First look: A Splendid Harvest 2017

 

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A merry band

You can already feel it in the air. Autumn is coming. After a wonderful and relaxing summer, both the kids and I are ready to shake things up with new harvest, a return to school and all things warm and cozy. To mark this transition, we return again to my very favorite orchard in St Truiden to prepare for the upcoming Splendid Harvest Adventure (mini session).

Having a little (tiny) extra time on my hands, I decided that we were in need of some fun new props to play with for the Adventure. I have always dreamed of acquiring an elegant vintage ladder for photo sessions. Finally I found the perfect once second hand and packed the kids up to a seriously shady section of Charlesroi to collect my prize. Over 100 years old, this ladder was in need of some serious rehab but the glowing wood and lovely lines inspired me. Hours of sanding, cleaning and refinishing later, I am in love and can say it was well worth the effort when I see it in the photos. Even the Bear has stopped researching insane asylums.

Amazing to see how the little ones have great since the last harvest. And so without further adieu, I present our updated Splendid Harvest, now with a merry band of three. There are still a few morning openings for this session on August 26. Contact me at bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com for yours!

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All mine
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Catch me
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From a high place
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Glee
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The climb
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Taking a break
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Flyers
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Howdy
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Helping hands
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A full days work
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Lift
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Just one for me?
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On a roll

Though we are far away

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Legacy

This spring a small miracle occurred. After almost eight years overseas, my dad finally made it over for a visit to Belgium! We were so excited to show off our adopted country, it was nearly impossible to choose how to spend our too short time together. But one thing that was set in stone was a trip out to the apple blossoms for a special family photo session.

Today is Father’s Day in America, so I am happy to tell you a bit about my dad. When my mom went into labour with me, my dad drove like a maniac all the way to the hospital saying he wished a cop would pull him over so he could say he was having a baby. 🙂 One of my earliest memories I have is of my Dad waking me up and loading me in the car to run some far away errands. We always stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and then feasted on powdered donuts. No wonder it was a popular outing! When I was in the fourth grade, I cleverly changed a D on my report card to a B. Noticing, my dad pulled me into my room and explained that sometimes people make mistakes. That’s ok, but its when you made them twice that there is a problem. I use this philosophy today with my kids.

From my dad I got my work ethic, my ability to shake it off and my fingers. His taught me the importance of walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them and one of his favorite sayings, “its not the money, its the money”.

I wish he was closer but at least we have this sweet spring day and the images I will never forget. A time when he stopped being just Dad and became Grandpa. Love you Dad!

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Another beloved pappa
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Delicate
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A gift
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Storyteller
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Love and laughter
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My heart explodes
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Cozy up
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Namesake
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Hanging out
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Full circle
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Hangers on
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Partners in crime
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The funniest thing
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Obligatory running photo 🙂
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My heart
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Making wishes
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Collector
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A tip of the hat

A day in the life: Wild and Free

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Pathway

I used to not like the wind. Restless making and loud. It was a strong cue to make tea, hop in bed and wait it out. Now, wind means more. It means movement and freshening. A whipping sea of summer stems, raw and elemental. Inspiration. And I let this inspiration take me to the swaying fields just a few minutes away for a little fun with my crew of adventureers.

Just this week, my long awaited new camera arrived! I have already been blown away by the power of the the newest member of the canon family, the 5D Mark IV. I can’t wait for this weekend’s sessions to keep on playing!

Do you love this location? Looking for something a little out of the ordinary, a little wild and free? I am looking forward to holding some sessions here this summer. Gorgeous setting for family, maternity or a love session. Especially to catch the lovely evening light. Contact me at bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com to book your Wild and Free session.

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Lead
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Strong
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Filous
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The mighty
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Stride
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Boys
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Breezy
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Escape
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Open
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Hide and seek
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Float

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Apple of our eye
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Possibilities
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Bounce
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Earnest

A Sprite in the Forest

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The light in the forest

As usual we had an amazing time during the Adventures in the Bluebell Forest at Hallerbos. Warm temperatures and sunny days brought out the best in the play of light, shadows and color. I am still very much working my way through the editing (we had 21 families join this year!) but I was so inspired by this lovely duo I had to share.

I have had the pleasure of photographing this sweet little girl and her family since she was just a couple of months old. Now becoming a proper big girl, she showed off her moves and larger than life personality while taking a special momma and me day in the forest. Such a cutie! I hope you enjoy their images as much as I have. 🙂

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Dreaming place
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Queen of the forest
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Glow
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Regard
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Stroll
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Fly
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A quiet place
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Bisous
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Play
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In the wind

 

Its that time again! Announcing the 2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures (mini sessions) line up

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Wood Sprite

Oh la la, things are coming up daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and of course, bluebells all over the place. Sometimes the winter seems to drag on but somehow this year it arrived right on time. Warm days ahead. 🙂

It has been a wonderful fall and winter for me, getting to enjoy our littlest guy and see him grow now into a sweet and clever little six month old. It feels equally wonderful to balance this time with getting back to work a bit now. Just in time for some of my favorite spring Bear & Dragon Adventures. Why the name change? I am planning some true mini sessions in the future but these will be mainly holiday (Valentines, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas), studio-based sessions offered at a great discount. In contrast, if the sessions are held in a fabulous and special location designed to capture the seasons at their height then voila, the will be called Bear & Dragon Adventures. I digress!

You never know when inspiration may strike so this many not be a complete list but without further adieu, I am excited to announce:

2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures 

  • Amongst the Apple Blossoms: Spring brings the blossoming of millions of apple, pear and cherry blossoms in the Belgian Haspengouw region. Not to be missed! Mid April. Check out last couple of years here and here.
  • Bluebells are Ringing: Capture the magical bluebell forest in Hallerbos. Our most popular spring session. Late April. You can see some examples here and of course below.
  • A Splendid Harvest (new!): A return to the Apple Orchards to capture the ripeness of summer and transition to fall.  August 26. Here is our family album.
  • La Vie est Belle (new!): Similar feeling to the Royals session, La Vie est Belle is set in another iconic Belgian property, Horta’s own country house in La Hulpe.  Come dressed to the nines for this very special art deco adventure. Check out Royals here.  Early October.
  • A Walk through Time: Set in the 13th century Abbey, Rouge Cloitre, this adventure offers up the height of fall colors in a timeless and stunning location. Mid October.
  • Sea of Leaves: Autumn finds the lawns of Parc Cinquintenaire ankle deep in an amazing sea of fall leaves and colors. Our most popular fall session. Check it out here and here. Early November.
  • Merry and bright (new!): A trip to the Christmas Tree farm just outside of Liege is about as merry as it gets. A bit early in the season to help you prepare your epic holiday card. Mid November

If you are not already excited, here is a look back at the fun we had at the Bluebells adventure last year.

If you haven’t signed up for the advance notice on mini sessions and adventures, what are you waiting for?! Sign up on the Say Hello page of my NEW website. Adventure on.

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Let’s go!
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Imagine
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Skip and hop
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Glow
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Peekabo
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Adventurers
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Happy days
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Swing
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Pathway
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Growing up boy
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In a sea of blue
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Spring kisses
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Touch
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Anticipation
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On we go

 

Things to do with kids outside of Brussels: Walk through time at the ruins at Villers la Ville

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Idol

I looooove history. The feeling of walking in a place where so many have walked before. Touching stone, cold now but one warmed by fires, conversation, conflict and an unknowable life. Impossibly remote and yet just at hand. Belgium is brimming with historical treasures from the well known to the nearly forgotten. Luckily the ruins at Villers la ville are enjoying a second lease on life due to a recent investment and creation of a world class visitor center.

Tipped off by an article, I was amazed to find that the gorgeous ruins of this 12th century abbey are just 40 minutes outside of Brussels, just past Waterloo. Without delay, I bundled up my little man, grabbed my camera and away we went. After an easy drive, we turned the corner and my jaw dropped. This place is huge! It covers a sprawling 36 hectares with many buildings including the cathedral, abbot’s palace, a dungeon (!) and the many buildings and rooms in which the monks went about their daily life, largely in silent reflection.

The old mill building has been converted to a modern and beautiful visitor center which gives information about the abbey and monks who lived there. There is even a room sized model of the grounds so you can see what it once looked like. The visitor center is connected to the abbey via a bridge and once you step onto the grounds, the adventure begins.

Left to decay after the French revolution and subsequent capture of Belgian territory, it is hard to imagine that such a busy and epic place was left to the elements but so it was. Walls and fixtures but no roofs. Crumpling brick and stone. Complete and yet broken. It is a hair raising experience to walk through. And the cathedral will take your breath away and bring a tear to your eye. It is magical.

We have definitely added this to our official visitors tour. And you KNOW this is the site of a future Bear & Dragon Adventure. Go check out it!

Where: Rue de l’Abbaye, 55, 1495 Villers-la-Ville

When: 1st November – 31st March: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (open everyday)
1st April – 31st October: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (open everyday)

Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1

How much:

  • Adults: € 8
  • Children (aged 6 to 12):  € 3
  • Children (<6 years), disabled persons**, teachers, friends of the Abbey: Free
  • Audioguide: € 1,50
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Layers
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Peekaboo!
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Cracks in the face of time
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Mythical creatures
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Tangled
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Holy
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Framed
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Bones
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A walk through time
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En guard!

A perfectly imperfect holiday session

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A dream come true

For us Americans, the day after Thanksgiving signals the official start of the holiday season. One month of Christmas and I can’t wait to get started! To get you in the mood, I am glad to share our perfectly imperfect Christmas session that took us for quite a ride last week. Here is what happened…

Pretty much forever, I have wanted to hold a holiday session at a Christmas tree farm (check your mail for a Christmas mini session next October!). Like many dreams that grow in importance and magnitude over time, this day was a little doomed from the start. Spending way too much time gathering the perfect props, researching Belgian Christmas tree farms and picking out lovely matched outfits, the expectations were high. Too high.

The morning of, our many materials gathered into bags. Snacks, jackets, hats, hot chocolate in a thermos, three kids, lights. It was a seriously pile. As we loaded up and headed out, I just hoped it would all go smoothly and the lovely late fall light would hold.

The first hint of a coming disaster hit on the way to the farm.

Me: “Honey, can you give the kids a banana? They are in the snack bag.”

Honey: “Um, there is no snack bag here. I looked everywhere.”

Me: “What?!”

Next we arrived at the address. No Christmas trees! It seems this was the administrative office of the farm. They can’t be too far I thought so thus we drove in ever widening circles…with fussy, increasingly hungry and tired kids and now an awake and screaming two month old. Until finally, there they were! Gorgeous, green Christmas trees in sweet rows. The trees of my dreams!

So we parked and hopped out. Time to set up. A quick scan revealed that not only was the snack bag missing but also the one with all the props. A lone bag of fake snow luckily stashed in my purse was the only merry-making article to be found. Geez louise.

I will say we gave it our best but after a short time decided it just wasn’t meant to be. Sigh…

Finally home and fed, I reflected on the day. My perfect scene slipped away and here we were without the beautiful pictures I had in mind. Suddenly it dawned on me. We are not perfect. We don’t need a perfect setting, perfect clothes and perfect weather. We are perfectly imperfect. And we have a backyard…. and now all the fun Christmasy things we has left behind.

Thus I present our perfectly imperfect Christmas photos. Taken in our garden. Full of fun and love. Happy holidays!

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Magic
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What a scene
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Troopers
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Little loves
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Now time for some garden merry making
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Let’s scare mommy! 
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Monster face
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Merry and bright
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Don’t tell santa
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The way we are
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Berry kisses and fresh faces
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Perfectly imperfect
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Baby bear
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All the love in my heart

A look back and a look forward: Royals!

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Beauty

You might say this year has been a little crazy. The making of B3 seriously sapped my energy and between babybuilding, kid raising, fun having and sleep missing my dear blog was put on hold. No longer! With the arrival of little Jasper (photo debut coming soon) and start of maternity leave, I am excited to revive this forum with more storytelling, photo sharing and adventure seeking.

To kick us off, I take you all the way back to February for our very first Bear and Dragon adventure, Royals! Set in the glamorous Chateau at Domaine de la Hulpe, Royals was a day filled with lovely princes and princesses. We dressed up, danced and played. There was fun, adventure and even romance. All the makings of a great adventure.

Enjoy!

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Tea party for three
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Some for you and some for me!
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A prince in waiting
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The Guardian
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Royal applause
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Dreamy
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Wonder
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Past times
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Stepping out
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A little romance
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Elegance
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Fairytale
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Adore
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Bejeweled
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I hope you dance
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Royalty

Ch-ch-ch-changes :)

Beachy
Full of it

Wow, what a year! Seems like a strange thing to say in August but the time until now has really flew by and now as we near the time to welcome our new baby boy, a sense of completion…and growth have settled in.

As the title implies, this new “project” has led to some ch-ch-ch-changes as we moved out to the ‘burbs into a sweet little house and I am just starting maternity leave now. Really I am much to big and lumbering to do my usual jumping up and down, running through parks and playing during photo sessions! It breaks my heart a little bit to miss my favorite photo time (fall) but I am determined to give this new little guy all I have got to make a great start in life.

So what’s next for Bear & Dragon? In the new year I will open a new studio space in a beautiful and convenient location in Brussels. I expect to be back in the early months of 2017 and can’t wait to see all my families, old friends and new for many new adventures.

In the meantime, stay tuned on the blog for some cool Brussels kids locations and to-do’s and a slice of life from bucolic Beersel.

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We are waiting for you