When you’re not digging the place in which you find yourself on an expat posting, there are things you must force yourself to do. Unless you want to go crazy. First is to get out and meet people. Second is to explore your surroundings and work very hard at seeing them with new eyes. The idea of being a tourist in your ‘own’ city has also been on the minds of two bloggers I follow (here and here) which means we’re obviously all on to a good thing, right?
Over the last year Mr B and I have been trying to seek out new things to visit in Brussels, beyond the ordinary tourist destinations that you can see in a day. This is how we stumbled upon the only working windmill where the city meets Pajottenland on a bitterly cold day in February.
The oak windmill, known as Luizenmolen, is a replica of an earlier windmill in the city’s Anderlecht quarter and has been saved from ruin by a small band of very dedicated volunteers headed by Eric and his father. It’s a bit of a work in progress but the passion of the volunteers is charming. There is something magical about swivelling into position to find the breeze and, as the blades are released, to hear the building creak into life.
While it is a simple structure, it is The top grinding stone is 1.5 tonnes with the whole windmill weighing in at a colossal 37 tons. Sadly, the cost of obtaining the permits needed to sell the flour is prohibitive so you’ll have to settle for looking at what is produced, mouse droppings and all.
From the windmill you can see across the valley to the beautiful Commune of Dilbeek building. This was once the palace of a former Baron and was designed by the same architect as Galeries Royales in the centre of Brussels.
Only open from 2-5pm on the second and fourth Sundays of each month and with a very modest price for a guided tour (EUR3) it’s worth a visit. During June there is the obligatory festival around the windmill site.