Posted in Family, Travel

Close Encounters of the Belgian Canine Kind

Sign in a Belgian park
Unsure whether it’s compuslory or prohibited

(Further adventures in our motorhome tour of France, Belgium, Luxembourg & Germany)

As we travel through Belgium, my nine-year-old daughter Laura is enchanted by the constant parade of dogs that pass by our camper van.

“Ooh, look at that cute doggie!” she coos in Dinant, as a low-slung white one waddles past, sporting a red knitted waistcoat. The words “cute” and “dog” are inseparable in Laura’s vocabulary. She never met a dog she didn’t like.

But her enthusiasm is diluted when she realises that Belgium’s dog owners lag behind Britain’s in terms of  doggy hygiene. By the second day of our stay, she has become adept at navigating poo-strewn streets, especially after she has, with a regal air, designated Daddy as “Dog Poo Detector”. His role is to walk several paces ahead of us, issuing necessary warnings. Daddy immediately regrets his earlier explanation of the importance of the Groom of the Stool in the court of King Henry VIII. What starts out as a  casual stroll soon turns into a balletic gait as we prance along pavements, deftly leaping aside for the protection of our shoes whenever so instructed by our leader.

A Big Job for a Belgian

Considering the state of the pavements, we are surprised to encounter in Bouillon, on the banks of the River Semois, an enthusiastic street cleaner. He seems intent on sweeping up every last speck of dust from the ground. His must be a demanding job and we speculate that he’s going to need a bigger barrow.

Trier street theatre: levitating man
A few days later Laura discovers how they avoid messy pavements in Trier, Germany

We watch, fascinated, from within our camper van as he progresses across the car park. Slowly, slowly, he works his way across towards our space, filling his dustpan time and time again. Upon reaching our motor-home, he carefully works his way around its perimeter. I feel I should lift my feet so that he can sweep underneath them.

Such attention to hygienic detail does not seem to tally with the laxity of the locals towards dogs, which we still can’t understand. Despite the tidy car park, later that day at the supermarket we are unable to relish what appears to be the leading brand of Belgian biscuit. It is called Plops.

Here are some other posts you might enjoy about our Easter motorhome tour of France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany:

Why Belgium is Being Rebuilt

Just When We Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into La Piscine

When in Belgium, Drink as the Belgians Do: (In Praise of Oxo)

Author:

Author of warm, witty and gently funny fiction and non-fiction, including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, beginning with "Best Murder in Show", inspired by her life in an English Cotswold community, short stories and essays about country life. As Commissioning Editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors' Advice Centre, she writes guidebooks authors. She speaks at many literature festivals and writing events, and is part of BBC Radio Gloucestershire's monthly Book Club broadcast. She is founder and director of the free Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which takes place in April, a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, and an ambassador for children's reading charity Read for Good and the Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF.

6 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Belgian Canine Kind

  1. You make such great observations of the people and places on your travels. a lovely read for someone who dreams of having a camper van and heading off into the wide blue yonder (or at least a weekend away from home!) I’m looking forward to reading more…

    1. Thank you so much, Vicki! I’ve got quite a few more posts from this trip that I’ll be putting up here over the next few days, so I do hope you will come back for more!
      Good luck with your new blog too (do pop over to visit her, folks!)

    1. My husband’s theory is that the stick he is holding supports a platform concealed by his robes and connected to the plate under the gold paper on the ground. Simple but clever idea that certainly grabbed a lot of people’s attention! Though I’d rather believe it was just magic!

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