We had another lazy start to the day and after breakfast we decided not to venture into the garden just in case we got locked in again. Instead Mr C decided to walk me to the Botanical Gardens so I could enjoy them whilst he made his way to the station to buy train tickets to Waterloo for the following day. After quite a long walk which he was directing, I said ‘Are you sure we are going in the right direction?’ I thought the garden was not far from the hotel.
During the walk we came across the lovely and peaceful church of St Anthony with the tomb of Saint Damien of Molokai in the crypt below. We also walked past Saint Michael’s Church which is considered to be the main Jesuit church in Belgium. Eventually we got back on track and found the Botanical Gardens (not far from the hotel) which I found to be an oasis of calm contrasting with the hustle and bustle of the city.
When Mr C returned from the station with the appropriate train tickets I showed him round the garden before we went to find a cafe for lunch. After eating we walked to the Small Beguinage which was once housing for Nuns but now after restoration had become homes to private individuals. Unfortunately St Gertrude’s Abbey which is situated next to the Beguinage is only open at weekends so we did not have the opportunity to see inside. We made our way back to the hotel along the River Dijl and stopped off at the Dijl terrace which is a stepped seating area. We noticed an unusual lady who appeared to be sunbathing!
Once back at the hotel we were disturbed by Mr C’s mobile phone. The interruption turned out to be an annoying and disappointing phone call. Once again I got the urge to throw the mobile phone into a nearby waterway!
After freshening up we made our way to the restaurant of choice for the evening where I chose salmon, potato and salad for my main course. For dessert we shared an intriguing sounding dish of strawberry soup,basil ice cream and tiramisu cream. It was delicious! We then made our way back to the hotel for a nightcap before retiring to our room for the night.
We were both a bit slow to emerge from sleep due to the previous day being so long. When we arrived at the breakfast room we found it was stocked with all the basic needs for a no-frills breakfast. After enjoying breakfast, we decided to step into the hotel’s garden quadrangle and found that we could not return because the door had locked itself as it shut!! The quadrangle was completely enclosed and all other exits were also shut. After a few minutes we were able to flag down an amused member of staff who fortunately was able to open the door.
After our escape we made our way to the tourist information centre where we picked up several information leaflets and gleaned additional information from the lady behind the desk. We had a drink of tea in the market square whilst deciding our plan of action for the day. After Mr C had booked a Town Hall tour for later in the day, we briefly visited the church of St Peter before making our way to the M Museum. The museum was a very interesting art gallery and we found the electronic guided tour system was a lot more advanced and discreet than we are used to in the United Kingdom. The current exhibition was a display of silver objects, some of which were from St Peter’s church. After a break for lunch we completed the M Museum tour which was a display of art and silver housed within St Peter’s church. We finished looking around the church with only a few minutes to spare before it was time for our guided tour of the Town Hall.
The Town Hall tour was excellent and our guide explained many interesting facts and features, one of particular interest is that the statues on the higher levels increased in height to give the building a sense of height. After the main tour, a few of us stayed behind for an additional tour of the attic, reached by a spiral staircase, where we were able to view the original stonework which had been copied and replaced with more durable material on the outer edifices of the building.
After our busy day we returned to the hotel to freshen up before returning to the city for our evening meal. I had rabbit with prunes for my main course. Whilst dining we chatted with a Finnish chemistry professor and his Chinese student who were preparing for an eight minute talk in the Catholic University next day. I once again observed the white robed monk I saw the previous evening passing by. When it was time for dessert, I asked how many scoops of ice cream would be served because the menu was unclear. I was informed that all the dishes had three scoops unless I wished for less so I ordered one scoop. When the waiter served the dessert he said, “Here you are miss” and as I looked down I noticed that the serving bowl seemed to have two black (Disney-like) mouse ears protruding from the side. On closer inspection I found Minnie Mouse hiding underneath my ice cream… The amused waiter was enjoying himself and referred to me as Miss for the rest of the evening.
After our evening meal we once again retired to the hotel, where I once again had a nice glass of Rose wine before retiring to our room for a good night’s sleep.
The taxi arrived on time to take us to Stafford station for the first part of our train journey. I felt a bit sorry for the taxi driver because Mr C hadn’t factored in enough time to cater comfortably for slow moving traffic but we made it in time. When we arrived in London the London cab driver was dismayed and put his head in his hands when we said we were only going round the corner to St Pancras station. Apparently he had waited 40 minutes and had been hoping for a more lucrative fare.
As we neared St Pancras station, the traffic was chaotic and when we arrived at the station we realised why. All of the Eurostar trains were delayed so the terminus was full of people milling around. We wern’t quite sure what was going on until we heard an announcement saying that there had been an incident on the French TGV line. There were plenty of staff available to answer questions and we were informed that we would be called to our train when it was ready for boarding. This was done by waving a card about with the train time and destination as there are no digital electronic screens to keep passengers updated there.
Despite the delay, the experience wasn’t stressful and when we were called to our train it was only about half an hour behind schedule. As we were queuing to go through border security and bag checks, we found out that the delay was due to one of the French high speed trains colliding with an animal. Oh dear…
Following the delay, the journey ran smoothly and we were served with a light lunch of salmon accompanied by a bottle of Grenache Rose whilst enjoying sunny scenes through the windows of the train. We changed at Brussels for the last leg of the journey which took about thirty minutes. Rather than carry our luggage through the city to the hotel we caught our third taxi of the day.
On arrival at the hotel we had a momentary scare; the receptionist struggled to find our reservation. She asked for the booking code which I was able to produce and it was only then that we all realised she had misheard our name. We had just enough time to unpack and settle into our room before it was time to go out for dinner. We asked the hotel receptionist for a restaurant recommendation (we were looking for traditional Belgian cuisine) which she provided. We found the restaurant she recommended and were able to sit outside, soaking up the atmosphere. We ended up talking to a lady on the table next to us who wondered what we might find to fill a week in Leuven. As we were talking, surprisingly, a monk dressed in white robes emerged from the restaurant next door.
After our meal we returned to the hotel where I had a nice glass of Rose wine before retiring to our room for a good night’s sleep.
…Two planets and a star
Venus, Jupiter and Regulus shining bright in the sky.
Brilliant Venus in west from dusk until mid-to-late evening. Venus – the brightest planet and third-brightest sky object overall (after the sun and moon) – reaches its greatest elongation in the western sky on June 6. That means it is at its farthest from the sun on our sky’s dome, for this evening apparition, during June 2015. Venus stays out for over three hours after sunset this month, as seen from around the world. What’s more, Venus gets closer to Jupiter all month, to stage a close conjunction on our sky’s dome by the month’s end.
Throughout June 2015, brilliant Venus beams like a lighthouse as darkness falls! At mid-northern latitudes, Venus stays out quite late, possibly after your bedtime. Be sure to catch the wonderful presence of the moon in Venus’ vicinity for several days, starting on June 18or June 19.
Venus – the brightest star-like object in all the heavens – dominates the western sky as darkness falls. However, you can’t miss another brilliant beauty – the planet Jupiter – above Venus in the evening sky.
Bright Jupiter from dusk until late evening. Jupiter and Venus will come closer and closer together on the sky’s dome throughout June, 2015. In late June and early July, Venus and Jupiter will stage their closest conjunction until August 27, 2016!
Once you see Jupiter at dusk or nightfall, you won’t mistake it for anything else – except, possibly, brighter Venus, which shines lower down than Jupiter in the west at evening twilight.
Jupiter shines more brilliantly than any star. It’s the second-brightest planet after Venus.
In early June 2015, Venus sets in the west at mid-to-late evening, leaving the king planet Jupiter to rule over the evening sky for an hour or two after Venus sets. In early June, at mid-northern latitudes, Jupiter sets in the west about 3.5 hours after sunset. By the end of June 2015, when the two planets are in conjunction, or nearly so, they’ll be setting at about the same time, about 2.5 hours after the sun.
Watch the moon as it swings in the vicinity of Venus and Jupiter for several days, starting onJune 18 or June 19.
NB: To see Regulus you will need to click on the second picture to see a larger version of the photograph on Flickr.
Yesterday evening we returned home from our recent travels to the city of Leuven in Belgium. We had a room with a view and a cosy fire. The week was nice and (mostly) relaxing and now I am working my way through over 800 photographs. This has been hampered with my computer playing up by initially freezing up and deciding not to copy the photos across from the memory card. This meant that I had to go through a convoluted route to get them onto my computer.
After my computer froze it stopped recognising any memory card inserted into the drive. Trying to fix the problem resulted in my computer not recognising my iPhone as a data drive. The latter has been fixed but I have given up on the data card drive problem for now. In addition to these problems, my monitor had been playing up for a few weeks and finally decided to pack up a few days before we went away and I have been looking at the best option for a new one.
Now I can get back to working my way through my photographs…
And to finish I would like to wish the men in my life a (belated) Happy Father’s Day
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Saint-Omer – September 2008
Saint-Omer is a commune in France.
It is a commune and sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department 68 km (42 mi) west-northwest of Lille on the railway to Calais. The town is named after Saint Audomar, who brought Christianity to the area.
The canalised portion of the river Aa begins at Saint-Omer, reaching the North Sea at Gravelines in northern France. Below its walls, the Aa connects with the Neufossé Canal, which ends at the Lys River.
You can find my post on Notre-Dame Cathedral, St. Omer and the tomb of Saint Erkembode here.