The best places of all: Parc Tournay-Solvay

La, la, la, eh hem, ok all warmed up again. ūüôā Today I write another love letter, this time to an art nouveau master piece that, as with many beautiful places in Brussels, brings you back to another time. Walking in Parc Tournay-Solvay feels like a magical portal straight to the 20’s. I love it in every possible way.

Originally a property of the other Solvay brother, playboy Alfred, the property was developed in 1878. It is located in Watermeal-Boitfort, just steps from the local train station. Over the years it grew to include not only the now ruined castle-like residence but a breathtaking rose and flower garden, dreamy art nouveau-inspired lake and bridges and an abundant apple orchard and potager. Today the property is maintained as part of the “Promonade Vert” system.

This is hands-down one of my favorite photo locations in the Brussels area. Each family that has joined me there has been wowed by this somewhat hidden gem. Usually quiet even on the sunniest summer weekend. I can’t recommend it enough to you not only as a place for our next meeting but as a beautiful treasure to explore the next time you want to get slightly out of town and enjoy a picnic or walk in a a time gone by. Enjoy!

The Best Places of All: Groenendaal

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A touch of magic

Sometimes everything just comes together. A beautiful evening, a playful and relaxed family and a gorgeous location. Groenendaal is quickly becoming one of my favorite locations for photo sessions. We visit every season, whether to spot mushrooms and wildflowers, to throw sticks in the ponds or to marvel at bubbles trapped in ice.

The wild open space is perfect for a photo session with its ancient beech forests, long lakes and wide meadows. Great at any time of day but best at the golden hour, of course!

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Balance

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Little girl in the big world

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Lovely you

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Silhouettes

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Swing

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The moments with you and me

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Golden

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How it all began

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My hero

The best places of all: The Coloma Rose Garden

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Gazing

New favorite location alert! I do love summer, ripe peaches, warm days, lazy afternoons and bright evenings. But photographically speaking, in Belgium, it can be a bit…green. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice green forest but if you really want some color, it is necessary to go far afield to find some.

That is until the Coloma Rose Garden in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw popped up on my radar. Located just south of Brussels, this sprawling park has all the Brussels classics; long waterways, a beautiful 16th century manor home, extensive gardens and quirky features like a straight out of a fairytale wishing well. Home to more than 3,000 rose varieties from 26 countries. We spent the whole morning discovering one garden after the next.

You can cruise around, explore, and play. There is an interactive museum which was closed when we were there but I have read is very intereting. If you get tired or hungry there is a sweet looking Bistro called de Koetsier in the middle of the grounds. If you prefer something sweet then check out the Cremerie at Gaasbeek. Only 10 minutes further and hands down best ice cream in the greater Brussels region. Yum!

But I digress (sugar distracted much?)…this is a gorgeous photo location if you crave some summer colors, classic landscapes and romantic nooks to play and cuddle in. Perfect for engagement, maternity and family sessions.

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Facets

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Come on mom!

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Rosethorn

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Framed

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My little heart

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Magic

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I’m wishing…

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I’m wishing, for the one I love

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Wishing well

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Onlookers

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Leap

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Sweet

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Future flower lover

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Onward march!

2018 Adventure session: Botanical

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La dee da

I have fallen in love with the Botanical Gardens in Meise. Located just northwest of Brussels, the garden rolls out before you on this huge property. There is a castle (obviously!), walking paths lines with flowers and a huge range of plant life, a small cafe and of course the highlight, the green house. The greenhouse was built in 1853 and contains a huge variety of plant species. Over 18,000 which represents 6% of the world’s know plant species. The collection is one of the biggest in the world and is organized by geography and environments including the African Savana, the jungle, the desert and on and one. If you think you are just going to show up and look at plants then you are in for a pleasant surprise. It really is a joy to explore.

Being in this gorgeous surrounding I could not help but be inspired. With luck, I am now in the process of organizing a very special Adventure session inside the green house. Dates to come. ūüôā I am happy to share some of our images from out last little adventure there. Looking at these pictures nearly gave me a heart attack. My god how these children have grown!

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In the jewel house

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Sweet and spiky ūüėČ

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Tropical

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The devilish one

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Mirror me

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Madame Butterfly

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Us three

 

Announcing the Bear & Dragon Fall Adventures!

Bear and Dragon Adventure Walk through Time 2017
The air is getting crisper, days shorter and the fall harvest in coming in. Welcome to Autumn! Autumn is my favorite season and Brussels knows how to put on a show. This fall I am proud to offer two special Adventures  that show off the height of fall colors: 
 
A Walk through Time – October 21
 
My most recent favorite outdoor location for family sessions is the Rouge Cloitre which is a beautiful abbey located in the Sonian Forest just 10 minutes from the center of Brussels. Founded in 1367, it makes a very special backdrop for a fall session. Brilliant colors, large reflecting ponds and of course the abbey. 
 
A Walk Through Time
  • 9:00 – 9:30
  • 9:45 – 10:15
  • 13:00 – 13:30
  • 13:45 – 14:15
  • 14:30 – 15:00
  • 15:15 – 15:45
  • 16:45 – 17:15
Bear and Dragon Adventure Sea of Leaves 2017
The Sea of Leaves РNovember 4
It doesn’t get more lush, lovely and fallish than rolling around in
the enormous sea of leaves that carpets the iconic Parc du Cinquantinaire in early November. This setting is perfect to capture the changing season as well as showcasing one of the most beautiful parks in Brussels.
Sea of Leaves
  • 9:00 – 9:30
  • 13:45 – 14:15
  • 14:30 – 15:00
  • 15:15 – 15:45

 

We always hope for good weather but in case of rain, will reschedule for the adjacent weekend day or the following weekend. Space is limited and we tend to go to a waiting list quickly so please let me know very soon if you wish to reserve a place.

Things to do with kids in Brussels: Gaze at the stars at the Planetarium

 

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Echo

Its space fever over here at Life of Bear & Dragon. Talk of planets, stars and trips to the moon have taken over dinner conversation and evening story time. Somehow, the fact that there is an actual Planetarium in the greater Atomium complex had escaped me, until now!

Though small, the Brussels Planetarium (aka the Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium) packs a fun punch for the 3+ set. The big draw is of course the large projection dome where you can watch a number of beautiful shows projected across the metaphorical heavens. Narrated through headphones in French, English and Flemish, it was both fascinating and impressive to watch. The kids loved it though if you go with an approximately 10 month old baby, he will try to crawl back inside you to safety. Best left with a second parent if possible. There is a schedule of shows on the website.  Check when your favorite will start before you go.

Apart from the projection, there were a surprising number of interactive activities such as a rotating globe delving into a range of topics from ocean currents, facts and visuals of the different planets and even climate change related topics. We also rode a “space bike” between the planets and drove the Mars Rover.

Overall it was a really fun outing. I can see us heading there a couple of times per year and the kids getting something new out of it each time. If you have a fellow space head on your hands, it is for sure worth the trip! And with the highly realistic summer heat, a nice place to cool down and learn something new. Bon voyage space invaders!

Where: Avenue de Bouchout 10, 1020 Bruxelles. Right in the shadow of the Atomium but with its own parking.

When:
– Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
– Weekends, public holidays and school holidays from 10 am to 5 pm

How much: For individuals:
-Adult: 8 ‚ā¨
-Child, student, senior: 7 ‚ā¨

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Voyager

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Global

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Just a little space cruide

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War of the worlds

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Hmm, about as interesting as my right foot

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Its criminal what those space helmets do it your hair.

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The heavenly dome

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Space

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. ūüôā

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 a baby or kid in Brussels: Brunch, play and much more at La Tricoterie

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Les oeufs

Its no secret that Brunch is a cultural phenomenon close to my heart. Lazy Sunday mornings, yummy eats and if you throw in kid’s activities as well, I am sold. So its been pretty much ages that I have been meaning to get to La Tricoterie. Many a trusted source has touted this blend of local and fresh breakfast, event space and fun stuff explosion.

So finally last week we managed to get dressed and get into town lured by the additional sweetener of a Maker’s Market. La Tricoterie is located in the St Gilles neighborhood sandwiched between the questionable Gare Midi zone and the lovely Parc de Forest. Choose your parking wisely!

Upon entering, you discover a warm and open space with some intriguing remnants of its former industrial factory life. There are several seating spaces but we chose to sit in the Arches room which is where the kids play area is. Long tables line the open space and seating is open so no need to worry if you have a group coming.

The menu consists of several formula (Classic, Vegetarian, Children’s) and also an a la carte section. We chose the classic menu and children’s which for us meant a plate with several cheeses, bread, a small salad, soup and a seasonal crumble. Decidedly non-traditional brunch and it felt a bit expensive at 16 EUR. ¬† The kid’s food was more of a hit with a soft boiled egg, bread and chocolate dipping sauce for 7 EUR (if memory serves!). In retrospect I wish I had chose the Eggs and Toast from the a la carte menu or even the intriguing “Croissant Perdu” as for me there is a strong emphasis on the “Br” aspect of Brunch foods.

While we chatted with friends in the surprisingly (welcomely) quiet space, the littles played in the kid’s zone which was fenced off and filled with fun activities of the creative sort. Blocks, drawing supplies, books, toy animals and a tunnel. Just a heads up, its also 3 EUR per child to join in on the fun.

Though we came for the brunch, I think the real Tricoterie magic comes from the many and varied activities they put on. As seen below, in addition to the Creator’s Market, also massage, painting, language conversation tables, etc. I would love to spend some time exploring these options.

I know I write many a gushing review but for La Tricoterie I say intriguing space for activities. Excellent to have a space for the kids to play while you chat but perhaps stick to the a la carte menu for a better value. Worth checking out to see if its your cup of tea. Brunch on.

 

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Things to do

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Service

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All things fresh and yummy

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Arch

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Build

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Use your imagination

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Hearts and hearts

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Overhead

The light in the forest: An autumn love letter

 

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Feast

Its official. I am FREAKING OUT about this amazing fall light and colors. It is a gift to be home with our latest addition but part of me is already missing working with all my favorite families for gorgeous fall sessions. For sure my lovely little ones will soon tire of momma grabbing the¬†camera and tracking them through the forest like mini photographic prey. I can’t help it!

Please get yourself out there for a autumn¬†walk. The colors couldn’t be more beautiful. The air is crisp and the light soft and misty. Fabulous, fabulous fall.

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Rainbow

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Mushroom kingdom

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Road less travelled

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Glow

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Dance, dance

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Magic

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Glory, glory

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Reflection

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So he grows

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Pure heart

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Silly face

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These fall days