The village isn’t going away after all

When I heard about Doel, a small village on the Schelde, some 20 km from the center of Antwerpen, I was intrigued. Doel is situated a few hefty stone’s throws from a nuclear power station, and has been under the threat of destruction due to expansion plans for the city’s harbour. Looking at the demographics, the village was well on it’s way to disappear on it’s own accord, but the threat of destruction changed the situation, and the idea of somehow saving Doel has become an political issue. The harbor plans now seem suspended, but the village has mostly been abandoned and several of the houses are in bad condition, so the plans of taking it down are proceeding. At the same time squatters have moved in, and the “village that refuses to go away” has become something of a daytrip attraction.

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I was curious to try out my new bike on a longer ride, and got Caroline to come along with me on the excursion. The road to Doel went through all manners of industrial areas, along a rather boring stretch of highway.

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Between the refineries and the docks where patches of grass, grazing grounds for thriving populations of rabbits and Canada geese. You coul really feel how nature is constantly poised to take over those areas, if they ever be abandoned.

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The Bike, outside an abandoned shop. The white things in the window are part of an art project in Doel, which strives to “reinhabit” the abandoned houses with artworks, most of them rather dreadful.

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“28 days later”.

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The coverings of new leaves filling the letters of an old gravestone.

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The hand of a christ figure hiding among some trees in the graveyard.

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This Art Decó style of lettering was used on several gravestones. Most of them also had portraits and an identical porcelain jesus-heads.

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Art, or perhaps politics.

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The revealed insides of a house with interesting wallpaper solutions.

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The view to the north.

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Someone was still keeping goats in the village.

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A radar tower of the encroaching harbour.

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On the way back to Antwerpen; a refinery at night.

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