Friday, April 25, 2008

Back Home

I learned one thing at least whilst away - to ignore weather forecasts! They are about as accurate as the end of the pier psychic.

We left with heavy hearts because both the weather Channel and the BBC forecast cold wet weather for the days we were in Belgium. What we got was bright sunshine and 19-20c (high 60's F) warmth. So glad we did not cancel.I ought to have known really. I have yet to boob when deciding which time period to choose for our trips.

This trip ranks as one of our best. Bruge and Ghent were both beautiful. Bruge was spoilt as it was so obviously a tourist trap. It didn't seem real. Ghent on the other hand was a real, lived in, city. Bruge reminded us both of Carcassone in France which was a huge disappointment. It is an ancient walled city which is now full to bursting with restaurants and souvenir shops and that is it. Bruge was similar.

Facilities were generally good as was access. One annoying disappointment was going to the Design Museum only to discover that there was no access for disabled people at all. On four floors, steep staircases and no lift. I could have left my wheelchair and walked around with my sticks the stairs were just out of the question. The woman on reception was clearly embarrassed and apologised. Surprisingly to me, John gets more annoyed than me about poor treatment of me.

At a restaurant we did have a problem. We walked up to it and the woman clearly did not want us there. She was young about late 30's and she did not speak English to us which was highly unusual. She made it clear that we would not be served outside, even though others were there at the tables eating and she indicated we must eat indoors. That was not feasible with 4 large stone steps to get over. We ate in the restaurant next door.

In another restaurant we had an entirely different experience. We sat at a table outside. My wheelchair would not fit under the table because of the way the table supports were positioned.
(I use my wheelchair to sit on for two reasons-not having to find a spot to store it and also because most other seats cause me pain-especially the wicker ones which most restaurants seemed to have.) Anyway, the owner saw that my wheelchair did not get me close enough to the table for comfort. So this is what he did: he interrupted other diners, made them move so he could haul out a different table under which my chair fit. No one moaned or glared and in fact seemed only too pleased to help. I was flabbergasted, grateful, and yet still felt embarrassed. We then had a lovely meal and a pleasant and amusing chat with the owner all through dinner. It was lovely. We both really enjoy eating outside on the pavement on warmish evenings.

In France at Cite Europe, we came across two UK women in their 60's both in wheelchairs, but motorised. We got chatting and one of the ladies was clearly almost in tears. Not because she was being treated so badly but because she was being treated so well it was a shock to her. She said her treatment in the UK was not like it was there in France. I told her I knew only too well what she meant. Now she would have been really shocked in Germany because the treatment there is even better. Here in the UK we are treated like shit basically. Few facilities, if they exist they are dirty and the general public treat us with disdain and impatience and disgust - assuming they even notice you. The amount of times I have people lean right over me when I am in the chair or who knock me over when on sticks, which is why I am usually in the chair.

Anyway, back to the trip: I did buy some sock yarn, a gorgeous Opal single colour in deep lilac, burnt orange from Bergerre de France and also some marled grey from same. I found the only yarn shop in Ghent. I have a nose for yarn. Germany has lots of good yarn shops. France and Belgium are like the UK-very few.

I also bought a deep purple shirt, a bright blue one and two tapestry waistcoats(vests), for wearing at dog shows. No shoes this time. Boring, boring, boring. Black or brown and if they were not trainers, they looked like trainers. I did find a green pair of shoes and a red pair but neither fit me.

We went inside St Bavo's Cathedral. It was stunning. truly the most artistically beautiful I have seen. John was impressed too though he says St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome beat it. I haven't seen either and although St Paul's is close at hand, not accessible to me.

I have loads of pics I will post later.

The house felt so odd when we got home. Empty like a new house feels. Our stuff was all here but the house was empty and cold-no dogs. I find it surprising how much I miss my dogs when I am away. yes, I do enjoy enjoy the break away from responsibility. Being able to do as I wish and not worry about feeding, getting home on time or taking them out or letting them out. Yet I miss them dreadfully and arriving home to a house with no dogs is awful. We went and got them all back as soon as we could. They went nuts. They run around and howl and jump on us, lick us, howl some more. Even Nechung, 10.5yrs old and very snobby, does her dance and howl.

I have more to say but this is long post already so.....
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