South Park Self

you can take the girl out of the SCA...

Ghent is rather pleasingly prone to outbreaks of dogs and bicycles. I'm not sure what prompts the dogs, invariably cute and well-conducted specimens on leads, but they're entirely consonant with the pleasant, polite, slightly reserved demeanour of the Ghentians I've met. Bicycles are a key mode of transport; little flocks of them toddle past at all times, and pedestrians seem highly trained to avoid both cyclists and trams. The city doesn't seem to be laid out with cars in mind, they're forever piling up behind trams and stopping patiently for pedestrians in a generally subdued and reassuring way. The trams are cute, although it was a miracle I managed not to step on a rail and turn my ankle. I did witness a young lady run her bicycle wheel into a tram rail groove and come a spectacular cropper. Salutary.

I spent yesterday morning sight-seeing, including pottering around the Gravensteen, alias the Castle of the Counts, which is a rather touristy reconstruction of the original 12th-century castle.

It boasts rather a nice collection of medieval armour and weapons, which I spent unconscionable amounts of time with given that I'm no longer in the SCA. Possibly my roots are showing. But sixteenth-century crossbows are simply cool. It also has a rather lovely view of Ghent from the battlements:

I spent a happy hour or so wandering around Saint Bavo's Cathedral, drawn thither by the organist apparently practising. Medieval ecclesiastical architecture sets out to awe and overwhelm, and by gum it does its job. I didn't see the Van Eyck or Reubens, being not so much an art geek, but I love the soaring spaces and the mantle of hushed calm a cathedral wears. Also, several of its bishops park off on their tombs in an attitude of relaxed marble indolence, which always amuses me.

As is obligatory, I accompanied my Earl Grey (in a rather fairy-tale iron teapot) with a Belgian waffle with cream, partaken of at a café on the edge of the square. Belgian waffles have a curiously chewy surface to them, I suspect they're sugared, but they're substantial and very good. Memo to self: try to achieve soggy waffles for Jo by making giant fat ones.

I am now ensconced in a hotel in Brussels preparatory to flying to Manchester tomorrow morning, and then the Lake District. Achievement Unlocked: Ghent. I liked it.
  • Current Mood: apathetic somewhat tired
The picture is of a Liège waffle (as opposed to the fluffier and less interesting Brussels waffles).

I can give you a recipe for it, if you like. It's a bit complicated, as it involves making two kinds of dough, but so definitely worth it.

You also mix in plenty of sugar in pearl form. I've only ever seen this format in Belgium. This probably comes too late for you to get any, but just in case you have time, inclination and suitcase space: you're looking for Parelkorrel suiker/Sucre Grain perlé. It often comes in a purplish 500g box, with a picture of a waffle on the box. I guess badly-crushed sugar lumps would also do in a pinch.

xavier Xalfonso III
(via my cell-phone, so not bothering to log in)
Re: waffles
Good heavens. Who knew that waffles were so technical? Thank you for the details, I shall pursue with interest on my return home.
I've been rereading Dorothy Dunnett, and Ghent makes me think of Nicolo, and Lymond, later, careening around the rooftops....
I haven't read those for years, had totally forgotten the Ghent connection. Hmmm. Something for the to-read list when I get back home, I'm fairly sure I have that series somewhere...
I think a brief, maidenly "eek" suffices. I have not yet managed to read beyond a sample few paragraphs of 30 Shades, on account of how the obnoxiously imbecile ineptitude of the writing gives me a red haze over the eyes so I can't continue. Kind of like aesthetic or literary peril-sensitive sunglasses, in fact, which are probably among the better random side-effects of an academic career.