Thursday, October 09, 2008

The boats lie down at Lillo







Last Monday, on the way back from Zeeland, Koos and I stopped for a cup of coffee. Nothing strange in this, but what was unusual was where we stopped.

Surrounded by industry and dockland, and tucked inside a tiny fortified oasis, there is Lillo. A lovely gem of a village, largely populated by artists and craftsmen, it exists in its own bubble of tranquillity within the massive complex of the port of Antwerp. It isn't easy to find, despite signposts off the highway, but once you enter its environs, you are struck by its remoteness, its green lushness and its quaint and historic charm.

Lillo also has a small harbour for pleasure craft. The interesting thing, though, is that because the harbour is on the River Scheldt (Schelde over here), it is completely tidal, so at low water, it is empty and all the boats simply sit on the mud flats - not handy if you happen to want to go out for a jolly and you haven't checked the tides! I must say I love tidal reaches like this. There is something wonderfully untamed about mud flats, and waders and great jetties standing sentry with only the rippled sands around them. Once again, the only camera I had with me was in my phone, but it served quite well on this occasion, don't you agree?

13 comments:

  1. I would imagine that if you did not know about its existence at all, suddenly coming to a place like Lillo from the rush and noise of the modern life would feel like entering a dream. That's what I started imagining reading your description, anyway.

    The phone camera certainly did it's job in terms of showing what it was supposed to show!

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  2. Excellent writing, Val. Maria's response confirms it: the place is indeed very special, in the middle of the modern harbour facilities. In fact, most of the village had to make way for harbour progress. Only 'Fort(ress) Lillo' remained.
    You can see it here
    BTW, isn't it wonderful to see a visit by Maria again?

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  3. So, if the boat bottoms are out of the water for appoximately 1/2 the day, do you think the fouling of the hull takes twice as long? There may be added advantages to tidal harbours no?

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  4. You could be right Momo. In salt water, you get different types of mussels from those we get in the canals, but with the constant washing in and out of the tide, they probably don't get a chance to stick anyway, so it might well be an advantage. Good point!

    Maria, yes, it is like entering a secret world, and in the winter, there are few visitors anyway, so it adds to the feeling of treasure forgotten and found. In an ordinary environment, the village would still be charming, but here in the massive industrial complex that is Antwerp, it feels even more like a gem!

    Thanks Koosje, and yes it is good to see Maria again! I like the link too.

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  5. Is the title a purposeful parody of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis...just before they lost ALL credibility?
    Either way, good call! It also reminds me of the North Norfolk coast near Wells-Next-the-Sea.
    All the best from me and Teabags.

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  6. Hey Chris! Well spotted..yes, I was thinking of the Genesis album. Actually, I don't like the whole record, but there are a few tracks on the album that are really great, so it's one that sticks in my memory.

    Anyway, nice to 'see' you, so to speak. I've never been to Norfolk (can you believe it), but I can imagine there are quite some parallels with this part of the world. How are things going in France now? Lots of love to you both, Vee xxx

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  7. venice of the north is so picture perfect, something out of a dream.

    I love the water as you know. The pictures are amazing. Can we all be by the water and feel peace?

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  8. Hi Val,

    This reminds me of the tides in the Bay of Fundy, which I believe have the fastest turnaround times in the world. Your phone camera is quite handy.

    I like the play on the Lamb s well. One of my favourite albums. Genesis did not dissolve with the departure of Gabriel, imho. It was the loss of Hackett after A Trick of the Tail which killed them, although I do like And Then There Were Three.

    xx
    AM

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  9. Hi Anne Marie, I actually love A Trick of the Tail, and it's of my favourite Genesis albums. Unlike dear Chris, I even like a few post Hackett albums too, but again, not all of them. I rather think my brother in law is not keen on any Genesis though, but he might come back and disagree with that remark ;-)

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  10. Hi Val,
    I did manage some writing, and put up a new chapter last night. I hope you like it. It is hard to get anything done these days, though.

    xx
    AM

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  11. What a lovely little discovery! Reminds me of Tubize in its way. Always love communities like this. It keeps that secret fantasy of running away from everything from becoming a schoolgirls fancy and shows that it can be done if one desires to do so.

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  12. The boats look so lonely. It just doesn't seem right to have them sitting there like that ... like beached whales.

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  13. Anne Marie, I'll be over to check tomorrow. I realise it's a little late now! I'm looking forward to it.

    Thanks Jo, yes it really is a very special place. I love its secrecy and seclusion.

    Leslie, you are right, boats on the mud look totally lost and useless, don't they? But I still love the wildness of the mud flats!

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