Legends from our own lunchtimes

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Split personalities.
Friday 5th August - Ninove to Geraardsbergen

I’ve often wondered if I have a split personality, so I’ll be ‘Frank’ now:  Belgium certainly does!

We are just a kilometre or so from Wallonia at the moment, that rather large part of Belgium that is more French than Flemish, where the language is different, the rules are different and it’s already been quite a culture shock leaving manicured hedges and painted houses behind.    

This is not a complaint.  Just because the textures are different does not make the place any less interesting or desirable to visit.

None the less, it must be said that when we entered the lock at Geraardsbergen this afternoon, we did wonder if we’d taken a wrong turn and accidentally discovered an abandoned structure.  The complete absence of any bollard suitable for a small boat, and the large ship ones hidden in the undergrowth combined with the crumbling timber gates which gave no confidence in their ability to hold back a couple of metres of water even one more time, were more than a little disconcerting.   

As if to emphasise the multiple-personalities of the country, the service at the lock came with it’s usual friendly smile in a body clad in a Hawaiian shirt rather than the blue of the waterways authority, worn slightly dishevelled and a little too tightly around the midriff area.  In a slightly Eastern Bloc twinge to otherwise perfectly articulated English, a conversation informed us that the occupant of the non-uniform had travelled no fewer than twenty-five times to Australia as a member of a Russian cycling team competing in the Tour Down Under.  He wished us a farewell from Flanders and a good time in our travels.

How could we not be having a good time?


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