14 March 2020


Pictures from an Exhibitionist

I love travel....  And so does Amanda.  Only yesterday she went to Harlow, taking the wrong bus from St Albans and then resolutely refusing to get off it.

No matter. With the help of several vehicles full of the boys in blue from Welwyn Garden City, a sat nav and a Chinese tracking device (thank you Huawei!) we were reunited and spent an hour or so exploring the delights of Essex and Eastern Hertfordshire (never thought that Bishops Stortford was where Bishops used to ford the river Stort, whose soggy flood plain reaches Harlow, about whom I only knew Jean....)

Anyway, I digress (as I am won't to do....)

I love travelling, and seeing.....  [And, having recently been told that I have the beginnings of both cataracts and macular degeneration, I appreciate the wonders of sight with particular acuity.....]

So, from my room with a view on Hoog Straat (Rue Haute), Les Marolles, Brussels....

I contemplate the attractions of Benelux....

And they are many, from the Maison du Roi (1870) in the Grand Place, Brussels....

Through the Galleries Royales Saint-Hubert (1847)....

To the sweeping arches of the Liège-Guillemins train station (Santiago Calatrava, 2009),

To the cobbles and vaults around the Basilica of Saint Servatius (11th century) by the Vrijthof at the heart of Maastricht (whatever happened to the EU?)

Another train ride whisks me over the soggy plains of Flanders, flashing past the cities of Ghent, (what?)

and Bruges, (where?)

To the sand sea and sky of Ostend, where I look out across the Southern Bight of the North Sea, towards Eastern Anglia, as was.....

And see nothing.....

Or is it just me?  Is there no one there?

Il y a deux sortes de temps
Y a le temps qui attend
Et le temps qui espère
Il y a deux sortes de gens
Il y a les vivants
Et moi je suis en mer.

There are two sorts of time:
there is the time that waits
and the time that hopes.
There are two sorts of people:
there are the living
and me, I am at sea.

l'Ostendaise - Ostend girl

Jacques Brel

Yes, I love travel; going places, coming back, seeing things, meeting people.....  

Long may it last.....

{NB Composed before Belgium shut down bars and restaurants, etc.....

O tempora!  O mores!}


  1. Hi Richard,
    It's about time I expressed my appreciation of your writings, isolated as we are (by government decree, not voluntary self-isolation) in a ghostly Rome virtually empty of tourists and with excursions limited to supermarket and newspaper shop. Thank you also for the photos of Belgium, a place I used to visit more frequently than now. I do remember an incident in the Grand' Place tourist office, when a man came in to ask for some information in Flemish, and finding that the employee spoke only French had a very public tantrum. We were due to come to England, to our bolthole in Eastbourne for a few days, but that has been denied us for the moment. For the moment best wishes to you and Amanda from Daphne and myself.

  2. No one as brilliant a photographer as you are is allowed to have macular degeneration! Say it isn't so....

  3. I, too, love your writing, and I must say it's good that finally you show pics of somewhere I've actually been, Big Pharma, trying to seduce me into prescribing some new poison before it was banned... I was always surprised by how badly they misunderstood the concept of "seduction"... I digress.

    I think it was on the trip to Brussels ...it might have been Antwerp... that a colleague got legless => asthma => needed hospitalisation => ambulance crew couldn't get him into the lift => Fire brigade to take him out through a window 5 storeys up => ITU ......
    ...whence he discharged himself next day.
    And the crowning glory of the tale is that I had once applied for partnership with him.... but that's another, long story.....

  4. Antonio S., 15th March, 20:41 hrs
    Although I am not accustomed to using this reply option, preferring, as I do, in compliance with the dictates of that part of my character I label - perhaps wrongly -"reserved", to correspond privately, I feel I must make an exception. Firstly, let me thank you most warmly for your concern for "those confined to self-isolation. Secondly, I am much troubled to learn of your macular degeneration: may its progress be oh so slow! As for the quality of your writing and photography, you know I am a sincere admirer. Take care, dear Friend. Un abbraccio forte sebbene virtuale da Genazzano. Antonio e Giuseppina