Saturday, February 17, 2007

Muscles in Brussels

Our second trip away in 2007 involved, books, costumes, brains (hence the muscles) and beer. So where did we Brussels of course!

We were part of a group of 40 people taking part in Pete and Kev's Brussels Book Festival of 2007, which for those of you vi sting London its not something you find on hahahaha

The adventure started well before that weekend, as we met our hosts and other participants at a drinks get together at a small Belgian bar near Farringdon a bit before Xmas. We also had team consultations on costumes, which was a very serious business.

Our team was made up of Mark, me, Michael, Danni and her friend Libby and we were "The Ladyboys", which was our cryptic team name for Ladybird books...with a twist. The twist being that we were cross dressing children's fairy tales.
Mark was Hansel, I was Gretel, Michael was Red Riding Hood, Libby was an Elf from Elves and the Shoemaker, while Danni was our Ladybird (cross dressing only by means that ladybirds are actually boys).

The other teams were "Down after the Watershed" - The Famous Five; "Away in a minger" - The Bible; "If we only had a brain" - The Wizard of Oz; "Pooh Goes Bonkers in Brussels"...well "Pooh" books and a few others, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Playboy Bunnies (its literature...not for everyone but its published).

We headed out of London on the last Eurostar on the Friday evening, after fussing about getting from work to a pub near Waterloo. I tell you Marks directions are appalling, but he will just tell you I went the wrong way!

On the train down we had a quiz to keep us entertained. However, despite on train nibbles, after all the drinking that had been going on and the fact that we'd all just come from work, we performed atrociously despite the look of concentration on the teams faces in the picture. The trip which was only just over an hour and half just zoomed by.

Once we arrived in Brussels, it was to the hotel post haste where Libby got to try her costume on for the first time. She was suitably impressed and very cute too. It was getting late, but in the spirit of fun we headed out with the other teams for a nightcap at the hotel next door that had Parisian style outdoor tables, chilly yes, but soon warmed up after a Belgian beer. (we don't normally drink beer, but recommend the Kriek cherry beer for non beer fans)

The next bright and sunny Belgian morning after a hearty breakfast, which at our lovely hotel was just a massive buffet extravaganza and it even included Belgian waffles - yummo - we were given our team briefing, question papers and we were off.

First stop was the Military museum, so obviously the boys were in their element, we had an hour and a half to run around a freezing (it was free entry - you don't get that and heating) plane hanger hall trying to find answers to vague questions where the answers were the names of books.

I think we bombed out on those ones, some were just ridiculously cryptic, like one leading to a picture of Winston Churchill and the answer was Winnie the Pooh (are you shaking your head...well so were we).

After a quick coffee stop, or beer for those keen, we crossed the plaza to the auto-mobile museum, again for the guys..."come on already" us girls were saying. Though these questions were much easier, the museum warmer and the cars more interesting to look at.

Next was lunch in an Irish pub, in Brussels still, but it was a crucial stop to get one of our collect ables, which was a Guinness beer coaster. For extra points and to gain time points we had a serious of collectable items, which included "The Grapes of Wrath" amongst other things.

We also got given a disposable camera and had to collect photos too, which included taking a photo to re-create a story of our choice - we did Sleeping Beauty, and consequently it was the most creative and we won prizes (coffee mugs) too. We actually managed to do all the photos and all collectables after much running around Brussels, with a short stop off for waffles....again yum!

The third and final stop was the Beau Arts modern art gallery, where again the questions were again just too ridiculously cryptic we had our last couple of attempts at guessing books from questions about paintings.

We got about 3 I reckon and we were very much working on the bonus points we planned to get from collectables and photo collection.

From there it was a crazy mad dash across Brussels to save as much time points as possible to hand in our answer sheets. The only problem with that is smack bang in the centre of Brussels we were halted by a real life crime scene investigation, so we dashed around that through the Grand Platz (say "cheese"), handed in our answers, dashed back around to finish our pictures, back up to the photo lab, back over to buy chocolate (as you do) and then we stopped off at another Irish pub to watch England vs Scotland in the rugby. Whew...we had mere seconds to spare to get back and changed for the costume extravaganza.

All the teams met in the lobby bar, so we could all check out each others costumes before dinner. They were hilarious, see below for some of the teams.

Wizard of Oz

Peter Pan

Asterix & Obelix (aka Pete & Kev)

Pooh and crew

After that we all just pigged out on lots of food, the buffet was just crazy and then put on our dancing shoes and headed next door to a pub/club called Le Corbeau. There we went a little silly and danced the night away in whatever space was available (including much table dancing), as the place was packed. There are just way too many pics from this, so the link will take you to see all of them -

The next morning still very much nursing sore heads, some how I escaped this, we all had a short wander around Brussels before our presentation lunch at Le Virge Noir (opened especially for all of us on a Sunday when they are normally closed).

It was quite funny and despite our fairly poor attempt at being literary geniuses (despite the fact I read at least one book a week even) we actually made it to 5th place (out of 12 teams). Poohs team (Toni, Ching, Ching 2, Lon and Dixon) came 2nd (woo hoo), but alas The Wizard of Oz, lived up to their name "If only we had a brain" and were last - but all in good humour and they did win best dressed, which they rightfully should have!

I think the funniest prize went to Mark and Michael, who won the Xmas prize (being a 1976 brochure for Italian Xmas tinsel decorations - don't ask), but not for dressing like girls, but for wearing bras all night!!

Michael & Mark - Xmas prixe winners

"Ladyboys" win for Best dramatised story created using only 4 photos" - Snow White...

And there that ends another fun holiday, and what a weekend it was, we cannot wait for the Brussels trip next year... the theme.. we think is Popular Music!

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