Hot in Bruges

Weather is amazing, we’ve had over a fortnight of sun and blue skies. Almost too hot today, at least for walking around as a tourist. Must be still about 30 degrees now. We wandered as far as the beguinhof – the nunnery. Aileen talked to one nun who’d been a novice for 46 years – ‘I’m very happy with the life I’ve chosen’. The beguinhof sums Bruges up in a way, like a quiet retreat from the world. Lots of Godshuises too – which means almshouse, I think, but they’re like little oases of quiet tiny old buildings around courtyards. If I didn’t have so many novels left to write, I could easily contemplate a quiet meditative retirement in a Bruges Godshuis.

Forgot to mention one funny event from yesterday – or was it the day before? see how time has stopped flowing? We went to look at the Basilica of the Holy Blood – they were in the middle of a mass, but since Aileen’s a catholic, we went in and sat down, and Aileen took communion. Here’s how it looked inside –

But this was no ordinary service – this was the one time of the week for the Procession of the Holy Blood, when a long vessel like a gold-encased tube is presented for the special prayers of the devout. (Liquid blood or dried blood? and where was it obtained? I’ll have to google when I have time0

Anyway, Aileen joined the queue to pass before the relic, touch it and make a prayer – but realised too late that you were supposed to make a donation – and not subtly, not discreetly, but right on the steps going up to where the priest sat with the vessel virtually in his hands. So she went through with it, geneflucted, touched the vessel, made a prayer – but whereas everyone else got a card, no card for Aileen!

Somehow I donùt think the nuns in the Beguinhof would have understood the less than charitable spirit of that!

Had a great birthday dinner for Aileen last night, sitting by a restaurant window overlooking a canal. With swans swimming, of course – maybe you can just see them in the canal in the background …

Oh well, maybe not, but I know they were there.   Cheers,   R


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