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Usually, after Christmas come the winter doldrums, a period of downtime that can be distressingly dull. But not this year. Oh, no.

First there was the conference. In Birmingham. 4 hours away on a good day. 8 if you find out too late that the rail bridge is down on the first leg of your journey. It was a hard  night. Good conference, though.

From the conference, it was (happily) only a short hop to Stafford, where a 12th night re-enactment awaited us in atmospheric Ingestre Hall. Old portraits, beautiful moldings, tasteful paint choices over the 12-foot-high paneling… After an action-packed week, I chose to bask in the atmosphere instead of record it, but I tell you, it was grand.

But there. With the rush of Christmas, I hadn’t finished showing you my trip to Belgium. Here’s a December photo tour of Brussels, for your viewing enjoyment.

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Spectaculoos Speculoos: A sort of caramelly cookie-dough, speculoos is a popular flavor in the Netherlands and northern Belgium. Spectaculous is a great adjective. I need to work it into conversation more often. What a spectaculous hat you have there.IMG_8339

This is the back of a giant creche scene in the town square.

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Nothing says “Christmas” like a spectacle of lights. Giant, jellyfish lights, floating through the streets of Brussels.

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A man and his dog. (I probably should have read the placard. I was distracted by the puppy. This is a fairly consistent theme.)IMG_8323

The architecture in parts of town can best be described as grandiose. (I would say baroque, but it would definitely have to be baroque with a lower-case B. Words are right up my alley; architectural distinctions, not so much.)

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Tiny houses filled with confectionery.

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Belgian Dickens village, complete with brewery. The piles of kegs on the right balcony totter most convincingly.

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