Puurs, BelgiumMay 4 in Belgium ⋅ 🌬 8 °C
The Belgian town of Puurs very kindly provides a free, 5 place aire in the car park of their leisure centre. The bays are large, paved in grey brick and there is a free tap with waste water and toilet emptying facilities. A few people come and go but it is quiet on the whole, so we intend to stay for a couple of days, being careful not to exceed the 48 hour limit.
We travelled just over 100km north east towards Antwerp to get here. Belgium's second city and our old nemesis reinforced its reputation as one of the worst places for traffic, with one jam (caused by a collision) holding us up by 30 minutes. We hope the people involved aren't badly hurt. We're keeping our pace of travel slow, hoping we won't need to wait too much longer before our replacement door handle arrives at its Relais drop off point in Kassel, Germany. The weather has thrown a mix of brilliant sunshine, steely grey skies and sleet storms at us, with gusty winds causing a rapid oscillation between the conditions.
Soon after arriving we stepped out to explore Puurs. There was very easy walking access to the clean, well maintained town centre. Flags fluttering from overhead lines added a splash of colour against the grey and red brick buildings. A number of businesses had closed down but there were several independent specialist shops that we enjoyed having a nose in. The language here is Dutch, (not one of the languages we've studied) but thankfully everyone we met spoke good English. Our bag filled with loose Red Bush from the tea shop, a cherry tart and custard slice from the boulangerie, and green grocer portabello mushrooms for our favourite burgers, we came accross Der Vierklaver, a traditional looking pub with leaded windows. A board outside advertised Chouffe; a beer we have fond memories of drinking with Will's daughter and son in law when they visited us in Brussels. We popped in for a glass and tried the Chouffe Cherry variation too! The atmosphere was that of a quiet local, but the bar tenders were friendly enough and the other customers smiled back at us and said farewell when we left. It can sometimes be a bit daunting stepping into an unknown establishment where you don't speak the language, but we find that a relaxed and smile and greeting of some sort generally goes a long way towards breaking the ice.
Early(ish) on Sunday morning Vicky donned her winter coat and walked to Liezels Park, named after the small, grey stone fort within its grounds. The land is low lying and very flat around here, shallow ponds with connecting channels had been created with boardwalks and small pontoons. The fort was closed but around it ran a wide moat lined with deciduous trees in their late Spring foliage. It was a pleasant route despite the rain. After lunch we returned together in search of a festival we'd seen advertised in Puurs. We followed a series of laminated A4 posters, their arrows supposedly pointing in the direction of this elusive event, but to no avail. Perhaps it was the language barrier or maybe the gathering had been called off due to the weather but all we found were some scenic farm tracks, not that we were too dissapointed, especially when the hailstones began pelting us!
As we warmed up inside Martha we discovered the internet signal was down. It remained so the rest of the afternoon. The afternoon was productive, with Vicky sewing a new zip into her bag, Will mending his bag and coming to the conclusion that we need a new switch for our SOG toilet cassette fan (the new motor we'd picked up in the UK hasn't fixed the problem). We've recently upgraded to a contract with 100GB of data, it is amazing how many of the things we do rely on the internet, such as finding a motorhome dealer for the new switch!Read more