Hitting the Eurostar was a dream after Hotel California. Straight on a train, no fuss, headphones on, off to sleep and arriving fully refreshed two hours later in Brussels. This is now my preferred way to travel. Effortless.
Anyway, the reason my Mother and I had decided to go to Bruges was for the Christmas market.
“Won’t it be lovely” enthused my Mother “ It will be all Christmassy and pretty”
“Yes” I replied “Now let’s have a look to see what they say about it on Tripadvisor”
This is a stupid thing to do and yet I always do it. I never do it beforehand or I wouldn’t visit anywhere (Like Hotel California) but for some sick and twisted reason I have to see what other people have got to say. And it went like this:
“ What a load of shit. Seen better products at Primark” said one.
“ If you’re going to Bruges for a Christmas market then my advice would be to stay at home” said another.
My Mother and I looked at each other. “ It doesn’t matter” I said waving my hand as if to dismiss the comments that I had been so eager to read “ Bruges is a fabulous place all on it’s own, the Christmas market is irrelevant”
And then I read this:
“ I wasn’t impressed by the market, far too many wooly hats for sale” this made me laugh.
“ But the worse thing I saw was someone sticking trolls to baubles and having the nerve to sell them. Hideous” Now, I have to say, this piqued my interest. Why would someone choose to stick trolls on ornaments and sell them as Christmas decorations?
“Brilliant!” I exclaimed “ That’s it. I’m on a mission to find the Christmas troll hut and buy one for all my friends. That will be hilarious!”
We arrived at Bruges which looked lovely and our hotel was a far cry from yesterdays version and I felt like I’d arrived at Downton Abbey. Splendour, marble, chandeliers and finery. Posh toiletries, fluffy towels and champagne breakfast. My Mother had redeemed herself with this superb choice of accommodation and I felt much better. I instantly hit the bathroom and washed away last nights trauma.
“Come on” I said as I emerged from the bathroom smelling of roses and simpering lilies. “Let’s go for a reccy and find the trolls” I urged.
We walked along the cobbled streets of Bruges and passed so many chocolate shops I wondered why I had never moved here.
How is one to resist temptation when it has your name written all over it
“Shall we have a Flemish stew?” asked my Mother peering into a beautiful little Bistro place, covered in fairy lights.
I have never been comfortable with the word Flemish but didn’t let that deter me from sampling the native dish. As it happens, the stew was scrumptious as were the Belgian chocolates, mulled wine, more Belgian chocolates, bier and so on. I left truly sated and 10 pounds heavier.
As we walked around the market I have to admit that the folks on Tripadvisor had relevant points. There were too many hats for sale, it was over priced and there wasn’t anything you hadn’t already seen before except for when I turned the corner and there it stood. A sparkly wooden hut full to the brim of plastic trolls swinging from multicoloured baubles.
I burst out laughing as soon as I saw it and then felt horribly guilty when the lady in the hut (The troll maker) sang “Hello and welcome”
“Oh my God they ARE hideous” I said to my Mother “We need to buy loads”
I asked the lady if I could take a picture of her stall and she happily agreed. She was so nice I began to feel evil about laughing at her stall.
“What made you do this?” I asked “I mean, why do you stick trolls to things?” I enquired as innocently as I possibly could.
“Ah” she nodded “ Troll is very, very lucky” she peered into my eyes and to the very depths of my soul (she did, I felt it) “If you don’t buy one you have no luck” she finished.
Now this is the sort of witchety-voodoo-hullaballoo kind of thing that happens to me. They must sense that I am now petrified of NOT buying a troll incase something bad happens and no matter how much logic and rationality I apply to this absurd notion, the fear of being cursed or suchlike wins.
Hence, me and my troll spent a very happy Christmas together.