We travel to discover something new. A place, a sight, a feeling. It was my third visit to Bruges and this time I wanted to find the little marks on the map that looked like buried treasure. To not only see them, but to absorb their atmosphere and history too.
An x marks the spot, but there isn’t a pot of gold waiting for us. The little symbols dotted around the outskirts of the city mark windmills rather than treasure. They are vast structures resting dormant on the landscape as echoed voices swirl in the air around them, speaking of a history hundreds of years old. Communities, generations, memories and movement – all now stilled.
My childhood family holidays to Norfolk included trips to windmills, where we’d climb rickety stairs with reckless abandon, clinging on to rope handles and laughing as our heads hit beams. We were walking in the footsteps of millers, and it was as exciting as any pirate adventure.
These four-bladed ballasts were my treasure, and my childhood excitement was reignited by rediscovering these similarly sacred structures in Bruges. We found two adorning emerald-green hills set against piercingly blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds. I felt like I had carved them in linocut and printed the scene in perfect colours onto my eyes.
I plodded up the path with the exuberance of a dedicated worker, imaging carrying a sack of flour over my shoulder as the sails sliced through the air above me. There is something both beautifully simplistic and admiringly ingenious about windmills, their presence both humbling and awe-inspiring.
I took a photo knowing it wouldn’t be needed. The print is forever in my memory; x marks the spot.