We've found Blogger to be unsophisticated; it's text formatting can't be done in-app, it's shared poorly and unpredictably on Facebook and it limits what we can do with photos.
Our rendezvous in Brugge with Helen's folks, John and Pat, and our reconvening with Lee, had been one of the few fixed dates on our agenda.
On our part, the journey from Oslo took us around 36 hours (Ha! Piffle!) sitting on 7 trains, going back into Sweden, then over an amazingly long bridge into Denmark, an overnight train into Germany (where we were due to meet Lee) then Belgium.
We woke up on the overnight train to a bit of a palaver. The train was two hours behind schedule! We were due to meet Lee at 7am (who would fret if we weren't there), we had no mobile phone, no wifi, and would well and truly miss our connection to Brussels. Much borrowing of mobiles later (one didn't work, next one out of charge, next one didn't understand, next one got no reply as Lee was in the shower...) we finally made contact and arranged to meet on platform 7, Koln. The energy in our cabin was unabated as it was then announced we had to get off at the next stop and take a different train to Koln to make up time. Aargh, much hurried packing and scrambling out of the carriage! We rewarded ourselves with 16 (well, they were good!) delectable German sausages in the excellent buffet car (not hard to be impressed after Russian trains).
The five day reunion was extremely enjoyable for all. We rented a very well located, very well appointed three storey townhouse - Symphonia - for the duration, unfortunately run by an extremely overbearing and pedantic pair of women.
Our stay was full of delights, everyone taking the opportunity to out-cater each other, meeting for coffee, the kids navigating us through the old town, the odd Belgian beer, taking turns in the jacuzzi, Rosie got her long-promised skateboard to accompany her on the bike, and the grand-parents appreciated each other even more.
Brugge lived up to its reputation as a stunning town and was surprisingly busy with tourists, especially considering it's the off season. Not surprisingly there were plentiful beautiful squares, waterways, parks and buildings. And plenty of shops for the grand-mothers...
We stumbled upon quite a few seventeenth century terrace houses similar to these that - we're told - were built to house the poor and the ill. Quite beautiful in their simplicity.
The manicured trees made us feel that we'd definitely arrived in Europe.
Something that was particular to Brugge were the religious statues to be found on the corners of many many buildings.
One day, Lee, Pat and Helen went out to Groot Bijgarden to see the bulbs.
Tom went along to be spoiled rotten and smell the flowers.
We left early on the last day - with Lee, Pat and John to leave later in the morning - as we were to meet our Dutch friends (Arthur, Josephine, Sten and Liam) near Amsterdam to get the keys to their house, where we are to stay for the next week or so.
Goodbyes were funny and heartfelt. Lee was typically very reticent to be photographed without makeup and bedecked in dressing gown!
It's the last we get to see of Lee until either we return to Oz or she comes to visit us over here. We'll get to see lots of John and Pat (whether they like it or not - snarf, snarf!) when we plan to get to the UK in around September or October.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom