Things to do with a toddler or kids in Brussels: Have it your way at Kessel-Lo

Two seeking adventure
Two seeking adventure

Ages and ages ago, I took a walk with a friend and our new babies in Kessel-Lo. Taking in the monumental climbing areas and wood structures, I looked at my little bababoo and tried to imagine her big enough to take on some of these amazing adventures. Well today we set out to try our chops on the king of all local playsets.

Kessel-lo is situated in Leuven and about a 25 minute drive from Brussels. It is also possible to get there by bus. At Kessel-lo you really can have it your way. On the grounds you will find beautiful walking paths, lined with flowers, trees and ponds. If you care to venture out on the pond, there are some sweet little paddle boats on offer. Also a small animal park sporting donkeys, goats, and chickens. Yes, there is even a pool! But truly the highlight for us are the gorgeous and abundant play structures which cater to around ages 2 and up.

The play structures are mostly made out of wood and blend in with the forested surroundings. That makes it all the more fun as you get tired on one and then notice a castle or massive slide peaking out from behind the trees around the corner. There is so much to discover! It is a real paradise for the adventurous little one.

Though the pool was closed today, it looked really fun with a big slide and plenty of space for kids to play. We would return just for this as well, should the weather gods turn it up past 25 one of these days. 🙂

Not the adventure sort? There is plenty of space for a nice stroll and a picnic with lots of flowery fields, picnic tables and neat designed wooden seating.

So one of these warm early summer days, definitely check this place out! Though there are a number of parking areas, I recommend P1 which you can find by putting 203 Eénmeilaan, Leuven. Happy whatever you like. 🙂

King of the castle
King of the castle
My big girl now :)
My big girl now 🙂
Saving a seat for you
Saving a seat for you
Lean in
Lean in
Black diamond slide
Black diamond slide
Float
Float
A pool!
A pool!
Its the climb
Its the climb
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Things to do with a toddler or baby in Brussels: Stroll through the forest at the Rouge Cloitre

Long light
Long light

You can feel it, can’t you. The air is a little cooler. The forest a little quieter. And somehow the light has more gold in it than before. I just can’t help but fall in love all over again. Fall is coming.

We are making the most of our last summer days. Out and about, long walks, picking berries. I just can’t believe that my little Bababoo is starting school in a matter of days. Where does it all go?

Enough musing and on to the topic of this post! If you find yourself taking a drive down Avenue Tervuren, look for a sign on the right side of the road for the Rouge Cloiture. Located in the ForĂŞt de Soignes, the Rouge Cloiture is one of our favorite places to get away. When we say, let’s go for a walk in the forest, this is where we mean. But the Rouge Cloiture is much more than just a beautiful forest. After a while, you emerge to find the Abbey which was founded in 1367. Lots of beautiful buildings and an art gallery but more often we are there to pet the muscular working horses, to take coffee and cake on the weekends or to just walk around the grounds. A perfect step away from passing time. It is truly a wonderful way to spend the day. To get you in the mood, I wanted to share a few snaps from a recent wander.

In Bear & Dragon news, things are already getting very busy for the fall. It seems I am not the only one who loves Autumn colors! I am planning a series of mini photo session in a location soon to be finalized. On hand will be gorgeous portrait and family photo set ups, great light and of course brilliant red, gold and green fall trees. Drop me a note at bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com to get on an early list. October weekend spots are already getting scarce!

In formation
In formation
Glow
Glow
Sweet breeze, lazy days
Sweet breeze, lazy days
Them boys
Them boys
Ride
Ride

Things to do with a family in Brussels: Blue bells are ringing!

Everything's coming up bluebells (thank you iPhone)
Everything’s coming up bluebells (thank you iPhone)

We got a car. Woot! That means even more fun things to do with little ones and families in and around Brussels. After four years of carlessness, we have a full roster of unseen awesome things and today we checked one off the list, taking in the bluebells at Hallerbos. After doing some reading, I was not holding my breathe on catching them this late in April. With the early spring, I assumed we missed them. I was very happily wrong!

Located about 15 minutes outside of Brussels, Hallerbos is a beautiful forest tucked between small, typical Belgian villages. When you are there, it is impossible to guess you are just minutes from a thriving metropolis. Lots of parking along a country road and several route options depending on the length of your little person’s legs also would be suitable for prams. We had such a fabulous time looking at the blue bells that carpet the forest floor. You can’t help feeling that there is some magic in the air. We played with sticks, looked at bugs and generally took in the outdoorsy-ness of it all. It made me realize that no matter how much time we spend in parks, it is no replacement for the real thing and I have sworn to get my citified kids out in the wilderness much more.

I would say the flowers have no more than a week left in them so get thee to Hallerbos and enjoy the magic show.

 

Things to do with a baby in Brussels: Sledding in Parc de Woluwe

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Let this be you

Holy hot (cool) tip! Snow in Brussels is typically a meager affair. A light sprinkling here and there, quickly dissolved by traffic or rain. Boo! So this week when big, fat snowflakes started to fall, I wasn’t holding my breathe for a continuation of the white winter I had been enjoying to date. However, Holy Crap! We have actual snow. So exciting, so lush, so slippery.

Today I was minding my own business, riding Tram 39/44 down Tervueren when I looked to the right to one of my favorite parks, Parc de Woluwe and what should I see but a winter wonderland complete with THE perfect hill for sledding. WHAT?! I had to jump off at the next stop (Jules Cesar) and snap some pictures.

Ah, if only bababoo was a little older we would have been all over that! Kids, adults, dogs: everyone seemed to be having the time of their life. So my advice: go forth and sled! Bring your cardboard/sled/garbage bag and sled down an awesome hill just past the Embassy row on Avenue Tervueren. Happy, happy sledding!!

Where: Parc de Woluwe: take Tram 39 or 44 from Montgomery. Or drive. Or walk

When: While the sun shines and the snow holds

Why: Sledding is awesome!

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The slopes de woluwe
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Seriously Bob, this water is REALLY hard
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Hitting the Brussels slopes

Leksand Landscapes, aka frost is beautiful

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Skyfall

Can you tell I am catching up on A LOT of photo editing 🙂 After five Christmases in Sweden, I must say that it is beginning to feel a lot like home. Even though it is so very dark (sunrise at 9:00 and sundown around 3:30), it somehow feels very bright and beautiful. i especially love taking long walks in the forest. Have to burn off all that Christmas beer somehow right?

Although only gone a week, here is a somewhat nostalgic post of the fabulous landscapes deep in the heart of Sweden.

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Feel the glow
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Let’s fika – a delightful Swedish tradition
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True love lasts forever aka I have the most amazing in-laws
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Walk the line – the fence on the right is traditional to Dalarna. The one on the left isn’t. 🙂
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Frost is beautiful
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Super bad ass Volvo truck. This thing must be 100 years old. It is made of wood…
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Let’s ride
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Always Zoe

Deep winter hope

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Whiskers

When the joy and ruckus of the holidays dies down, you have two choices. Settle in for a cable knit sweater-wearing, hot chocolate-having, Iron and Wine-listening hibernation or your can get out there and start imagining what spring will hold. While I like to take both in equal amounts, today fell into the latter column as I had a chance to take a lovely walk in the semi-melting snow in middle-Sweden.

When we first arrived in Leksand, it was snowing with a steady whisper. More like ashes somehow. Each morning we would consult the thermometer and remark, “oh its 7 degrees”. As in MINUS 7 degrees but now the minus is so obvious it doesn’t even bear mentioning. Anyhow, about four days ago, it turned positive much to everone’s suprise, so our mounds of snow have become hard, icy moguls.

In this settling I had a little wander on my own. Everywhere I looked, I saw the echos of coming spring. I loved it! Winter has its moments but as we know I prize transition above all. Please enjoy these hints of things to come.

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Feathering the nest
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What remains
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Lynx shadow
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Sitting on the dock of a bay
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Crystalline
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Meet me at the shoreline
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Geometry
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Waiting for spring

Mary, where art though

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I admit it, I am a Sablon enthusiast. Sure it might be obvious but between the antique shops (jeweler shops), Parc Egmont, and weekend market, I am hooked. However, dropping down into the main square this week, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a sudden shock of light and color. There she was in all her glory, Mary! I have never before seen the light stealing through a church stained glass window in such an arresting way. A thump, thump in my heart and I wondered for a moment if my angels, Granny and Nona, were shining especially bright today.

A walk through history: Uppsala

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My love affair with Sweden is long and varied. My first trip to Europe was to Gothenberg. I joined a Swedish company, met a Swedish Bear. Married said Bear and now have my own little half Swede to boot. There is something about the land, the people and the steady elegance of life that is arresting and comforting all at the same time.

Time lives on a different scale and on this most recent trip, we took a walk through time, through Uppsala in the breathtaking fall glow. The edge of winter clipped along but kept just enough distance.

We walked along the canal and then explored through the Dome. What a gorgeous and quintessentially Swedish church. The outside composed of perfectly ordered red and black bricks. The inside soaring cream ceilings, bright glass and lovely monuments. Even the tomb of Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden (1496 – 1560).

Back outside you find the University (Truth through mercy and nature) founded in 1477 and a small park peppered with Rune Stones. VarsĂĄgod!

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Into the Sun

My love affair with fall continues. The smells in the air, the colors, the promise of transition. Ripeness and wholesomeness. I just love it! As luck would have it, we have had some amazing weather, bright and crisp, which makes for excellent walking and snap snapping. This weekend welcomed a cruise through Louise and Sablon, looking for hidden gems of the apartment/neighborhood variety. Only 50 days until we move and I must say the process is intimidating. I am ready to get going but must wait until the market available catches up. Oi!

Please enjoy the days bounty. 🙂

Eating: Pumpkin Cinnamon Roles http://smittenkitchen.com/

Drinking: Ginette “Natural Blonde” Organic Beer

Listening: “In the Sun” – She and Him