I cannot help but think of the wonderful movie with Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes, IN BRUGE, whenever I am going to visit this historic city. I don’t walk around looking for the film locations but the tour guides happily point most of them. I think Brugge, the town, and several of the inhabitants are the stars in this most dysfunctional of black comedies. The film is well worth seeing. I have decided today to take in the short veneration ceremony at the 11th century Basilica of the Holy Blood. They bring out the relic, a piece of cloth from Jesus’ robe, that supposedly turns to blood on certain feast days. I don’t really believe this occurs but I will put my hand on the glass cylinder and pretend to say a prayer. (And it is the funniest scene in the movie, by far!) On this excursion, I decide to see if I can find some bargains as I really must quit buying souvenirs when I travel. It is all becoming too expensive. So I spot the normal high street where the locals are shopping near the market square and scoot into a HEMA shop. They have lovely Dutch biscuits for sale for only 1.20€. A bargain. I buy three boxes. I do more shopping and photot taking, before stumbling upon a souvenir and brick-a-brac shop on Walstrass. I wander in and notice that the owner has some interesting older pieces. Not really antiques, just little bits that perhaps people had given away because they had not room for them. I am not usually a collector, so I pick up a tea cup set (which was actually English) for my sister. In the back were two cats, one black and white and one ginger coloured. The ginger coloured one only had one eye and, apparently by all reports, had been having a fight with its sibling when it was a kitten and was scratched. It ended up having to have a complicated operation, too, the poor thing. But it certainly looked content sitting in the back room of this shop. Interestingly, I mentioned to the shopkeeper that I had been to the Basilica of the Holy Blood where they venerate a relic. This was my excuse for being a few cents short on my purchase, as they ask for a contribution to keep the church running. This elicited a quick retort from this young woman, ‘Why would you give money to an organisation that condones paedophiles? Never give money to that church!’ Well, I was surprised she would talk to me about something that obviously bothering her greatly. We then had a chat about my church, the Church of England, a much more benign assembly of people which seems to have come up trumps in the child abuse situation. ‘Our Cathedral even has a gay canon – in an openly gay relationship!’ I crow. ‘At least your church lets priests get married…instead of fiddling with children’, she grumbled. Not the conversation I would expect to have in Brugge. Didn’t have the heart to tell her I had put yet more pennies into the coffers so I could light candles for my cousin’s husband and my Uncle Cy who both died recently. OK, maybe it shouldn’t, but it makes me feel better.