Saturday, 23 September 2017

Under a stormy sky

In my previous travel post, I left you while sitting on the balcony of our cottage with my poppy umbrella, wondering if I wasn't tempting fate.

Sure enough, when we woke up on Tuesday morning, the sky was a solid grey.

We'd only made vague plans for our holiday, taking every day as it came, except for a visit to the seaside to do a particular walk.

With the forecast for the rest of the week being even vaguer than our plans, we decided to take the plunge and go ahead regardless of the weather.



With that in mind, I wore my red trousers again. Sick and tired of my dark denim ones, I'd bought two pairs of trousers, in red and green, at the outlet shop of Belgian brand Who's That Girl in Antwerp.



This time I paired the red trousers with a long-sleeved shirt, originally from the high street (from a label called Zoë Loveborn), but found at a flea market. On top, a charity shopped cardigan, in orange red with white dots. So, nothing vintage, apart from the brooch and necklace. As a nod to our seaside visit, I chose a blue sailing boat brooch!

Right, I'm dressed, let's go!

On the long straight road leading up to De Panne, the nearest seaside town where we wanted to make use of the free car park, the sky was getting darker and darker, and by the time we arrived it had started to rain quite heavily.



So, out came the boring Goretex, which I'd hoped I wouldn't need, and waited for the tram to take us to Nieuwpoort.

The tram along Belgium's coastline is the easiest way to get around and a bonus is that I can use my regular public transport pass.

By the time we hopped off at the quayside in Nieuwpoort-Stad (town), it was dry, so we walked to the town's main square, being treated to a brief shower along the way. Yes, it was going to be one of those days!


We's visited the town a couple of years ago but the many ongoing restoration works rather spoiled that visit. Now, we could admire the buildings surrounding the market place in their newly revealed glory.

Like Ypres, most of the historic town was in rubble by the end of the war, but here too a great job was done in painstakingly reconstructing the town's heritage.



There was a temporary art trail throughout the town, and works of art were dotted in every available space.



Nieuwpoort is located on the estuary of the River IJzer, and it actually has two centres, the old medieval centre, Nieuwpoort-Stad, which we'd just visited, and the coastal resort of Nieuwpoort-Bad.

They are connected by a delightful 2 kilometers long traffic free promenade along the harbour channel, which we'd walked on a sunny day back in 2015.



After lunch, a short tram ride took us to Nieuwpoort-Bad, where we made our way to the end of the promenade and the free ferry service which shuttles you to the east bank of the harbour channel.

There is a nature reserve, De IJzermonding, along the estuary of the River IJzer, which is the only river in Belgium flowing directly into the North Sea.

We first walked down to the deserted sandy beach, which is part of the nature reserve, and which looked particularly striking against the brooding sky.



The white railings of the eastern jetty, a 500 m long boardwalk into the North Sea, added to the eeriness of the seascape, the almost black sky contrasting starkly against the transluscent colour of the sea.


White sails seemed to be gliding like swans through the harbour entrance between the eastern and western jetties towards the wide expanse of the sea.

The crashing of the waves was competing with the strangely echoing sound of the amplified announcements coming over from the western side, where a cycling race was about to take place.



Exhilarated by the salty North Sea air, and accompanied by yet another shower, we retraced our steps and walked along the designated paths through the reserve, back towards Nieuwpoort-Stad, a menacingly barbed wired military domain on our left.



Every so often there was a gap with a tantalizing view of the red and white striped lighthouse to our left, while on the right, sandy paths led to viewpoints offering panoramas over the nature reserve, beyond which Nieuwpoort's ugly modern apartment buildings were cluttering up the skyline on the western bank.



A bird hide invites you to do a spot of bird spotting. It was populated by enthusiasts wielding heavy binoculars and glaring at us when we dared to make a quiet entrance.



The walk led us around one of Belgium's largest marinas, where all manner of pleasure crafts were anchored, jostling for space, the riot of masts producing a clanging soundtrack conducted by the wind.



In the midst of it all, a lonely fisherman provided a focal point for my photograph.

Nearing Nieuwpoort-Stad, we spotted the Albert I Memorial, commemorating the heroic acts of the city during the First World War. It was in fact here at Nieuwpoort that the German advance was halted in October 1914, when a sharp-thinking lock-master opened the sluice gates on the river, flooding the area up-river from the estuary, and so preventing the Germans from pushing on to the Channel ports.



Inside the monument is a museum telling the story of the flooding, and the rampart on top can be visited for a panoramic view over the landscape.

The monument is fittingly placed on the edge of the complex of locks, called the "Ganzepoot" (goose leg), which is regulating the water level of five different rivers and canals.



It is also the haunt of a flight of cormorants, drying their wings and realigning their feathers after a spot of fishing.

By then, we'd arrived back at Nieuwpoort-Stad where we waited for the tram to take us back to De Panne.

Linking up to Tina's Pink Friday!

Also linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!

30 comments:

  1. What a beautifully restored place and with artworks everywhere it looked wonderful.

    There were some spectacular skies alright - the photos are very, very good. I loved the red and white striped lighthouse and in fact I thought I saw two in one of the photos?

    I loved your outfit; the pattern on the blouse was fab! Shame about the rain and the need for the Gore Tex....
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Veronica. The second lighthouse is in fact a kind of military control tower, but it does look a bit like another lighthouse, doesn't it? xxx

      Delete
  2. The last trousers I ever purchased were red, teal blue and sage green, all cords. I don't wear them, I look horrible in trousers, but I still have them, just passed them on to Andy! You're looking fab in yours though.

    Lighthouse! Love a lighthouse! I kid myself that I'd like to live in one, but I'd probably get spooked in adverse weathers!

    That war memorial is quite something. Well done that lock master.

    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't wear trousers very often, Melanie, as I prefer wearing dresses and skirts. These ones are very comfortable as well as colourful. I'm always attracted by lighthouses, especially of the red and white striped variety ... xxx

      Delete
  3. If I were to wear trousers I'd want a pair in green like yours-those are the perfect shade.

    Sorry the weather didn't behave, but what an interesting town to visit. I can just imagine the lock master thiking to himself, "Well I'll show them!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd been looking for a pair of green trousers for ages, but was only able to find skinnies so far, which I hate and look awful in anyway. xxx

      Delete
  4. Well that looks a super exciting place to visit! I love it!
    Your eye for combining patterns is astounding! That dot and shirt combo is genius!!x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kezzie. I'm still a novice when it comes to combining patterns, though ... xxx

      Delete
  5. well done to wear the brights on such dark day!!
    but you guys were brave and faced the weather to see some spectacular spots and views. thanx for taking us with you - love the mix out of nature and history!
    hugs! xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's my duty to wear brights, especially on dark days! It would have been a different story if it had rained all day, but it were only a couple of showers, which made for some spectacular skies! xxx

      Delete
  6. The weather may have been grey but your bright red outfit lit it up, I love it!
    You've taken some lovely photos, I've really enjoyed looking through them. xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sally, I'm glad you enjoyed it! xxx

      Delete
  7. The weather! the bane of our lives!!
    Loving the colourful trousers, a brilliant investment, they slot into your super cool wardrobe an absolute treat.
    Your trip looked wonderful despite the grey skies, you've got a brilliant eye for details. xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Vix. I'd been looking for colourful trousers, which weren't skinnies (I look awful in those) for ages. They will be coming with me on our next UK visit too! xxx

      Delete
  8. Ann this red pants look great, good buy! I love the first collage! This tram along the coast is a great idea. I saw the tram in De Haan last belgian holiday, years ago. Thank you for this wonderful journey and pictures.
    I wish you a nice sunday evening, hugs Tina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tina. The coast tram really is a brilliant way to travel along the Belgian coast. We used it every time we go there. xxx

      Delete
  9. That trip along the Belgian coast looks truly wonderful! I am adding it to my bucket list.Thanks for linking up, XO

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed that, Patti. There's lots to see along the Belgian coast. xxx

      Delete
  10. Oooh, you are a ray of sunshine in all that colour! That is such an excellent blouse.

    The reconstruction of the town is beautifully done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mim. I really love that blouse and pounced on it when I saw it at a flea market. I have a dress in the same pattern, but with red trim. xxx

      Delete
  11. Your country is so beautiful and charming, with the old restored buildings and gorgeous nature. Your photographic skills are remarkable - you truly have an artistic eye, a sense of atmosphere, and I feel like I was there too...

    And you are such a glamorous hiker. Red trouser are fab, as well as this great print on your blouse! <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Natalia! I love taking photos and trying to capture an atmosphere. xxx

      Delete
  12. It's all so beautiful, it's so hard to believe it was once reduced to rubble.I do enjoy an art trail too :)
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Hazel. I felt that this art trail really enhanced the historical buildings. xxx

      Delete
  13. Thanks for taking us along on your travels once again! Fascinating stuff. Your cheery outfits brightened the day up even if the sun didn't x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I feel better when I'm wearing bright colours, especially on a dark day! xxx

      Delete
  14. Lovely photos Ann! You make me want to visit the Belgium coast and the towns you mention. I love your bright outfit too. XX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Linda. If you ever decide to visit Belgium, you know where I am! xxx

      Delete
  15. I always enjoy your posts!, so many interesting places to visit, and amazing landscapes!. (I also enjoyed your Ypres excursion!) Thanks for sharing your travels with us!
    And I love your casual outfit, really comfy and cool!, a lovely pair of red pants and a printed shirt look fab!, and that polka dot cardi is so cute! and you rock!
    besos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like my travel posts, Monica. Comments like yours is what keeps me going! xxx

      Delete