It probably wasn’t a good sign when I got us lost in Britain. Our first stopover was to break up the journey to Dover, staying at Aidan’s brother’s house in Letchworth. Unfortunately, I managed to direct Aidan off the motorway a stop too early and we spent a good half an hour trundling down some tiny country lanes before we found our way back to civilisation.
I won’t mention the fact that half an hour into our journey, Aidan became convinced he’d left the PC on at home…
After a relatively dull (and sleep filled) 6am ferry crossing to Dunkirk, we began the first proper leg of our journey to Belgium. Now, I should probably explain a few things about travelling and me. Whereas most normal adults have grown out of their travel sickness at the age of about five years old, I still suffer with it quite badly. However, normal travel sickness tablets make me incredibly drowsy – not good for a navigator! So, after some research into alternative remedies – and a conversation with a Boots pharmacist who insisted that homeopathic remedies were ‘all in your mind’ – I bought some ginger tablets from the Glossop Wholefood Shop on Friday and a big bag of mint imperials. I think that I will forever associate Germany with the smell and taste of ginger and mint. Anyway, map-reading whilst trying not to fall asleep or be sick is not one of my super-skills. Aidan has been incredibly patient so far with: my lack of knowledge about roads; ability to fall asleep between vital junctions; constant nibbling on car snacks; inability to explain which road to go down without either gesturing or shouting, “That one!” usually when it’s too late. We’ve done quite a few U-turns so far (“We’ll have to do a U-ey…”).
We arrived in Brussels about midday on Saturday and immediately commenced towards our first flea market. From that first market alone, we discovered that WGP was in great abundance compared to the UK. We bought a huge Bay pot for 10 Euros, some smaller ones for a couple of euros and a Scheurich Fabiola glaze for 3 Euros. In addition to this, we got a very (too…) large Maia print for 3 Euros. I love the picture, but I have a feeling it is going to become the bane of our journey.
As chance would have it, there was a free festival on the way to our campsite for the evening and one of our favourite bands happened to be playing: iLiKETRAiNS. The festival was quite small but with a large stage under cover for the bands to play on. We managed to catch the end of Tokyo Police Club before iLiKETRAiNS came on to some strong applause. This was probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen the band play to and everyone seemed to be really appreciative of the band. Not as much, however, as a rather drunk (or stoned) Belgian man standing next to us. I have never been witness to such passionate, slightly Spanish matador-ish dancing as this man displayed. He stamped his feet, raised his fists, beat his chest, jazz-fingered his way through the entire set; only pausing to offer his cigarette lighter to others around him – despite not smoking himself – and to clasp random strangers about the shoulders in glee. The music was pretty fantastic; the band were on top form and there were a few new songs thrown in which sounded good. One in particular sounded fairly epic and I could easily imagine it reverberating around a much larger venue.
That night we stayed in a large campsite in Belgium – Les Murets – where we arrived at 8 pm, went for some food, slept (albeit disturbed initially by a very close train line), woke up at 6am and went onwards to Tongeren. Not much to say about Tongeren other than it was slightly disappointing. It is supposed to hold the largest flea market in Europe every Sunday – yeah, for extremely wealthy fleas! Not our standard of junk at all, even if we had been spoiled by the bargains in Brussels.
Those finds were not bad at all, we thought, until we found our first Trödelmarkt in Deutschland itself. It was a tiny car boot sale; yet on the first stall we bought three WGP for 1 Euro each, two Italian donkeys for 1 Euro each and four WG plant pots for 50 cents each. 50 cents! The best one was a Roth pink chimney vase – very similar to what we’ve been eyeing up on Ebay for the last six months or so. By this point, Tina (our trusty Ford KA) was already a mess. It honestly looked like two tramps had been living in the back of it. Yet still we filled it with yet more pots…
Onwards to Essen and the Ruhrgebeit.