Yesterday Madhouse Daddy had an unexpected day off so we headed just across the Belgian border (which is only 20 minutes away) to La Panne. It's a typical seaside resort, similar to our own but with a Belgian twist. In other words, it smells of mussels and chips, has amusement arcades and you can buy chocolate and cream covered waffles !
At one end of the prom, we discovered this rather impressive statue. You could get a great photo of the statue framing the seascape but it's just too big to get in shot !
It's King Leopold I of Belgium apparently. He was was a German prince who became the first King of Belgium following Belgian independence in 1830 but I was surprised to learn (thanks Wikipedia !) that he received British citizenship in 1815 and married Prince Charlotte of Wales in 1816. She died in childbirth the following year but if she had survived, she would have become queen of the United Kingdom on the death of her father and Leopold would have become prince consort. Fancy that ! He is honoured in La Panne because it was where he entered Belgium, having travelled from Calais. I was fascinated to learn that he was Queen Victoria's uncle and he set her up with his nephew, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The rest, as they say, is history ! (If you want to learn more about him, Wikipedia has a big article on him - I'd never heard of him before !)
A bit further along we saw a more humble statue of a mysterious sailor wearing clogs !
Pierre seemed to take a shine to him !
La Panne beach looks very similar to Dunkirk beach - wide expanses of sand, beach huts and kids' play areas and rides.
We discovered this tightrope that was laid out for kids to attempt to walk along. Juliette wanted a go but it was very tricky !
Pierre managed with ease, with a little (lot) of help from Sophie ! Two minutes after I took this photo, the girl in the top photo fell off and landed straight on her head, just like she was doing a headstand. She burst into tears and couldn't get up and I was worried about her neck but apparently it was her back that was hurting. Luckily they lived in the appartments opposite so I sent her friend/sister off to get her mum while we looked after her.
A few minutes later, we continued our walk along the prom. There is a real mish mash of architectural styles.
And lots of friteries - chip shops.
Who lives in a house like this ?!
After our walk, Madhouse Daddy had a little surprise planned.
We headed off to L'Oasis, an ice cream parlour that we last went to over ten years ago, at a meet-up of online mum-friends when Sophie was a baby!
They do huge ice cream concoctions to share, with oodles of fresh fruit and squirty cream, served in weird and wonderful receptacles like totems, coconuts and banana palm leaves.
We just went for the smallest ice cream on offer though - a three ball scoop.
It was so big that Pierre had to stand up to eat it !
Ahh that works too !