What a busy week. It all started last Sunday when I was supposed to board a Newcastle plan to Brussels. I’m vice-chairman of an EU group handling the ICT area of a project called ESCO. Suffice it to say we meet regularly over there regularly.
4am on Sunday morning an email turned up from BA to say my flight had been cancelled. This was a Newcastle-Heathrow-Brussels two-parter.
With that first flight scrapped, we had to cancel the lot and come up with a quick miracle – which appeared in the form of a new trip to Edinburgh – a direct flight to Brussels (I often end up in Edinburgh because Newcastle Airport, in terms of flights and cost is basically rubbish especially near holiday times). No problem (other than the 6 weeks it will take to get a refund out of BA and Expedia).
Off I went to Brussels. I won’t go into the details of meetings here because to the outside world they are no that interesting but let me say this was not a holiday lest the pictures suggest otherwise. Not much point in taking pictures of a meeting room, either… on the other hand if you have a camera…
I have to say, the weather in Brussels was crap… better than here in Wark but cold. There’s a photo somewhere of me sitting outside having a Leffe beer at a pub in downtown Brussels – nice heater on the wall but I still ended up with gloves on at one point. I really do like the Grote Markt in Brussels however, it’s a nice little area with great bars, friendly people, lots to see and importantly, Leffe on draft.
Parts of the city however, especially in poor weather make me think of deepest Russia. Our meeting involved travelling through such parts but the good side of that is I’m now a little more comfortable taking the tube and bus over there.
THe meeting itself took place in I guess what would be the outskirts, certainly looked that way from the view out of our window. I was there for 2 nights, the first was a Billy-no-mates night, the second with colleagues from Italy and Spain – quite nice – we went to a Greek restaurant – well, cafe.
About the only other exciting part of that trip was the return – we blew the quick arrangements we’d made on Sunday – thanks to February having the same days as March and too short notice to do the job with care!! We’d ended up booking my return flight for the right time and day, but a month from now. I found out only hours before the flight was due.
No sooner was I back in the UK and tackling the usual email mountain than I was off to Manchester overnight to de-stress – then an early flight to Heathrow and then on to Gibraltar. Another meeting, this time the bit I was interested in was a potential trading portal for the FSB – there was a presentation and the designers were there etc.
This time I struck gold with the weather. A little shabby when I got there, but by Saturday, Gibraltar weather was nothing short of magnificent. See the rock there in the photo (weather not so hot on the way in) – well, the meeting room is at the very top. Lovely. At the end of this blog are a boatload of photos which say more than 1000 words as it were.
The afternoon I arrived as it happens there was a meeting to discuss the issues that traders had/have with the Spanish government – if you’ve not read about this – and bearing in mind these guys are Brits – it’s a worthwhile read – the Spanish people are very, very nice – but their government…. not so – indeed, when reading about what they get up to, the term childish comes to mind – even the neighbouring town of La Linea is suffering through this agro – and that’s Spanish! Anyway after an informative conversation we ended up at the “Rock Hotel” for dinner, or rather, the Spanish FSB (GFSB) took us there – what a place – if you’re ever there, take a drive up – the views are amazing – not quite as amazing as the views at the TOP of the rock but amazing non-the-less and a nice hotel from what I saw.
On Friday the meeting I’d gone for took place and by Saturday, people were heading off in different directions to go home and I learned all about how to get there by train and bus – avoiding the up to 8 hour delays by simply walking over the border. Some day I may put that to use.
Anyway I took pictures at every opportunity. Enjoy and don’t forget you can usually click on these images for larger versions or (on a PC) hover for info.