Last week I ventured out to post the annual Christmas Crate to irisangel - post office was mercifully quiet so decided to pick up some Euros while I was there. Then ventured to Mugen Tea House for a charity raffle. Bought a strip of raffle tickets. Didn't win anything, but I did get to indulge in chocolate orange flavoured tea and a cranberry brownie. Both of which were yummy.
Went into town to pick up a copy of Gremlins (as part of my pseudo Christmas film collection) and do some Christmas shopping while I was there (needed to pick up something for my wifey and my husband-in-law). Went home, speedily wrapped gifts and then went back out to meet inflatablefish in the pub for the traditional trip to the Christmas panto. Can't believe we've been doing this for eight years in a row. Spike seemed to like the pun-filled Star Wars cook book (Boba Fett-accinni etc) and the cuddly snow dog :) Panto itself was entertaining enough, but I think that by the time I got there I was too exhausted to really get into the swing of things. But I laughed at the terrible jokes and sang along to the Aretha Franklin tribute song. So it was still worth the trip :)
Sunday I ventured over to Newcastle to visit Justicar Xhalax in Newcastle to trade Christmas gifts and fangirl over all the things. Gifts were exchanged (beautiful Dark Angels artwork, O-ren Ishii in Funko Pop form and Vikings series 1 & 2 - thank you Xhalax!!) and I treated her to a Mass Effect scarf which I then resisted the urge to steal. Went over to the Metro Centre which I haven't visited since I was little. Seemed a lot bigger back then! Though I had fun window shopping and weirding people out by standing next to Xhalax as she recited the names that her robot butler could pronounce in Fallout 4 ("Ass...Assface...Boobs...Boobies...Cock.
Fast-forward to Friday. Met vanillafire and nichadaemus for Helen's spontaneous birthday meal. Was lovely seeing them both again and Coast 2 Coast did some nice food.
Up early the next morning for the train down to London. Train was held up so only managed to check into the EuroStar with 1 minute to spare. Got in a bit of a panic about that but settled down once luckykaa and I were on the EuroStar feasting on tasty cheeses. Made it to Brussels and met up with Neil's friend Barbara. She seemed lovely but I was being a bit shy around her so not feeling very talkative. Have always been a bit rubbish about meeting new people. But I got to have tasty Belgian chocolate mousse which was totally worth it :)
Next day we explored the Christmas market. There were a few huts on the doorstep of the hotel which formed what we dubbed Mini-Canada. Lots of Canadian beers for sale and just about anything and everything containing maple syrup. Not being a huge fan of maple syrup, I was a bit weirded out by the whole thing. But the people there seemed really nice and friendly.
Looked around the Christmas market. Demonstrated my maturity by laughing my ass off at a stall called 'Choco Nad's'. Didn't help that there were lots of..erm...chocolate ball shaped truffles for sale. The truffles themselves were lovely though so I bought a bag to share with my mum and sister when I'm up in Scotland in a couple of weeks.
Went over to the Atonium for a look around. Lots of engineering/architecture porn to gush over and a nice bar with an awesome view. Kept my promise and bought Neil a beer. Went for a further explore and got to play on the disco light tunnel (imagine the tunnel from Willy Wonka sans nightmare fuel) before having a wander around Brussels. Visited what I dubbed the Beer & Chocolate District. Went to the Cheese Cake Cafe for food (my plan to have a light dinner backfired spectacularly when my omelette turned out to be bigger than my head - but I had cheese cake and it was lovely!). Discovered that the cultural highlight of Brussels is a statue of a boy peeing. Visited the Grand Place which was gorgeous! Went back to the Christmas market. Lots and LOTS of people there but a few more stalls open. Bought my mum a Christmas present and treated Neil to some Gluhwein (still the most foul smelling drink on the planet) before escaping the crowds and collapsing back at the hotel.
Sunday was more relaxed. Decided 20 Euros for breakfast was a bit steep so went in search of crepes. Crepes were duly found and eaten. Went over to the Comic Book Museum. Bought a keyring of the rocket from Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon. Decided that we were both too tired and too poor to pay to look around the museum itself so wandered back into town. Neil went on the outdoor ice rink (a decision he seemed to regret instantly) and I bought him a maple lollipop from Mini-Canada for being brave. Went on the ferris wheel to get a good view of Brussels (a decision I seemed to regret instantly) and Neil bought me a chocolate lollipop from the Beer & Chocolate District for being brave.
Chilled in the hotel for a an hour and a bit (Neil makes a very comfy pillow) before heading back outside for the Christmas parade. The floats were nice enough (I had a dance off with someone in a bear costume), the song was SUPER catchy and one float seemed to be the opening credits of Doctor Who as performed by interpretive dance.
Went to the Food Salesmen District (I don't know Brussels, okay? I had to make place names up!) and went for some cheap food as we were both running out of cash. Restaurant was very nice, very quiet and played 80s cheese while we ate. Really nice way to end the holiday.
Came back today (though I got another chocolate lollipop for patiently waiting while Neil did some last minute Christmas shopping) and made very tentative plans to visit Salzburg next year (though Neil has never seen The Sound of Music so I should probably inflict that upon him before we go there)
Pre-Christmas this weekend. In which I shall be attempting to cook stew (found some turkey mince in the freezer that I can use for Christmas stew!) and dumplings, doing a traditional Christmas dinner and watching Christmas films with Neil before we go our separate ways to spend Christmas with our respective families. Then I'm back up in Scotland for Christmas, back to Sheffield for work and then down in London for New Year.
No rest for the wicked.