Sunday, 11 November 2012

Wwoofing with the Hare Krishnas in Belgium

The Hare Krishnas have a temple in the south of Belgium at Petite Somme and they love to have wwoofers come and visit and help out.  I couldn't resist.

Getting to Petite Somme was a little bit strange as I was on a local train with no other English speakers and not at all sure where to get off.  Most of the stations along the way were no more than a shed in a valley with the station name flashing past so quickly you couldn't tell where you were.  But I finally found the right place and got to where I was going.  It was certainly worth the hassle as this is what I found when I arrived, a genuine 19th century reconstruction of a medieval castle

adorned with Indian gods and goddesses

and where about 120 devotees live full time 

and where lots and lots of visitors come year round to have a look, maybe join in the chanting and eat in the really very nice restaurant.

Most of my days were spent in the veggie patch which still looked good even this close to the end of the season

and which was right near the cow shed

and three very pretty

very spoilt cows.

Of course, they are milked morning and evening 

and I got to try my hand at milking.  Luckily I was too slow for this to become one of  my regular jobs. 

One of the other tasks was building insulated walls to instal in the cow shed, as much to keep the four footed friends warm as to keep the cow keepers warm.  This is part of the wall being constructed.

Another part involved covering the walls in a mud/cow dung mix which, apparently, has great insulation properties.  I didn't try my hand at that.   

There's another garden on the the side of the chateau where some other volunteers were building up the beds in preparation for next spring

and here's a view of the chateau from the nearby hills where I went for a walk 

and got lost despite the well worn paths through the forest.

On one of my days off I walked over to the nearest big town, a place called Dubois which is marketed as being Belgium's (or possibly the world's?) smallest city.  It was very pretty

with its very own castle

and some quaint cobble stone streets

but city or no city, I was dismayed to find it doesn't have a fruit shop.  It doesn't even have a supermarket although it was in the process of getting a mini-golf range for next year's tourists.

The country side around there was lovely and I especially liked this incredible rock formation

as well as the fields and hills that were very picturesquely dotted with contented cows.

Wandering along back to Petite Somme, I was a bit disconcerted to find this fellow sitting in a hedgerow but he turned out to be quite friendly, for a killer.  I didn't question his choice of sport though as after all, he was holding a gun and all I had was  a camera.

Turns out the Hare Krishnas are not that keen on this sport either.

And in case you're wondering, no I haven't converted.  I went to a few of the ceremonies, I did a tour of the temple,  I visited their library and read some of their books,  I asked a lot of questions and I met some lovely people.  But all that chanting?  No, not my thing at all.

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