Conservatoire Africain

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Hello one and all, and here we are for another slice of life from the Hobbit Hole.

As you may remember the weekend just gone was my last planned free weekend this side of Christmas, so I treated myself to a little trip to Brussels.  Now Belgium is a much maligned nation, with a reputation for being dull.  That, I believe, is a shockingly unfair accusation, and I shall attempt to back up this bold assertion with a few photos and the odd tale from their capital.

BetjemanThanks to the rather excellent service provided by British Rail (I know!) and Eurostar the trip from Chippenham to Brussels was completely uneventful, and the first challenge came with the Brussels Metro.  This proved somewhat tricky as the little orange ticket validation machine became the little orange ticket eating machine, but thanks to some friendly staff, my ‘O‘ Level French, vigorous arm-waving and rather confused shrugging of shoulders the little orange validation machine was dismembered and forced to give up its tickety meal.  It seemed to have feasted on many tickets that day!

After that kerfuffle, it was time for a beer or two.  A procession of bars ensued, some new to me, some known from a trip a few years ago.  The beer was excellent, as is always the case for Belgium.

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On the way back to the hotel we walked through the Grande Place, and even at 1am, wobbling slightly, we were able to marvel at the spectacular architecture.

Now we have some great stuff in the UK, but every Belgian city I’ve stayed in has their own Grande Place or Grote Markt, all lit up in spectacular style.

This is not like bowling out of Wetherspoons and heading for the kebab shop, I can tell you.

So did Saturday take on a significantly different stripe?  Well no, not really.  Some epic shambling was undertaken, some wonderful architecture seen, some odd things on street corners were photographed, and a few more beers were imbibed.

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The evening of course was more of the same, just in different bars.  The beer waiter at A La Becasse took the new world record as the worlds surliest; the puppets on display at Toone were still freaky; and I drank my first ever Kwak.

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And in Poechenellekelder I saw possibly the oddest thing I have ever seen in a bar.  No photos were taken on the night, but some of this lot were in there, like something out of The League of Gentlemen.  They’re call Conservatoire Africain:

The noises they were making on various instruments were as bizarre as their looks.  Quite, quite surreal – and typically Belgian.  How can anyone possibly class this as a dull country?  (And just so you know, they are a charitable organisation that collects for children’s hospitals.  They’re just nuts).

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Finally, a view of the carpet in our hotel.  If you can get back to the hotel and not throw up when you see this, you’re probably safe from a hangover.

So now it’s back to the wonderful world of chillies.  It will seem almost sensible in comparison the Conservatoire Africain, but I think almost everything will.

Have a good week, speak to you again soon.

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