The road to the haunted house was closed.
More mundane minds might assume that the old dirt road (the signs leading to the self-proclaimed most beautiful village in the Ardennes: Celles) was simply receiving a long-overdue resurfacing. Less straightforward minds were more likely to recall Chateau Noisy (aka Miranda) and its unfortunate fate, which had been accessible via this route in perhaps 20 minutes, at least the fences and walls that surrounded its vast property before wrecking balls put an end to this incredible incarnation of Manderley that was the longing place of all Urbexers.
Those of us, however, in whose early years things must have gone wrong in terms of literary and cinematic initiation, will be more reminded of those inaccessible areas where Wilbur Whateley walked (or rather, waddled?). The mist, the old walls, the road leading to nowhere, and the last little grocery store on the edge of the valley. A path deep into the hinterland of Arkham, with names like Dunwich or Innsmouth on road signs. Things that you don’t really want to look at, much less smell.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this country. I love Belgium for all its culinary and cultural assets and idiosyncrasies that make it so distinctive in Europe. Where else can you find Sauce Andalouse and St. Feuillien Grand Cru, where else the best chocolate, the best (no, not „french“!) fries, the best waffles, and the best beer in the world? Exactly, in Belgium.
In addition to world-famous cultural centres, there are also things there that have become rare here in Germany, a country that is often is so much sterile. How I would love to swap some of the well-kept streets of northern Baden-Wuerttemberg (with their pseudo-modernist building sins pasted onto everything already rare and historic) for the bricks and rough stone of Wallonia! The Ardennes, Dinant, Liège, Namur: They still tell amazing stories today and feed, twice fried in beef fat, the small, hungry creature called pineal gland that I extend through my lens. In my adopted hometown, I now wait for the fog to make the trail markers disappear and the oaks look like staggering stump creatures from Innsmouth, or for something to appear on the road that is at least attractively ugly, not just plain ugly
And here is the quote that was missing elsewhere, because it is so beautiful:
„Knowledge would be fatal. It is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful.“ –– Oscar Wilde