Glory of Green
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Stories from the Great Outdoors

 

Last time we went to Ronquieres, we did an interesting bike ride along the Brussels-Charleroi canal. As always when I’m out and about, this sparked fresh ideas for new adventures. An alluring smaller canal went off to the west of Ronquieres, and I made a mental note to try it out at a fitting moment in time. The perfect time came last Sunday – and the Samme canal actually turned out to be Belgium’s most beautiful so far.

I love tiny homes!

The canal starts off with charmingly accessorised house boats – some including dogs and ducks, showing off a colourful and sometimes loud spectacle of how to live a human life. I have always been intrigued by the freedom of living tiny – be it on a boat or in a camper.

What would you take with you if you were to reduce your living space to fit a boat? What a wonderfully green challenge! After all – we used to be nomads living in tents a mere blip of history ago… The truth is that we really don’t need that much stuff to have a great life – and our tiny multitasking tablets of 2019 might make it even easier to scale down.

My biggest issue would of course be with the lack of storage for all our out-doors gear. The tiny-house arrangement doesn’t favour owning stuff – you’re supposed to share and rent. I’ll have to go another round with myself on that aspect… Can I live tiny, but have a huge garage for storage?

 The castle that got away

Before heading out, the world wide web helped me notice what seemed like a quite majestic castle in Seneffe, 14,4 kilometres from Ronquieres. My plan was to go there and add some cultural enrichment to the natural splendour of a Belgian canal. 

We got to the castle, but I never got to see it. Before getting there, we stopped a million times along the way to watch saddle backed old horses and grown up birds watching their baby birds, take photos and smell the flowers and the green scent of moist spring air.

I salute this little guy! Take a close look and you'll see the duck in the tree, on duty watching the canal. What we do for our kids... 

The cultural landscape includes bridges, small castles a lot of stone walls and a myriad of locks with more or less spooky old houses attached. So wonderful. So much time spent. No time wasted. Spring is the perfect time to bike along the Samme! Exploring the Chateau de Seneffe was postponed to next time – which isn’t too bad. I’m already looking forward to next time.

On castle grounds we first came upon a restaurant in what used to be one of Belgium’s largest orangeries in the 18th century. No need to say perhaps, but the light of this place is glorious. The “Brasserie de l’Orangerie” serves ice cream, in addition to a lot of other things we didn’t try. Here goes my first restaurant critique ever: Stay away from the Dame Blanche/Noir. The chef does not know how to reduce the chocolate sauce properly. Unless you’re 10. Alma was happy anyway.

We turned our bikes around, biked back like crazy people and managed to send Alma off to a birthday party right in time. Thoroughly shaked by the short, but very effective, stretches of cobble stones.

Other practicalities

We went back and forth the same way, but you can easily connect to the Brussels-Charleroi canal in Seneffe and make it a round trip. If you’re coming from Brussels along the main canal, the Samme is a nice detour, as it runs almost parallel.

Parking is easy in Ronquieres. Remember to take a look at the gigantic sloping lock while you’re there.

The British Mini used to be assembled in a factory in Seneffe until 1982. If you’re into car history this is a lead that might be explored – I have no idea if the factory still exists in some form or shape.