Well we are on our way and have at least made it as far as Brussels.

The last few days at Bromsgrove turned out to be reasonably stressful, getting the boat ready for it's refit and selecting which belongings to try and stuff in our rucksacks. So far we don't seem to have forgotten much, but I expect time will tell.

In what has got to be a first for us we set off with our bags across a ploughed field and down farm tracks and felt that we were in Central Asia already - although actually it was only Bromsgrove. In another first, all of the British trains were running on time. We had built ample allowances into the schedule to make sure that we didn't miss the Eurostar, but these weren't needed and we sat around drinking coffee at New Street for almost an hour. We even had time to get a few photo's printed - in the past when we have met people on the road and told them that we live on a canal boat we have been met with looks of incomprehension. This time we have decided to take photos to show them.

I also noticed that there is now a Bureau de Change in Birmingham - the sign of an important international city? Pity they still can't do even the simplest of transactions though.

Virgin Trains managed to get us to London on time with no problems and we made our way to Waterloo on the bus with about an hour and a half to spare. I still think that it's a bit rude to ask our French friends to get the train home from a station called Waterloo! There was always the payback in that the Eurostar used to clank and grind it's way through Kent to the Channel Tunnel at about 60mph and then emerge from the other end doing about 160, but even this is no longer true as there are now high speed tracks in England as well. Furthermore the train was delayed at Lille, which caused us to miss the last bus to the hotel and cost us €10 in a taxi - what was that I was saying about Waterloo?

When I booked the Eurostar with our few remaining Airmiles, the sales agent offered me a 4 star hotel for €50 a night. I haggled him down to €35 thinking that there was no way they would sell me a hotel for that price. I was stunned when I got it - I have spent most of today looking at other hotel price boards - and quietly gloating to myself! The hotel is OK - I just hope Anne doesn't get too used to it as the standard of accommodation is likely to go downhill quite rapidly from here on.

We still had time to go out for a couple of beers and to introduce Anne to chips and mayonnaise - the great Belgian contribution to world cuisine.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Brussels - even if they do seem to be (a bit less than they used to be) obsessed with statues of urinating children. It didn't take us long to find the canal where we have lots of pictures of boats - proper stuff - 1300 tonners going through locks, and have been on our first boat trip.

We have also been out to have a look at the Atomium - a huge model of an iron molecule that was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1958. You can go in and look around inside if you want to, but we thought that the outside was good enough for us - and was free.

Tomorrow we are off to Germany.