Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday 23 October - Villers La Ville

Home of the ruins of a very famous abbey, not far from Charleroi.

Had to change trains here and hop on a two carriage jobby, which then chugs it way along a very small line, stopping every few minutes at the kind of train station that Network Rail would have loved to have consigned to extinction long ago. The kind where about two people get on, and either one or none get off. It really felt like a blast from the past.

When I got off the train you're immediately confronted by a row of houses and a street with about two shops on it.

The walk to the abbey led us through a small forest, running parallel with peoples' homes, and the obligatory barking dog every few hundred yards or so. It reminded me of being back in the English countryside: the purity of the air, the tranquility, the nature. I've been so starved of greenery these last two years that this really came as a welcome relief.

The abbey really is well worth the visit. For a while we were the only people around. It was one of those days where it was freezing out of the sun, but glorious in it. I kept positioning myself in its glare; the shade being far too cold for a wimp like me.

A huge place, where you're still able to see the scant remains of some of the rooms, such as the kitchen, dining room and servants quarters. I love these kind of things.

Yesterday evening there had been some sort of function, with the media in attendance, which explained the discarded tea lights scattered all over the place, and the remains of a few of those giant candles, and candle holders, still propped up against the walls. It must have looked amazing at night. Incredibly atmospheric, but ever so slightly haunting, out in the open, all exposed, with just the forest for company.

On a warmer day, a great spot for a picnic. Instead, we lunched at a bistro/pub type place, which from the outside looked like something straight out of Switzerland, with the building dwarfed by the forest around it. It was us, and dozens of bikers for company.

A lovely way to pass a few hours.

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