The Best Places of All: Groenendaal

Groenendaal blog
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
Swing
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
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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
little man
Future flower lover
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Onward march!

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

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 €
-Child, student, senior: 7 €

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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

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

First look: A splendid harvest

A splendid harvest
A splendid harvest

Its been a tad busy around here but anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE to be busy (much to the Bear’s chagrin). However, we took a break from busy today in order to return to the PiPO apple orchard to see how things are coming along and just maybe, if it warranted a full circle trip for a fall mini session to follow up from our apple blossoms mini session in the spring.

It was a crisp fall morning. The kind where the light is a little soft and misty. We packed our sandwiches and some play clothes and away we went! As we pulled off the highway into apple country, I could not have been happier. All the lovely trees that were swathed in pink and white blossoms in the spring were now heavily laden with brilliant red and green apples. We pulled in to my secret, favorite corner of the orchard and realized that though the day was perfect, that soon the harvest would be over. At least I know for next year!

We played, snacked on fallen apples (abandoned as far as I could imagine) and I snapped away to my heart’s content. As I looked through the pictures after the session, I had a minor heart attack. My babies are growing up! I love them so much and I am proud to share them with you today. 🙂

Fall beauty
Fall beauty
Rabble rousers
Rabble rousers
Over to you baby brother
Over to you baby brother
A very thoughtful boy
A very thoughtful boy
Bounce
Bounce
My perfect team
My perfect team
Some for me and some for you
Some for me and some for you
Tickle!
Tickle!
Hand in hand
Hand in hand

A Swedish midsummer eve

On the road
On the road

These days are precious. So precious and wonderful and special as we spend time, love and energy just enjoying each other. In some ways, time goes slow and in some ways it goes so so fast and even whole periods of your life can seem to fly by in a heartbeat.

Despite occasional protests from the Bear, my camera is the tool that I use to grab these moments in time and store them away. I imagine pulling these out when I am 80 and marveling at all the beauty. All the love and all the moments bursting with the vibrant life we have. Exhausting, busy and at time past trying but I would not trade even one second. As you enjoy your holiday, I hope you also look around and take a more distant view for once. Imagine yourself in 40 years looking at this moment. Let your heart fill up and then jump in and enjoy every second of it.

Here we are in big sky Sweden with our beloved Farfar and Farmor. I am so glad to have had a chance to organize a little mini session to capture the loving relationship that is growing across these generations. This pond is just a short walk from the family home and we have spent many an afternoon throwing rocks and shivering in the cold Nordic waters and evenings enjoying a cold beer and getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Its a special place and I hope you enjoy it!

Trailblazer
Trailblazer
These are the moments
These are the moments
Generations
Generations
Vibrant life
Vibrant life
Touch
Touch
Cool water
Cool water
Love and laughter
Love and laughter
Little big man
Little big man
Flower girl
Flower girl
Before you know it
Before you know it
Jump!
Jump!
For you
For you
Golden
Golden
Our place
Our place

Our family album: Amongst the Apple Blossoms

A meeting
A meeting

Ok, I could not resist. I mean I have been preparing for these blossom mini sessions and hey, I have a nice little family I like to take pictures of so why not get a jump on the fun and a little practice at the same time! We head out to scout the location and enjoy some beautiful spring weather. We had an amazing time and I can’t wait to get some of these pics up on the mantle. If this does not convince you, I don’t know what will. Three spots left! Just email bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com to reserve your place.

Happy blossoming. 🙂

Scream!
Scream!
Dandelion girl
Dandelion girl
All the world for me
All the world for me
seriously, I love these two
seriously, I love these two
Swing
Swing
Most handsome
Most handsome
Soft
Soft
Contrast
Contrast
Sweetness
Sweetness
Movement
Movement
Blooms
Blooms