Inhale – exhale

 

At beautiful green Parkheide Wandelbos

For the locals of Baal – Tremelo (Belgium), any zen enthusiast and nature lover will love exploring this lush wood with recreational opportunities. The domain is only 7 ha so the experience is petite, yet qualitative. Besides walking and cycling in the area, you can also go there to play tennis or a game of petanque. My children always enjoy the playground. I love making time every weekend for a walk out in nature as I found this largely benefits meditation and mindfulness.

My trio of babes enjoys the wild outdoors and the plants to be found there. Whole foods can be found at the brasserie, which is bathed in the peace of the surrounding wood. This is a distinct place of relaxation where you can eat well and enjoy an afternoon with your kids and their friends. The tennis courts and playground which border the woods are enough fun and action to experience after a leisurely walk.

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Magic is not something you can buy. It’s the experience which you create yourself and then take home when you join together with your littles for a walk. Parkheide Wandelbos is open both summer and winter. The menu is certainly worthwhile to discover the suggestions.

Before you go

What can go wrong in this beautiful experience ?

  1. Parkheide Wandelbos is very popular among the local community and on days of good weather, everybody wll want to sit out on the terrace meaning you won’t find a seat.
  2. In the winter, there are only limited numbers of chairs and tables set out on the terrace, and you will be grounded by personnel if you pull out a spare chair or table for yourself.
  3. The personnel is not friendly and probably doesn’t believe they have to be as the brasserie is so popular. Besides being grounded as stated above (2), personnel might also ignore you if you want to order, because they have too many clients to choose from anyway. If you don’t go there, there are plenty of other people lining up for a table (1).

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If you manage to put your ego aside and do it for the pleasure of your children, you will enjoy a wonderful afternoon at Parkheide Wandelbos. So if the waiters are obnoxious, just inhale, exhale and smile.

PS the guy in the picture holding my youngest babe is so totally not my boyfriend.

Parkheide Wandelbos, Baal (Tremelo), Belgium (March 2017)

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The Castle of Harzé

Spring is definitely in the country!

With the return of fine weather, I warmly recommend to take your kids out in the open air on long walks. Walking is a fantastic activity for you and your children. The kids can be free, spontaneous, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together.

Last year, we visited the Harzé Castle (Château de Harzé) which is a castle in the village of Harzé in the province of Liège, Belgium. The origins of this castle date back all the way to the 5th century AD, and was used in WWII as US head quarters.

Have your walking shoes ready and pack yourself a pick-nick! You will want to burn off some calories before returning to the castle for a delicious meal in the restaurant.

Our favorite walk near Castle Harzé

We set out walking between the groves and the beech forest of Saint-Roch. Here we discovered an authentically beautiful landscape that borders on the Belgian Ardennes. We walked a good nine kilometers in just under three hours, as the children love to stop and look at things as they roam freely through nature.

Harzé Castle offers maps with many different walks in the wooded area. We choose to set off along the main road first –promoting awareness about road safety with my littles. Then we followed the blue trail on our map which took us along a root spotted with many quaint little chapels – and more existential questions from the kids. The area is notoriously hilly, which proved a challenge at time with the baby buggy.

The last few kilometers, we left the blue trail to take a short cut back to the castle. This was a wonderful decision as it took us through a quieter part of the forest where we spotted some game and beautiful birds.

Walking in nature keeps you and your kids healthy in mind as well as body, helping to boost your mood and self-esteem.

— Harzé Castle, Belgium (July 2016)

Bolloheide, a nature landmark in Belgium

The Bolloheide is a popular area for walkers. When it comes to fresh air walks, greeting goats and more, we’ve got you covered in Tremelo.

The Bolloheide is a nature reserve in Tremelo. This is a tiny village situated in the centre of Belgian. Known to the outside world for being the birth place of Father Damiaan and home to Niels Albert, a former professional cyclo-cross racing cyclist. All things that make Belgium great!

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The Bolloheide is a pretty authentic relic of the original large moorland stretching from Bonheiden to Baal. The former heath is wooded with pine and has been parceled out to residential areas. The houses built in this residential area are pearls of architecture and not for cheap.

Undeveloped relics of the former dry, arid vegetation are scarce and scattered. Today the Bolloheide consists largely of open heath, with coarse pine forest. Besides heather on dry, nutrient-poor and acidic soil, you will find more species-rich, nutrient-poor grasslands.

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The grazing block is accessible through several gates. The grazing is done by sheep and goats who can handle this vegetation.

What is there to do but walk, we hear you ask? We go there for fun. Playing hide and seek or mushroom picking, we think you should add these to your “carpe diem” bucket list.

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Whether we like to admit it or not, going for rambles in nature is addictive. This is not one of the most incredible nature reserves out there, but it’s close to home. In our heart it is one of the best landmarks around in Belgium.

— Tremelo, Belgium (Octobre 2015)

Pre-trip gut check

Stress free travel : being well-prepared has an impact on your travel experience

I previously highlighted the importance of stress-free travel on your overall well-being. But while your attention and online research focus on the importance of  planning the steps towards your dream  holiday, you might have overlooked a crucial player in well-preparedness : going for a test run.

My next upcoming vacation is a yoga retreat with my 3 wonderful darlings in Sicily. But my travel aspirations go beyond towards the wild unknown : climbing up to Machu Picchu. Part of visualising your dream, is playing it out. By enacting what you ambition to achieve, you are actively manifesting.

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I’m a manifesting generator

Test runs blatanly point out what works and what doesn’t, which allows you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure your experience is the best possible. As Darwin pointed out : it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It’s the one that is the most adaptable to change. I am also a strong believer that bounce-back-ability is one of the secret factors to true happiness.

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Share the happiness

That grey Sunday afternoon, I enrolled the help of my bestie, who also happens to be the godmother of my youngest little gift to this world. She’s fantastic. Got to love her. Especially for her enthusiasm for partaking in my dream  theme “women who explore”. So as we set out to be victorious in the wild outdoors, we took the baby for a walk around a local lake “Meer van Rotselaar”.

Our on the field research led us to develop a better understanding of what it means to fearlessly travel with a baby. An unhappy problem unfolded rather immediately. The romantic idea of carrying baby on our shoulders had an opposite effect. Our physical well-being was out of balance after just 15 minutes of walking on the beaten path. Baby weighing 9 kg, undeniable, he was too heavy to be carried in this manner. It’s crucial for us to realize that although I love and adore this little one, I need to change the way I travel with him. A single inspiring thought emerged : a baby carrier.

Rather than clinging to this limiting unfortunate finding, I’m excited about a new test run with a baby carrier.

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PS Here’s that stalker again. He’s so totally not my boyfriend. He kindly offered to carry the baby on his shoulders for the remainder of our outing.

— Rotselaar, Belgium (March 2017)