Bagpipes in Brussels

At the end of March my daughter and I hopped on the Eurostar for a mother-daughter holiday in Belgium.  I have no Eurostar photos for you, because I was so entranced by the journey that I forgot to take any.  Travelling all the way to Brussels by train was magical.  Just a short hop across the road in London from King's Cross to St Pancras International, a quick passage through security, and then on to the train.  The route from London to the Channel Tunnel goes through Kent, and it was lovely to see this part of the UK. There's still so much more of my country that I want to explore.

We spent the first night in Brussels, just off the Grand Place/Grote Markt. The next day we were returning to our hotel after a quick trip to the English bookshop (daughter having exhausted her reading material on the journey from Edinburgh), when we realised that there was a procession forming.  At first it all seemed very Belgian, with unfamiliar ceremonial uniforms. 

And then suddenly - a pipe band.

Followed by what appeared to be 'anciens combattants' (veterans).

The whole procession congregated in the Grand Place itself. Competition for viewing spots was fierce.  I definitely need to polish up my pushing-to-the-front skills. 

The Belgian police band played, and then the pipe band formed a circle and played Scottish tunes, among them Highland Cathedral and The Bonny Lass of FyvieHearing the pipes far from home made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  No-one around us in the crowd seemed to know what the event was.  I chatted in French to a lady beside me, who said that she wasn't from Brussels herself, but one thing was sure - there was always something going on in Brussels. Very true - just behind the massed flags a joyful same-sex marriage was emerging from the Town Hall.

I leave you with this puzzled piper - any guesses as to what he's thinking?  And if Anni from This is Belgium knows what the event was on 22 March, please tell us!


  1. These festivities are a celebration of the 95th anniversary of the National Federation of Ancien Combattants. Great reportage.. no need for polishing push ups :) !

  2. An interesting and nice journey.
    Have a good time.

  3. How cool that you stumbled across this event! I enjoyed your photos.

  4. He's thinking "Why does it always have to rain on parade days?" 8-) Great story!

  5. How amazing! Isn't it interesting that you had such a physical reaction to the music of home. Music is so powerful. I'm so happy that you and your daughter had a fun trip away. Did it hurt your ears to go under the Channel in the tunnel?

  6. Whatever it was, you captured it well!

  7. Sorry I am so late with my answer
    These guys were celebrating their 95th anniversary !

  8. What a cool welcome to Belgium. I love Brussels. I went there as part of pre-trip when I was studying abroad. Love the buildings. Would love to go back someday.

  9. I've played the pipes in Belgium a few times, smashing place with lovely people! As a piper, I can ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE that guy is thinking "where's the beer tent in this place?" ;-)

  10. I loved seeing what YOU saw on your trip!! It's great how the unexpected can happen to make it all even MORE special! I'm partial to Mother/Daughter trips myself!

  11. Thanks for all the comments, and especial thank you to Harold and Anni for identifying what the parade was. There were some pretty young standard-bearers, so I guess the honour must be passed down through families.

    Christine, the tunnel didn't really affect my ears. About the middle I felt that the air in the train smelled stale, but that was the only thing I noticed. Oh, and the very serious security fencing on the approach to both tunnels.

    Marcheline and Croila, thanks for your caption suggestions. I think both thoughts went through his head, but probably the beer predominated!

  12. What a coincidence that you were there for this! I did the Eurostar to Paris and was amazed how little time was spent under the Channel.

  13. I'm enjoying catching up on my favorite blogs after a long break from the internet. Loving your pics and stories about your vacation. How wonderful that it was a mother/daughter trip!



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