A christmas stroll at the beguinage with a touch of Notting Hill…

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the twinkling lights of Christmas in homes and streets, reflecting in our eyes and making our hearts glow. However, when that last week before the big day sets in and craziness and too many people hit the shopping streets and the supermarkets get overrun, I seek refuge: in our own home, the kitchen, nature, smaller less crowded cities and sometimes that little peace and quiet I was looking for is just in the very heart of busy city life!

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Christmas deco at the beguinage

On all the many occasions we visited Lier, situated southeast in province Antwerp in Belgium, we had never paid an actual visit to the local beguinage, which is a true shame as it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site! The beguinage itself found its origin in the 13th century though most houses date from 17th and 18th. The last beguine died in 1994 but walking the alleys gives a pretty good insight on how life must have been. Once you walk through the monumental gateway it’s like walking inside a history book and the peace and quiet are such a lovely companion on this discovery walk!

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Alley with glimpse of St Margaret’s church

You might even, with a little imagination at a certain moment think you’re in London’s Notting Hill, well Flemish style, of course!

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A touch of Notting Hill?!

 

Though there is a meaning behing the colour scheme, it was custom that the house closest to the church had the colours of it’s patron saint, in this case Margaret yellow…

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Sober baroque St Margaret’s church

The system of long-lease makes it possible for civilians like you and me to even ‘own’ a house there, or at least the use of it as the ownership returns after the stipulated time, which is the thing with these long-lease contracts. Many houses have already been restaured, within very strict limititations and keeping authentic details of course…and you need a serious budget!

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The entrance to the beguinage is free and will lead you through 11 alleys and 162 houses and at the centre you will find St Margaret’s church. Throughout your walk you will discover some references to Felix Timmermans, Flemish writer and poet, born in Lier who often came to the beguinage in search for inspiration. He nicknamed the place ‘The almond bean of Lier’.

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Hell in the street doesn’t refer to the dark place but the steep hill

A lot of water pumps to be found too in the lovely alleys, or as Timmermans once wrote about them ‘statues dedicated to no one’

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water pump in, of course ‘Pompstraat’

If you find yourself close to Lier, do visit this unique place, you won’t regret!

And for those not into the peace and quiet, no worries, plenty more things to see and do in Lier, more on that in another post!

Not sure if I will find time to write another post before Christmas, so wishing you all already everything you wish for, peace in your heart, joy and passion in what you do, peace for the world, love and warmth to fill the lonely, cold or aching hearts, all those small and little things that should be obvious and don’t need a shiny paper or much bling bling, just a genuine smile and twinkle in the eye.

 

Ingrid

Xxx

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Matters of the heart

This week, two days in a row now, keeing an empty belly for some blood and health checks…not my thing…I am the kind of the person only mentally and physically functioning on a breakfast: a little bowl of oatmeal, some fruit, some tea or juice and my pain medication, that get’s me started!

The blood check was done yesterday, nothing painful there, though you never know in advance with my veins. They are very tiny, invisible and jump away when a needle gets close, a nurse’s nightmare!

The examination scheduled this afternoon then again is not my idea of fun. They need to have a closer look at the mitral heart valve as there appears to be a leak. I already had a normal echo last week, that’s how the valve problems and leak were discovered, but to determine the severeness they need to examine through the esophagus to have a better view on the heart, valves, and the veins leaving. My cardiologist explained the procedure could be somewhat compared to a gastroscopy, which I had earlier this year,and not a big fan by the way, but this should be somewhat more comfortable as they do not have to reach down as far as to the stomach…comfortable is not exactly the word I associate with any of these examinations, it always seems so much easier sitting on the other side of the room and wearing that white coat!

#garden #frost
early morning frost in the garden to warm the hart

I initially went to see the cardiologist as lately I start to experience more and more shortness of breath in daily activities, which are already limited in my case due to my back and chronic pain condition, by activities I just mean doing stairs, riding the bike, lately they all left me gasping for air as if I had just finished a one hour extensive workout! Besides the valve leak some other issues were discovered too, when in activity modus, my heart rate goes sky high too fast, that could be just a separate thing and no link to the valve issue but depending on how great the leak is and how the valve exactly behaves when in higher activity, there might be a link, so at this point this seems like the most urgent thing to further examine, so I just follow and listen…

…for when it comes to matters of the heart, I still want mine to continue to beat normal, feel, love, explore, wonder for a very very long time!

‘Health is the greatest wealth’  (Vergilius)

Ingrid

Xxx

Chicken with a bonus

filled mozzarella chicken

No worries, I haven’t disappeared from the blogger’s great universe, just needed some mind and mainly body recovery time…when I know my mind is on food again and thinking of Christmas preparation and deco I know I’m on the mend…well at least for now, as that’s the curse of chronic pains, but hey, we’re in the up, so staying cheerful today!

A usual dinner conversation at our home always includes the options for the menu the next day…earlier this week this recipe came up. It had been ages since I made it, albeit in a slightly different version, so on general family members request, here we go!

This is what you need:

  • chicken breasts filets (1 normal sized per person should do)
  • seed mustard
  • mozzarella cheese
  • a few slices other cheese like old Gouda or you can use Parmesan too
  • bacon to wrap it up
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • oven dish

This is what you do:

  • Preheat your oven at 200°C and oil your baking dish
  • butterfly the chicken breasts and spread them with seed mustard
  • layer with mozzarella cheese, season with pepper, and another layer with cheese of your choice
  • close the filets and wrap them with bacon
  • give them another seasoning with (a little salt) and pepper
  • finish in the oven for about 30-40′ depending on thickness of the filets

I serve them with grilled green asparagus and cherry tomatoes.

 

Some cheese will run out, that’s the yummy part, if you don’t like that, stick with the harder cheeses or use thinly sliced mozzarella.

Make some hours in advance and put in the oven when your guests arrive, easy! This dish leaves you several opportunities to mix and max and play with the stuffing:

  • use pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes
  • add spinach
  • drop the cheese stuffing, use lots of herbs and pesto or sun-dried tomatoes and cover the filled filets in egg and panko before putting in the oven and you’ll have a yummy tasty crunch
  • replace the bacon with Parma ham
  • add herbs like sage or basil or other flavour makers of your choice

 

Enjoy your meal!

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