Noel stood in our spacious hotel room in Bruges, squinting in the reflected light from the spectacular chandelier, I thought I detected a certain smugness as he sat down on the fine linen duvet and sank into the luxurious bed, scooping up the complimentary chocolate and reaching for the champagne.
See, he said, this is what happens when I choose the hotel.
I had to agree, it was a very fine hotel indeed, and Bruges is a beautiful city, full of historic buildings and the three things Belgium is famous for, beer, chocolate and chips.
There was something very exciting about being in yet another European country. Even though the border was unremarkable, it was thrilling to see signs in another language which, if I'm honest, seemed to have far too many 'a's and 'v's, a bit like the word aadvark. Belgian Scrabble mustn't be much fun.
Choosing Bruges as over overnight stop on the way back to Blighty was a stroke of genius from Noel. Not that I'd tell him, he was looking far too smug as it was. We'd considered Lille, which seemed to have no hotels at all and Dunkirk, which boasted splendid beaches, but also no hotels, what was going on? Where were all the hotels? In Bruges, it seems, a city just 90 minutes from the Channel Tunnel.
Noel finished off the chocolate and champagne and suggested we wandered around the town. Of course, I agreed, camera at the ready, but he was still lookng a little too smug for my liking. And I did have a pen, paper and pin handy…..
It wasn't until we returned from the delights of Bruges that Noel commented on how giddy people seemed to be, especially when they saw him. No, it's not you, I said, just the 'kick me' sign I pinned on you back.
Fortunately the room had a spare bed.