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One of the interesting things about Belgium is that it is full of such odd sights, with many surprising juxtapositions of old and new in shabby chaotic situations. The painting began well; I made a reasonable job of the initial drawing, but when I added watercolour everything went wrong. Firstly I couldn’t use the colours I wanted, as the tops of three tubes were stuck. Then the colours I chose seemed brash and crude and my paint handling looked awful. The light, which seemed so neutral first thing, now silhouetted the building against a bright sky. Then a gusting wind suddenly blew up from nowhere and scattered my equipment across the square. At this point I was joined by an unpleasant drunk, followed by a brass band who marched by, their raucous music barely audible above the roar of the traffic.
So I decided to take a break, and the following day went off to visit the sites of Bruegel’s paintings. I took a bus to the village of Sint-Gertrude-Pede, some twenty-five kilometres from the city. Like its neighbour, Sint-Anna-Pede, it retains a rustic charm. Many locals are involved on the land, latter day versions of the peasants in ‘The Wedding Feast’ and ‘The Peasant Dance.’