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Tag: Belgium

… and it all led to my first marathon!

Yep, that’s right: I ran my first marathon, the full 42,195 km! Well, I say ‘ran’, but unfortunately had to walk quite a bit of it… In despite of that, I was far from the last one to finish, contrary to some of my previous runs.

This was not a normal marathon though, but the infamous Beer Lovers’ Marathon in Liège. That meant, at the numerous supply points, we weren’t just given water and energy snacks, but a serving of beer as well! Curiously enough, with all the running, you don’t even feel the alcohol… Oh, most people were in some kind of theme appropriate costume as well. Can you guess who I was supposed to be?

Training

In preparation for this marathon, I also participated in a couple of other runs, although they were more like trail runs, so in nature, instead of the urban environment of this marathon. These runs were the Marathon Zoniënwoud (21 km), Brussels Nature Run (27,5 km), Trailberg (21 km), and 15km van Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe (25,5 km).

Okay, that’s enough running for this blog, I promise the next post will be about travelling and beer!

All about running…

Last weekend was all about running.

On Saturday I participated in the Natuurloop Beernem. For the tenth edition of this running event in West-Flanders, I had the choice of three distances: 7 km, 14 km, and 24 km. Since I already have a half marathon under my belt—albeit just around my little neighbourhood park—and the goal was to stretch my limits a bit in preparation for the Beer Lovers’ Marathon, I registered for the 24 km version, the Experience+

It was only my second running event—the first one being last year’s Brussels Nature Run—and the first one with a mass start, and supply stops along the trail.

The weather was perfect, the trail markers easy to follow, and most of the trail was off-road. So how did I do? Well, I finished within the three hour time limit, but only just! It didn’t really help that my running shoes actually need replacement, or that I had a few beers the night before… But all in all, I was happy I finished my longest running distance so far!

Sunday Hash

On Sunday it was time for my weekly run with the Brussels Manneke Piss Hash House Harriers. I ran quite a bit slower than usual, not having fully recovered from the 24 km the previous day… Lesson learnt: take it easy on a day after a serious run! Not only was it my fifteenth run with BMPH³, but as it turned out that day, I was the only hasher left with perfect attendance in 2022!

It was also the first sunny run I ran in my new Sport Kilt, in the official Hash House Harriers Trail tartan, so the perfect opportunity for some photos.

10 Years in a Kilt

On the 10th of March 2012, I picked up my very first kilt, somewhere in Limburg, at the inconspicuous garage shop of the sadly no longer existing company Great Scotland. The very same night I put on my new eight yard kilt, in a MacLaren Modern tartan woven by House of Edgar to take it for a spin, and a first pint.

Since then, this kilt has served me well, as I walked many miles, drank many beers, and had a lot of fun in it!

I marked this ten year anniversary—or kiltaversary, if you will—with a little pub crawl, which of course also included the very first place I went in my kilt, Celtica. There I tried to recreate the first photo of me wearing my kilt in public…
Can you spot the differences?

Running in a kilt…

Two weeks after co-haring a run for the first time with the Brussels Manneke Piss Hash House Harriers, I set and hared a trail of my own design. It could have used some improvements, but all in all, I was happy with this attempt, and so seemed to be most runners.

I don’t have a habit of taking out my phone to take photos while running, but luckily some others do, and I ended up on a couple of nice action shots…

So yes, I run in a kilt… Not in my good one, of course, but a lighter, easier washable one, in the Grey Spirit tartan. Actually, with a bit of luck, this was my last run in this kilt, because my special hashers’ SportKilt is on its way!

Cheers, and On-On!

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Burns’ Run & Burns Night

The attentive reader will know that, about two years ago, I’ve started running to offsett my beer calories. I’ve kept it up so far, but still tend to find it rather boring, especially the longer runs. At least it was, until I was introduced to the Brussels Manneke Piss Hash House Harriers last December. I could write a lot about the phenomenon of ‘hashing’, but suffice to say: if you’re into running, beer, and fun, find out if there’s a Hash House Harriers kennel in your city!

Anyway, last Sunday’s run with the BMPH³ was Burns themed. In addition to the usual beer stop, the trail even included a whisky stop along, and there was a haggis ceremony afterwards. That was sufficient reason for me to quickly change into more appropriate attire after the run, and toast to the Scottish bard in style.

Today, on the actual date of Burn’s Night, I will of course don the kilt again, and have some more haggis for dinner. No neeps and tatties this time, I’ll be making a haggis lasagne instead.

However you celebrate it, have a great Burns Night everyone! On-On!

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Razernij

Beerdrinkers & Hellraisers

Craft beer and live music make for a great combination!

I thoroughly enjoyed being at Razernij again, a beer and music festival I had only been able to visit once before. Usually it coincides with BXLBeerFest, but since that sadly was eventually cancelled this year, it freed up some of my time to spend an afternoon in Rumst.

I brought my own version of a ploughman’s platter, to soften the blow of the alcohol a bit. It helped… a bit!

A Trip to the Past

While I’m still awaiting my second vaccination, I continue discovering places in Belgium I haven’t been yet. One that had been on my to-do list for a long time, was the Archéosite d’Aubechies-Beloeil, a site with some archaeological reconstructions from the Neolithicum until the Roman era. I was of course most interested in the latter bit…

So, after an hour on a train, fifteen minutes on a bus, and then another twenty-five minutes on foot, I was finally there!

The outside of the buildings looked nice enough—the temple really reminded me of the time I worked as a volunteer ‘archeotolk’ at Archeon—but unfortunately the inside mostly seems to have been adapted for modern use, like exhibitions and events.

If I ever have a garden, I definitely want a summer triclinium like that!

A Belgian Holiday – Part III

For the last part of my Belgian holiday, I stayed close to home, in the old duchy of Brabant, and I went to Mechelen on Saturday, and to Antwerp on Sunday. It was a weekend well spent.

Mechelen

To get a bit of a walk in before the beers, I got off the train one stop early again, in Weerde. This way, I got to enjoy a bit of green before entering the town. When I arrived in the centre, it seemed just about everybody wanted to spend the day outside—and rightfully so—but luckily I found a free table at Sister Bean, to enjoy a coffee and and apple crumble.

When it comes to beer, it seems De Floeren Aap is the place to be in Mechelen nowadays. Needless to say, I spent quite some time on their terrace, to try some of their vast selection of canned beers. Not for too long, though, because I had a race the next morning…

Brussels Nature Run

Sunday morning I had my first ever running event: Brussels Nature Run! It was also the first time I ran somewhere not completely flat, so that was a bit of a challenge, and I almost regretted choosing the 16K instead of the 10K… It all worked out in the end, and I’m quite happy with the time I made.

Antwerp

The last day of my Belgian holiday, I spent in Antwerp. Because this was actually supposed to be my last day in Scotland, I went kilted on this occasion. I selected Antwerp for this last stop, because I knew there would be plenty of beer places to visit, and beer people to meet.

My first stop was at Billie’s Bottle Shop. Its little beer garden was already packed, but with a bit of improvisation, I eventually had a nice spot to enjoy some of Stéfan’s excellent selection of beers.

Next up was Station 1280, which had set up a terrace on a nice and quiet courtyard. Then it was time to discover a place I had never been before: The Northerner. Their draught beers were pretty standard, but here again, a very nice can list! The pulled pork sub was very tasty—and at that point very welcome—as well.

My last beer stop was, as usual, because of its proximity to the train station, Beerlovers Bar. Saying goodbye to Ben, and to Antwerp, also meant the end of my Belgian holiday.

A Belgian Holiday – Part II

For the second part of my Belgian holiday, I went to Wallonia. The beer world still seems to be a more old fashioned here—both when it comes to bars and breweries—but luckily there are some exceptions.

Liège

My day in Liège started again with a bit of a hike. The south of the country is a bit more hilly than the north, so there was a bit more climbing involved. At least that provided me with a couple of nice views as well!

After reaching the city centre again, it was time to nourish and refresh the body: coffee at Darius Cafe, a waffle—I was in Liège after all—from Une Gaufrette Superlipopette, and some beers at BeerLovers’ Café. I would have liked to have a couple at Wild Lab as well, but contrary to what they had told me before, they weren’t open…

Misery Beer Co.

Two days later I passed through Liège again, on my way to Comblain-la-Tour. From there I hiked to Misery Beer Co., as I did once before, but from a different direction this time, starting at the Comblain-La-Tour train station.

Once arrived at Misery, I spent a wonderful couple of hours there, enjoying a beer that had long eloped me, one that was just released that day, and some of their classics. If there’s one brewery I regret not participating in the crowdfunding of—”it’s in the middle of nowhere, I’ll never make it out there”—it’s this one… They always make me feel so very welcome, and their beers are outstanding!

A Belgian Holiday – Part I

Last Friday, I once again found myself in Bruxelles Midi station in a train. This time however, I wasn’t on a Eurostar, but on a regular Belgian, suburban train. I had some days off work for my long awaited Scotland trip, but since I didn’t feel like going into an expensive quarantine for ten days, I postponed that trip for the third—and hopefully last—time. Being quite the optimist when it comes to travelling however, I waited right until the last minute to make that decision, and by then it was already too late to cancel my days off…

Gueuzerie Tilquin

So I decided to stay in Belgium, the only place I could freely travel about, and last Friday, instead of whizzing underneath the Channel on my way to London, I was cycling alongside a canal, on my way to Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Strong headwinds, in combination with a heavy, 7-speed Blue-bike, made the trip a bigger effort than I envisioned, but the destination was worth it: Tilquin had been celebrating their ten years of existence over the past couple of weekends, and this weekend was the last one. I enjoyed a couple of flights, and had a chat with Pierre, before the winds—and a train from Halle—took me home again.

Leuven

On Saturday I took a train to Leuven, or actually to Veltem, two stops before Leuven’s main station. That way I could get a couple of kilometres under my belt, before reaching my destination of the day: beer shop Hops ‘n’ More, which was hosting a tap takeover by Croatian brewery Nova Runda. The walk to Leuven was nice enough, and mostly dry, but by the time I reached the center, it was pouring down… I even had to cover my beers while heading for shelter under a just-too-tiny terrace umbrella, to prevent them from diluting too much!

Ghent

On Saturday I went to Ghent. There are plenty of beery places there I’d been longing to revisit since lockdown started again, but a day in Ghent of course had to start with a nice coffee, accompanied by a donut this time, at Full Circle Coffee.

Then onwards to Dok Brewing Company, Brouwbar, and Bar Beenhouwer, while enjoying some more sights on the way. Luckily, the weather was a whole lot more pleasant—and dry—than the day before!

Saint Patrick’s Day 2021

When in 2020 all bars had to close their doors mere days before Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t celebrate it at all. For this year’s edition it was already clear well in advance that celebrating in pubs again wouldn’t be an option… At least I had time to prepare for an alternative this time!

I started the day with a walk—in my saffron kilt—past a lot of the Irish and Celtic pubs of Brussels. Even Manneken Pis was dressed for the occasion!

When I was back home, I started cooking a traditional Irish dish, that would hopefully also provide enough sustenance for the beery night that would ensue: colcannon. I even poached an egg for the first time!

The main event of the evening however, was an online Saint Patrick’s Day celebration which I co-hosted, on the Discord server I set up for my beer blog. For this occasion I sourced some beers from a couple of different Irish (Third Barrel, Galway Bay, Stone Barrel) and Northern Irish (Boundary) breweries, and the only Irish dry stout by a Brussels brewery: Stouterik!

Sláinte!

Liège & Manoir de Harzé

With one round trip left on my free government issued Rail Pass, and a museum assignment to complete, I decided to go to La Boverie, a museum in Liège, so I could take a nice walk in the Ardennes afterwards. So this dreich Sunday, I got on a rather empty train to Wallonia and spent my morning in the museum, and fruitlessly walking through the city looking for an open espresso bar.

In the afternoon I travelled on to Aywaille, and walked to Manoir de Harzé, home to the great Misery Beer Co., which I had visited before last summer. I had rain, hail, and sunshine during my hike, but it was sure nice to be able to be outside, in woods and fields, without a mask. Upon arrival, I had a couple of cold beers (the shop was still open, and I bought a glass as well), before heading home again with a backpack full of beer…