Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Belgian birthday! Part two

We arrived at Holiday Home Bonjour Clara at about 7:00pm, having originally overshot the driveway and ended up at the dairy farm next door.  Marianne, the proprietor of the vacation home, was waiting for us.  While I walked and watered Zane and Arran, Marianne showed Bill around the humongous house.  She told him it was built in 1670.  Looking around the impressive brick house, I totally believe it's that old.

Marianne was very surprised there were only two of us and dogs.  She said she usually rents her house out to large groups.  Holiday Home Bonjour Clara has sleeping space for at least ten people.  There are three rooms that could be considered master bedrooms, along with two "cubby" type rooms.  One has a full sized bed and the other tiny nook has bunk beds.  There are also two sofas downstairs, a crib, and plenty of floor space for cots and/or sleeping bags.

Holiday Home Bonjour Clara has two bathrooms, one on each floor.  One has a shower and the other has a large bathtub.  There's also a water closet.  Should the need arise, you can even do laundry in the house.  Marianne has thoughtfully included a washing machine, which we did end up having to use.


The kitchen is enormous!

The kitchen in this house is huge and inviting.  There's a large table with seating for several people.  In the dining room, there's another large table, as well as several tables outside.  The kitchen has a stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and fridge, as well as plenty of other appliances you might want or need.  



Huge table for a group.  In the next room are a couch and a loveseat, as well as a flatscreen TV with plenty of channels in English.  I love that Belgian TV has programming in English with French or Flemish subtitles.


Living room.  Wood stove for the winter.  There's also another fireplace in the dining room.




The upstairs bathroom has a shower.  Arran is checking it out.  Marianne supplies plenty of towels, so there's no need to worry about bringing linens.


The downstairs bathroom.  A water closet is next to it.  This is also where the washing machine is.


The cool looking sink in the WC.  Marianne has decorated this house with a lot of art.  I don't know if she's an artist herself, but I would not be surprised if she was.


The foyer.  Steep stairs lead to the upper level.  The downstairs bedroom also has a small set of steps to climb.  Those with mobility issues may have problems in this house because getting into all of the rooms involve climbing steps.



A couple of the bedrooms.  We stayed in the one pictured with Zane on the bed.  Every morning, we awoke to birds chirping, owls hooting, and the smell of beer.  I'm pretty sure the local breweries were supplying their spent barley to farmers for feeding their cows.  There is a dairy farm next door.

This house is equipped with WiFi.  The signal went in and out, which was a little annoying.  However, I was surprised it worked as well as it did, since the building is very old.  It's been my experience that Internet in older buildings can be a bit dodgy.

After we toured the house, Marianne showed us the coolest (literally) feature her holiday home offers.  She has a "swimming pond!"


Bill checks out the "pond".  It was refreshingly cold!



This pond is also home to two fish.  They aren't koi, but they are similar to koi.  Marianne couldn't remember what they were called in English.  She says they are smarter than koi because they somehow avoid being snatched by birds of prey!  The fish aren't bothered by human guests.  I did take a short dip just to say I did.  Unfortunately, I was visited by my unpopular "Aunt Flow" over the weekend.  She always shows up at the worst possible times.


A bench near a very pleasant sitting area.



Large yard for the dogs.  This was not completely fenced in, so we couldn't let them off lead.  Marianne has a dog, but he stayed near the house.  He seemed very friendly.


Next to the house is a canal, where a family of birds was living.  They looked a little like ducks.


I thought they were ducks at first, but upon closer examination, they looked more like small pheasants.


A morning shot of the pond.


Lily pads.

The pond has a rope that facilitates getting in and out.  Otherwise, you have to be pretty careful getting in and out.  I noticed Marianne's college aged son seemed to take a leap into the water.  In any case, this isn't your typical American pool with lots of safeguards.  Use at your own risk and be careful!  We thought it was a pretty nice feature, though.



After our dip in the pond, we sat by the canal and drank beer.


This was the view.




Besides birds, Holiday Home Bonjour Clara has a wild bunny who visits in the mornings and evenings.


And two chickens who were almost tame!  They let me get within a foot of them.  And every morning and evening, they peeked into the house.

On our first night, we arrived too late to get to a grocery store.  Marianne very kindly brought us eight eggs from her chickens, some ham, butter, and bread.  The eggs were especially delicious!


Breakfast for dinner!


Since we didn't have any cream for my coffee, Bill went to the farm next door and purchased a liter of milk.  This very fresh milk cost 50 cents.  The farm also has potatoes, but Marianne said they'd been experiencing a drought and the potatoes are very difficult to unearth right now.

All in all, this house was a delight for four nights.  If you're looking for a home that can accommodate a group and is pet friendly, I would recommend Holiday Home Bonjour Clara.  Besides being in a delightful rural area, it's close to Ghent, Bruges, and the beach.

Part three!

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