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Hidden Belgium by Derek Blyth

Details: Hidden Belgium is the kind of book you may pick up while it’s raining, thinking there’s nothing else to do. But a downpour won’t dampen its magic. “Darling, get the umbrella and waterproofs. We’re going out!” It’s a book to read even if you’ve lived in Belgium for decades and think you know everything about the country.

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100 Belgian Icons by Derek Blyth

Details: The book also gives you useful links for further information or addresses to visit per icon. Reality, not fantasy. But this is no rose-coloured romantic view of Belgium. Aspects of Belgium that make us throw our hands in the air in despair also make it onto the list of icons. Ugly Belgian houses. Rain. Useless projects.

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A delightful book from Belgium's Enchanted Garden

Details: April 23, 2020. August 26, 2020. “Plûme in the Enchanted Garden” by Tone Aanderaa is a delightful book for children and adults that will take our minds off the current troubles. These strange lockdown times are challenging for us all. It’s totally understandable if children and adults feel both physically and emotionally hemmed in and

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Salient by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.

Details: Salient by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is a book-length poem that combines reflections on the Battle of Passchendaele with the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Chöd, which at its basic level involves meditations in frightening places. Salient by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. is an extraordinary book that’s easy to love yet difficult to describe.

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King Albert's Heroes now available as e-book

Details: The book is now available as an e-book for only 9.11 USD. It also includes 100 high-quality photos, plus maps of their journey. Click on the picture below to go directly to the book on Amazon. Feel free to share: Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

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The Most Beautiful Photo Locations in Belgium

Details: This is where this book will prove extremely useful, because photographer Bart Heirweg has done all the preparation for you. He’s produced a beautiful book entitled “De Mooiste Fotolocaties van België: 50 plekken die je gezien moet hebben” (The Most Beautiful Photo Locations in Belgium: 50 places you must have seen).

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A historical walk around Nieuwpoort

Details: November 9, 2020. Details of a historical 3 km walk around Nieuwpoort and a review of the book “From The Ashes”. During the First World War, dozens of towns and villages along the old frontline were wiped clean off the map. As a result, after the Armistice in November 1918, the entire Westhoek region of Flanders was a wasteland of desolation.

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Touring the Battlefields of Flanders Fields

Details: Touring the Battlefields of Flanders Fields. October 25, 2020. November 3, 2020. When touring the Battlefields of Flanders Fields and northern France, using an experienced guide can make all the difference. Very soon after the guns fell silent on Flanders Fields and northern France in November 1918, visitors to the battlefields began arriving.

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The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Details: The Photographer of the Lost is published by Simon & Schuster and is available from Amazon.co.uk and other physical or online bookstores. In the US the book is called The Poppy Wife and is available from Amazon.com. And if you like this, on 29 October 2020 Caroline’s latest book comes out: When I Come Home Again.

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King Albert's Heroes: A Belgian Armored Corps in WW1

Details: The book “King Albert’s Heroes” by August Thiry details the incredible global odyssey of a group of 400 Belgian soldiers during the First World War. This is the Belgian Expeditionary Corps of Armoured Cars ( Corps Expeditionnaire des Autos-Canons-Mitrailleuses Belges, or ACM). The book is a fascinating human interest story that covers the

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Bill Bryson, you are SO WRONG about Belgium

Details: When I read the second remark, I banged the book shut, pounded up the stairs to my study and hammered “Bill Bryson travel writer email address” into Google. I found millions of results. Heaps of admiring reviews. Extracts from your books. A Facebook page with 85,000 likes. Lists of your awards. Interviews in global newspapers. But no email

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Monsieur Hawarden: An 18th century mystery story

Details: THE MONSIEUR HAWARDEN BOOK & MOVIE. Her life was the basis for the 1935 novel Monsieur Hawarden by Flemish writer Filip Pillecyn (1891-1962). Set against the crisis in the Eifel area, a woman dresses as a man and retreats after an unhappy love to a country house. She fills her days with walks in the region and looking back on her failed life.

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The Reconstruction of Ypres

Details: “The Reconstruction of Ypres” is a fascinating book that also describes a history walk from the Cloth Hall to the Menin Gate. During the First World War the old medieval town of Ypres was the centre of one of the most notorious battlefields the world has ever experienced: the …

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Tongeren: The oldest town in Belgium

Details: So you don’t need a guide book to tell you that Tongeren dates back to the time of Christ, and that it takes great pride in its connections to the Romans. Until, that is, you enter the market square, when you begin to have doubts. Here there is no bust of a Roman Emperor or legionnaire. Instead is a 3-metre bronze statue of a wild-eyed

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Marie-Louise Habets: Belgian nurse featured in "The Nun's

Details: The book becomes a best-seller, reaching no.1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Plans are made to turn it into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn. The famous actress meets Marie-Louise and learns some more details of her life and work in Africa. The movie The Nun’s Story comes out in 1959 and is a box office success. Audrey Hepburn is

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My Belgium: Journalist and writer Derek Blyth

Details: Book a room in a B&B, rent a bike to explore the quiet corners, and drink the local beer Brugse Zot in the friendly Hollandse Vismijn bar.” Favourite tourist attraction: Namur Citadel “You get some great views of Namur as you hike to the top of the ancient citadel .

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Visiting Durbuy. A delight in miniature

Details: To visit the Castle of the Counts of Marchin, at least 25 guests must book a reservation in advance. It is open from April to November and the rest of the Christmas season from 10 am — 6 pm. Getting to Durbuy. There are two direct trains per hour from Brussels (North, Central and Midi stations) to Barvaux and a ticket costs 17.50 euro.

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The bombing of Houffalize and its consequences

Details: The bombing of Houffalize in the Belgian Ardennes was a key incident in the Battle of the Bulge during the Second World War. In my previous post, on the Battle of the Bulge, you may have noticed the sentence: “Allied bombers intentionally turned the town of Houffalize to rubble to make it hard for the Germans to retreat.” The bombing of Houffalize was news to …

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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels

Details: (C) Le Tram de Boitsfort. National Library, Mont des Arts.“Take the lift to the 5 th floor and enjoy of of the finest views of the city.”. WHERE TO BUY “THE 500 HIDDEN SECRETS OF BRUSSELS” The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels by Derek Blyth is available from bookshops, online stores, and directly from the publisher, Luster at 17.95 EUR (free postage within Belgium).

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The construction of the Menin Gate in Ypres

Details: There are some photos and a lot of interesting information about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the development of the cemeteries and memorials, including the Menin Gate in a book entitled ‘Out of the Rock’ by Norman Bezzant, first published 1980, ISBN 434 06900 0

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Armistice Day 1918: What Happened Next

Details: Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, brought an end to hostilities in Flanders Fields. But it marked the beginning of a huge and dangerous operation to reclaim the …

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Walking the Battlefield of Waterloo

Details: Haven’t read anything by Ms Heyer though. I see from the description of the book on Amazon that the original version in 1937 contained a fold-out map of the Battle of Waterloo! That would have been useful, not just while reading the book but while planning my own route!

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Silent Fields by Bart Heirweg

Details: A beautiful photo book by Bart Heirweg that documents the war sites and landscapes in Flanders Fields. “Silent Fields” is a gorgeously produced photo book by Belgian photographer Bart Heirweg. It’s the result of his two years of work exploring 150 military cemeteries, battlefields and war landscapes in Flanders.

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The Museum Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen

Details: Margaret of Austria’s Choir Book. This is an absolutely huge book of music that is so well preserved it’s difficult to believe it was created in 1515. One reason for its preservation is that it disappeared until its re-discovery in 1860. Throughout the 20th century it was kept under wraps, only appearing at a few major exhibitions.

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Harry Pearson: The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman

Details: But on the whole the book is a joyous examination of Flemish cycling. “It has been said the Flemish love of cycling is so deep as to be a form of lunacy. If that’s true, then the heart of the insanity is the Ronde van Vlaanderen. In Flanders this …

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Schulensbroek: On, around and under the water

Details: Looks beautiful, Denzil. As for the fishing… well, some of us prefer a colouring book and a glass of wine! 🙂

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Hortense Daman Clews: Wartime resistance heroine and

Details: A book has been written about Hortense Daman Clews. It’s called Child of War by Mark Bles. It is an excellent book, and well worth reading for a more detailed account of this exceptional Belgian woman. The paperback is out of print, …

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Jeannine Deckers: The Singing Nun

Details: She was Jeanne-Paule Marie “Jeannine” Deckers, who was born on 17th October 1933 in Laeken. Educated in a Catholic school in Brussels, at the age of 15 she had a premonition that she would become a nun. She was an enthusiastic girl guide, a skilled guitarist and singer, and obtained a diploma that enabled her to teach sculpture.

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Enjoy a winter break in Belgium

Details: Antwerp: Christmas Concerts in newly opened Stock Exchange. Of special note are two Christmas concerts marking the official public opening of the newly renovated Antwerp Stock Exchange. These will take place on December 21st and 22nd 2019. This fantastic historical building is the oldest stock exchange in Europe and it was a model for later stock exchanges …

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Gabrielle Petit: First World War Spy

Details: More information on Gabrielle Petit. The quotes above, plus lots of background material, are from this excellent book: Gabrielle Petit: The Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War by Sophie De Schaepdrijver published by Bloomsbury Academic (2015). ISBN 9781472590862. The author also gave this in-depth lecture in English at the Hoover …

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How to identify farm crops on a country walk

Details: Wheat. Wheat is the most cultivated cereal worldwide. There are six types of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, hard white, soft white, and durum. Wheat has a shorter “beard” (the bristly material protecting the kernels) than barley. When ready for harvesting, it has a golden-brown colour.

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Looking for mushrooms and toadstools

Details: Looking for mushrooms and toadstools. October is a great month to visit a forest and search for mushrooms and toadstools to photograph! October is a great month to go on a fungus foray in your local woodland. Especially after some rain, the forest floor is likely to hold a wide variety of all sorts of mushrooms and toadstools.

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History Archives

Details: The fascinating story of the Belgian Expeditionary Corps of Armoured Cars is now available as an e-book. The First World War Experience Centre in Tildonk. May 26, 2019 November 10, 2020; Visit the WW1 Experience Centre in Tildonk and discover how locals coped with the occupation.

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The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, Brussels

Details: The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken open for three weeks every year. For three weeks every spring, the phenomenal Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Brussels) are opened to the public. Opening hours 2020: Cancelled due to COVID-19. Entrance: Avenue du Parc Royal, 1020 Brussels. Parking: opposite Chateau de Laeken, Avenue de la Dynastie.

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Bizarre Belgium: The Tower of Eben-Ezer

Details: It gets its name from the Biblical account of the place Samuel erected a stone to symbolize peace. It has seven floors reflecting the sacred number of seven. On the corners at the top of the tower, four sculptures are displayed representing characters of the book of Revelation: bull, lion, eagle and angel.

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Mechels Broek, Muizen

Details: By public transport, Muizen railway station is very convenient. If you’re coming by car, a good spot to park is along the Muizenhoekstraat, 2812 Mechelen, for example near no. 10. Just along from there (to the west) is a signpost and path leading north into the fields: The footpath is well maintained, and goes through the small wood you can

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Leuven Botanical Garden

Details: Leuven Botanical Garden. August 4, 2019. August 29, 2020. A brief introduction to one of Leuven’s delights: the Leuven Botanical Garden, or Kruidtuin. If you’re shopping in Leuven, on business there, passing through, or just fancy an hour of peaceful relaxation amidst beauty, then get down to the Leuven Kruidtuin. It’s free to visit, it

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The Vervet Forest in Brussels Natural History Museum

Details: February 7, 2018. August 26, 2020. On Thursday 8th February in the Natural History Museum of Brussels, Rue Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brussels, the English-language documentary The Vervet Forest will be screened. It’s the story of five orphan baby monkeys and the struggle to save their forest home in South Africa.

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Cycling Archives

Details: Here are some posts on some cycling routes, cycling events, and even a book on Belgian cyclists. Walking and Cycling in Flemish Brabant. January 25, 2020 May 22, 2020; It’s easy to explore the province of Flemish Brabant on foot or by bike thanks to a range of excellent English-language material.

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How to make a Country Walk fun for children

Details: Hunt for treasure “Ask an adult to make a list of 10 objects that you have to find and collect. Get a bag to collect your treasure.” (Dear Adult, the list will depend on the environment you are walking through.If it’s a forest, a typical list might be: pine cone, acorn, yellow leaf, feather, moss, bug, silver twig, bit of tree bark, wild flower, smooth stone.)

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Sint-Agatha-Rode and the patron saint of breast cancer

Details: A pleasant 9k walk along the River Dijle which flows through Sint-Agatha-Rode, named after the patron saint of breast cancer. The 86-kilometre long River Dijle rises near Nivelles in Wallonia but soon crosses the language border into Flanders a few kilometers south of the village of Sint-Agatha-Rode.

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The Royal Greenhouses of Brussels. Brutality beneath the

Details: The Royal Greenhouses of Brussels. Brutality beneath the beauty. April 30, 2013. August 26, 2020. For three weeks every spring, the phenomenal Royal Greenhouses in Laken are open to the public (in 2016: from 15 April until 6 May). They are a marvel of 19th-century architecture that house a stunning collection of plants, many of which are now

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Justus Lipsius walk

Details: Obviously the individuals in my garden have not read the book. The route brings you back to Overijse via the sports centre, where you can burn off any remaining energy on the outdoor Fit-O-Meter. A more realistic suggestion is to visit the Grape Museum on the Justus Lipsiusplein, which will bring you up to date with the history and present

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Cycling Archives

Details: Here are some posts on some cycling routes, cycling events, and even a book on Belgian cyclists. Cycling along the River Schelde. September 4, 2016 September 7, 2020; The cycle paths along the River Schelde are really excellent. And you can hop from bank to bank on the river ferries.

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Fancy a Pint of Science

Details: Enjoy a drink in your local, and learn a lot at the same time! What’s Pint of Science? Pint of Science is an annual international science festival that takes place every May. It brings researchers to your local pub to show you the latest happenings in the world of science.

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