It was time to recharge the batteries. No break since September, so the thought of a short four-night cruise was so welcoming.
We boarded Aurora in Southampton. A great white ship with a buff yellow funnel, it’s modern but with a nod to tradition with its passing resemblance to the old Canberra.
The destinations were Bruges and Amsterdam.
The ship would spend the night in the former city before sailing back to Southampton.
There was a really eclectic group of passengers on board, from wedding anniversary couples to 50th and 40th birthday celebrations and a few hen parties.
Many had not cruised before so, as I’m now rather seasoned, it was interesting to hear their opinions and offer advice.
On our table of eight, they couldn’t believe the quality of the ship and the service.
Another table said the words ‘Butlins afloat’ only to be put in their place by another group of passengers!
But Amsterdam caused a stir for many. How can a city with an area of debauchery such as the infamous red light district also contain one of the most upsetting stories of the atrocities of World War Two?
For anyone who has yet to visit Anne Frank’s house, I urge you to go.
Almost 70 years on, the queue to see the house in which she and her family hid from the Germans stretches down the street.
It took an hour to get in, but it was well worth the wait.
Barely a teenager, she and her family hid in two rooms in the top of their house. For two years they had to be so quiet as not to disturb workers downstairs.
If they were caught, they knew they would be taken to a concentration camp and certain death.
Two years on, they were betrayed. Anne died a month before the camp was liberated. Her father survived.
Sat on the deck of a cruise liner in the spring sunshine as we sailed across a now-safe North Sea, with no U-boats to look out for, I realised we are fortunate to live in this peaceful time.
A visit to Anne’s house makes you realise just how lucky we are.