Thursday, 1 March 2018

Walking in a water wonderland

We've had some bitterly cold days this week and I've had to dig out all my woolly and furry things to keep warm.

The good thing is that the eternal grey skies of the last couple of months have finally given way to an expanse of almost cloudless blue and, as the days are slowly getting longer, with the sun rising just that little bit higher, we have been able to top up our depleted Vitamin D levels.

On Sunday before last, before the arctic weather was upon us, we made the 30 minute drive to Het Broek in Blaasveld, one of our favourite walking places.



Instead of at the main entrance, with its larger car park, we parked near a small, picturesque inn, called Het Fonteintje, which is sadly no longer in business

The last part of the drive is along this untarmacked stretch of road, which brings you to the eastern edge of the domain.


With daytime temperatures still firmly above freezing, there was only a flimsy layer of ice, mainly concentrated at the ponds' shallow edges or on shady pools and ditches.

Here I am standing at one of the new wooden platforms jutting out over one of the ponds. These have been especially erected for fishermen, the indentations in the railing meant to hold fishing rods.

I am wearing a rust-coloured plaid skirt from H&M by way of a charity shop, a moss green vintage houndstooth jacket with a brown fur collar, belted with a moss green belt, my old favourite multi-coloured wool scarf and a marled pink knitted beret.




The word "broek" means "marshy place" and indeed most of the area, apart from some sandy ridges, is only two to three metres above sea level.

This wonderland of  boggy woods, ponds and brooks, lying in the valley of the river Rupel, is well worth a visit in all seasons, but particularly enchanting in Winter.



There's a bird hide overlooking a mirror-like, deceptively tranquil looking lake. It is the preferred haunt of birds of all plumage, and usually teeming with waterfowl: apart from several kinds of ducks, there are grebes, coots and moorhens, as well as migratory geese.

The quietness is regularly pierced by the honking of a colony of Canada geese, who consider themselves lord and master of this stretch of water.


Many centuries ago, mammoths, arctic foxes, reindeer, wild horses and Siberian rhinoceros roamed here in this wild, impenetrable place, rumoured to be the home of fairies and marsh spirits.

Now, the return of the otter, which was virtually extinct in Flanders, is patiently awaited from another, nearby nature reserve, while beavers, and their activity, have already been spotted.



Leaving the larger ponds behind and curving around a bend in the road, this landscape awaits, moody and dream-like.

The sky, a wintry blue, with clouds no more than mere wisps, is giving this half-submerged world, framed by grasses, rushes and skeleton trees, a truly timeless appeal.



Swollen by rainwater, this brook leads the eye to the yellowed meadow beyond, and beyond that, to a dense, thorny wilderness hiding its bounty below the soil, as if keeping its secrets safe until Spring. 

Midday sunlight warms a world made hazy by a thin, silvery mist.



Here, the winter rains have flooded the low-lying grasslands, turning them into soggy water meadows.


Time for a picnic with a view. Overlooking the so-called otter and beaver island, which has an adventurous play area, we sat down on a tree trunk bench guarded by two bronze beavers.



The sun was just warm enough to show you what was underneath my jacket.

I chose a light grey blouse featuring tiny rosebuds, a double strand of purple beads, and a lilac cardigan. The skirt has a built-in half belt, so I didn't have to add one.

The boots I'm wearing are old and worn, and I keep them especially for muddy walks like these.


Meanwhile, the beavers were glad to look after my scarf, beret and handbag!


Such a glorious day, with a distant smell of Spring in the air. The sun's rays are getting stronger and, having caught the sun, we arrived home with red noses and a blush on our cheeks.


We continued our walk, meandering through woods and past more meadows. 

This one is a particular favourite where we usually stop for outfit photos. Look how lush the grass was back in August! The photo on the bottom right was taken on the First of November.


Looking back towards the meadow, it's clear that it would have been impossible to walk up to the point where I was standing back in August and November!


One final stretch on a woodland path and we were back at our starting point.

We expect to be back here in a month or two to see how Spring has transformed this watery world.


34 comments:

  1. That shot of the beaver modelling your accessories is priceless! Love your H&M skirt.

    We had blue skies... Now we're in a blizzard!!
    X

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    1. We were lucky, and only had one day of snow. It was cold, though, I had to dig out my furs! xxx

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  2. every picture and every word shows how much you love to wander thru this landscape!
    we used to go kayaking in such wetlands which are accessible via old canals - practically the whole north of eastern germany looks like that - (beside of some tiny hills here&there). and i loved it for the peaceful quiet mood......could sit for hours in the thrifting boat and just watch.
    very chic ensemble! fabulous pattern mixing!
    hugs! xxxxx

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    1. Thank you Beate. It must be wonderful kayaking in those wetlands. I love the peace and quiet, with just some birdsong and the rustling of the grasses and leaves. xxx

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  3. What a wonderful place - I do feel enchanted! We have a somewhat similar favorite place for a walk, about 1 hour down south from us. I agree that Winter has such a special charm in wetlands!

    I love this gorgeous plaid skirt and your jacket - and beavers look adorable dressed up in Ann's fashion!! I wish all animals had such a stylish patrons (and matrons, hehe) to look over them!

    I've never heard of Siberian rhinos - no wonder, we don't use this term in the Russian language, we go by the Latin name.

    Lots of love!

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    1. Thank you Natalia! I bet those beavers don't often have the chance to be so stylish ;-) It's often best to use the Latin names for animals and plants, as they are universal! xxx

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  4. Ha ha! I've never seen such a fashionable beaver!

    What a lovely spot. Your. poetic descriptions enhanced the photos.

    We've had warm weather for over a week and are expecting a snow storm tonight. : (

    Suzanne

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    1. Thank you Suzanne. I had a hard time convincing those beavers to give me my stuff back ;-) xxx

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  5. I was oooohing and sewing over the beautiful landscape and your stylish clothes, then I saw the beaver (snort!) too funny.

    Thank you for another wonderful, magical post.

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. Thank you! I couldn't resist it ... xxx

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  6. The beaver looks a little like my grandmother...that's an uncomfortable thought ;)

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  7. Haha the beaver looks amszing with your accessoires... so funny. :)
    I love each picture and your look, you are brave to shoot without jacket. Baby it's veeeery cold outside and you had a fabulous picknick ;)
    huge hug Tina

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    1. Thank you, Tina! I wouldn't have removed my jacket a week later, when it was really freezing ... xxx

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  8. Haha! That beaver is such a great model: almost as good as Amber! ;) I love your blouse with the rosebuds on it and the rest of your outfit is fab (as always)! ;) I love the scenery in your photos, Ann! It's so beautiful and just so different to the natural surroundings here. Hope you have a relaxing weekend! XXX

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    1. Thank you Sasha! Amber is, obviously, the better model! xxx

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  9. We're in the middle of wintergeddon here, so it's good to see some sunshine in your photos!
    I love the beaver, very snug!
    I do like a plaid skirt and the colour makes it look very warm and cosy, the beret is perfect with it.
    Have a lovely weekend xxx

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    1. It was the colour that made me buy the skirt, and it's very comfortable to wear too. Perfect for walking! xxx

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  10. I love the beaver modelling your accessories - I want one for our festival stall now!!
    Lovely outfit - you're doing a top job demonstrating that just 'cos it's freezing certainly doesn't mean you have to dress in drab colours. The skirt is just the ticket with that lovely jacket.
    Hasn't your beast brought any snow? It's not fair! xxx

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    1. Your festival stall would be even more succesful with a beaver! Drab colours just make me feel drab. Don't know why anyone would want to wear them. Our beast ended with snow, but only for one day! xxx

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  11. The views are beautiful there! I love to think of all those past-time creatures! Arctic foxes and the suchlike! The beaver looked good in your accessories as did you!

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    1. Thank you, Kezzie. I like the thought of those past-time creatures too! xxx

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  12. You do have some lovely places to visit. This place is very much like Priory Country Park here where I live; it has a lake and paths, bird watching hides; fisherman platforms. It also has a marina and walk along a disused railway track to a small town 4 miles away which I plan to walk when the weather is better.

    I'm so glad you are having blue skies and brighter days; Spring is definitely on its way!

    The beaver looked pretty cool in the scarf, bag and hat but not half as good as you in your outfit. What a lovely jacket that is and how well it goes with the plaid skirt.

    We're sick of the cold and snow here, praying for rain to wash the snow away...
    xxx

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    1. Priory Country Park sounds lovely! We were mostly spared of snow, we had less than a day of it at the end of last week. Hope yours has gone away now! xxx

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  13. We have been snowed in all week Ann and it’s so cold I’ve had my Fly boots on in the house as well as lots of layers. Thankfully we have a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard, which is more than some people have.
    Stay warm in your lovely outfits. They are just the ticket for this time of year xxx

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    1. Poor you having to wear your Fly London boots in the house! But you're right, we should be thankful! xxx

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  14. These marshlands remind me so much of the ones here around lakes and near the ocean. We have very similar climates, I think, although mine goes into hills and mountains quickly.

    Love that you dress up for your hike! Lovely!

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    1. Not many hills and no mountains here, we're mostly flat country in Flanders. I always try to dress up for a hike, although obviously I won't be wearing my prettiest frocks! xxx

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  15. Mwahaha, the Beaver modelling your accessories is stealing the show!!
    I love all those amazing landscapes!, even if it really looks like it was cold!. And you look really cosy in your wool jacket!. I do love it!. And love all the fab layering, the unexpected touch of lilac and purple (matching tights and cardi, so cute!), the lovely plaid skirt!.
    Spring is coming!
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica! Glad you noticed my purple tights, as I forgot to mention them ;-) xxx

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  16. I too love the photo of the beaver modelling your accessories! Looks like a really beautiful spot for a winter walk. XXX

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    1. Thank you Linda! That beaver is proving to be very popular. Maybe it should start a blog ;-) xxx

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  17. The tartan skirt and tweedy jacket together look very 1930s. Perhaps it's the longer, smooth lines.

    I hope that beaver gave you your accessories back - though he is a very good model.

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    1. Thank you Mim. I'm glad to report I got it all back, although he wanted to keep the beret! xxx

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