I rose at ridiculous o’clock (5.45am) to be ready to leave the hotel by 6.30am. I had spent all night dreaming about the flea market, about how we’d arrived there and there were only three stalls selling sweets. I previously dreamt that we’d been to the flea market and there was only one table for sale and it was £34,000. So, on very little sleep, no breakfast (because they didn’t start serving until 6.30am in the hotel) we headed to Waterloo for the flea market I had done tonnes of reasearch on- one of the top 10 flea markets in Europe. I had been looking at the pictures on tripadvisor for weeks and getting mega excited about it. It is located in the Carrefour supermarket car park every sunday morning 7am to 1pm. We arrived there without a jot of bother (that’s one of my mum says that a lot!) only to find a completely empty car park. I cannot begin to explain how I felt! I wanted to cry. I’d driven all the way to stupid belgium in a stupid van on the wrong stupid side of the road for nothing. All I could l think about was how ridiculous I’d look arriving home with an empty van and it wouldn’t be just Steve (the bf) and maybe a few of my friends that would know about how silly I’d been. No! I’d been silly enough to blog about it too!
Thinking on my feet I quickly programmed into my sat nav Tongeron. I’d read someone elses blog about it and the pictures of the flea market looked good. I hoped that it actually was on EVERY sunday- not every sunday like the Waterloo one. It took about an hour to drive there and all the way I was saying in my head ‘please let it be on, please let it be on’.
On arrival I found the market square relatively easily (I had no internet connection so could only make guesses as to where it would be) and it was EMPTY! A few little tears came out. We decided to have a little wander since we’d driven all that way. Then on passing a bakery I popped in to ask if there was a market on. She said no, there’s only an antiques fair’. WOOHOOOO!!! Hooray!!!!!
I have never seen so many stalls in one area. I was like a pig in sh*t! So much furniture and other peoples old crap that they didn’t want. My two favourite things ever!
To be honest my mind wasn’t entirely focussed on the task in hand. The build up to finding the market was so stressful and the girls were whinging about how cold and hungry they were.
I found a pop up brocante and the lady in there was lovely! She told me how to move a police barrier so I could get the van where I needed it! As I drove through I said to the girls ‘Look how mummy breaks the law in Belgium’! Luckily I didn’t get a contravention this time (I previously came close in Rome for frolicking in a fountain).
I bought a table and wardrobe from there and got the whole background story of the furniture which I loved. The table had come directly from an Abbey and the wardrobe was from a hotel that had been sold in Hasselt.
The lady also told me that people in Belgium weren’t very friendly when compared to the Dutch. I would beg to differ though. I met some really nice people here- a friendly tramp who helped me reverse park the van in Brussels, a crazy lady at a tram stop and another man who led me in convoy to somewhere I could park the van in Tonegeron after he’d pointed out that I shouldn’t be parked where I was- I hadn’t understood the Flemish sign! Maybe it’s something abut a small blond girl driving a big van- made me look needy??!
I also bought 3 chairs on the market and Hazel insisted on carrying them to the van- I looked like a terrible mother wandering freely whilst my kids struggled behind me with huge chairs!
We spent the rest of the day in Tongeron because it was carnival day, although the carnival seemed to consist mainly of vans from various local companies driving though the tight streets, chucking out sweets and teddies for the kids, with drunk middle age women catching them in boxes before the kids could get their short little arms and tiny little hands on them! The lady in the pop up shop told me that in days gone by that people of the town would dress up as vikings (there was a viking settlement in Tongeron which I learnt all about in the viking museum-apparently vikings weren’t savages and didn’t have horns on their helmets!) and parade though the streets with real dead rabbits and rub the rabbit blood onto peoples (including childrens) faces. They’re not allowed to do this anymore-apparently it scared the children! My concern would have been more about the fact that it’s rank!!
We had big issues getting the van out of Tongeron beucase all the streets were closed off that the satnav wanted us to take then we narrowly escaped death after a near miss with a tram. Again I downed a large glass of vin on our return to the hotel!