October 07, 2013
Guest blogger Helen Devries on visiting Belgium
Helen Devries is an incredible writer and blogger and I am pleased and honored to introduce you to her work.
Helen, originally from Scotland, moved to England when young, worked in London and lived in the countryside, then moved to the Loire Valley...in very rural France...where she lived for twenty years before moving to Costa Rica some three years ago.
Her writings are impressive in general but her posting on Belgium is pretty exceptional, a little biased maybe? You will judge for yourself. Also, the comments on this Belgian article are a bit unexpected, truly worth the read. I am sure that you, like I did, would like to find out people's reactions.
Do visit Helens blog.
Thank you, Helen, for agreeing to share your work here.
Home from Home Abroad
Based with one family living just outside Brussels in a village set among fields and woodland, the house was so comfortable that it would have been no hardship to have stayed put…but staying put is not on the tribe’s agenda!
We went to one of my favourite places…Leuven, capital of Flemish Brabant. You might be more familiar with it under its name in French – Louvain – but the duality of nomenclature is one of the things you have to get used to in Belgium, though it can come as a shock when driving when you are looking out for Mons and find it signed as Bergen!
Scene of wanton destruction in the Great War the buildings were rebuilt, but you don’t go there just for the monuments…tucked away from the centre is a well tended herb garden with the plants all named, and on the other side of town is the Groot Begijnhof, once home to the women of a lay order in the middle ages and now restored as part of the university and used for housing students and academics.
It seems quiet enough now in the daytime, the brick buildings and grassy squares set amidst the canals, but I can’t see students maintaining the tranquillity of the original occupants when dusk falls on Leuven.
Furthermore…there are cafes, music in the streets…and shopping!
We dutifully puffed our way around it, enjoying the views, but spent most of the day in the town below…. restored after the damage suffered in the Second World War to today’s amalgam of architectural styles from the remains of the medieval town walls to nineteenth century public puildings. A pity the modern town hall is such a cheap and nasty blot on the landscape.