Away researching in Brugge

Thursday, December 22, 2005, posted by jon at 10:43 AM | 2 comments

This week, my travels took me to the beautiful city of Brugge in Belgium. It's a delightful medaevil city, bounded by canals in all directions, complete with cobbled streets and majestic market squares. I can thoroughly recommend it.

When in Brugge, it's thoroughly rude not to indulge in some of the local fare, so a good few colleagues and I indulged in sampling some of Belgiums 500 beers. As a group, it's possible that we might have completed 5% of what was on offer - foggy heads for everyone the next morning.

As I drank, I learnt some rather remarkable things : it appears that Archery is a very popular sport in Belgium and, of course, it's one of my current prefered Olympic disciplines come 2012. Indeed, Brugge (or Bruges) has a building dedicated to the sport called the Guildhall of the Bowmen. However, the particular form of archery that's popular in Belgium is also vertually unheard of outside of the country : it's call Papingo or Popinjay.

In this version, archers shoot vertically up towards bird targets, scoring points for the bird that they hit. Naturally, Popinjay is downright dangerous, since the invention of gravity by Isaac Newton in 1679 which means that the sharp pointed arrows tend to come back to earth rather close to the perpetrator.

King Charles II also came to stay in Brugge whilst in exile due to less-than-favourable politics in England at the time. He was made a member of the archery club in Brugge, a position held by every British monarch since.

Papingo is not an Olympic sport sadly, but it's obvious that I will find no shortage of archery coaches in Brugge. Given that Elizabeth II, my Queen Betty is a member, it should be easy to score some practise sessions too. However, given their excellence in the sport, I'm unlikey to apply to Belgium.

- J

2 Comments:

  • Ah, good research. Perhaps you should focus on a country's weaknesses rather than their strengths. Are Belgians afraid of water? Then you may have a chance at swimming or synchronised swimming. Does all of the beer keep them overweight and underexercised? Then perhaps throwing large stones or running would be a good choice.

    By Blogger Worldgineer, at 3:49 PM  

  • I'd wondered what (a) Popinjay was.

    By Blogger Dub, at 2:38 AM  

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