We stayed one night at Schoten on our way to Lier on the Nete Kanaal.
We liked Lier, a fairly small mediaeval fortified town situated where the rivers Grote Nete and Kleine Nete meet. It was a walled town which grew in time so that the original wall was pushed outwards. The rivers run through the town and one afternoon we took the ‘eel catchers barque’ trip through the town, ducking under rather low bridges as we went! One of the other tourists tried valiantly to translate as much of the volunteer guide’s commentary as she could. Fishing & eel catching were once important industries in the town.
Apparently Lier-ites are often referred to as ‘sheep heads’ and there are flags throughout town depicting sheep heads!
Each town has a Grote Markt (main square) with cafés, restaurants and bars surrounding it. We enjoy a light lunch or a beer while we soak up the atmosphere in the square & people watch. Just occasionally (you understand), we may even be tempted by several belgian delicacies at once – beer, gaufres, ice cream!
The square in Lier features the Zimmer tower with its Jubilee Clock. The tower was originally 14th century and was due to be demolished before it was rebuilt around 1930 to house the clock. The adjoining museum is all about time, how its measured etc and about Lodewijk Zimmer who was born and brought up in Lier. He designed and built the Jubilee clock to commemorate Belgium’s 100 years of independence.
Our sojourn in Lier also included visiting the Béguinage & 2 museums – one with a temporary Brughel exhibition. We went to see the lacemakers in action, a small group of ladies who meet weekly to continue the Lier lace making tradition and method. Seems to be a cross between embroidery & crochet, in that thread is hooked up through the net fabric to form the pattern on the top – very intricate & must be sore on the eyes!. This was apparently a trade for the Béguines in times of yore.
All most delightful and punctuated with beer!
And to top it all off I bought a bike! Many of you will know that I don’t ride a bike. Having been brought up in Wimbledon, being somewhat accident prone and having broken my arm when quite young, I have always been reluctant to say the least! I have tried a couple of times over the years but always said no! However, seeing the sheer range of bike styles available got us thinking that maybe there could be a way – a dutch style, sit up and beg type, with angled back handlebars…….
So we were looking and thinking while we sat with a beer in the Grote Markt and then we happened to pass by a bike shop, twice, and I bought a bike!
I am learning to ride it by going for short rides along the tow paths near the boat – preferably at a quiet time of day ie not ‘rush hour’ & no strings of racing cyclists hurtling along in either direction. Time will tell if I gain sufficient confidence to actually go anywhere on it or if it remains a tow path activity. Adrian has decided he really quite likes riding it, more comfortable than his fold up bike, so I am sure it won’t be wasted!
We left Lier on Friday (8th sept) morning heading for Mechelen on the Kanaal Leuven Dijle with the intention of continuing down to Leuven.