Not quite Belgium…but I’m getting there

Hello All

What a foul evening. Windblown drizzle and grey murk abound (by the way, a very low uniform cloud deck sometimes is referred to as a nimbus deck) so I thought I’d keep in touch with my fans.

Last time I did promise that I’d post pictures of me arriving in Belgium but I had to take a slight detour because I thought you might like a Summer lift in the form of some flowers, butterflies (commonly known in this family as “flutterbies”) and some of the natural beauty around my home range. Let’s not stand here and make small talk then, best get posting some pictures.

Firstly, a relic (quite literally) of the by-gone days down on the estuary when the local waterway was used for ferry coal down the estuary. Think of human or wind propelled barges plying their way up and down this stretch. I expect that this keel is from one that became obsolete as someone bought the first truck and decided to load that with bags of black gold to and from Haverfordwest and Pembroke Dock. Shame…

The spine of a victim of the internal combustion engine

The spine of a victim of the internal combustion engine

Next a view across the widest part of the estuary. At this point I’d usually say that “in the distance you can see…” but on this occasion you can see that the bank is pretty much just woods. In the foreground are some Brant Geese that we commonly see overwintering on the water around this area. As you drive around some early mornings you can see them fly over towards or from feeding grounds. Lovely to look at but are they noisy?! More honking than a drunken clown convention let loose amongst a showroom of hand honkers!

Suddenly, geese!

Suddenly, geese!

Next, a mildly atmospheric shot across the water towards the wood with an emphasis on the smattering of pleasure craft that litter the deep channel. As you walk around the “pill” or spit of land you almost have to step over the abandoned hulks of boats on the shore. Some are old and it’s obvious that people are no longer using them but others are very large and you do wonder about the stories behind them. I can only presume the poles are an aid to navigation as they seem to be on the edge of a channel.

The view from the pill across the estuary

The view from the pill across the estuary

Next, well, you knew I wouldn’t be able to post a blog without including a sunset but I hope that this pleases those couple of people who requested I don’t stop posting the cloud images completely. Quite a humdinger this one and the cloud deck looked as though you could reach up and cut a slice out of it. No amendment of this image by the way, save for a slight change in shutter speed to increase contrast.

Ooooooh. You know you want to ask for a copy of this don't you?! Go on, leave a comment asking for one!!

Ooooooh. You know you want to ask for a copy of this don’t you?! Go on, leave a comment asking for one!!

Next, some flutterbies. This year has been very sparse with the poor little things. My Dad presumes that they were all killed off by the ridiculous amount of rain we had in the early part of the year, about 5 weeks in all. However, having said this, we all live in hope of an increase of bugs and Dad bough some little bug houses to pop next to some climbing plants we have in the garden. After all, “build it and they will come”.

Firstly, a Cabbage White….

Nom nom, nectar...

Nom nom, nectar…

….next, a Red Admiral….

My favourite image of the three, even though ever so slightly off focus

My favourite image of the three, even though ever so slightly off focus

…finally, a Small Tortoiseshell.

What wonderfully delicate creatures these little things are!

What wonderfully delicate creatures these little things are!

All these little critters were snapped on or near a Budlea plant which apparently a favourite of many insects. They were massing on it last year along with bees and such. I only got a few pictures as they don’t half fidget!

Just around the corner from this spot there is a Clematis that had lost the orange trumpet flowers and had moved on to furry seed pod type things. I must admit I failed Biology at school so my knowledge of this kind of things is lacking, I was more interested in the fact that in the morning dew this looked as thought it could be mistaken for a crystal chandelier. Gorgeous!

This could almost be a diamond pendant

This could almost be a diamond pendant

Where’s this “nearly Belgium” I hear you ask? Well, here it comes, or at least my first stop, being London St Pancras railway station. That’s right, I went to Belgium by train. This is for two main reasons; firstly, have you ever been to Cardiff Airport? If you have, you will know what I mean. I shan’t go into detail, lest I am sued for libel by the Welsh government, but the word “shocking” springs to mind. Maybe I was spoilt when I lived in Sussex as we lived very close to Gatwick but still, Cardiff airport, pffft. Secondly, I am anxious of flying. This added up to me thinking around the problem and concluding that the Chunnel was the way to go.

Jumping ahead a few days from here, I was most pleasantly surprised by every aspect of this service. Yes, it takes longer but it’s a journey, not a chore. There we no queues, no baggage limits, no lengthy waiting, no crappy shops, you could take any amount of liquid there and back you fancy, no invasive searches, a choice of decent food which was reasonably priced, big comfy seats, a massive window…what’s not to like? I worked out my fare to Brussels after too and it was cheaper than the equivalent air fare. There was also something fascinating about standing in the cafe car looking out the window on the train whilst travelling around 250 kmh through France!

Anyway, I digress. Ironically, as I step on to the platform, what should I see? Clouds! Well, a piece of art showing clouds called “Cloud:Meteoros” by Lucy Orta. I must admit, it was difficult to work it out (I think the statues on top are travellers with bags and such) but I liked it. Me want.

A sign that I need to keep chasing clouds?

A sign that I need to keep chasing clouds?

My carriage awaits. Quite a monster isn’t it? I think the only security aspect that was noticeable here is that there is a rather large and solid screen around the train so you can’t interfere with or throw yourself at it. What I couldn’t get over is the fact that they arrive silently. I’m not kidding, this one appeared and I didn’t even notice! The areas to the left isn’t for boarding if you thought that…oh no, that’s a champagne bar. Don’t even ask the prices. I looked and nearly had a seizure. In fact, the pain inflicted on my wallet by just looking was so great that my brain has blocked the figures out.

Unusually, this whole place is quite aesthetically pleasing too

Unusually for a rail station, this whole place is quite aesthetically pleasing too

And finally, another piece of art I liked the look of, a 30 foot statue called “The Meeting Place”. Apparently this is meant to evoke the romance of train travel to the passing passengers. Looks like a massive lump of bronze (20 tons apparently) to me but I don’t hate it, I just would opt for the cloud installation myself!

Now THAT'S a statue!

Now THAT’S a statue!

Well there we are. I am on my way. well, at this point in the photos I was on my way, crawling through London and the south-east of England at what must be just over idle in these trains. Brussels and then Bruges awaited, dark, cold and wet unfortunately, but weather doesn’t stop me when I am on hols and I was prepared with every kind of coat you can imagine!

Next time, a quick whistle-stop tour around a few local sights near the hotel in Bruges. See you then, cheers for popping in!

Ta-ra!

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