I always knew that I wanted to see Bruges (or Brugge) at Christmas time. Famed for its UNESCO protected idyllic old town, interlaced with canals which fill the city with all the charms of Venice mixed with a heavy dose of Medieval mysticism, there is no doubting that Belgium’s watery pearl makes for a stunning destination all year around. But with Christmas markets springing up all over town, and fairy lights strung across cobbled streets scattering their reflected golden light across the rippling canals, Bruges goes up one notch when the festive season arrives. It is a cosy Christmas card paradise, and the ultimate destination for the most magical time of the year.
Hopping across the channel by Eurostar, we found ourselves in this quaint historical city within a mere few hours from London. However the short distance meant that there was no escaping the British rain. So it was that for our first 24 hours in the city, we encountered a Bruges blanketed in cloud, but also enhanced by the rain. For as darkness descended and the Christmas lights came to life, the combination of rain and canals made for a city which dazzled in this reflected light, as every surface of its historical beauty became magnified in the light of the season.
So while sunshine was to come the very next day, this first day was characterised by the bedazzlement of Christmas… a time of year so magical and so beautiful that no matter how gloomy the weather, the stunning light of the season shines through. In this enhanced light, Bruges really shone, demonstrating to we first-time visitors why Brugge is famed throughout Europe as one of the most beautiful cities history has left us to enjoy.
© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
Come October, Marbella, Spanish seaside destination of the rich, famous and unfortunately also the cast of TOWIE, takes on a different air. Gone is the exasperating closeness of balmy sunny days (my absolute favourite) when the heat envelopes like an all encompassing electric blanket. In its place, a slightly fresher air, with shorter but still sunnier days that remind of the summer just past, often with temperatures getting almost as close, but with that total immersive heat now absent. In a way, for someone as obsessed with the summer as me, an October late summer has something of a melancholic air about it, although it remains entirely welcome for an English visitor who, back at home, is already well used to the onset of cold winds, dark mornings, yet darker evenings and a pavement littered with half decomposing leaves.
After my busy weekend braving the crowds and pandaemonium of the Fiesta del Pilar in Zaragoza, we took the fast train all the way down the Iberian peninsula to Malaga in an impressive four hours. From there it was a short bus journey to Marbella where we were joined by my father in mass celebration of my mother’s “big-0”.
There followed a weekend of wining, dining, dodging the rain and basking in the sun. And as the title of this post suggests, these photos were taken just after the rain, a feature of a typical Spanish October, when wall to wall sunshine is no longer guaranteed, and it pays to have a brolly about one’s person. But as these photos show, the rain did nothing to dissipate the inherent beautiful of this most aesthetic of Andalusian towns, bringing a new freshness and vitality to the plants, places and people already tired after the demise of the long hot summer.
All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
You have to feel for the Queen. Sixty years of rule and 86 years of age, and when the time finally came to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, she had to stand out in the cold and damp for some three hours, gritting her teeth and ensuring none of the thousands who came out to watch could view her displeasure. As usual, HRH Queen Elizabeth II has put everyone else before her now weather-beaten person.
After a week of almost Mediterranean heat, this weekend has once again seen London dip right back into the wintery monotony which has hung over it like a bad smell for the bulk of 2012, right at the very time when two and a half years of planning reach their peak, and the country goes into Diamond Jubilee celebration-mode with a four day diary packed almost exclusively with outdoor activities. You also have to feel for the thousands of people who were out waiting hours by the river today to see a glimpse of HRH upon the Royal Barge, and the thousand or so ships which made up London’s biggest River Pageant for some 400 years. Not only must they have freezed (I, sensibly, wasn’t one of them), but they’ve probably all caught the flu.
The broadcasters kept on telling us that the weather didn’t dampen Jubilee spirits, but come on, let’s get real here – half of the pageant could barely be seen through the mist which descended over London, covering up much of the newly-constructed Shard in its midsts (it is, after all, the tallest building in Western Europe, but more than usual of it’s lofty facade disappeared today) or because of the rain drops covering the lenses of TV cameras. Meanwhile the large finale of hellicopters and goodness knows what other treats had to be cancelled, while a group of poor sodden opera singers desperately carried on until the end, dripping from head to toe atop their boat like a group of stranded sailors, no doubt praying that they would avoid electrocution from all of the drenched microphones wired around their person.
That is not to say that the good old British spirit did not live on, making the most of a bad situation (every cloud has a silver lining and all that jazz) but just imagine how good it could have been if the clouds, which feel insuperably magnetised towards the UK soil, got lost, for once.
Norms at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)
Here’s hoping for a bit of sun tomorrow, and that the Queen is suitably wrapped up with a hot water bottle tonight.