Friday, October 10, 2008

Agricultural Fair

A few days ago we had the agricultural fair that comes round once a year (the jaarmarkt rather than the kermis, which we get in the Spring - on Corpus Christi Sunday, to be precise). It's a bit like a harvest festival, in a way.

I mention it for two reasons. Firstly, to illustrate how ill-constituted I am to blog: rather than go out and get down immediate impressions from the fair itself, blogging on a mobile phone, and uploading pictures taken with said phone as I do so, I just wander around aimlessly, letting the children eat waffles the size of their heads, and don't think to mention it until days later. Secondly, because it really is rather odd.

This is a municipality just beyond Brussels, and the planning zones are a mix of commercial/industrial (particularly the bits under and inside the motorway ring road around Brussels), residential (particularly towards Brussels, on the major routes into the city and their side roads) and agricultural (hidden away behind the ribbon development on said major routes and side roads). So there are plenty of agricultural traditions, such as the annual market, but they take place in what any casual observer would imagine was a residential suburb. The quiet suburban streets are shut off with barriers and strewn with sawdust to make them more suitable for cows and horses to be paraded up and down against a backdrop of small blocks of flats, an orthodontist's surgery, a handful of cafés, and the estate agent's window.

And as I mentioned not so long ago that colours can be a sensitive issue, it was a joy to see the draught horses festively adorned with black, yellow and red, not just on their tack or bridles, but even in the plaits in their manes.

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