Recently I was more or less stranded in an unknown village in Belgium on a chilly Sunday morning in January, while my son Gianluca played in a table tennis tournament with no viewing places for spectators. I didn’t like the idea of waiting in a crowded club bar for an entire morning, so I ventured out into the open to explore… Lembeek.

I was lucky on two counts. After a period of dismal and grey weather lasting many weeks, the Belgian sky had discarded its cloud cover and let the landscape bathe in the golden rays of the sun. I was also lucky because the clubhouse was situated in picturesque surroundings: the Lembeek park close to a waterway. My phone camera was in good working order and I had three hours to kill in an unexplored village. It was the perfect occasion for a photo session.

The Sint-Veroon Tafeltennisclub is situated in an old building that used to form part of a complex of some sort, behind which is a garden that is now open to the public as a park.


The most imposing feature in the garden is a majestic tree, totally devoid of leaves at this peak of winter, creating a magnificent silhouette against the rising sun. I decided to take a picture of this tree from three different positions and, having just discovered Instagram and feeling a bit witty, chose to name this group of photos as a…


I ventured out of the garden into the village of Lembeek.

This time at least, the Sint-Veronuskerk in Lembeek was being used for its original purpose. There was a sizeable congregation celebrating mass this morning, including a large number of children who, at one point, were invited to seat themselves at the front to be addressed by a priest, a portly fellow typically well advanced in years. My comprehension of Dutch is limited indeed, but I could decipher several times his reference to Palestine. I wondered if these children, hopeful flag bearers of a dwindling religion, light years away from the priest’s account, could relate at all to the story. I felt like an intruder and quietly moved out of the church.

Lembeek park leads to a waterway, the Canal Bruxelles-Charleroi, which this morning was an absolute beauty.

I walked towards Halle, where I would cross a bridge and return to the table tennis clubhouse at Lembeek. Midway there the path was blocked for works of some sort. The detour towards Halle would take too long, so I just had to walk back at the same side of the canal, this time choosing a path through country roads further inland. Too bad, but not enough to spoil a thoroughly enjoyable walkabout on a rare, and thereby precious, sunny Sunday morning in January.

Humble, unknown Lembeek. Can’t help loving Belgium.