Dates: 22-23rd, February 2014,
Day 0: Friday 21 February, Leatherhead/Dorking, Surrey
Car 1 is well ahead; Car 2 is firmly stuck on the M25, receiving smug texts from Car 1 about cups of tea on the ferry and the smell of Belgian chocolate. With 4 mins and 60 miles to go, chances of Car 2 making it onto the Eurotunnel train (or Le Shuttle as the French like to call it) are diminishing. Re-booking and Burger King come to the rescue.
Day 1: Saturday 22 February, Brussels, Belgium
The day starts with Speculoos spread, a new OUUEG favourite. The other breakfast item, exploding egg, is less popular. After breakfast, we move on to that other club favourite, diving! At Nemo33 (33°C water, 33m deep, Nemo33, geddit?) we meet OUUEG alum Margriet and her friend Anne who have just arrived from Holland. As it’s Metta’s birthday, David, Sam, Sarah and Geoff quickly descend to 33m to unroll a banner wishing her a happy birthday. Despite (due to?) her advancing age, Metta spectacularly fails at being a birthday girl and completely misses this. Fortunately she is then hunted down in an underwater cave, Happy Birthday is sung and birthday-y order is restored. Phew.
After-diving entertainment consists of a delicious lunch, a tour by resident Belgium expert David (highlights include the beautiful Grand-Place, chocolate penguins, waffles and the story of the Manneken Pis; the actual statue is deemed somewhat disappointing by the more sizist members of the party) and Belgian beers in the stunning Hotel Metropole bar.
Day 3: Sunday 23 February Brussels/Ghent, Belgium
More Speculoos and diving in the balmy waters of Nemo33 in the morning! Even on this second day, we are still amazed by the amount of bubbles in the water and how tickly they are. 60-odd divers in the pool make the whole experience like diving in fizzy water or indeed Champagne.
After a Thai lunch with two of Geoff and Metta’s friends added to the party, Margriet and Anne travel back to Holland and both Car 1 and Car 2 set off for Ghent. We only have enough time for a brisk walk around the town and a quick drink on a terrace overlooking the water and the old meat market (looks a lot better than it sounds!), but we are all very impressed by the beautiful architecture and friendly atmosphere of the city!
Day 4: Monday 24 February (early hours), Oxford, UK
Car 1 and Car 2 return to Oxford. Tired, but happy and full of waffle.