Hamish Champ: Boozing in Belgium and other Low Countries

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Belgium

As you read this I will have already spent a few days drinking some excellent Belgian beer after a few days' leisurely riding through the...

As you read this I will have already spent a few days drinking some excellent Belgian beer after a few days' leisurely riding through the Ardennes.

Along with my mate Ed, with whom I sauntered through Spain on our respective motorbikes a couple of years ago, I'm undertaking a whistle-stop tour of the Low Countries while the wife nips off to Ireland with our kid to see her folks.

Now it's true one can get round Northern France, Belgium, Holland and even a bit of Germany if we're lucky in almost less time than it takes to neck back one of those bizarre 'Quack' beers that I've been seeing about the place.

But speed is not of the essence here. It's the quality of the journey that counts on this occasion.

Much the same philosophy I am applying to my beer-drinking while in the region. I know those Belgians make some damn fine beer, and it's strong to boot. And I will be attempting to savour as I consume, whatever the temptation to get totally blattered.

With this in mind I noted with interest people's reaction last week to the government's latest health campaign viz the number of units in a given glass of alcohol.

Will the government's unit's campaign prevent some people drinking themselves to death? Who knows? Is it the government's job to see to it that people don't drink too much? Up to a point.

Either way, many don't see why politicians should be poking there noses into our drinking habits. These people also have a point, although if government let us all do exactly​ what we wanted we'd end up like the Roman Empire, wouldn't we? Sure, we'd rule the world again, but I mean, who could cope with all those orgies?

There is also the issue about personal responsibility in this drinking debate. The weak and the vulnerable have to be defended, and all that, but there's a limit here too.

At least the anti-alcohol medico Professor Ian Gilmour came out last week and said that factors in UK binge drinking were the good ol' supermarket and corner street offy, although his suggestion that booze should be taxed to the hilt missed out the people he'd already alluded to; the supermarkets can absorb the tax hike, pubs can't.

Personally I've found that the older I get the easier I find it to stop drinking to excess. True, this is largely driven by the knowledge that it will take me a week to recover from a proper session, whereas before it used to be only one or two days at most.

But we all have a breaking point. And if you are​ going to have a bloody awful hangover, at least make sure it was worth it.

Now if you will excuse me there's a Strafe Hedrick Blonde over there with my name on it…

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