Neighbourhood Oddities

In yesterday’s post Life In The Front Row I wrote about the major life changes on which my husband and I are planning to embark. Not all changes though, it has to be said, have to be major in order to make a difference.

Recently – three weeks ago to be precise – we decided that it was time to stop procrastinating about our desire to get fitter and actually get off our backsides and do something. Anything high-impact, however, is a definite no go. Not only do I not enjoy it (a crucial factor when it comes to sticking at any form of exercise), but the fact that my husband has had surgery on both of his knees, as well as back and shoulder problems, means that anything along the lines of running or jogging are out of the question. We thought about swimming, but my husband’s misgivings over how he might look in swimming trunks soon put paid to that. Eventually, we decided that one thing we did want to do was to get out in the open air, to feel the breeze and the sunshine (not that there’s much of that in Belgium) on our faces. We therefore opted for the relatively low-impact activity of walking.

Oh! How addictive it has proven to be! We have walked each and every night for the past three weeks. Whilst we don’t necessarily measure or set ourselves a regular distance, we have found that our walks have gradually been extended from basically walking around the block, to last night’s hike of 7 kilometers or 4.3 miles. Since we began, our moods have improved, it’s proving to be a real stress-buster, and we are exploring parts of our neighbourhood that we didn’t even know existed. Not only that, but we are also seeing a range of weird and wonderful sights. Honestly, the things that our neighbourhood inhabitants keep around their homes, is truly mind-boggling.

Take this for example. Just a short walk from our house, this piece of surrealism can be found. Standing just outside the gates of the house is what appears to be a miniature sentry box. Take a look inside, however, and you see that it is not a sentry that is housed in the box, but rather two headless dolls made from plaster and surrounded by crudely fashioned pottery plates and decorations. It’s a little unnerving to say the least. My niece didn’t make it any less creepy when she proffered the suggestion that perhaps it is an example of what happens to those who trespass on the property!

There are beautiful sights too, such as this view of the canal at twilight.

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It’s not long though, before things get weird again. Then again, what else would you keep in your garden, if not an enormous yellow bathtub duck?

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There are spiritual sights too, such as this shrine. You can find these shrines all over Belgium. Often, they are placed at the sides of roads, or pinned to trees, and sometimes fastened to the sides of houses. More often than not, they will be adorned by the detritus of flowers, and prayers scrawled onto scraps of paper. This one, however, really caught our eye. Not only was it located on a perfectly ordinary suburban street – right next to someone’s gate, in fact – but it was beautifully maintained, glowing serenely in freshly lit candlelight. I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t mind admitting that I was quite moved.

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We shan’t be walking this evening, otherwise I would hypothesise as to what we might come across. Alas, we both feel rather tired this evening, and my husband’s knees are starting to feel the strain, so we have decided to let ourselves recover for the next 24 hours. During our upcoming constitutionals, however, should we happen to come across any more weird and wonderful neighbourhood oddities, you my dear readers, shall be the first to know!

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