Saturday, 27 October 2012

A Week in Bruges.... (Part One...)

You may have noticed my recent disappearance for a week.  I was in Bruges, on retreat.  With some other clergy from the Diocese I went to St Andrew's Abbey, just outside Bruges itself.  That would sound more impressive if I'd put the name in Flemish, but I've forgotten how!

The traditional way to get to Bruges (at least for us) is by boat, though some members of our group behaved appallingly and went by Eurostar.  Shame on them.  I love the boat journey.  Not only does the sense of distance give permission to stop, to relax, but I also just like the way boats move.  The way they slightly catch you off balance, and make you move to one side or the other as you walk.  Can you tell that sea sickness is not a problem I suffer from?!

This is clearly not our boat, or I couldn't have taken a picture.  But it's like our boat.  Just a little quicker out of port than us!

I rather liked the rainbow that appeared halfway through the journey.  Actually, it appeared halfway through my lunch too - we always eat on the boat.  You'll see why....

Not the most exciting view, but...WE'VE ARRIVED!

One short car journey later, and we arrive at the Abbey.  It's set well back from the road, and in it's own grounds with lovely walks in woods, which at this time of year are full of autumn colours.  Just beautiful.

I'm already looking forward to long walks, and peace and quiet!

At the end of the driveway, the Abbey itself appears.  It's a beautiful building which seems to emanate peace and tranquility, which I guess is one reason why the clergy retreat has being doing this journey for so long.

I love the different shapes on the Abbey building - square towers, round towers, little onion shaped turrets.  It's all so...well...interesting!
I suppose I should share the luxury of my room?  You do want to see, don't you?  Well, we got to choose which rooms we had, so I picked the same one I had last year.  I don't know why; they are all the same! But, somehow, that one was MINE, and I wanted it! it is!
Picture One - facing towards the door....
and Picture Two - facing towards the window!
Not luxury, but more than enough for a peaceful few days!
We have talks in the morning and afternoon while we are on retreat, and they are held in the Guest Chapel on the corridor where the bedrooms are.  We also have Compline last thing each evening.  The Chapel is beautiful - peaceful and calm, and holy.
I really liked this statue in the Chapel.......
Meals are taken with the monks in their refectory, and are...interesting!  The big question around each meal is usually 'What's this?' Which is very biblical, I guess - being as 'Manna' translates as precisely that! Whatever is eaten one day, usually turns up as soup the next! 
Breakfast is different, as we eat this together in a small dining room. It consists of bread, with cold meat - if you're first down - and various spreads and preserves.  There is coffee in jugs on the tables, or a coffee machine in the small kitchen.  I decided to be brave one day and use the machine to make a cappucino.  I looked at the machine, and saw some flemish instrucions on a note pointing to one of the buttons, so I pressed it, assuming that to be the right one.  I now know what the flemish for 'Don't press this or you'll get a jug full of coffee dispensed into your small cup.' looks like. 
Much amusement, but little sympathy from my clergy colleagues!
The Abbey itself is beautiful, and the Abbey Church is stunning...
I bought a guide book rather than taking loads of pictures,
so I'm afraid I only have two photos of one small chapel to share here!
Well, that's enough for now.  Much to do, so I'll post more tomorrow.

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