Beryl’s 1952 Continental Holiday

Introduction by Barry December 2015

In September 1952 Beryl and three friends (one being Sylvia Poole) from Moorfields Eye Hospital went on holiday to Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Beryl kept a diary for a part of the holiday. I hope to put her photographs onto this Web page soon.

A part of the holiday (the hotel in Blankenberg and the train and ferry tickets) was pre-booked through the London Office of the Belgian Travel Service, and paid for in sterling; the remainder of the holiday was paid for out of the £25 travel allowance in force at that time.

Diary of our Continental Expedition

Episode 1

Saturday 13th September

An early start was made and we met in London before 9 am. After a cup of tea we proceeded to the train.

10 am, we’re off. At last we’re really on our way, Blankenberg ahead. We go through Kent, and see the hops and speed on to Dover.

The Customs, passports out, and other procedures past, we reach the boat.

We snuggle onto a deck chair and as dark clouds gather, down comes the rain. On the boat it seems strange that one can buy sweets without coupons, and they also come round selling cigarettes and brandy, cheaper than at home.

3½ hours later we see land, but oh does it look desolate, and very flat, this desolate coast we later find consists of sand-dunes.

At Ostend we had a long wait at the Customs but eventually we were away, and went for our tram.

Here we had another surprise: they are small, cream, have musical horns, and often 2 or 3 are joined together only the front one being attached to wires. We now spend our first Belgian money, 20 francs.

After about 40 minutes or so we arrive at Blankenberg. My first impression was of newness and cleanliness.

Now for the hotel, it looks very nice, and lovely beds.

Suppertime draws near. Ah food! Lovely hot soup, salmon (fresh) and hors d’oeuvre. Sausages (meat in them) etc. We then went out to buy cards and stamps. It seems strange to go shopping after dark.


We all slept well.

Our first breakfast: coffee, rolls, cake like bread and oodles of butter.

There was a Labour meeting in our street and a band. Later a meeting of an archery club and the Mayor was present. Exploring of town.


Afternoon, we walked to Zeebruge. It was a lovely walk along the sand dunes.

Supper We were amazed to see all the luscious cakes and bananas in the shops.


Today we explored more of the town.

Usual continental breakfast. The shells on the beach are lovely. Market Day today. We have seen some people wearing clogs, and one in national dress.


We then went out to tea and had a lush cream cake and tea. The cake cost seven francs.

There is an English shop in Town, and we go there if we get stuck, but on the whole we manage quite well. Tonight we are going to Bruges.


And then a dash for the autobus for Bruges.


Tonight they ring the carillon. It’s quite a long trip, half an hour. Everywhere is very flat and we saw many whitewashed houses. At the entrance to the town is an illuminated arch.

We walk across the square and we find the canal, and go on a trip (25 francs) around the illuminations, and it is so out of this world one almost expects to see a knight in armour ride over the bridges to rescue a maiden in distress. And so back to Blankenberg.


We rise late; usual breakfast.

We went along the Promenade and sat on the Pier writing cards. The weather is fine but there is a strong sea breeze. Children (and adults) ride around here in pedal cars, and the kiddies have horse-drawn (wooden) carts etc.


This afternoon we have walked as far as the harbour, as we were going along the shore we saw the cake man on the sand so I went to get a photo, he saw me and very kindly stopped and posed for me. So a little while later we bought some of his cakes, huge great hot doughnuts, with oodles of custard cream inside and covered with icing sugar.

Today we have also had our first paddle, we can’t pluck up enough courage to bathe.

This morning Sylvia and I bought some raisins and sultanas, there are plenty of all kinds of dried fruit in the shops.


Tonight we are going to have an early night as we have to be up at 7 am as we are going on a tour to Brussels.

Up at crack of dawn (we hope).

After an early breakfast we await our little coach. It is a small 8 seater. The coachwork is largely plastic.

We start our trip, and we go through much flat land. We see several wind mills, dog carts and people wearing clogs. We then come to the Autostraat which runs from Oostonde to Bruxelles. It is 50 miles long and a straight road, we passed a maze and a lake for water skiing. we stopped at a café where they make sand pictures called....???? and we were given some fruit, gratis: apples and pears. We then carried on to Brussels.
It is a large place with some wonderful buildings. there is a large church which has taken fifty years to build so far, it is being built out the money donations received.

The Palace of Justice is a super place, and we saw many lawyers and also a court sitting. We also saw the King’s Palace. (He was out.) The Tomb of the Unknown soldier. The Grand Place with its wonderful old buildings (here we had a guide). They are really marvellous. We also saw the statue of the little boy. We also saw the arch built to celebrate fifty years of Belgian independence. We had a lovely wander round the shops and bought 250 grams cake for 15 francs, they were miniature cream cakes.

We had a packed lunch, one ham pistolette, a two egg omelette and lettuce pistolettes and a banana.

We saw lace makers in Brussels. We left Brussels at 3.30 pm for Gent where we stopped for thé. We had it in a café in the crypt of the belfry. We went around a large church with paintings round the walls, and the pulpit had an apple tree and a snake round it.

There are lovely buildings here as well. We then got our own baby coach back to Blankenberg and a welcome supper

And so to bed, ready for another busy day.

Holland next:- !!!!


We started soon after 8 am in a little coach, and we drove to the frontier, through no man’s land into Holland. We stopped at Flushing and at .... to see the memorial to the Commandos. We had to cross some sea to reach Flushing which is on the island of Walcheron, an island that was flooded during the War. We toured the island visiting Westkappell and Oootkappell and Middleburg, here it was market day and we saw people in National Dutch costume, but they disliked being photographed. Here I met a Dutch Guide. We then finished the tour of the island.

Food of the day

We stopped at about 11.30 am to eat our packed lunch at a nice café where the owner was at one time a member of the Royal Dutch Household. We had soup and lush café with cream! Our rolls were Dutch cheese and omelette and lettuce and an orange.

Tea. We just had a cup of coffee at Sluis.

Our visit to Sluis:- This is a town (rebuilt) near the Dutch frontier and is a typical Dutch town. It has a lovely flour mill which we went over, it can be worked by electricity or wind. It was an experience, and we had some photos taken half way up. We then returned home.

chicken pasty, veal etc

Another happy day has ended.

Evening - collected my snaps and bought my bag.


Our last day at Blankenberg. Raining today, and rather windy with fine periods. Usual breakfast. Went to market and did some shopping. Buying odd presents.

Savoury rissoles (baby ones)
Fish and potatoes
Creamy rice pudding and nutmeg

And we celebrated with coffee.

This afternoon we have packed and we went as far as the tram station to find out our tram for tomorrow.

Supper: Savoury macaroni, liver, potatoes, coffee.

Episode 2 of the Expedition

Off to the Grottos

Farewell to B
Train to Brussels
Cross Brussels to QL
Away to Jemella

We take a super de lux taxi and hunt for a hotel. Settle for Hotel du Commance. We take a walk.

Delicious soup
Pork chop (one week’s ration)
Oodles of chips
Apricot tart
Café filter

Slept in double beds, very comfy.


Coffee au lait
Rolls (plenty) ½ lb butter on table
Home made jam

Off to Grottos at Han Quite a journey down to the valley to the grottos, and then to get to the entrance we take a tram up a winding “mountain” pathway. We saw some wonderful scenery from the top, and then down again to the valley.

The grottos are certainly wonderful, but gosh was I glad to see terra firma once more.

By this time it was raining. We had café and then proceeded back to our hotel for our “picnic”.

We then went out to tea and had café. and proceeded to the Grottos of Rochefort. These again are very wonderful and we saw a balloon ascending 80 metres. But it was nice to reach the air again.


Bill for two days 237.50 Belgian francs. And so to bed. Tomorrow Luxembourg.

Episode 3

Luxembourg ahead

First view rather disappointing but we enjoyed it later.

Hotels very dear so we try British Consulate, they recommend Hotel de Luxembourg, Rue de l’Eau, next road to Palace of the Grand Duchess. We went for a walk and Freda took out to thé. My coffee had real cream with it. Sweets etc appear to be cheaper here. People speak quite a lot of German so here goes!

We have a wonderful view from our schlafzimmer. At supper we find the chappie from the Consulate is here also.

Meat - veal?
Potatoes, spaghetti
Egg custard and cream

When talking to one of the other guests after supper we find that nearly all the guests are English and either work at the Consulate or on the Schumann Plan.

They now have a Puddle In Water Street, Luxembourg!

(Pun on Sylvia Poole)