Friday 27 August 2021

August's rare delights

Goodness me, time has really been slipping through my fingers lately! Happily churning out the episodes of my travelogue, recreating those short-lived holiday vibes in the process, I almost literally lost track of time so that I now have the mother of all catch-ups on my to-do list. I have to hurry up too, as in just over a week's time we will be going on another adventure!

Let's not waste any further time then, and see what I've been up to since we came back from our little trip. Although, in hindsight, I haven't been up to very much at all in this second month of the Summer that never was.

After our return on Thursday the 5th of August, we had a late lunch, after which I watered the thirstiest of the patio pots and baskets and made a start with unpacking with Bess following me around and demanding cuddles. What with uploading photos and catching up with blogland being next on the agenda, I was glad I'd had the foresight of taking Friday off as well.

So, this was what I was wearing on Friday. This orange and brown Diolen delight with its lethal dagger collar was found at - you've guessed it - Think Twice several years ago. 
It was Monica and the fabulous orange and purple outfit (see here) she recently posted that made me break the habit of accessorizing this dress with blue and use purple instead. I added a purple woven belt, purple, pink and orange wooden beads and an iridescent purple and emerald green peacock feather brooch. All of these were charity shop finds, the brooch picked up on a flying visit to Llangollen in 2019.

Even the tiny buttons on my chartreuse cardigan were a matching purple! The cardigan, being an XS, is slightly too tight in the bust area, hence its initial relegation to the giveaway and donation pile, from where I dug it out again. A regret-me-not, as Sheila would say.

I was matching the purple of the Delphiniums too! In their second flush, they were looking lush and magnificent, although overnight showers had made the tallest of the flower spikes top heavy with water so that it was in danger of toppling over. A rummage through the potting shed was rewarded with the discovery of two sturdy cast iron spikes, originally intended as garden candle holders. They turned out to be just perfect for the job!

The strawberries in their hanging bucket, which I'd given a good feed in the week before we left, was rewarding my efforts with a second flush of slowly ripening fruits.

Phlox and Foxgloves are still vying for attention wearing their brightest pink frocks. There were a couple of surprises too: the first of the Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta, top right) flowers had opened - and would be followed by many more - and tiny magenta flowers had appeared among the silvery carpet of foliage supplied by Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' (bottom left).

We'd slept late-ish that day, with Bess keeping us company for almost the entire night.
Initially sunny, it soon clouded over, with scattered showers later in the day and highs of 22°C.

After our usual fruit & yogurt breakfast, Jos went food shopping, while I lavished some well needed TLC on the garden, deadheading and cutting back the Malva which has been growing too big for its allotted space. 

Saturday saw a repeat of Friday’s weather and, in spite of its 22°C, it felt more like an Autumn day than a Summer one. 

After a morning of aimless pottering, we decided on a visit to the garden centre, where it was even quieter than the last time we were there and sadly quite empty of interesting seasonal plants. 

Still, a couple of plants managed to make their way into our trolley, including an orange Garvinea to brighten up the plant tables outside our back door. We had a pink one last year which lasted well into Autumn last year, so expectations were high. 

As for my outfit, I still needed to squeeze in at least one wearing of this vintage flower infused yellow dress, so that's the one I went for. It was a charity shop find in December 2017.

Matching the mood I was in, I went for blues all the way, using the colour for all my accessories, including the delicate butterfly wing brooch (this post explains it all!) found on one of our last pre-Covid indoor flea markets in January 2020.

The jacket, from the Spanish Kling label, was charity shopped around the same time.

We also bought two Erigeron or Mexican flea bane plants, which I planted in the half basket under the awning outside our back door, to replace the very leggy Petunia and its companion I don’t remember the name of, as both were looking well past their best.

Finally, Aster ‘Alice Haslam’ and Anemone sylvestris came home with us. I planted them together in a pot at the back of the garden, where they will hopefully provide us with some Autumn and early Spring cheer respectively.

Meanwhile, the Nasturtiums are still going strong, popping up in the most unexpected of places and doing their best to take over the garden. 

And look at that splash of fiery orange supplied by Crocosmia 'Carmine Brilliant' (top left)! I'd almost given up on seeing burst into flower this year.

Sunday was yet another cloudy day, with the temperature dropping to just 20°C. 

Keeping myself busy in a bid to keep the back-to-work blues at bay, I swept the front room, hallway, staircase and dining room, after which I called it a day on the cleaning front, as it's not exactly my favourite activity.

Instead, I finally finished my book, Julia Glass's debut novel Three Junes. Started several weeks ago, I hadn't been making much progress until we went on our break. Not that I didn't enjoy the book, far from it, but there just didn't seem to be enough hours in the day for reading apart from at bed time, when I kept falling asleep after only a couple of pages.

Then I started my current read, The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman which seems to be faring a bit better as it's quite unputdownable.

My outfit of the day consisted of one of my rare black floral Summer dresses, its blue, pink and russet flower print joined by a blue butterfly brooch. I added a magenta beaded necklace and wood and purple mother of pearl bracelet, both of which were charity shopped. 

The tan faux leather belt with its rectangular faux leather buckle was charity shopped as well, while I stumbled across the plum coloured suede Hotter shoes on a flea market back in May 2018, where I bought them for the silly price of € 2.

In preparation for the working week ahead, Sunday afternoon called for a little nap, followed by reading in bed. I was joined by Bess, who made sure I had to stay where I was by putting her paws on my leg. As I had my phone with me, I caught the moment on camera, then sent out an S.O.S. to Jos, who was downstairs.

She's the Queen of Cuddling, and in fact we've had more cuddles with her in the six months she's been with us than we had in our twelve years with Phoebe.

My first week back at the office passed in a blur. After a busy Monday trying to catch up with work, we arrived home only to discover a dent in the back our car. Apparently some nitwit had bumped into it while it was parked out front and of course whoever it was had driven off without leaving a note. Needless to say, we were both shell-shocked. The car's only just over a year old, for goodness sake! As luck would have it, though, we'd just extended our full-coverage insurance, so that repairs would be virtually painless.

Chaos continued to reign at work, and it actually took two days without a lunch break to fully catch up and deal with the printer failure which had popped up in the meantime.

I wasn't in the mood for outfit photos on those days, and I can't for the life of me remember what I was wearing. However, this is what I wore on Wednesday. 

First wearing of the Nathalie Vleeschouwer skirt I was lucky enough to find in a charity shop in March. The outfit was one I'd assembled weeks ago, but hadn't got around to wearing yet. The short-sleeved salmon pink openwork jumper with its bow collar is vintage, and matches the waterlilies in the skirt's pattern almost exactly.

I'm wearing the same belt as I did in the previous outfit, while the butterfly brooch of the day was a green enamelled one. The jumper's bow was kept in check with a second brooch, a tiny green Cameo.

If in the photo on the top left I'm looking like the cat that got the cream, it's because I had finally been able to go out during lunch that day. What's more, the sales at Think Twice - which of course is where I was headed - were in full flow, and down to € 4.

Both the bottle green - and very hard to photograph - dress and the navy based one are label-less, so I expect they were both someone's handiwork. The green one is a bit shorter than my usual length and with its darker colour I'm thinking of wearing it with a burnt orange long-sleeved top and ditto opaques come Autumn.

This black and white midi skirt is Finnish vintage and with its wool and polyester blend will be perfect for Autumn too.

Finally, there's this gorgeous sleeveless midi Summer dress with pleated skirt and bow collar. Its exotic flower pattern in yellow, lilac and white on a blue background made me fall in love with it on the spot.

Little did I know that this would be just the tip of the iceberg of vintage and charity shop finds, as I'm definitely finding myself on a roll in that department. But that, my dears, will be for next time!

Monday 23 August 2021

Just a perfect day

Years of experience have taught me that time flies whether you're having fun or not, but it most definitely shifts a gear when you do, and particularly so when you're on holiday. 

And so our final day - Wednesday the 5th of August - dawned, and it was another perfect one, with the sun lighting up the early morning haze.

Lesson learned, we'd set the alarm on Jos's mobile, so that we were up and about with enough time to spare to get ready at a leisurely pace. Stepping outside, it turned out that our opposite neighbour was up early too and was watching us dolefully across the Hydrangeas in her front garden. Probably she hadn't had her breakfast cereals yet!

From my travelling capsule wardrobe, I dug this red and white three-quarter sleeved Breton top and red floral wide-legged trousers, which was one of the outfits I'd put together when packing. The top is ancient, and it was the blue charity shopped one I wore on our first day that reminded me of this one which, after a frantic search, I found hidden away at the back of a drawer, together with its navy sister. 

The trousers, which were a sales bargain from New Look a couple of years ago, have accompanied me on many a holiday ever since. Apart from their good looks, they have the advantage of being slightly cropped, so that their hems aren't being dragged through mud and puddles when out walking.

The wooden beads were charity shopped, as were the pink floral trainers (or sneakers, if you prefer to call them thus), which were a lucky £ 4 find in a Shrewsbury charity shop during our last UK holiday.

They might look a bit fancy, but they are extremely comfortable and have survived many a walk on moderately muddy paths. Which is exactly what we had in mind that day!

After another finger-lickingly delicious breakfast, we set our car's controls a.k.a. Truus, our satnav with the Dutch accent, for Bulskampveld, the provincial domain we briefly visited on Monday. Along the way, we stopped off at a small local supermarket to get some sandwiches for a picnic.

Rather than just a stroll in the castle grounds, we'd planned a longer walk in the woods and fields surrounding the domain, making use of a handy map based on numbered markers.

We've got a whole library of such maps, adding to them whenever we visit somewhere new and we love them for their ease of use, although they offer no guarantee for people like us who are prone to getting lost. So, after arriving at our destination, we parked our car, and went in search of number 7, which would be the start of our walk. Easy-peasy, surely? You can see the number 7 at the top of the map, with the P indicating the car park directly above it.

Imagine our confusion when after searching high and low number 7 remained elusive, finding only a signpost with number 38 instead. Looking at the map didn't get us anywhere either, as number 38 was nowhere to be found! We could only surmise that some of the routes and numbers had been changed since the map was printed. It wasn't the first time we'd come across this problem.

Not wanting to admit defeat, we started walking into the direction of where the next marker, number 8, should have been if all was well, but I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that there wasn't any sign of that one either. Instead, we arrived at a fork, with the path up ahead being a private one, while the other was going right instead of left, which was the direction we wanted to go.

Retracing our steps, we eventually found a narrow track leading into the woods (bottom left in the above collage), which soon ended and disappeared into a marshy meadow (above). We could see an obvious track meandering through the high grasses, so we followed it into the direction of a line of trees, taking care not to step on the tiny frogs which leapt to safety upon our approach.

Just following our instincts, we took a left turn when we finally made it back into the woods and onto a woodland path when - lo and behold! - we spotted a number 9 signpost. 

In the full belief that we were back on track, we started following the signs which would ultimately lead us towards number 9, the path making twists, turns and zigzags until we were no longer sure of the direction into which we were going.

At some point, the obvious path ended at a closed gate, with the signposts directing us along an initially overgrown boardwalk, with a pool of water shimmering beyond, reflecting the white cotton wool clouds floating into the blue Summer sky.

Poring over our map, even these two self-confessed "topographically disoriented" could see that there wasn't a pool of water in the approach to number 9. And no, it isn't the splash of blue beneath number 8, as that's the castle lake!

With a view as gorgeous like this, who were we to complain? 

Still intrigued about the sudden appearance of this watery slice of heaven, I trawled the Internet when we got home, finding a reference to a boardwalk crossing one of the newly constructed ponds created by altering the course of a brook called the Bornebeek in 2016. Mystery solved!

Back on solid ground, a number of gates indicated that we were passing through grazing land, and indeed at one point we spotted a magnificent specimen of the Galloway cattle which are roaming the nature reserve. 

When we finally arrived at number 9, we were dismayed to discover that the next number signposted was number 12 rather than number 10 as indicated on our map. But at least it was going into the right direction, along a long and straight semi-surfaced tree-lined avenue (bottom left), so we confidently proceeded accordingly. Soon we even found a bench on which to have our picnic. 

It was then that things started going ever so slightly pear-shaped when, instead of going straight ahead, the next marker pointed us to the left and then, annoyingly, left again, so that we were actually walking back into the direction we'd come from. I decided to use common sense, ignore the marker and go right, and right again, which brought us back onto the straight and narrow. Still, doubt had set in and I was about to panic when I caught a glimpse of the ivy clad water tower we'd seen on our first day. Phew!

When I posted some photos of our walk on Instagram that day, I captioned them with: had a wonderful day of not getting lost in the woods and not being eaten by wild animals! 

Quite chuffed with the fact that in spite of the out of date map - or perhaps because of it - we managed to not actually get lost! 

The day wasn't finished yet, of course. In fact, it was only about 1.30 pm when we found ourselves back at the car park, ready for our next adventure, which started with a 15-minute drive to Loppem, a village about 10 kilometers south-west of Bruges.

Here, a small cobbled lane leads towards a little-known and well-hidden gem, Loppem Castle. 

Entering the castle grounds through the gatehouse (above, top left) it all looks deceptively peaceful, but in reality there is no escaping the constant noise of the traffic passing along the busy E40 motorway which is virtually skirting the domain.

The original Loppem Castle was built in the 17th century and destroyed in the 18th. A century later, in 1856, Baron Charles van Caloen and his wife, Countess Savina de Gourcy Serainchamps, appointed the English architect Edward Pugin to draw up plans for a new castle on the site of the original one.

Finding Pugin’s style too English, Baron van Caloen wanted a more Flemish look to his castle, so he roped in his friend, the Belgian architect Jean Bethune, to amend the plans. Construction of the castle was completed by 1863 and the result is an excellent example of the Flemish neo-Gothic style. 

The prominent sandstone bay extension houses the family chapel.

The blues sky we'd woken up to had done a disappearing act by now and as it seemed as if rain was imminent, we were glad of the opportunity to visit the castle's richly decorated and furnished interior

In perfect harmony with the neo-Gothic architecture, the furniture designed by Pugin as well as Bethune’s stained-glass windows, chandeliers, staircases and fireplaces were all executed with immense skill by local craftsmen.

The impressive entrance hall or vestibule (below, top left) is where van Caloen and his guests played billiards. With its height of 17 metres and designed as a three-storey hall, it combines the idea of the English baronial hall with the grandeur of the staircase hall in a French chateau. The stunning encaustic floor tiles were produced by Minton Hollis from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

While the neo-Gothic interiors and the domestic living quarters downstairs show life as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the first floor rooms are largely devoted to the rich art collection many of which was collected by Charles' grandson Baron Jean van Caloen (1884– 1972) on his travels.

The family chapel (above, bottom right) obviously was a notable exception.

We were largely on our own during our visit, so that we could explore the castle's many treasures at ease. That is, until our solitude was rudely disrupted by the entrance of a couple and their three children, including a boisterous toddler whom his parents mostly left unsupervised. And then there was the not-quite teenage daughter who taunted us by standing directly behind us whenever we wanted to take a closer look at something or stood in a room's doorway to gaze at its plexied off contents.

Case in point were the rooms on the first floor used by the Belgian King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth during their stay at Loppem. This was at the end of the First World War, when the Belgian royal family requested that the castle be temporarily made available for their use.

There's a maze in the grounds, for which a separate entrance fee has to be paid. Designed in 1873 using red and green hornbeam by the brothers Albert and Ernest van Caloen, it is rumoured to be notoriously easy to get lost in. We never made it there, as the pesky family was last seen making enquiries on how to get there.  Perhaps we'll come back here one day outside the school holidays!

It would have been the perfect opportunity for a proper walk around the castle park as well. But as we - and especially Jos, who was suffering somewhat from backache - were all walked out by then, we just took the lane skirting the back of the castle to return to the car park. Doesn't it look especially fairy-tale like meeting its reflection in the lake?

With the afternoon still too young to call it a day, we roped in Truus again to take us to Blijzaak, a charity shop devoted to vintage and design which I'd come across when trawling the Internet.

It had started drizzling by then, but hardly enough to spur our windscreen wipers into action. By the time we'd reached our destination, the sun had reappeared acting as if nothing had happened.

The shop was a lot smaller than we'd imagined, but we still found a funky vintage lamp for our sitting room. The shop also had a café with outside seating, where we had cappuccinos served in 1960s Boch cups, just like the ones we have at home. 

Then it was back to our B&B where we collapsed on our beds for a nap (Jos) and a couple of pages in the book I was trying to finish. We'd ordered another tapas board, so that was our evening meal sorted!

So, that was that! If you've come here hoping for the solution of the out of centre empty cupboard mystery, then I'm afraid I have to disappoint you, as we forgot to ask Veronique about it. But that's more than enough reason for another visit, isn't it?

Instead you'll have to made do with the outfit I was wearing for our journey home on Thursday. 

One of my favourite vintage maxi skirts was joined here by a modern, but charity shopped, blue and white short-sleeved knit, topped by one of my collection of thrifted King Louie cardigans. The belt and beaded necklace were charity shop finds as well.

We made it home in one piece, although it wasn't without its hick-ups. Truus, whom we seem to shout at just as much as Marie-Jeanne, our old satnav, made us do a detour all the way via Brussels. At least that meant we didn't have to face delays at the Kennedy Tunnel, although we are counting ourselves lucky there weren't any queues on the equally infamous Brussels orbital.

We were glad to have this one waiting for us, that's for sure!

It'll be business a usual - whatever that may be - in my next post. See you again soon!

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Come walk with me

Hello, and welcome to Episode Two of my tiny travelogue!

After a restful and refreshing night's sleep, we jolted awake just after eight on Tuesday morning. We allowed ourselves no lazy lie-in as obviously we wanted to make the most of the handful of days at our disposal. Which is why, although breakfast was being served between 8.30 and 10, we'd told Veronique to expect us first thing. 

With no time to lose, we jumped out of bed and, spurred along by the early morning sunshine which winked at us from a bright blue cloudless sky when we drew our curtains, we got ready in no time. 


One of the privileges of our luxury room was that it is in a kind of annex rather than in the main building, our only neighbours being the horses in the stable facing us, half-hidden by a luscious bank of bright pink Hydrangeas. 

Fully awake and with rumbling stomachs, we made our way along the garden path to the breakfast room. 

Ever thoughtful, Veronique had equipped our room with an umbrella in case of rain. We still can't believe our luck, as we would certainly have needed it if we'd been there just a matter of days earlier.

Although we were running a bit late, we were still the first of the guests to arrive, which allowed us to lay claim to the sunniest spot in the room. Having been starved of a decent dose of sunshine for a while we were trying to make every ray count!

Breakfast was as plentiful and delicious as it was on our previous visits, the only difference being that instead of the pre-Covid buffet, each table was now supplied with a basket offering a choice of breads and a very clever etagère with a selection of cheeses, meats and smoked salmon.

As before, there was freshly made apple juice and coffee or tea aplenty, as well as fruit and yogurt and Veronique's homemade jams.

Hunger pangs more than stilled, we were ready for whatever the day would bring us. Rather than walk the crowded streets of  Bruges, we took advantage of the marvellous weather to explore the rural area around Bruges, our destination for the day being Lissewege, a picturesque village a stone's throw from Zeebrugge.

Catering for the many tourists who flock here all year around, there's a large car park just outside the village, from where a mere 5-minute walk will take you to its heart.

The street which backs onto the car park was lined by a grass verge with a couple of benches and some delightful artwork produced by the residents, tying in the Sculpture Trail which is being held here each Summer. The hot air balloons with their crochet jackets on the top left were part of an installation called 99 Luftballons, which duly supplied me with an all-day earworm!

From the car park, we made our way into the village, admiring the picturesque white washed houses and the charming little canal known as "het Lisseweegs Vaartje", which is part of an old natural waterway connecting Bruges with the North Sea.

Aptly nicknamed "the white village", it has been voted as one of Flanders' most charming villages, so it isn't at all surprising that is a honey pot for tourists wanting a taste of its nostalgic flavour.

In the window of a small art gallery, Jos was mesmerized by the vintage camera on display (top right). An Agfa Click I, it was Jos's first camera, and one which is still in our collection. 

Next stop was the old- fashioned candy shop called "De Soete Paepe" (transl. the sweet pastor, bottom right), which derived its name from the 19th century village priest Servatius Meerseman who used to distribute homemade marshmallows (known as spekken) to the poor.

Arriving at the canal, we passed a restaurant called De Valckenaere (bottom left), where a waiter was setting the terrace tables. Stopping to make inquiries, we were advised to pre-book a table if we wanted to have lunch there.

With that out of the way, we were able to continue our explorations in the safe knowledge that we wouldn't have to go hungry later.

Soon we arrived at the brick Church of Our Lady of Visitation which, built between 1225 and 1275, is a textbook example of so-called "coastal Gothic".

According to legend, the church was built on the site where fishermen once found a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary in a creek. Although the village was of modest size, the 13th century church was not. Lissewege was a stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella, so the construction of the monumental church may have been funded by donations from these pilgrims. 

Lissewege has a soft spot for art and culture, culminating in the already mentioned Sculpture Trail which is celebrating its 27th edition this Summer. 

Along the trail, which takes one all over the village and beyond, 120 sculptures by 89 different artists are exhibited. A sizeable chunk of these can be admired in the garden of the old presbytery - now the tourist office - situated on a narrow cobbled street behind the church.

Our initial intention was to buy the instruction leaflet for a walk we'd intended to do in the afternoon, but alas, the tourist office's opening hours were from 2 pm onwards only, so we spent time in the garden instead.

Time to stand and contemplate the art on display and take photographs of those which caught our eye.

I had a particular soft spot for the girl reading her book on a circular perch (bottom right) but I'm afraid I didn't take note of its creator, nor could I find it pictured in the official on-line brochure.

Returning to the square in front of the church, we could see that the terraces of the cafés were slowly but surely filling up with people, the amassed bicycles parked all over the square indicating that these were groups of cycling tourists, the most annoying of these being commonly known as cycling terrorists! Suffice to say that they're not my favourite kind of people!

We couldn't get away fast enough and continued our walk through quiet back streets, where a huge sculpture of dandelion clocks in a tiny front garden caught my attention. 

Lissewege is a typical "polder village" surrounded by fertile green polders that were often reclaimed from the sea, and it feels as if you are walking around in a time capsule. Or rather, it does if you factor out the cars parked at the side of the roads and the ubiquitous tourists.

These particular tourists were getting quite thirsty by now, so we turned into a leafy footpath alongside the canal, which would eventually take us back to all the hubbub and to the restaurant.

We counted ourselves lucky for being early birds, as while we were having lunch, lots of people were being turned away as it was fully booked by now.

Before ordering, we quenched our thirst with a glass of alcohol free lager. I just want to make clear that Jos's silly grin had nothing whatsoever to do with the consumption of alcohol!

While Jos ordered steak with mushrooms and Belgian (not French!) fries, I opted for pasta with a smoked salmon sauce.

Our first meal out together since February 2020, although Jos already had lunch with his son once or twice in the meantime.

Afterwards, we made a brief return to the car so that I could change out of my Clarks Cloudsteppers and into a pair of proper walking shoes. 

Then, armed with only a map I'd printed off the Internet, we attempted to find the start of our intended walk. Way-marked with the typical hexagonal signs, it was a question of finding the start, which eventually we did after walking around the church and through the tourist throng twice!

Unsurfaced country lanes lined with pollarded willows, the gaps between the trees offering glimpses of the polders and a row of wind turbines gaily waving at us in the distance, ultimately brought us to a wide and shimmering blue canal, with glimpses of the port of Zeebrugge on the horizon to our left.

Scrutinizing the map while sat on a conveniently placed bench, a freighter, its stern proclaiming its home port as Antwerp, came chugging along, leaving frothy waves in its wake.

The stretch along the canal's towpath being a bit boring, we were glad to reach a path leading away from it, although we were disappointed to see that we had to walk along the main road for a stretch. No mean feat with both cars and cyclists to dodge.

It was a relief to turn into a quiet lane once more, where a charming little chapel was standing guard. This is the Ter Doest chapel, built in 1687 by the eponymous Cistercian monastery.

Our return journey took us over a stile and into a meadow leading to a path next to a railway line. If we'd thought the canal path boring, this was even worse, the only redeeming features being the occasional uninterrupted views across the polders towards the village.


Back in Lissewege, we found that the Tourist Office had now opened its doors. No longer in need of walking instructions, we decided to pay a visit to the on-site Museum of Saints. 

This tiny museum displays a magnificent collection of colourfully painted statues of Saints. Being the proud owners of some plaster statues inherited from Jos's grandparents, we were keen to find out the identity of one of them, a saintly chap handing a loaf of bread to a little boy. And here is is, on the top right: Saint Gerardus Majella.  

And look, isn't that the little chapel in that painting? Quite a large turnout for such a tiny chapel, don't you think? 

After this overdose of saintliness we returned to our car and drove the short distance to one of  Flanders' most impressive medieval monuments: the tithe barn belonging to the former abbey of Ter Doest. 

Built in the 13th century, the monumental barn, 50 metres long and over 30 metres high, is all that is left of the once prosperous Cistercian abbey.  The blind Gothic windows at the top sides are of special note, as is the lofty interior which consists of three aisles with oak pillars and beams.

In order to get there, we had to drive past the chapel which, weirdly reminiscent of the painting, was inundated with people. No pilgrims, though, as instead of being lead by a priest, they were listening intently to the ramblings of a guide.

Upon leaving the barn, unfortunately the group of tourists had reached the site as well, making it impossible for me to take a decent photograph of the building. I was just lamenting this fact when the guide blew his whistle, and, like rats responding to the pied piper, they came running from all directions. Huzzah!

There were sculptures on display here as well, the one on the top right representing a giant Coronavirus surrounded by desperate health care workers. 

On that note, we have reached the end of the day and of this post, leaving only the day's outfit to show you in more detail. 

Both the short-sleeved green sailor style jumper and the wide-legged trousers with its mix of flowers and stripes were charity shop finds, and I'm sure it's not the first time they were worn together. Both pieces are frequent travelling companions. As you can see, I only added minimal accessories, a charity shopped necklace and a flower bouquet brooch from a small independent shop in Antwerp.

I hope you'll join me again for the final episode in a couple of days. Until then, do stay safe, my friends.