Having berthed on the ferry to the sound of the bow doors closing, the crossing to Dunkirk was calm, cloudy and cold.
The late Monday afternoon drive across Belgium was fast and easy as we headed north-east across the lowlands, flat with misty light on the snow-ploughed fields and frozen dykes.
Dusk settled somewhere over the Dutch border and the white headlights and red tail-lights of the commuting traffic lit up the washed out salted road. 220 miles was enough for the first day.
Our stopover at Hulst was empty bar one other van and we pulled into the same spot as a previous visit. We walked through the town walls to the usually bustling Grote Platz.
Empty and icy, the soft streetlights lit up the gabled and stepped rooflines of the old Flanders burghers’ buildings.
Our favourite bar had been renovated but kept its lights low and the candles burning and we enjoyed a well-earned glass of Belgian beer before collecting frites and mayo from the steaming Frituur next door. Heavenly!
Back at Bertha, the temperature was at zero as we chomped our dinner and sipped hot tea – the 2013 trip was underway…