Tuesday, 12 June 2018

An Insect Filled Adventure - number 214

Today was a strange one to say the least. We started off  walking by an old farmhouse. If they had renovated the farmhouse the place would have looked very nice. Personally, it looked a bit more creepy than nice, but Tonio  liked it. He thought it was pleasant. Ask him why.

As we were walking next to the river, Tonio said; “Good thing there are no flies yet.” Now I don't know if you believe in the jinx or not, but 5 minutes later we were in a forest, forging through an army of insects. Tonio regretted that he said that and he was also annoyed that he wore shorts to the
adventure. He almost convinced me to wear shorts too but I was too lazy. Note to self: always wear long trousers on a hot adventure. It’s worth it. I told Tonio to add this to the list of why January is his favourite month. If any of you people are Maltese or know how to speak Maltese, you can check out
one of Tonio’s blogs called Gallarija. One of Tonio's posts explains why January is such a good month.

For the next 15 minutes, we didn't even talk. We just half walked half struggled through the swampy, humid environment. It sounds bad but it wasn’t the worst (for me).

As we neared the end of the adventure, we saw the animal of the day. Two horses. They both had long hair that covered their eyes. They were in the middle of lunch, and we knew how horses are at lunchtime. We tried to attract their attention, they looked up at us, but then back down. For some reason we didn't take a picture of them.

Just before we went into the car, we decided to go in a shop that made beer. It had quite a nice atmosphere. Tonio had one of the local beers and chips and I had a coke.

And after that, 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 one. Also, check out Tonio's blog called The Wanderer. But for now, we hope to see you on our next adventure!


[by Tonio]:

We have had our hilly, "flatty", and "froggy" adventures. Following the same terminology, today's would definitely be an "insecty" adventure. 

It was hot and humid. Starting at 214, close to Neerijse, we could either do a short 4 kilometres or a longer 6 and a half kilometres. Half way at junction 219 we would choose depending on how we felt. I was relieved when Gianluca chose the shorter route. Because of the heat I had opted to wear shorts. Big mistake! Throughout the second half of our walk I was swatting mosquitoes on my legs most of the time. The vegetation at the narrow passages in the forest was overgrown and we had to be careful to avoid nettles and thorny stems. Gianluca seemed quite fine, having had the foresight and wisdom to wear long trousers. I, on the other hand, couldn't walk fast enough to get out of the swamp.

I have had more pleasant adventures in Dijleland.

The outing did end pleasantly enough, though. In the beginning, while looking for a parking spot, I had noticed an interesting looking open area where people were having a snack and a drink. At the end of our walk I suggested that we go there. It turned out to be a brewery. Some fries, a Pepsi and the house beer, De Kroon, served by their friendly staff al fresco under an umbrella provided a perfect ending to our adventure today.

This picture pretty much sums up my 13 years (and still counting) of living in Belgium

Saturday, 2 June 2018

A Very Froggy Adventure - Doode Bemde park, Neerijse

We are back from our break in Scotland and back with a good old adventure.
Today, was quite a strange one (as usual) and we started off walking in a place that was starting to get familiar.
We quickly went off track on to a steep uphill. After a bit of walking I found a small path leading somewhere. I was curious and followed it and it turned out that it led to an old bench facing the river. We stopped and had a little break and I noticed the bees and butterflies swirling around the plants. Then I thought of how much more peaceful the world could be without us humans. People say dinosaurs were terrorising the earth but we humans are worse.

But on to a more positive subject. Before the adventure we didn't know if we should go on a long route or a short one back to the car. We postponed the decision, based on how we would be feeling. I let Tonio choose, so he chose the longer route but quickly changed his mind and chose the shorter route because the passage looked nicer as we would be passing in between two rivers, and also since we had already been on the long route. After about 20 metres walking the short route he stopped and said we would be passing the short route in other adventures. But then I pointed out that surely if we would be passing the short route in other adventures we would also be passing the long route in other adventures. So we turned around for the third time and kept walking.

We saw the first river with a swan in it but nothing too special but in the second river it was covered with algae and I spotted a very well camouflaged frog in the algae. I said the whole thing looked like the green on a golf course.

After walking a little bit more we saw a whole hoard of baby frogs crossing the roads all around us. It was like lots of giant ants. The frogs must have been crossing the road from river to river. I don’t think I've ever seen as many animals (apart from humans) in my life than the amount of frogs crossing the street.
But at last, the adventure came to an end as I sprinted to the car and we drove home. Did you enjoy our adventure? If you have so 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]:

Next to the village of Neerijse, there's a lovely park called Doode Bemde. This is where our route passed today, along the meandering path of the Dijle river which gives the name to the Zuid Dijleland region where we have our walks.

Spring is quickly leading into summer and nature has really sprung into life now: fields dotted with different coloured flowers, bees busying themselves around them, tiny newly-hatched frogs leaping dangerously across footpaths towards the nearest body of water... The temperature was the perfect medium, the sun staying generally hidden behind thin clouds and thereby sparing us from too much glare. It was beautiful. The pictures can tell the rest of the story.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

A very conversational adventure - number 208

Today, we barely even looked at the view because for the whole adventure we were just talking. This is what the adventure looked like pretty much the whole way: 

At first, I told Tonio about this documentary of how man evolved. I don’t know how this subject came into our heads but we spent over half of the adventure talking about it. From the first cell to us... it’s fascinating just thinking about how far we've come. And to think it all came from one tiny cell?! Crazy.

Over the next half it was such a jumble. We started talking about quantum dynamics and that people who mention it are most probably pseudo-scientists that have no idea what they're talking about. We talked about two brothers messing around with a sound machine and they couldn’t get rid of this echo-sounding thing. They brought it to some science lab and they then figured out that the echo was actually the echo of the big bang. We also talked about how once I start mumbling I cannot stop. And I really am a mumbler; the amount of "likes" and "sort ofs" I was using in the sentences would be impossible to count. I can just imagine being a news reporter and not knowing a thing I’m saying but saying it anyway (this is how it links to quantum dynamics).

Apart from that the view was ok, nothing special but it was a perfect place for us to talk. Almost complete silence except for our crunching footsteps and our voices.

After our long, strange conversation, we went back to our car and drove home... Did you enjoy our conversational adventure? If you did then make sure to join us on our next one. Also, make sure to check out Tonio's blog called The Wanderer. He has recently posted on our holiday in Morocco! So do take a look. But for now, goodbye!


Make-believe giant chocolate

[by Tonio]:

We have pretty much exhausted this area, so it's becoming a bit repetitive. Again, it was muddy: we walked along country lanes surrounded by crop fields, many of which at this time in the beginning of spring are freshly ploughed in preparation for seeding.

Again, and I'm certainly not complaining about this, the sky regaled us with a spectacle of its own - what I like to call 'skyscapes'. I've built up a nice of collection of them by now.

Whenever we're not too interested in the surrounding landscape, Gianluca fills the gap with 'conversation'. He proceeded to recount 13 billion years of the history of the universe, from the big bang to the evolution of humans, that he watched on a documentary at integrated science class in school. We mentioned the ice ages, dinosaurs and the survivors of the cometary impact 65 million years ago, including insects (I awarded them the title of the most successful life form on earth). I pointed out that he was taking some shortcuts, especially when he jumped from the formation of the first molecules to the formation of the first living cells. I can't help it, being a pedant is my main role during my stay in the aforementioned universe. We discussed the radio echo of the big bang, the senses and which of them are the most important, whether it would be a good thing not to feel anything at all (and thereby avoid feeling pain)... Quantum dynamics came into the picture. Here, it was my cynical side that came to the fore. I remarked that any seller who mentions the word "quantum" while marketing their product is almost certainly a fraud. No one understands the concept except physicists.

And so the merry conversation went. For the first time we walked two separate paths during the last couple of hundred metres towards the car. We took pictures to commemorate the event.

Gianluca is the tiny speck to the right of the fourth pole

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.