WARNING: this is being written by a Southerner - all grammatical errors are deliberate. To start then, our tale begins a place I refer to as the space/time continuum hole (AKA The Railway or The Railway Tavern-if you happen to be a pedantic cab driver...). The place looked like the Annual British Airways Hostess Convention - that many quality ladies with full kit in attendance, and Christine with a bag she could barely lift (all the cava & salty snacks), so fair to say we had all the ingredients for a total piss-up 30's style. (Who the hell drinks Cava in their 20’s?) Whilst trying to sample the delights of said establishment, scoff my lunch (thanks hen!), get introduced to all in attendance, exclaim joyfully about my journey thus far AND not choke, the mini van arrives complete with grumpy arthritic driver. So snecklifters snecked, bags stowed and a serious amount of giggling already begun, we waved farewell to Bedlington and set out for our jumping off destination (North Shields- winner of the best car park award, since Christine had thankfully parked hers at home). During our brief stop en-route, the first rule of the weekend was initiated. Madame Christine, managed to say the phrase "to be honest" four times in two minutes - although not too excessive in itself- it become something we could penalise her for, and it meant we could cram a phallic reference into the proceedings; top marks on all fronts then. So then, after trooping through reception with a few minor indiscretions committed, we finally located our lodgings. For those who have yet experience the joy of overnight ferry travel, lets just say the question “What does it feel like inside a tube of Pringles” need never cross your mind again. By the time we was sorted and settled (in the case of our cabin, a rather artful display a full range of liver-quivering spirits arranged & all else tipped out) we felt the onset of cabin fever, so retired somewhere less cramped. Accordingly, corner and cocktail menu presented themselves so we got stuck in, and Christine told us all the things she was willing to do, or we’d have to try and get her more pissed; and we all love a challenge, don’t we? Unfortunately we had to interrupt proceedings for food and a few bottles of wine later, Ms Burch and I were taught how to snap an apple in half courtesy of Julie. In fact, Janet and I were so impressed with this newly acquired skill, that we thought we’d teach everyone else later, thus justifying making off with half the apples on the boat. Eventually, we all settled down to play happily with in the more traditional pub area of the boat, featuring its very own Jeff Beck on guitar. Once all the gang were settled, time for the first penalty of the day, involving a chair, Passoa (Archers type stuff), and some rather nifty throat action (Steady). The challenge laid down was for our Christine to stand on a chair, with a mouthful of Passoa and gargle the alphabet. She did a grand job of this task -once she stopped trying to laugh and checked what letter follows S with her Ma-that is Few bevies later, Janet and I went in search of some cultured entertainment and ended up watching Graham Norton’s less talented dancer cousin showing off his belly button and girls dancing with luminous platter-sized poppadoms, found it all a bit much, and went in search of the Karaoke. Some of you may know this but for those who don’t Christine and I are cross country pals, so when I got her to sing Unchained Melody, the idea was that she’d belt out a good ‘un and cringe about the song being so cheesy. Well, the girl was cringing alright; mainly cos she was stuck on a stage with a song she didn’t know the words to. Sadly, due to matters of a buttock-clenching (me) and wallet-emptying (pricey bar) nature, we soon after chose to adjourn to our cabins for a spot of private drinking (READ: MORTAL SESSION). This was in fact the epitome of our excesses, thanks to Amsterdam’s unique blend of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll – more of that later. Being as us girls love any excuse to dress up, Christine and I took it upon ourselves to pack garments with delusions of grand fur, therefore at shitfaced o’clock, we thought the twins, POLLY and ESTER should go for their constitutional. Upon leaving the cabin we stopped to indulge in some playful rhetoric with a few retiring gentlemen, when the boat suddenly lurched, resulting in one poor soul being given a fireman’s lift to his bunk, having mysteriously soiled himself with Cava. Have I mentioned it was a rough crossing? After attempting to reach the stern of the boat and giving up, we again sought sanctuary and fresh eyeliner in our cabin, with larks aplenty until lights out - at around 4 - at which point some !*!@#tards began knocking on our door. After vaulting from bed to offer said crapwits a sound beating by way of a thank you, the parties involved promptly hid. Wusses. Four hours later following superhuman efforts by all to get clean, clothed and not piss anyone off X 3, we made for brekkie and the delights of Amsterdam. Coach trip and the sights; bicycle park, windmill, Anne Franks House, Heineken building, men pissing in perforated containers, wing mirrors on buildings, architecture, lecture on locks, and finally: Downtown Amsterville. After stopping for water and coffee, and water, we reached a conseus of where we were heading. So after loading up with more water, we headed to the floating flower market, schmoozed around some shops, and found a lovely cobbled street for Christine’s next punishment. Our lass is a bit of a Judy Garland fan as some may be aware, so it was fitting to make her skip 500 meters to the end of the road in the manner of Dorothy on the yellow brick road. Given the severe punishment being meted out by our bodies for the night before, proof the girl has steel cajones. After doing what girls do best (shopping), we got serious. Remember the bit about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll? The sex came in the form of locating the red light district and taking photos of ladies in windows – getting called a whore by a whore was an unexpected bonus-, the drugs came in the form of a spot of coffee in a café with a specialty in unusual smelling brownies and the odd Dutch rollie. Christine did in fact suggest caution -had a nice ring to it- but !*!@# it. Head first inhalation of space cakes by the brave. Events get a bit hazy from there. I recall certain purchases, marshalling a group photo in front of a war memorial, and then my architecture geek kicked in and I lost the ladies. We re-grouped on the coach back to ferry, and it was clear at that half of us were communicating in BLINK, so retiring to our rooms for a quiet chill-out (yeah, right) would be most beneficial to all. Now comes the rock and roll and my new favourite game. Take 2 slightly squiffy ladies, one film soundtrack and play 10 seconds of each song, watching their faces…hilarious & worthwhile as Rufus Wainwright’s version of Hallelujah is religious experience (Shrek 1 OST for those who want to know). Somehow we managed to change into costume, and after playing cats cradle with dresses, wrestling with slap etc we were fit to dine. Miraculously, the meal passed with no serious transgressions on anyone’s part & no contraband made it back on this occasion. Full credit must be given to all those who got fully kitted out, most memorably, those who were likewise “below par”. There was an attempt to join in with those who were fully compos mentis, and Christine did a fine job of Gina Lollabridgada, whilst cutting a rug with Kim Basinger to Mustang Sally. From that point forward, I think its fair to say it was a general meleé of drinking, dancing, and all round daftness, culminating in an astoundingly astute move towards a power nap to the next dawn. Once again, cabin chaos till brekkie, followed by a spot of petty larceny (salt & pepper grinders) Duty-free tour & my Ivor the engine impression so as not to give the authorities reasons to get the rubber gloves out… And so to the finish whereupon the lasses were reunited with their loved ones and I finally got to watch some footie!