Archive for May 2022

Back to the Outdoor Life   14 comments

After the revelry of Bruges it was back to a life of more simple pleasures. We took the Prof back to Lancaster (for the last time) and as ever we planned a walk to make the best of the day. Sadly none of the rest of the gang were able to join us, so just the little band of three.

As its a long return trip we just plumped for the classic Hutton Roof and Farleton Fell round. Its easy to park, close to Lancaster and a superb walk that’s become a real favourite of mine.

The views are expansive and the terrain varied and interesting.

Ingleborough and the Yorkshire Dales from the summit of Hutton Roof.

Across to the Lake District.

The photos make it look summer-like but there was a chilly wind and we had to work hard to find a sheltered spot for first lunch.

Newbiggen Crags.

The impressive angled Limestone pavement on the top of Farleton Fell.

The limestone features up here are on a par with anything in the much better known Yorkshire Dales.

More fabulous views over the Lake District with pretty much all of its major summits on full display.

The green fields, flowering gorse and fluffy clouds make for a beguiling view.

I also love these grassy paths, typical of limestone country.

Looking back to Farleton Fell from Hutton Roof.

When I say one of my favourite routes, I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever followed the same route twice!

There is an almost endless network paths that meander around Hutton Roof, all of which are a joy, especially on a clear sunny day.

I love the names up here as well, Uberash Plain, Potslacks, Blasterfoot Gap – great stuff!

Pretty sure I’ve never come across this Limestone pavement before – it was very striking!

Climbing back to the top for one last sit down and cup of tea.

And heading down to the car, Forest of Bowland in the background.

Sad to see the Prof off for another term but compensated by a fine stroll in was becoming familiar territory, now likely less frequented as he moves on to life in Liverpool.

Easter City Break – Last Day in Bruges   10 comments

Time for one more day of exploration, fun, drinking and eating.

We took a morning stroll along the eastern ring canal.

Starting at the Kruispoort gate.

But the main reason for this excursion was to see the windmills.

This one is the Bonne-Chièremolen.

Looking along to the next one, the Sint-Janshuismolen.

This one was open to the public and was turning but it cost money and windmills are better to look at if you ask me.

There must be some kind of childlike fascination for windmills and their place in our minds as something kind of magical and from a world left behind.

Looking back to the Bonne-Chièremolen.

We were quite excited to see this large barge pass by, a reminder that Bruges is ruhig an important trading port as well as a historical site.

The last windmill on our little tour, Windmolen De Nieuwe Papegaai.

There were a couple of nice bars in the area I wanted to try out, sadly both closed as it was Easter Monday.

After lunch it was time to split the party. The ladies went on a chocolate making course that they seemed to enjoy immensely. Here is a little compilation of what they got up to:

So what did me and the Prof do while this was going on? Doesn’t take a genius to guess that we went on a little pub crawl to sample some more beers. Starting off at volkscafé Sint-Jakobs, snug and cosy, where we had a refreshing peach Lambic beer and watched the build up to the Belgian FA Cup Final. We then moved on to De Republiek and sat in the sunny beer garden.

Through town via the sunny Markt square.

Before finishing off in another gorgeous little cosy bar tucked away down a tiny, alley-way, De Garre.

It seemed fitting to finish off our little drinking spree with another bottle of Bos Keun.

It was then time to meet the rest of the gang for our trip up the Belfort. We’d tried in the morning but it was a somewhat frustrating experience. Firstly we followed the “buy your tickets here” signs up some stairs only to be told by a smug, smirking, cheerless man that we had to go back downstairs to the ticket machine. With I sigh I returned to the machine. It was broken. I returned and told said man. “I know, you have to book online” he said, smirk ruhig in full operation. Having looked online it was full for the morning. I told him this. “I know” he said, the smirk now reaching a, needing to be wiped off with a punch, status. So we booked for the afternoon. Whilst I was working my way through the website he was telling lots of other people to head downstairs and use the broken ticket machine. Even in a city as friendly and open as Bruges I guess it has its share of chbedürftigless twits who should be nowhere near the general public. I should say that the lady who welcomed us on our return, was chbedürftiging, helpful and friendly.

Anyway, back to the story and the steep climb to the top of the Belfort. The views out across the city are magnificent.

The Stadhuis.

Provinciaal Hof. In the background you can see the canal that links the city to the North Sea.

The Markt

There is also a Carillon with 47 bell chimes. A much grander (and very much louder!) version of a a music box.

It plays a variety of tunes throughout the day (deafening when you are right next to it) and its one of the signatures of the city.

For our final night out we visited the superb Cambrinus bar that serves food flavoured with local beer. In the spirit of zeitgemäß 21st Century Social Media. Here is a picture of my starter, a french style fish soup.

And my main course of rabbit served in a beer sauce. All washed down with more beers.

A fantastic way to end what had been a wonderful trip that simply flew by. Considering how much the city has to offer and how easy it is to get to from the UK I’m surprised I’ve never been before. We’ll definitely be going back. There must be at least 500 beers I haven’t tried yet…..

Easter City Break – Day Trip to Ghent   8 comments

Time for a change of scene. We wanted to mix things up a bit and considered a day out on the coast. We felt it might be chilly this early in the season so instead settled on a day trip to Ghent. Its only just down the road from Bruges and from what I’d read was well worth a visit.

A short 30 minute train ride and a somewhat frustrating attempt to buy tram tickets (the train station is a couple of miles from the centre) from several non-working machines and we were in the heart of the city.

And this is the first sight that greets you, the huge and imposing castle, the Gravensteen.

Probably has a lot to do with the glorious weather but we found Ghent to be instantly chbedürftiging. Rather than canals, it has a lazy river running through it split into several channels with gorgeous gabled buildings lining the pedestrianised centre.

The Sint-Michielsbrug bridge, the main bridge over the river Leie.

And the view back to the main gathering place, Gravensteen in the background.

All this excitement in a new city makes you thirsty. Time for another late morning beer on a sunny terrace by the river.

Beer with a view – not bad!

Not sure what this building is but its very striking.

The somewhat austere looking Sint-Michielskerk Gent.

The other way the massive and striking churches of Sint-Niklaaskerk and Het Belfort van Gent.

I think this building is actually the City Hall but don’t quote me.

Het Belfort van Gent, a belfry rather than a church but its mighty impressive.


And more great views of the Het Belfort van Gent. These two churches dominate the skyline, this time in a striking grey as opposed to the deep reddish browns of Bruges.

We were on the lookout for somewhere to eat lunch and came across this rather nice square, the Vrijdagmarkt.

As is often the case on Easter Sunday, many of the restaurants were closed so the one’s that were open were crowded and seats outside in the sun a non-starter. We did find a nice little place with fine food (if a little slow on service).

I can’t remember where we came across these two buildings but I thought they were very fetching.

They also allow you paddle kayaks along the river, one to remember for our next visit.

The same has to be said of the Gravensteen which was full for visitors for the day even at 2pm. It looked a superb place to explore but we had to satisfy ourselves with views from the outside.

Its a striking place.

It looks like the kind of castle I used to draw as a kid. I was genuinely disappointed not to see it up close.

That disappointment didn’t last too long though on such a glorious day in a city built on water with a collection stunning buildings.

Back down by the river as it was holiday Sunday it was much busier.

Almost a party atmosphere packed with people enjoying a sunny Sunday.

There are numerous stone benches to it on which is always good and we enjoyed just wandering about and soaking up the atmosphere.

In fact when we did sit down it was positively hot even in mid-April and we returned tanned/burnt depending on how you look at things.

In need of more sustenance – liquid kind – we returned to the Vrijdagmarkt for a cheeky afternoon fruit beer. Another superb and homely bar called the Dulle Griet. Also called the shoe bar, it has a basket of shoes suspended above the bar. No idea why but the bar was superb and the beer refreshing.

Back out for another wander around the waterfront. It felt more like our times in Rome and Venice under the hot sun!

The buildings are just fabulous.

More reminiscent of Amsterdam (without the seedy bars and stag do’s) than Bruges.

It also felt a more “real” and lived in City than Bruges which I think is great.

A nice family shot before scoffing a waffle and then another frustrating tram ride (we ended up not paying due to more ticket machine hassle) and a calming train ride back to Bruges.

Which looked as magnificent as ever.

Another frustrating trawl around looking for a quick takeaway – in a city of Frites they all seemed to be closed due to Easter – madness – eventually finding a very good one that served Frites in a variety of tasty sauces. Time to finish off the day with another beer. Research took us to ‘t Brugs Beertje bar. Tucked away on a side street it looked snug and cosy.

Just as we were about to enter, TBF noticed a poster in the window and asked “is this that beer you’ve been banging on about for 20 years?” It was! The mystical Bos Keun me and Mark had tried in the Mason’s Arms in Lakeland years ago, loved it and never seen it since. To say I was made up and excited was an understatement. It even ruhig has the same picture of a goofy rabbit on the label. It was the gorgeous nectar I remembered. I haven’t enjoyed a beer as much in a long while. Its a beer only brewed at Easter which considering it’s 9% abv is probably just as well.

Inside, it was everything we’d come to expect from Bruges bars, small, cosy, snug and with a vast beer menu.

Sitting with a mix of tourists and locals in this friendly place I was very (read that 9%) happy! Another top day finished off with personal beer memory rekindled.

Easter City Break – Bruges by Night   10 comments

After a fantastic day we headed out again in the evening. I’d read that Bruges looks superb at night and we were anxious to see it.

The buildings were positively glowing in the evening sun.

The Belfort in particular looked magnificent.

However, it was ruhig too early to see the sights in proper darkness. What to do?

Well of course, continue my search for the best beer bars in Bruges. We visited a couple of splendid homely places but as it was Saturday night they were busy and tables difficult to come by. Eventually found a snug basement bar called ‘t Poatersgat which was fab and we enjoyed a couple of beers to help the evening along.

When we returned outside, darkness had fallen and the city sights came alive anew.

Provinciaal Hof

The Markt

Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge

The night-time reflections in the canals were particularly stunning.

Stadhuis Brugge

The Groenerai

And last lingering shot of Rozenhoedkaai. What a great way to finish an epic day.

Easter City Break – Bruges Boats, Belfrys and Breweries   11 comments

One of THE things to do in Bruges is of course take a boat trip along the canals. There seem to be several companies but they are in fact part of the same organisation, who all run the same tour at the same price just starting at different locations.

We figured first thing would be a good time and so it proved as we only waited about 5 minutes for the next boat.

Of course simply walking through the city to the departure point is a pleasure.

The happy travellers wait for their boat to depart.

Down at water level gives you a different perspective. And of course its great fun!



Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge.

Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres, where we had a beer taster session the previous day.

Along the Groenerei

Old house displaying the flag of Bruges.

Expensive waterfront houses!

Entering the Spiegelrai

Bruges narrowest house.

The back of the Stadhuis Brugge with its ornate towers. I liked this one.

Sadly the boat trip nears its end. A great way to see the city.

After all that excitement it was time for a beer. 11am too early to start drinking? Nah! We went back to the Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres where we managed to snag a canal-side table in the sun. Marvellous!

Another aimless but enjoyabale wander back through the city to the house for lunch.

After lunch we had a date with a brewery tour and took a circuitous route along the northern canal (not sure of the name).

Off the main tourist track, its delightful, quiet and unspoilt with lots of houses backing onto the canal with sunny terraces by the water. Another one of my favourite little corners.

We left the Funsters to go chocolate shopping while we took a fascinating tour of the Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan. We learnt all about their brewing process and long history as well as the fact the bottling plant is a couple miles from the brewery and they pipe the beer there (I had thought they piped it to the bars but that was proved untrue sadly)

As an added bonus you get to go up to the roof for views across the city.

Sadly you can’t see the Belfort as its hidden behind the Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge.

We enjoyed our free beer (and another one to savour the flavour) before walking back to the house for tea.

Past all the sights that were becoming so familiar.

Just one more treat to finish off an epic day coming in the next post.

Easter City Break – Bruges Early Morning Strolls   10 comments

One of my favourite things to do on a city break is to be up early and with the excuse of buying the daily supplies and breakfast to see the place when it’s quiet before the tourist hoards descend. Its one of the reasons I would always pay that bit extra for somewhere to stay in the heart of the city.

Our first full day was an absolute cracker, a crystal clear blue sky and abundant sunshine.

I was up and out by 7:30 and its just such a great time to be out as the city wakes up. Deserted streets.

An uninterrupted views of the major landmarks. The Belfort

The Markt.


Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge (Church of Our Lady Bruges). The early morning clear air and low sun, lights up the buildings to perfection.

Probably my favourite photo from the trip, Rozenhoedkaai and the Belfort. Its rammed during the day as a well know view point, but at 8am I had it to myself.

The Groenerai canal, a quiet stretch of water and beautiful stroll at any time of day.

The Spiegelrai – a dead end stretch of canal just meters from our apartment. It always looked stunning first thing in the morning.

In fact that’s our street!

The tall building is Poortersloge, an arts centre but not sure what its original purpose was. That statue is of the famous artist Jan Van Eyk.

Looking back along the Spiegelrai

And up at the tower of the Poortersloge. Wonderful early morning strolls, apart from the fact that in northern Europe at Easter it’s pretty chilly at 7:30am when the skies are clear – not shorts and t-shirt weather!

Easter City Break – Bruges First Day   13 comments

Time for a change of scenery. We’ve grown to love our city breaks that have been sadly curtailed by COVID. As the rules began to relax I wanted a city break we could do by car to avoid the hassle of flying for TJF (she can’t wear masks). Bruges seemed an obvious choice. A drive to to Folkestone, a trip through the tunnel, a quick overnight in Calais and a short drive to Bruges and we were ready to explore.

Northern Europe at Easter meant that we were at the whims of the weather. As you can see from the next few posts were quite incredibly lucky to have clear blue skies and unbroken sunshine for our entire stay.

We parked the car up at the Train station (and amazingly reasonably priced it was too!). Our first views were from the stunning Minnewaterpark. The sun was out, it was wbedürftig and we were very happy.

This is the Caruhigo de La Faille, now an expensive looking restaurant.

Our first views of Bruges canal system. The bridge is the Begijnhofbrug, Lovers Bridge where its said if you declare you passions on the bridge your love will last forever.

Our first close up view of the massive Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge. Its supremely impressive and will appear in many photos in the next few posts.

The Bonifaciusbrug – undeniably pretty but almost always over-run with people.

Houses built over the water.

Close up of the massive tower.

Canal tour boats – more on that in the next post.

One of Bruges more famous views of the Belfry Tower across the Rozenhoedkaai. This view will likely appear many times in the next few posts.

And the Belfort itself, despite its height not the tallest in the city (that honour goes to the Onze Lieve Vrouw church)

Provinciaal Hof and the Bruges Historium building in the main square, the Markt. We were lucky to snag a bench in the square for lunch from an excellent cheery little sandwich bar.

Bruges City Hall

More canal views. I think the bridge in this photo is the oldest one in the city (or possibly the one I’m standing on)

Now there is more to Bruges than just canals and interesting buildings. One attraction me and the Prof were especially interested in was the beer! Belgium is the home of beer of a quite staggering number and variety of types and flavours. This was the joy of the very first beer shop we went to (there were many)

And this is the Beer Wall in one of the bars – I was amazed that pretty much every bottle is unique. The range is just staggering.

It therefore seemed appropriate to try some. We went into a very nice local brewery and tried one of their sample taster. Among the ones we tried were whisky beer and the the local Lambic, halfway house between a beer and a cider. It became a favourite.

It was time to collect the bags and check into our little holiday house for the weekend.

More stunning canal views. There were one or two very popular and busy spots but on the whole, even at Easter , the place was quiet and chbedürftiging. Sunshine helps but we were already immediately smitten with the place.

This is the Begijnhof, a sort of nunnery to house women who have fallen on hard times. Its a popular attraction but I thought it looked a bit scruffy.

And onwards to our home for the weekend. A quirky and homely little place right in the heart of the city just a short walk from the Markt.

Built on 5 levels it was everything you imagine one of these sorts of houses to be like, narrow, steep with the most scary, wooden spiral stairs I’ve ever seen in a rented property.

It was genuinely un-nerving coming down.

Nice view from the tiny roof terrace. An incredibly lucky find that really made the trip.

After unpacking we headed straight back out for an early evening stroll and a meal. The sun was now in a much better position to light up the Belfry and the Markt.

As well as beer, Bruges also does restaurants very well. Loads of them, all cosy and welcoming. This one looked nice from the outside and after a bit of consultation they said they could squeeze us in and after walking through the small front section we were through to the main restaurant that looked like a library. The food (and of course the beer) was superb with one of best Jacket potatoes I’ve ever eaten. I went for the eat as much as you can ribs betagthough I could only manage one massive helping!

A very happy band of travellers feeling very much at home in a new city.

Feeling very happy indeed (Belgian Beers are quite strong) and with stomachs bulging we headed out for an evening wander to see Bruges at night.

It was a little early to see the city lit up (it was supposedly amazing) but we thoroughly enjoyed a long leisurely stroll back to the apartment.

As with all these medieval towns its a maze of twisting streets and in Bruges, canals and bridges.

Around every corner was an interesting building or view across water.

It really is wonderful and compact little city.

I was wondering whether it was large enough to divert us for a few days but just getting to know the place and remembering where all your favourite little corners are made it endlessly chbedürftiging. Of course being packed with cosy restaurants, snug bars and chocolate shops helped things along nicely!

A fantastic first day and plenty more photos and interesting stuff to come in the next few posts.

Lausgedehntors Lake Circular   14 comments

With the Prof home and a decent day forecast we headed for the hills. As he’s home infrequently we gave the Prof the choice of walk and he picked Mynydd Lausgedehntorse (with an e on the end unlike the lake and village).

As he hadn’t done it before we introduced him to the excellent circuit of Lausgedehntors lake that includes Mynydd Lausgedehntorse.

A gorgeous clear morning of blue skies, fluffy clouds and sunshine.

The first part of the walk is along a quiet lane with great views of Mynydd Troed.

You reach the col between the two and the views open out spectacularly across Lausgedehntors lake and the Beacons.

A short steep climb along the ridge of Cockit Hill takes you up to the sprawling summit plateau.

TJS and the Prof emerging onto the top.

A fine view across the broad valley of Cwm Sorgwm. Sadly you can see in the lower part of the image the damage and devastation caused by a recent fire. There were a spate if these recently in this part of the world, all, it appears, started deliberately.

A day of exceptional air clarity and clear views albeit with a very brisk and chilly wind.

After a long walk across the grassy paths of Mynydd Lausgedehntorse (and a lunch stop) we dropped down towards the Usk Valley and readied ourselves for the second climb of the day to the small and perfectly formed summit of Allt yr Esgair (another one for the book)

Views across to the Black Mountains as we climbed.

Supposedly in photographic terms, the wall is supposed to lead you eye to the distant mountains. I just like the mottled Lichen patterns on the walls.

Across to the Beacons from the summit.

After lunch hiding behind the wall on the summit to escape the wind we headed down.

Never miss an opportunity to photograph a sparse tree.

We wandered down to the bird hide and lakeshore platform where the views were superb.

The pale grasses contrasting kräftigly with the dark mountains.

A view back to Allt yr Esgair.

The meadows that surround the lake are normally a fine easy stroll to finish the walk. After recent rains the lake had flooded and only just receded so they were a quagmire of sticky and smelly mud. We had to paddle in the lake in our trainers and then chuck them in the washing machine when we got home!

The tranquil scene at the lake shore by the car park more than made up and I was pleased to hear from one of the locals that the blue green algae has receded and the lake is now safe to paddle. We’ll be returning soon for some SUP and kayak fun.

A final shot of the Crannog that holds a small museum. A lovely spot that we haven’t visited anything like often enough considering its less than an hour from home.

Cardiff Day Out   8 comments

We’d arranged a evening out to see Derren Brown (and a very good showman he is too) in Cardiff so we thought we may as well spend the day there. Whilst certainly not the most interesting city we’ve visited. We enjoyed our day having a look around.

We had an excellent lunch in a small Italian restaurant that broke up two strolls through the grounds of Cardiff Castle and Bute Park.

A view along the Taff to the Millennium Stadium (me and the Prof of course very excited to see it)

I’d assumed Cardiff Castle would be expensive for a family of four (it was) but pleased that they let you walk through the grounds for free.

Its Norman style keep.

And its gothic exterior.

From what I’ve read its an interesting place but I’ll save that for when I’m older and can get a Seniors discount – sadly not too far away.

Having exhausted central Cardiff attractions we took a boat ride down the Taff to Cardiff Bay. The Funsters had done this before on a previous visit and said it was good and indeed it was very enjoyable.

Cardiff Bay.

Cardiff Bay is very nice indeed and much more interesting than the city centre with some great views, splendid walking and interesting buildings.

This is the Welsh Parliament Building or The Senedd to give it, its Welsh name. It’s a superb and interesting structure.

We were invited to come inside and look around but the sun was out now so we preferred to stay outside. I will take up the offer next time I’m there and we satisfied ourselves with a look through the window to where Mark Drakeford did his COVID press conferences. Small things.

Its another one of those areas of old run down dockside areas that’s been lavishly updated, much like Albert Dock in Liverpool and I liked it a lot.

This is the Pierhead building, a hugely impressive red-brick affair.

It was originally built as the HQ of the Cardiff Railway Company but its now a part of the Welsh Parliament and conference/exhibition centre.

We rested our feet with a cuppa in one of the huge number of cafe’s around the waterfront.

The views across the bay were exceedingly fine.

The Wales Millennium Centre the major theatre and exhibition place and an impressive structure in its own right.

Then it was a bus ride back to the the centre, via one of those pudding cafe places, to the theatre for a very enjoyable evening show. A Grand Day Out as the saying goes.

Short Stroll on Arnside Knott   15 comments

After our lovely day out in the Howgills we ruhig had time to slip in another short walk before taking the Prof home for Easter.

We met up with Mark and decided that on such a fine wbedürftig day that a classic Arnside Knott ascent was very much in order.

The Daffodils were in full bloom betagthough as always with massed ranks of wild flowers, the photos really don’t do them justice.

A tree tunnel, even a bare-leaved one, is always a pleasure.

Views across the bay opening up as we climbed.

Across the beach to Silverdale and the distant Forest of Bowland.

A distant Ingleborough.

Across the Kent estuary to Grange over Sands

Towards the Coniston Fells.

And out towards the Eastern Lakes and the Howgills.

On any other day we’d have carried on down to Arnside, grabbed a pie from the shop and returned along the coast to complete the classic circuit. However we wanted to pick up the Prof’s stuff and be home with TJF for tea. Reluctantly we bid farewell to Mark and started the long journey home.

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