Monday, 27 August 2007


What do you mean, "Back"? You never said you were going away!

Which is why this blog will never feature on widely viewed blogs of the world. But we've been to Belgium on holiday. At this point, of course, we are always asked (yes, we've been twice before!), "Why Belgium of all places?" On the face of it, it does seem strange. After all, who knows anything about the place? The most famous Belgian ever was a fictional detective created by an english woman.

One answer, of course, would be beer. The Belgians brew really great beer. Of course, most of them don't appreciate the stuff. The best selling beer in Belgium is a lagerish swill called Jupiler. And of course, they perpetrate Stella Artois. But they also do Westvleteren. This is one of the famous Trappist beers, brewed at an actual Trappist monastery in the eponymous village near to Popperinge in the heart of Belgium's hop growing region. It's produced in small quantities and is very rare. But if you go there, you can drink the stuff in the nearby bar and just possibly buy some to take home. (We failed.)

But there are plenty of other reasons. The people are friendly. (Not to each other; the Walloons and the Flemings hate each other cordially, but both are delighted to discover that you are British.) The art and architecture are great, the countryside is delightful and the food is great (and always comes with chips, which are a proud Belgian invention, even though we English have made them our own).

We stayed in the south, near Malmedy and the Haute Fagne, a (relatively) high altitude fenland with lots of bleak and windy peat bogs and corresponding fauna and flora. One way of seeing it is by railbike, which was fun, in a physical sort of way. Here's a video that Sarah made by accident...

So anyway, home we came, and plunged again into the hectic round of the real world, so that August almost passed without a blog entry and my fans despaired.