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December 2017
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Our visits

Our past weekend trip to London

London is one of the world’s greatest and vibrant cities with 2000 years of history. It has been welcoming immigrants and people seeking refuge politically and religiously, rich and poor, for at least 500 years and now is one of the culturally richest places on Earth.

Last September we explored some of its diversity and history over a long weekend (8-11 Sep)

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Feudal castles and fortresses with their stories of battles and sieges between the English and the Welsh, stately homes, a brand-new gallery dedicated to William De Morgan’s ceramics, unusual churches, artefacts of an industrial past, magnificent gardens as well as “Capability” Brown’s last assignment, and a wall of not quite Chinese proportions (although it did stretch for 188 kilometres) are some of the things awaiting us on our 2017 UK Trip to the Welsh Marches and the West Midlands (June 20-25, 2017).

The geography and geology of these two regions has had an enormous influence on the socio-economic history of Great Britain for centuries, culminating in the 18th and 19th centuries with the Industrial Revolution. Today, the signs on the landscape are less obvious and we will be treated to breath-taking views, particularly in the Severn Valley around Shrewsbury and northwards along the Welsh border.

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June 21-27. Pictures will be put online asap.

After arrival in Kingston-upon-Hull with the overnight ferry, we crossed Britain into North West England. We made a first stop at Marsden Moor Estate (NT), a large expanse of moorland situated in the Pennines, to learn from its Rangers why the estate has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Travelling further through Lancashire we visited two Grade 1 listed Tudor NT houses, Rufford Old Hall and Gawthorpe Hall, which probably owe their survival to the industrialization of the area. Lancashire emerged as a major commercial and industrial region during the Industrial Revolution. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in this region.

The Lake District National Park, where we spent most of our time, is England’s largest National Park. It is known for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains and it has been the inspiration of a number of Britain’s literary and artistic geniuses. In particular, we learned about the lives of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott. The Lakes, as it is sometimes called, is a popular tourist destination today but it was also so in the Victorian era and we recaptured some of the pleasures that they found in the region.

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Our annual UK trip in June took us to the Anglo-Scottish border where we visited some of the ruined abbeys, magnificent castles and learned about reivers and ridings. The Scottish Borders is a region often overlooked by visitors to the UK’s most northern country; wrongly so in our opinion for it is one of great beauty.

Its main features are the bubbling River Tweed, which offers great salmon fishing, and the Southern Uplands. On the southern side of the border, are the Cheviot Hills and rugged Northumberland.

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Our traditional Year End reception, which took place on Saturday, December 12 in the prestigious Egmont Palace  (Kleine Zavel - Petit Sablon, Brussels), offered a unique opportunity to discover the interiors of the historical 'hôtel'.

Acting chairman, baron Servotte, welcomed a large audience of members and supporters. We were also honoured by the presence of the British Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Ms Alison Rose.

Committee member Jan Grauls then gave a much-appreciated talk on the turbulent past of the Egmont-Arenberg Palace, followed by a guided tour of the main rooms and galleries and of the international Arenberg conference centre. This was followed by a reception.

Through his career as a high-ranking diplomat, baron Grauls is quite familiar with the Egmont Palace, now the official reception venue of the Belgian Government, and of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in particular. His talk gave a clear historical overview, that included interesting details on more recent events. Many attendees regretted not having paper and pencil available to make notes and afterwards requested a copy of the text of the presentation. We are happy to comply. Read on!

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In June 2018 we will once again organise our traditional trip to NT properties and other special places in Britain, this time in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Please, save the dates in your agenda: June 19-24. 

Further details will be communicated soon. We can already tell you that we will take a flight from Brussels to Birmingham, as we did for our previous trip.