“Fancy nipping across to Amsterdam for the Christmas markets?” my husband suggested. Images of spiced mulled wine, delicious chocolates, and cosy clusters of wooden chalets filled with magical festive cheer, floated into my mind. Well, I wasn’t going to say no, was I?
…And so we found ourselves on one of those massive ferries that plough their way overnight between Hull and Europort in Rotterdam.
The crossing was calm and our cabin comfortable – and we had found a really lovely centrally located hotel for our overnight stay in Amsterdam. What could possibly go wrong?
The rain that started during the two-hour coach shuttle between the ferry port and the city centre did not dampen our spirits. Our hotel lived up to our expectations. It was right next to the famous Flower Market and all the lovely shops and cafés in Kalverstraat and Rokin
We tried not to think about the alarming weather forecasts being put out by Sky News – 100-mile an hour gales crossing Scotland and moving south, plus the most serious tide surges in 40 years. It was two nights before our home trip across the North Sea and the weather was bound to have calmed down by then – wasn’t it?
We woke next morning to a freezing cold, blustery day with heavily overcast skies, but it didn’t matter because we had planned a lovely canal trip. The heavens didn’t open until we disembarked an hour later. Undeterred, we struggled on with our sightseeing/shopping plans and, soaked through, tried to ignore the driving sleet, the umbrellas being blown inside out, and the stings of Christmas lights being hurled every which way in crazy, wild dances. (The featured image on the previous page is what our Christmas market should have looked like, sadly it was more like the dismal wet picture below)
Later, the weather had reached near hurricane force as we huddled with other ferry passengers awaiting the arrival of our coach transfer back to the ship. It wasn’t until we were back on board, and crowded around the TV news broadcasts in the ship’s lounge that we realised the weather chaos back in the UK – major flooding, thousands of homes evacuated, roads blocked, trains cancelled….Phew!!
The weather forecast for our homeward crossing of the North Sea inspired little confidence. We were told to expect Force 10 winds, and would be sailing into a huge tidal surge. We had an outside cabin on deck nine, right up in the bow of the ship, and it was this area that seemed to take the full force of the weather. All night long we listened to the terrifying boom of the waves pounding the ship’s hull. The vessel was moving about so much that it was impossible to stand upright without being pitched aside.
It was comforting to know that the captain and crew had probably experienced much worse, and that our two sons and daughter were individually on their computers, monitoring our ship’s progress through the storm. But, not being the best of sailors, it was still a bit of a nightmare.
No doubt in the weeks and months to come I will be making good use of these experiences in some future writing project – but maybe not just quite yet. Rx