Crissay-sur-Manse: June 6th, 2000

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mini Paris

This title should attract some readers, shouldn't it? There is 'Mini-Europe', of course, on the 1958-ties World Exhibition site in Brussels. This is the only place in the world where you can can catch the Eiffel tower, the Arc the Triomphe and the Brussels' Atomium in just one snapshot!

The Atomium in the background  is actually 1/1 size. The other monuments are miniature replica that are part of the Mini Europe parc in Brussels. They even have a nice replica of the famous Loire Valley castle of Chenonceau.

Hard to distinguish it from the real thing, isn't it? But the people in the background just show you how tiny it is. I didn't shoot the above photos myself, but borrowed them from the internet.

The next photo is one of mine, though ...

This is the 'Mini-Paris' baguette from our local baker. I put in the red pen to give you an idea of the actual size of the mini version of the famous French baguette. In France it would be called a 'ficelle', I guess. Dear French friends and readers, please correct me if I'm wrong!

I guess our Flemish village isn't ready for the word 'ficelle' (= fine cord) yet. A Mini Paris sounds so much better ... By the way, it is really delicious and today we got two for the price of one, because it is 'customer day' here in Belgium. For the last decades, the last Saturday of September is the day on which shopkeepers all over the place give their customers a token of their appreciation for their loyalty. In the past, Saturday shopping meant coming home with five or six red roses, depending on how many shops you went to. Nowadays, shopkeepers tend to give more 'personalized' presents ... This extra free Mini-Paris is more than welcome!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

In Bruges

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium is the town of Bruges. Apart from the historic buildings, one of the town’s best features is undoubtedly the ‘reien’ – the canals crisscrossing the town.

All year round –in winter only during weekends – twenty tourist boats run up and down the canals, showing Bruges’ incredible heritage to eager tourists from all over the world. Bruges’ tourist board estimates their numbers at about 1 million every year. However, the boats are not the only things floating on the ‘reien’. Almost as famous as the town itself, are its swans.

There is a legend attached to the swans’ presence. It goes back to 1488, when Bruges knew a violent uprising of the local population against the reign of the Arch Duke Maximilian of Austria. After the accidental death of his young and beautiful wife Margaret of Burgundy – she was killed falling from her horse – the grieving Arch Duke instructed his loyal yet cruel overseer called Lanchals to rule the town with a firm hand. I don’t know why, because the town had nothing to do with Margret’s early death.

The people of Bruges resented this, of course, and showed their disapproval by incarcerating the Arch Duke in a house just off the town’s main square. The overseer was taken prisoner too and tortured and decapitated by the angry citizens. From his prison Maximilian witnessed the whole scene. Later – the history books don’t mention how much later – when Maximilian was released, he marked the posthumous rehabilitation of Lanchals by ordering the town of Bruges to ‘look after the white longnecks (swans) on its canals for the rest of time’.

Source: the internet

Recently, the swans of Bruges were headline news. A few weeks ago a black swan was spotted on one of the canals. This was not to the liking of the town council, who decided that it was not in line with the town’s image. Council workers were instructed to catch the black rascal and take it to a bird sanctuary. The official reason for this forced evacuation was that the exotic black swan could be carrying infectious diseases that could kill the white swan population. The council workers undertook several attempts to catch the intruder. All failed. They finally had to give up when their small craft crashed into a wall, damaging the engine.

Source: the internet

On Facebook a support group in favour of the black swan rapidly got several thousands of followers. Last week, several newspapers reported that another black swan had been spotted on a stream just outside Bruges. ‘Second black swan on its way to Bruges’ the headline read. Was this the beginning of an invasion and would the canals soon be populated by black, white and later maybe grey swans? For a few days nothing more was heard of either swan …

Source: the internet

Until yesterday …

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Journée du Patrimoine

Today is the 'Journée du Patrimoine' - 'Open Monumentendag' in  Flanders. This yearly event was established in 2001. I think it's a copy of the 'Journée du Patrimoine which is a recurrent event in France. 

I remember being in France in September in the late 80-ties and 90-ties, visiting the Tour the Vetz and the Château de Pierrefonds in the Champagne-Ardennes region on one of these 'Journées'. It was fun and free! I think I still have some photos of those two visits. Paper copies, of course ... no digital cameras in those these ... I'll try and find them for you.

In the meantime here's a scan of a 1914 postcard of a castle that used to be the pride of our village before it was burned down by the invading German army in 1914.  What a shame!

The photo was published in our local newspaper a few days ago. I didn't recognize it as one of the two castles/manors that are still standing. So I showed it to my mother, who immediately knew where it used to be ... although she never saw it in real life, because it was torn down after the fire. By the time my mother was born (1928) the grounds on which it used to stand, had been divided into small building parcels. Today it's a nice quiet street featuring some stately villa's and ... a 1970-ties apartment building.

**** Update: I posted the above while preparing Sunday lunch. In the meantime I've been over to my mother's and guess what she has come up with since I've shown her the newspaper clipping yesterday:

An 'eye-witness' photo of the damaged castle not long after the fire...

Sorry for the poor quality. Even my brand-new scanner isn't up to the challenge of bringing an almost 100 year-old picture back to life.

And a photo of the chateau in its full glory ...