diesel-powered, we were asked to sit two heavyweights at the back so the prop could actually reach the water. But what our boat lacked in glamour and safety standards it made up for in heritage being a former world war two lifeboat with many a story to tell. But past bravery counted for little as a large seagull with poor toilet habits chose to relieve itself from a bridge onto Billy’s shoulder to the sound of “Roxanne” as we cruised through the red-light area (watch the video at the end of the slideshow above – you can just see the bird flying off as we go under the bridge!).
Our gastronomic highlight was dinner for eight at achingly trendy BO Cinq. Cuisine is French/Arabic fusion, lighting is low and prices high. Drop this baby into Knightsbridge or Dubai and there would be a stampede for bookings. Four hours flew by and the bar (and many others nearby) carried (most of) us through to morning. Service was impeccable and as if to prove the point our waitress even (foolishly some might say!) joined our party for after-meal drinks.
And so we headed for home, sleepless but satisfied. We left Amsterdam much as we found it but with fond memories and safe in the knowledge that nothing was left in the Hotel…or was there?….