Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A weekend in the Ardennen


Donkey!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

A weekend in the Ardennes….one has heard so often about people going off to the Ardennes, but after living in Holland for (almost) 20 years, we have never done it. And now we have. The Ardennes are in the eastern side of Belgium, stretching from the southern tip of Holland in the north, down to Luxembourg in the south. It is a region of hills, river valleys and forests… an adventure holiday paradise, with opportunities for mountain biking, walking, fishing, horse riding, kayaking, white river rafting and all sorts. It is quite wild and a good antidote to the flatness of Holland.

It took Eric 15 years to arrange this weekend and it was well worth the wait. 17 of us finally made it down to the large white-washed farmhouse (with room for 20) in the middle of the Ardennes, near the town of La Roche, in the province of Luxembourg. Fred and I, not having a car, managed to hitch a lift with Marlin, a nearby neighbour, and a cycling mate of his and Eric’s, Marthijn and we left sometime on Friday morning, taking the motorway down past Eindhoven to Maastricht, to Luik (Liege) and then on to La Roche, where we had some time to walk around town, while the lads went off on the first of their cycle rides.

I had a conference all and had to set up office on the pavement outside somebody’s house, tapping onto their wireless network, placing my laptop on the electricity meter cupboard facing the street, and talking to my colleagues on the mobile phone. A discussion about pensions, which could have taken place any time in the last few weeks, but happened to have been planned for this afternoon, whilst one of my colleagues was calling in on his mobile from the airport in Singapore. The wonder of technology.

Unfortunately, my office was on the cold, shady side of the street so I was bitterly cold by the time I came off the phone an hour and a half later, when I managed to catch Fred just as he was half way through a delicious plate of Belgian cheese croquettes and salad and a glass of delicious brown Belgian beer. Mmmmm….. and a couple of beers later, the café had filled with the returning cyclists, plus four girls who had come from Utrecht and Eindhoven… and it was time to find our white house…

to be continued...

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