Early 2013 I felt the urge to leave Brussels. After 10 years of living in Europe’s capital I longed for a greener place of dwelling, with a beautiful scenery and, at last, quietness. I relentlessly searched the web for houses, but could not find anything that I liked.

 

Until one day - somewhere in May - I was using Google Earth to find out the exact location of a house that looked moderately ok. The agency only mentioned the village: Flobecq. There was no street name.

I went on a geographical quest, alas, to no avail. I could not find the house.

I gazed at the screen until my eyes hurt and was about to give up when I bumped into the exact same house on another site. Maybe this would make me wiser?

Fortunately it didn’t. So, defeated, I scrolled through the other listed properties in the same village.

When I got to page 3 I saw a picture of a house and I immediately knew: ‘This is it!’. Cosy, old, modest, almost modern refurbished, design, vintage furniture.

 

I decided to have a look – and took a friend - and closed the deal approximately fifty minutes into the visit, clearly irritating the lady from the agency with my impulsive behaviour. But I knew it was the right decision.

Just before I went to see the house I had called my dad, to tell him about my plans. I still remember his words: “Flobecq? You might as well move to the moon!”

 

And when I called him back to tell him the exciting news, he kept silence, for several long seconds. “You know that your family comes from that region? It’s where your roots are.”

What a surprise. I did not know. “No, I don’t,” I replied, “you never mentioned it.”

“Well, yes,” he continued, “My dad’s home was close by, in Opbrakel, on the other side of the linguistic border. What’s the exact address of the place you bought?”

 

Later that night he sent me a mail. It so happened that I bought a house that was located at exactly 1km from my granddad’s elderly home.

My dad closed his message with an enthusiast ‘I will probably visit you more often than in Brussels and come to wander through the fields, just like my dad used to do!’

And so he did.

And I do too. With my camera, most of the time, slung over my shoulder.

As in this simple place there’s maybe not a lot but there’s silence, views, colour and surprising beauty.

 

So here are some shots I took the past 7 years

(2013-2020).

 

Dedicated to my father.

 

Peter-Jan Willems