Thursday, 15 March 2018

Charming Neerijse

A very muddy adventure - No. 207

Today, as said in the title, the adventure was filled with mud and moon walking. Much unlike the view we saw last week, which was filled with snow, the fields seemed greener than ever.

We started off walking down the same road where I had made a snow angel that now has gone to heaven and has been replaced by puddles of dirty water. We saw some chocolate that looked like the dried up version of the chocolate cake with icing. Every adventure I seem to end up talking about chocolate... [Note by Tonio: ploughed soil often looks like chocolate]

Before: "chocolate" with icing

After: plain "chocolate" with icing removed

I don’t say this much but in the first half of the adventure nothing very special happened. The view was amazing though. Especially when we went through a tunnel of trees (not the first time) and the fields had different patches of their own colour as usual. It was very nice.

As we passed by a nice looking church/chapel I saw a potential narrow passage we could go through. Now any of you readers that came from a while ago know that I’m a big fan of narrow passages. I don’t have a reason for it. Maybe I  just like the fact that it's pedestrian territory. It also feels like we are one of the first to walk there. But unfortunately, we had to continue going straight as our route didn't go through the narrow passage. Luckily, a few minutes later we found a narrow passage and walked through it. Ah, the feeling of walking through a narrow passage after all this time was great.

In the middle of the narrow passage, I spotted a sign that said something like Baron Restaurant. Because the sign was old we thought it would be closed but as we went down the path it was actually open. It was a Michelin star restaurant (basically a very good restaurant). We went in for a snack. I had water while Tonio had beer from Dijleland called Charlepoeng and we both shared a tapas full of little bites. It was presented very well and we started to realise why the restaurant had a Michelin star. And the prices weren’t even that expensive!

Through another narrow passage (yay!) We took a shortcut home because it wasn’t worth it going through the first part of the adventure again as it was very muddy and hard to traverse.

At last, we went back into the car and drove home... 

Did you enjoy the adventure? If you have, then make sure to join us on our next one. Also, make sure to check out Tonio’s blog called The Wanderer. But for now, goodbye!


[by Tonio]:

You wouldn't believe we started from a spot that we had walked through last weekend. These were taken close to our starting point from No. 207 today:

This is how the landscape looked the weekend before, close to the same spot:

If last weekend the ground was snowy, today it was mud that reigned supreme, especially in the first part of our walk.

The beautiful thing of these adventures with Gianluca is how each seems to have a character of its own. After "mudding" our way through the first couple of kilometres, we approached the village of Neerijse. It's mostly old buildings and farms. 

What a charming place.

Gianluca's legendary sharp observation power was in full evidence as he spotted a signpost to a brasserie in an unexpected and unlikely place: a narrow path next to a large green field.

It was the entrance to the back garden of a restored old building, now a Michelin rated brasserie. Curiosity and the promise of a rest, a snack and a drink got the better of us, so we walked in.

The young waiter suggested a platter of tapas and the locally produced artisanal beer Charlepoung - brewed in nearby Huldenberg. Plain water for Gianluca. We loved it.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

A very snowy adventure - No. 205

Today, we had a long adventure. We went on and on about things and the adventure seemed to stretch on for ever. Not in a bad way of course.

We decided to go early in the morning before the snow melted. It was a good idea and we had a mix of snow and grass. It looked perfect for an adventure. If only Sue could have come with us on this adventure. It would have been even better than the last.

We started walking next to the fields of snow. It was such a difference from last week when there was no snow at all. Maybe a bit of ice but that was it. I managed to take a very lucky picture. I took a picture of Tonio walking and the view to his left. He turned to see what I was doing and I took the picture while he was turning. It ended up looking like he is looking at the view to his left. What a lucky picture.

We saw what looked like a chocolate cake with icing. The icing was actually icing (snow) and the chocolate was soil. That is the third time soil looked like chocolate on our adventures but this time it looked the most like chocolate.

Tonio asked me what frogs do in the winter. As they are cold blooded they freeze too, right? I answered by saying that certain types of frog do just that then continue their lives once the ice melts and there are others that find shelter in deep lakes where it’s less cold than the surface.

Towards the end I wanted to do an angel on the snow (a "snow angel") and this was the result:

And finally, we went back to the car and drove off. Did you enjoy it? If you have then make sure to join us on our next adventure. Also make sure to check out Tonio's blog called The Wanderer. But for now, goodbye!


[by Tonio:]

It snowed quite a bit on Friday and the following morning we woke up to a Belgium covered in white. The forecast was that the temperature would go up to well over zero during the day, so I suggested we go for this weekend's adventure on a Saturday morning, before all the snow melted.

What a show!

We parked next to no. 205, from where we had walked last time. Today's was, yet again, a continuation of the eastward progression, starting from the edge of Overijse into Huldenberg, Loonbeek and now Neerijse. This is almost all agricultural landscape: fields and farms. The last few weeks it was cold with sun and cloud creating a spectacle of their own. Today, the same terrain looked so much different covered with snow.

Different animals used different modes of locomotion along this passage

We appreciated, in particular, the "croaky" sound as we trudged on the fresh snow. We enjoyed observing marks made by previous walkers - human and animal. The arrow shaped prints made by pheasants, round shaped marks probably of a dog's paws, and of course human footprints, or rather shoe prints. At one point, trying to step on these same prints myself, I was puzzled at the long steps the previous walker had taken. Then it clicked, and as a (previous) runner I should be ashamed for not having realised this at once: they were the prints of a jogger.

Our first encounter with animals today was with horses. The poor chaps were too cold to take any interest whatever in us. They stood or lay on the ground motionless to conserve energy. Luckily for them, it would later warm up substantially. We also saw pheasants, a farm dog which wanted to play with Gianluca while he was trying to tie his shoelaces... and a silly man with a child's brain driving around in the country lanes with his 4x4 jeep or whatever. Gianluca recognised the same driver from a couple of weeks back driving a sort of rally car in the mud on that occasion. Mercifully, we encountered Mr Child Brain only once, although I suspect the tyre tracks we saw throughout our otherwise wonderful walk had been left there by him.

One animal that we didn't see, but which we discussed, was frogs. This was the result of my remarking on the croaky sound underfoot. I then wondered what happens to frogs when it freezes. Being cold blooded animals, I reasoned that frogs should naturally and quite literally freeze too. Gianluca then mentioned a species of frog that freezes itself in autumn to thaw back to life in spring. But I wondered about other species of frogs. I'll need to do research on this.

An old war bunker transformed into a winter shelter for bats

An hour and a half after the start of our walk, we came back to the car to notice that the landscape was indeed thawing out. We had come just at the right moment to experience the Belgian winter countryside at its most beautiful.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A 'special' adventure with Sue - no. 204 at Loonbeek

As you have seen in the title, there is something special about this adventure. Today, we have brought with us Sue, my mother. She hadn’t been outside for a while and it was a nice day so we decided to go for an adventure together.

We started off on a path that quickly went off the beaten path. Ice littered all of the nooks and crannies everywhere. Many times I couldn’t resist picking up a pebble and throwing it at the ice.

The view varied a number of times from dry soil everywhere around to a farmhouse. The good thing for Sue was that she chose the perfect time to join us. This was one of the nicer adventures. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the warmest. The wind seemed to always be against us and it only seemed to get colder as we continued. Luckily, Tonio prepared some hand warmers for us. These hand warmers go on for about 8 hours so even a few hours after the adventure I was using it to warm our hands.

And finally, we went back to the car and drove home...

Did you enjoy our adventure? If you have then make sure to join us on our next adventure in Adventures In Dijleland. Also, check out Tonio's blog called The Wanderer. But for now,


[by Tonio]:

We had a special guest with us today: Sue. For her, we reserved one of the most beautiful walks since a long time. It was sunny - our third successive adventure with sun shining into our faces during the second half of the walk. Not bad for winter in Belgium.

But it was also freezing, and this created an interesting effect on the ground. In the previous two weeks, the sky stole the show with an interesting interplay between sunlight and constantly changing cloud formations. Today, with no clouds at all and a brilliant blue sky, our attention turned to the ground.

We saw icy puddles, many of which Gianluca tested for solidity by hurling stones at them...

... martian landscapes:

... and strange icy shapes. Curiously, in some cases where puddles had frozen over the surface formed like a glass sheet with a void underneath. Pity that, a few seconds after this picture was taken the heart shaped loop was no more, having been shattered by you-know-who. With the forecast temperatures, it had every chance of remaining intact for a whole week. Oh, well.

Interesting and photogenic as our outing was today, we were glad to go back inside the heated interior of the car and back home for a warm coffee.