zondag 1 oktober 2017

Lo and behold

I'm continuing my travelogue with what we did on Wednesday, day five of our little holiday back in September.

Our feet still a bit sore from our long walk at the seaside, we wanted to take it a little bit easier the next day.

It was thus that we found ourselves in a place called Lo. At first sight it looks like a small provincial town, or indeed a somewhat overgrown village but, with just over 3000 inhabitants, it is actually Belgium's smallest city.


It wasn't my first visit to Lo. Indeed the first time I ever set foot there was back in the early 1980s, when my then boyfriend and I cycled to it by tandem all the way from Antwerp, a ride of almost 155 kilometers. We were visiting a friend who'd bought a dilapidated farm on the outskirts of the town and we stayed for 2 weeks, alternately sleeping in a tent, which had seen better days, and the farm's hayloft.

I hardly remember anything about Lo itself, other than it had a cheese factory where cheese could be bought cheaply directly from their shop.



The cheese factory might have moved on but there's another factory only a stone's throw from the market place, called Jules Destrooper.  Founded in 1886, they have been producing biscuits for well over a hundred years and, in order to celebrate their 125th anniversary, a visitor centre was opened in 2011.



While we were getting our bearings, a delicious smell of baking was lingering in the air, so we decided to follow our noses and make our way to the visitor centre, the mouthwatering aroma getting stronger as we were nearing the factory's premises.

In different rooms, the rich history of the family business and the art of biscuit making in general is laid out.


In one of the rooms, a film outlining the factory's history could be viewed, while sitting on stools made to look like boxes of Jules Destrooper biscuits.

At the end of the tour, there's an opportunity to sample the various biscuits on offer, accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea.



By then it was lunchtime but, having stuffed our faces with biscuits, we weren't at all hungry, so we followed a town trail, a leaflet of which can be obtained in the town's tourist office.

Same as in Nieuwpoort, there were works of art in every nook and cranny.



The picturesque West Gate, with its defence towers, is the only remaining gate of the town's original four.  Next to the gate is the Caesar tree where, according to legend, Julius Caesar tethered his horse and rested in its shade on his journey to Great Britain.



At the end of a cobbled lane lined by yet more works of art, an intriguing tower was beckoning. The tower is actually a tall dovecote, dating from 1710, with 1132 pigeon holes, which used to belong to an abbey. Some pigeons were still nesting there, although allegedly there were Pokémon hiding in there as well. A couple of Pokémon hunters were milling around the tower and rudely spoiling my view, which I proceeded to tell them in no uncertain terms.



The main square is dominated by the old town hall, complete with belfry tower, dating from the late 16th century, the ground floor of which is now used as a restaurant. On the other side of the square is the abbey of the Poor Clares, established in 1492 after the nuns arrived in Lo to nurse the plague victims. The abbey was enlarged in the 16th and 17th century and now functions as the town hall after the nuns sold it to the town authorities in 2008.



After a late-ish car picnic, we drove on to our next destination, Beauvoorde Castle, a veritable fairy tale moated castle hidden away in a landscaped park in the tiny village of Wulveringem.

After the original castle was burned down by bandits, it was rebuilt in 1617 in Renaissance style. At that time the castle was owned by Jacob de Bryarde, and it remained in the Bryarde family until 1828, when the family fortunes were in decline and the castle was falling into a state of increasing disrepair.


A visit starts at the visitor centre, where there is an introductory exhibition and you are supplied with an audio guide. Then you cross the bridge over the moat where, standing in the small courtyard, you have to pull the bell to gain entrance.


From the outside, Beauvoorde Castle appears to be a perfect example of a 17th century castle. But don’t be deceived. It was actually created in the late 19th century through the romantic vision of one man.

In 1875, wealthy aristocrat Arthur Merghelynck fell in love with the by then ruined castle. He was attracted by its picturesque setting, as well as its potential to fulfill his grand scheme.



Merghelynck was an incurable romantic who resented the increasing industrialization of Flanders. He wanted to cherish the atmosphere, style and romance of the past, and in particular the 17th century.



Over the next 27 years he  rebuilt and restored Beauvoorde Castle, and filled its many rooms with original Flemish furniture and art bought at auction, while anything he was unable to find, he had reproduced. The result is a 17th century castle fully furnished in the style of that period.



After extensively exploring the castle and its magnificent interiors, we took a stroll through the park, admiring the castle from all angles.



Before putting another lovely day to bed, here is a closer look at what I was wearing.


Dress: Belgian brand Who's That Girl, bought in the sales
Cardigan: H&M, flea market
Belt and Kitsch Kitchen bag: charity shopped
Flower corsage: retail
Necklace: Blender Vintage Shop
Shoes: Clarks Cloudsteppers, bought in the sales in Aberystwyth!
Leather jacket, as seen in some of the photos: Think Twice.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

37 opmerkingen:

  1. Ann you always look great on your holiday tour days.
    Lo, only Lo? really? looks like a wonderfull old little town. And this castle is stunning. Oh and I would like to have some biscuits yet :))
    I wish you a good night and and a wonderfull monday, veeery big hug, Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina! It used to be Loo, but when the new spelling was introduced in the late 1940s, the second "l" was dropped. It's not only the smallest city, I guess it also has the shortest name! xxx

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  2. orange is really your color you look so fabulous in it

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  3. We have those biscuits for sale in the US (never tried them) I love the blue and white box though-I've been tempted to buy them for the packaging.

    I just love every part of that outfit-the bright colours, the cheerful pattern, and those wonderful shoes. You look absolutely radiant.

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    1. Thank you Goody! I rather like the packaging too. The shoes are a godsend, as they look great with a dress and are comfortable light walking shoes as well. xxx

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  4. ***hmmm*** cookies for breakfast..... :-D
    lo is a gorgeous town, all the beautiful old houses and i love when they have modern art in the streets and parks. the neo-castle is stunning, what a labour of love to rebuild it and fill it with the matching funiture - the rooms look so beautiful and cosy.
    chic and colorful expedition outfit!! the orange leather jacket was the best buy ever!
    xxxxx

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    1. Well, cookies for lunch anyway :-D The orange leather jacket was indeed this year's best buy so far! xxx

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  5. This all looks so fascinating, such interesting buildings and places to explore. Thanks for taking me along! X

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  6. Castle and Cookies! What possibly can be better than this? :) What a wonderful castle and the story behind it! Really gorgeous pictures, Ann! I feel like I was there with you. When I learn of such "incurable romantics", I often think that there are no better times and worse times. There will always be people who are oriented to Past, and people who are oriented to Future, and those who are fine with the way things are now, including fashion, decorating etc. My daughter is now dreaming about 1980s and 1990s, it's a romantic epoch to her as much as the 17th century was romantic for someone living in the 19th. :)

    You look lovely in your colorful attire! Great story about visiting your friend. I wonder what happened to his farm.

    Warmest hugs!

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    1. Those are very true words, Natalia. For us, it is a strange concept that the 1980s and 1990s are being considered a romatic era by young people, but so it is! I have no idea what happened to the farm and I have actually wondered myself. The problem is that I've lot the address. What I do know is that the friend passed away in 2010, which is sad. We had lost contact years ago ... xxx

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  7. ike the look of Lo, it's our sort of place. The castle and its renovations are really interesting Ann. We like visiting the castles and halls of the Lake District. Where are caravan is we can get to some of them very easily.
    Add the frock to my pile please I'm very taken with the colours and pattern

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    1. Frock added to pile. Will need crane to lift it all! Yes, I really think you'd like Lo, Lynn. xxx

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  8. So many historical riches, and wonderful photos, Ann! I'd love some butter biscuits, thankyouverymuch : > xo

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    Reacties
    1. Sending over some virtual butter biscuits, Patti! xxx

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  9. What a wonderfully restored castle! Did Merghelynck actually live there, without hot water or anything?

    Destrooper biscuits are sold over here. I had no idea they were from such a tiny city.

    Thank you for another lovely sightseeing trip in Belgium.

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    Reacties
    1. He did live there, Mim, until his death in 1908 and his wife remained living there until the 1940s. I'm sure they had electricity at some point. As for hot water, they did have personnel to haul boiling kettles upstairs, I guess. xxx

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  10. What a lovely place to visit! So many beautiful buildings and fairytale architecture. I'm curious to know what the building was with the ladies hanging out of the windows! xx

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    1. There were several building with ladies hanging out of the windows. One was a restaurant (the building on the bottom left in the collage) and the close up was in the Tourist Office. As the art trail was only during the summer months, I guess they've been taken away by now. xxx

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  11. I sometimes treat myself to Jules Destrooper biscuits, they're very tasty, how interesting to see where they're made.
    I'm intrigued about your tandem trip, I've always wondered how easy they are to control!
    There are some beautiful buildings in your photos and I love those kitchen tiles. xxx

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    Reacties
    1. I'm glad you appreciate the biscuits. It's great to know that they're being sold all over the world, and yet come from a small family business in a small town. xxx

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    2. Forgot to mention, the tandem was very heavy and unwieldy, being an old second-hand one belonging to my brother. We hardly made it back home. xxx

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  12. I think it's so brilliant that the towns have beautiful public works of art everywhere. It does make places more interesting and quirky.

    What wonderful buildings you've shown us especially the recreated 17th century castle. Isn't it great that there people prepared to go to such lengths and we reap the benefits hundreds of years later.

    I loved you outfit - very colourful and stylish as always.
    xxx

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    Reacties
    1. I loved the works of art, and this was the second place we visited where there was an art trail during the summer months. The castle really is a gem. We visited it years ago, but were determined to go back. xxx

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  13. What a great range of beautiful buildings you saw!
    I know the Jules Destrooper- we really like their biscuits! I have one of their tins I keep crackers in!

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    1. We like their biscuits too, Kezzie. We bought a box of assorted biscuits when we were there. All gone now, I'm afraid. I like it that you have one of their tins! xxx

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  14. Pah! Pokemon hunters. I didn't realise that was still going on. We found some in our garden one day!
    What a lovely walk. I adore that castle and those encaustic tiles make me go a little weak at the knees!
    How lovely to see that gorgeous yellow cardi feature in an outfit, the dress is divine, too. xxx

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    1. We thought the Pokemon hunting had stopped too! But the sculpture park we often visit is overrun with them, which is very annoying, especially as they hunt in packs! Those tiles are fabulous indeed, they had them in quite a few rooms. The yellow cardie has become one of my favourites. xxx

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  15. Wow that castle is beautiful! Lovely to see your photos as ever. XXX

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  16. I thought that whole Pokemon thing had died. Good grief.

    What an amazing story about the castle! You guys do seem to find the quaintest little places to discover AND cookies!

    Those shoes must be great walking shoes because you wear them often.

    Suzanne

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    1. I thought it had died too, but unfortunately not! I like to do my homework before I go on a trip. And cookies, of course we had to go and taste some, they're really yummy! xxx

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  17. I have two questions. Why is the sign above Destrooper's in English (since 1886) and who is the buxom wench hanging out of that window? Seriously though Ann, Lo looks a lovely place to spend a day.
    What a great job Arthur made of Beauvoorde Castle...thanks for taking us on your tour of it. xx

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    1. Question one: you've got a point, I never even noticed. It's probably because they export so much of their stuff. It's in English on the front of their boxes as well. As for the buxom wench, there were actually several of them. The artist is a man (surprise!) and they're modelled from life. Glad you enjoyed our little tour! xxx

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  18. Such beautiful buildings, I'm a sucker for faery-tale castles. My dream is to see those in Germany xxx

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    1. Thank you Melanie. Beauvoorde really looks like a fairy-tale castle, doesn't it? Nothing compared with the ones in Germany, I guess. xxx

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