Happy days

Belgian train

Well I’ve had quite a happy time here in Belgium despite many pangs, and some angst at the beginning. Now, after four weeks, it’s time for me and the pusscats to head home but not before a few more days out, both alone and with Wilf and Gélise, We had all originally planned to visit Antwerp but then it was a solo affair so I decided to go by train. Conveniently it is possible to get a train from Acren north to Antwerp but Belgian trains don’t work like that. First you head south all the way to Silly then turn east and a shuffle through Brussels and then turn north and eventually get to Antwerp more than two hours later (it’s only just over an hour by car). And there’s no refreshments trolley which is really a good idea as the loos are just too scary for words even wee ones.

In Antwerp I came across a small botanical garden originally for medical students at a nearby hospital.

After lunch I then took another train and headed to Kalmthout where there’s a very interesting arboretum (and if you’re a RHS member you get in free). We had both wanted to visit the garden in January 2011 when the hamamelis is in flower but we didn’t and I can’t remember why because it would be amazing and Jane would have loved it but there you go, life’s going to be full of those wee wistfulnesses. It had been raining heavily and the ground was very waterlogged so I had to do improvised plastic bag galoshes (one step nearer to being a bag lady). As with previous Belgian gardens, this one was also full of quirky, mostly amusing but sometimes disturbing sculptures. There were also some lovely trees and eventually the sun did come out.

We arrived in Ghent in time to have a wander around one of their three UNESCO béguinages. A most interesting concept and place although showing signs of age, disrepair and change of use (bit like myself).  

Béguinage gardenStriding out
The usefulness of the blog was evident when I could neither remember nor find the delightful deli diner we had previously found in Ghent.

But of course Jane had blogged that outing so I was very pleased to treat Wilf and Gélise to lunch.

Aula chefAmuse boucheMmm Aula burgers

It was the Gentse Feesten, an annual musical extravaganza full of noise and colour with impromptu performances at every corner.
Spot the dollyToo much to choose
I could have stayed and enjoyed the din but I couldn’t resit another train journey back to Acren. But not before an indifferent pide (Turkish pizza) topped with carrot cubes and green beans – too weird even for a vegetable lover.

Gudrun with bikes

I’ve spent the past two days sorting, packing, dithering and loading the car for the return journey. The cats continue to ignore all activities apart from occasional and inconvenient interest in the open door. The major challenge was the clean and jerk lift of the bicycles onto the car roof rack. The installation of the rack itself was not without head scratching and rueing the lack of roof rails on the Golf. I did receive offers of help from more than one male occupant at the Bâtiment but quipped that unless they were planning to come to Edinburgh to help unload, I would just need to manage myself, thank you. Anyway, the bikes are up and I have a new technique involving the use of my head when things don’t quite click into place with the initial lift … So tomorrow morning happy days will become happy travels heading home.

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