The sun was still sulking behind a solid layer of grey when we got up on Wednesday morning, which frankly speaking was a bit of a letdown.
Consulting our phone's weather app didn't bring any solace either, as rain would definitely be on the cards that day, putting paid to any plans for a longer walk or a visit to the seaside.
Instead, we thought our best bet would be to go to Ypres, which is the nearest town of any size, and only about 20 minutes down the road.
As there was still no sign of any precipitation after breakfast, we once again made use of our little balcony with a view to make that day's outfit photos.
While we were packing for our holiday - a job I'm absolutely hopeless at as it forces me to assemble a temporary capsule wardrobe - Jos insisted that I took this vintage navy and white polka dot dress. I'm pretty sure that it has never made it to the blog. In fact, I don't think I've even worn it in the last two years.
I've really got no idea why I have been neglecting it, as it's such a classic, isn't it? I love its contrasting collar, which has navy dots on white, and the two bands of white piping running down the bodice to the hips.
I pinned my light blue birds in flight brooch to it for good measure and added a cardigan - a King Louie one charity shopped last year - in the same colour.
Although the dress came with its own belt, I opted for this shiny red vinyl one instead. It's one of my favourites as it has an ususual square plastic buckle. Further dashes of red were provided by my red and white beaded necklace, red plastic ring and my faithful Clarks Cloudsteppers.
Posing on the steps up to our little studio, I thought that this was as good a time as any to show you around. The entrance is up the steps at the front of the cottage which faces the road and the hop fields beyond. Poperinge is the main centre of hop cultivation in Belgium, and the town even has a Hop Museum, which we visted a couple of years back.
The little balcony is at the side of the cottage and faces the lake which is teeming with wildlife and which can also be seen from the breakfast/dining nook part of the studio.
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while might remember my posts from previous years where I've shown you the studio's interior. If you're so inclined, you can have a look here, as I didn't take any inside photos this year.
So, off to Ypres! Or Ieper, as we call it in Flemish. The name of this gorgeous town, which is completely immersed in First World War history, is obviously well known all over the world. During the First World War, Ypres (or "Wipers" as it was commonly called by the British troops) was the centre of the Battles of Ypres between German and Allied forces, and was all but obliterated by 1918. But more about that later.
Having visited the town a couple of times before, we know our way around a bit, and are also aware of the fact that parking is free at the station. From there, it's a straightforward 10 minute walk into town.
If like us, you are not pressed for time, and would like to approach the town in a more fitting way, there's the 2,6 kilometer ramparts walk, which conveniently starts almost opposite the station's car park.
Here, the former ammunition store (top left) cannot be missed. It was built in 1817 by the Dutch army on the foundations of a French equivalent.
On the bottom right you can catch a glimpse of restaurant which occupies its own island in the moat and is only reachable via an idyllic little bridge. We stopped there for coffee in 2017, when we sat out in the garden on an otherwise gloomy afternoon.
The route then meanders past lakes and ponds, which are the remains of the moat, and the walk is a delight, as it is a perfect combination of history and nature, with the odd work of art thrown in along the way.
Here, Jos is walking along the edge of the Predikherentoren (Preacher's tower), one of two towers which were part of the 14th Century Burgundian rampart. In the French era the towers were lowered and transformed into artillary platforms.
Near the Lille Gate (top right) is the Ramparts War Cemetery, a small British cemetery where 193 Commonwealth soldiers are resting.
Soon we were catching glimpses of some of Ypres' towers between the trees.
As we were nearing the Menin Gate, and the end of our walk along the ramparts, we passed the Indian Memorial (top right) which is dedicated to the 130,000 troops of the Indian Forces who served in Flanders during the Great War.
At that point, the famous, or should that be infamous, Menin Gate was looming in front of us.
It is built on the site where, four years long, British troups left for the front, and is a memorial to nearly 55,000 Commonwealth soldiers fallen before 15 August 1917, who do not have a known grave. However many times you visit this impressive monument, you cannot help but be moved to tears upon the sight of the endless columns of names carved into its walls.
We left the ramparts at the Menin Gate and made our way to the town's main square. Glancing backwards, I was struck by the incongruity of the gaily fluttering bunting and the solemn and awe-inspring Menin Gate in the background.
The chocolate cats in one of the shop windows soon put a smile back on my face, although I wouldn't ever be able to eat one.
First-time visitors might find it hard to believe that Ypres' magnificent main square, seemingly surrounded by magnificent Medieval and Renaissance buildings, was almost completely flattened by the end of the Great War. As was most of the town, as a matter of fact.
Virtually the whole of the town as can be seen today was painstakingly reconstructed from scratch, stone by stone, and brick by brick, during the 1920s and 1930s, by referring to the Medieval sketches and diagrams which had survived.
By now, we were gettng peckish and went in search for lunch, at which point the first drops of rain were starting to fall.
Jos's weather app kept insisting it was just a blip but by the time we had finished lunch, it was still raining on and off, and quite heavily at times, so that umbrellas were needed.
Among all the wetness and greyness and people wearing dark colours to boot, Jos clearly stood out in his mustard yellow trousers and green blazer!
We dashed across the square and into the passage running under the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall), emerging on the other side in front of the Gothic St. Maartenskathedraal (St. Martin's Cathedral).
We'd never been inside so this was the perfect opportunity to pay it an extensive visit and shelter from the elements at the same time.
Reconstruction has beautifully retored its soaring Gothic interior and it is hard to believe that the church was actually completely rebuilt in the 20th Century!
I was quite moved by this contemporary sculpture by Jan De Wachter called Resurrection, of a man crying in desperation. If you look closely, you can see a teardrop hanging from his chin.
Back outside, we found that it was still raining, so we wandered around the museum shop where I was almost tempted by one of the cotton souvenir bags printed with Phoebes. Deciding not to give in to temptation, we went for a cup of cappuccino instead until we could see the number of umbrellas outside diminishing as the rain had all but stopped.
Not for long though, as only minutes after we'd resumed our tour of the town, the heavenly gates opened and treated us to a heavy downpour, so that we had to make another dash into a church.
St. George's Memorial Church was designed by architect Sir Reginal Blomfield and built to commemorate the over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops who died in the three battles fought for the Ypres Salient during the Great War. It was completed in 1929.
There was a knowledgeable guide giving a tour to a group of British visitors, and we sat in the back listening in.
We remained in the church afterwards until the interior was lighted by the sudden burst of sunshine streaming through the windows, signalling our cue to leave.
Once again, we made our way to the main square, passing underneath the Lakenhalle, marvelling at the difference made by the sun's rays on the greyish brick of the square's buildings, and the Lakenhalle in particular.
By now, you may be wondering about the golden figure perching on top of the pinnacled roof and what it is he is holding. Well, no longer keeping you in suspension, I can divulge that it is a cat!
What with the chocolate cats and those on the cotton bags in the museum shop, you might have cottoned on that the town has a link with cats. But what is it? Well, it's not a very nice story I'm afraid.
Back in the 15th Centurty, when Ypres started to prosper as a reslt of the cloth trade, the wool they imported from England was stored in the Cloth Hall. This inevitably attracted mice, so it was decided to release a few hungry cats in the Cloth Hall. Everything worked well at first but it soon became clear that the plan had a flaw, as the cats started procreating, so that Ypres soon had too many cats. Nothing better was found than throwing the animals off the Cloth Hall tower as a means of pest control. The true reason will probably never be known.
The tradition is still honoured by a triennial Cat Parade at the end of which cats are still thrown from the tower. But don't worry, as these days the cats are of the stuffed variety!
I'm leaving you for now with this autumn flavoured photograph of the impressive Cloth Hall with its 70 metre high belfry tower and the adjacent town hall (the building on the far right) basking in the mellow September sunlight, the row of rust-leaved trees enhancing the patches of pale blue of the sky visible between the white cotton-wool clouds.