Saturday, 20 December 2008

Back from Bruges and Back to Busyness...

This list had some six hundred different Belgian beers upon it, I had only a handful. Or two. Mind you, I needed it after the choppy sail there on a giant tin box full of children, many of whom sang and danced to inappropriate tunes in whichever bar I went to in search of peace. Sometimes, bingo was played to irritate me further. Never mind, I had a fine time in Bruges. The weather was good, the architecture stunning, the churches (generally) open, even if the poor exchange rate coupled with the expense of the place anyway joined forces to make slightly hysterical prices. Being nearly Christmas, I was able to enjoy one of the last seasonal joys left which Tesco has not cashed in on, namely the Abbey Christmas beer race, wherein the brewing abbeys compete to get special, very strong, beers out for the last full week of Advent. I have tasted many of them for you, to spare you the bother.

I also lit a candle for you all and prayed for all our readers at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in a convent just by my hotel (which was itself in a fifteenth century ex-convent). This picture shows the very candle. Further posts, which I shall scatter about over the next few weeks, will show some of the more interesting buildings and churches in more depth.

There were some interesting sights. Here, behind the grille, in a very traditional Benedictine convent, you can see the Abbess's Crozier and hanging thing, the name of which I forget. It stands by the chair of the Abbess in the chapter house. I had to kiss an unknown relic before seeing this, I hope it was worthwhile.

Here, in the Shrine Church of Our Lady, Help of the Blind. A ship sails majestically through the nave, which is preferable to a nave altar, I suppose, if a touch unhinged, until of course you know the reason why. All this to come, as they probably say on the television, which I do not watch.

As well as some exquisite metalwork and vestments. I was very lucky and picked up a beautiful Baroque statue bracket in a fleamarket, which will hold a sizable statue. It was well worth wandering around the town with it for several hours as Belgians looked at me and tutted, probably wondering which church I had lifted it from. I also found a halo for my statue of the Sacred Heart in a religious antique shop. The original one having been anecdotally removed by thieves from the Church of Saint Alban, Cheetwood, before it closed. My parents are coming tomorrow to celebrate my Father's birthday, so there are spam fritters to defrost, there is a busy morning and the carol service and Solemn Benediction in the evening, so forgive me if I toddle off to get a few things ready now.