A Return Walk in the Palingbeek

It’s the afternoon of Armistice Day 2018, and the Palingbeek looks glorious in the late autumn sunshine. 

With the ceremonials at the Menin Gate completed, the family Baldrick, the missus and I had decided that, should the weather be accommodating, we would go to the Palingbeek to see this art installation on the final day of its existence.

And the weather was more than accommodating, the colours spectacular.

Now look, I am not going to explain all this,…

…partly because you can read,…

…in the artist’s own words, I guess, exactly what it is all about,…

…and partly ‘cos I haven’t got an earthly.

It’s full of symbolism and metaphor, or was, because most of it seems to be pouring out of the slit in the side.

The individual pieces of symbolism and metaphor were, I believe, due to be handed out to visitors within a few days of these photos being taken.

Then there’s these dog-tags,…

…loads of them, containing the names of the people who sculpted the individual pieces of symbolism and metaphor,…

…which were due to be poured inside this egg surrounded by chicken’s legs (chicken & egg – geddit?) later on the day of our visit.  The egg has a panel which allows you to see the tags inside.  Honestly, I am lost for words.

Doubtless others of you who have seen the installation will have differing views so please feel free to put me right on this one, and just to be clear, I have no doubt whatsoever that the thought-process behind the installation was both heartfelt and sincere.

Moving on.  Time to make our way down to the canal, passing this information board, with an overview of the Great War in the area of the Bluff, as we do.  But we aren’t going in that direction today.

Above & below: Vestiges of one of the German bunkers that we encountered last visit,…

…as we walk down the slope…

…to the canal at the bottom…

…where everything is just so incredibly peaceful.  If you didn’t know the history, nor had seen the photos, you would have no idea what this place once looked like.  There were graves along the canal bank here.  Probably moved post-war.  Possibly still here.

Map of Zillebeke and the Palingbeek that you have seen before, but now with today’s route  along the canal marked in bright yellow near the bottom of the map.

You have to keep your eyes peeled, look carefully, and you never know what you might spot.  Near the centre of the picture…

…evidence of another piece of German Great War construction, maybe another bunker that was once further up the hillside behind us…

…rather like this one (above & below) that we explored last visit.

Beneath the grass this land is still pock-marked with the scars of warfare, near-perfect shell holes still to be seen…

…beneath the trees on the right.

Wandering through these scars of battle, their edges softened by time,…

…we make our way back to the canal beyond the trees.  These shell holes would all have been the result of British artillery lobbing shells over the hill we have come down to find targets among the Germans working here, and make no mistake, this would have been a scene of great industry as the front lines, just 1000 yards away on the other side of the hill, were kept supplied.

And once you become aware, and we are now in virgin territory for us as we follow the canal further east than last visit,…

…the signs of warfare…

,,,are apparent everywhere.

And certainly under there, too.  Imagine what the mud beneath the waters of the canal conceals to this day.

They don’t like you going in there, even a hundred years on,…

,,,and I had a ‘friendly’ encounter with the Palingbeek secret (have you heard of them?) police whilst photographing these shell holes.

The trees ring the shell hole here, the crater itself filled with sticks and twigs.

And even in the autumn, changes in colour allow you to spot many of the smaller shell holes despite the fallen leaves.

The Palingbeek is a superb place for fungi, something I know little about but always notice in the autumn, and which I intend to do something about in the near future.

The Ieper-Hollebeke-Comines road brings us near to the end of our visit.  Visiting places such as the Palingbeek is a hit-or-miss affair; sometimes you find new things of interest, and sometimes you don’t, but no trip is ever wasted.

Next time we visit the Palingbeek, I now know that we need to head west to find more remnants of the Great War that I know still exist.

As we retrace our steps, it’s either a gang of muggers, or the family Baldrick.

Phew.  I think.

Fungi galore.

Those of you who have not seen our first visit (much more interesting, frankly), then here’s a link: A Walk in the Palingbeek.

I leave you where we started, with little pieces of symbolism & metaphor, all in neat little rows,…

…and a shameless plug for Hugh’s book (because he might read this stuff).  Essential reading, not expensive, helps to keep those bailiffs away, and the perfect Christmas present to yourself.  Do grab a copy.

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8 Responses to A Return Walk in the Palingbeek

  1. Nick kilner says:

    Excellent. Funnily enough I was back at TNA today and one of the things I was looking at was tunnelling maps of the Bluff. It certainly was a busy spot!
    I also heard back from our friends at the CWGC, but they didn’t tell me anything we don’t already know 😉

  2. Roland Rayfield says:

    Thanks for another great report. I visited the Bluff and the ComingWorldRememberMe: Land art Installation with friends in June 2018. If you are near Ieper, visit the Brasserie Kazematten in the Ramparts not more than 100 metres or so from the Menin Gate and built into the ramparts. Within is a museum to the ComingWorldRememberMe installation with photos of the involvement of hundreds of people during its creation. It is worth a look. If you visit make sure it is open.
    As usual we visited my Grandfathers grave in Toronto Ave. Cemetery.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thank you very much, Roland. I shall try to remember to see if it is open next time I’m there. And I must revisit the Ploegsteert cemeteries before too long.

  3. Mark says:

    Thanks for new Palingbeek post. I have to confess I liked the art installation! Well the main egg or pod and individual stones to symbolise the 600,000 who died in the surrounding area, I thought quite thought provoking. Really interesting link to the golf course history, very logical really given the location but like so much of the Palingbeek you could be forgiven for not realising what happened 100 years ago given the peaceful setting. I am guessing though the course is only open to those actually playing golf?

    • Magicfingers says:

      You are most welcome Mark. And good. That you liked the installation. Damned shame, after all the effort, if everyone thought the same as me. As far as the Golf Club – where there’s a will there’s a way. I am already thinking about it (send the family Baldrick there in the Spring and see if they get thrown out seems a decent Plan A).

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