In last post I mentioned I would comment further on living
in part delusion.
I guess we all do live in a state of delusion, the scale
varies but to pretend everything is OK in the world is the most obvious one and
the one I am most conscious of. Our lives are almost unliveable if we don’t
have this distorted view of reality. It both empowers us and weakens us.
There are a few things which have struck me in particular in
The main yacht haven here in Antwerp has some amazing boats
in it, and it is evident the in thing to do on a warm summers night is to dine
in the vary public gaze of the many on-lookers, a-top your yacht/boat.
OK each to their own, and probably on a hot night dining in
the galley is not a great option, but how can this feel special when the waters
in which you are moored are grey/green/brown/ opaque, full of rubbish and
litter and dotted with slips of oil from engines etc? (why don’t they all pay
10 euro’s a day more and have the harbour “cleaned” daily?)
Similarly there are faux beaches set up as sort of tropical
island resorts just for the summer, where you can lie on the white sand, sip
your pina colada and look out on water that you wouldn’t dare swim in, while the
buzz of busy motorways echo’s in the background.
It’s a similar thing in the parks – the motor way is just
over there. On my scenic run I could see the tops of two cooling towers from the
I don’t blame anyone for wanting to feel they are a little
closer to paradise, my point is – why did we let it all get so hashed up in the
It did occur to me when I ran by the new MAS museum the
other day that I need to credit Antwerp as being – and to always be – first and
foremost a port city, and of course in the past that brought very different
things. The difference between Brussels and Antwerp is amazing – Brussels can
always only be the older more dignified sibling, Antwerp the slightly ugly duckling that will always be trying to shake of the down.
It also made me think that Wellington getting its act together 12 years ago with Te Papa and then the ongoing renovation of the waterfront is a credit to a vision slightly ahead of some places, though indeed we see things over here – like the extensive use of shallow water features for kids to rollick in in summer, which Wellington could learn from.
My favourite place of all so far in Antwerp is this place:
It is a natural swimming pool with everything discharged back
into the pools you swim in.
In a normal summer apparently it is very busy – I took
the girls (my second visit) last Saturday and there were only 20 or so hardy souls – most of whom we outlasted. (Though to infer i was actually fully immersed is slight editorial licence)
It is absolutely the right way to go – a genuine urban environment
with peace and beauty – and amazingly – its free (and still it isn’t a sufficient
lure for many in this dreadful summer).
Anyway. I’ll be in New Zealand in 5 days time. We still have faux, but we don’t need anymore, we can’t let in creep upon us, we must protect what is so very special and such and amazing privilege, so that when people from area’s like this do visit
they can enjoy and be inspired by the real thing – though tropical paradise we will never