Sunday, July 08, 2007

Les amis de la famille

Looking down the canal/river in Ghent

Me and Sue standing by the river

The other side of the river

The Sint-whatever-it-is Cathedral in Ghent

Inside Lille Cathedral

A pretty stained glass window in Lille Cathedral

Me and Sue outside the Palais de Beaux Arts in Lille

This weekend I was visited by Sue and Norm, family friends and my godmother in Sue's case. Twas lovely to see some familiar faces and to repay a teensy weensy bit of the hospitality they offered me for about two months a couple of years back - cheers guys!

They arrived about 11.30 on Friday morning - I was still working, so it was off to sample the delights of Hazebrouck for them and then back to the Chateau for the standard joys of select-a-sandwich, as always. I managed to knock off and shower by 2.30, so we headed into Lille for the afternoon. It turned out to be a lovely sunny day - most unusually for this bit of France - so we had a good time mooching about the city centre, checking out the cathedral (which I hadn't been to before and which is quite nice) and grabbing a couple of drinks in Place de General de Gaulle, the very picturesque central square.

Saturday was my day off, and we decided to have an early(ish) start and strike out for Ghent. This was a bit of a spur of the moment decision - somewhere none of us had been and somewhere I otherwise would have been unlikely to go, so a good call I think. It's about a 2 hour drive away, which we broke up by having breakfast slash morning tea in Ypres and having a wee look at the Menin Gate. Ghent itself was pretty cool - larger than places like Ypres and Bruges (not that I've been to Bruges, but you know) so it's perhaps not as relentlessly touristy, but it still has tons of pretty old houses in the centre, and it's crisscrossed with rivers and canals, which I think always make a city. The absolute highlight was the St. Baafskathedral (sp?), a huge and imposing buildings which houses numerous fine paintings and objets d'art, including Jan (and Hubert?) van Eyck's 'The Adoration of the Lamb', painted in 1438 (if I remember correctly). The 3€ admission in to see the painting (the rest of the cathedral was free) included a very comprehensive audio guide, so one spent about 20-30 minutes standing in a wee little room with 20 other people staring at this altarpiece, but very interesting and a great painting. There was also a choir and organist going while we were there, which is always nice.

Apart from the cathedral, the afternoon was spent wandering about and having more drinksies, plus lunch at a cafe with the world's slowest service. Sue was a bit confused that her beef sandwich seemed to consist of strange-tasting chopped tomatoes - Norm and I waited until after she'd finished to inform her that it was topped with raw beef. D'oh!

Weather was sunny and nice again, although so windy that I kept on putting on and taking off my jumper every five minutes depending on the gusts.

The day was capped off by dinner at an indifferent restaurant in St Omer. Poor Sue suffered again with a sausage that was made up of chopped variety meats slung into its casing - the whole thing unravelled out when cut in to, and was more than she could stomach. Good chips though and my chicken and chocolate mousse were good. I took the precaution of questioning the exact make-up of the profiteroles for her to prevent any further culinary mishaps over dessert.

They went back to Angleterre this morning, after a brief but action-packed stay at the chateau, and back to work for me all too soon, although we were done by 12.30 and I lay about in the sunshine and then watched the Grand Prix, so not too bad of a weekend I must admit.

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