A long walk in bracingly blustery conditions this morning took us out on a new route to the village of Neerijs, near Leuven, in Flemish Brabant. The village is a sort of composite history of Belgium: a stately home and a young aristocracy; a well-endowed farm on the estate; a church repeatedly embellished and reconstructed; first world war and second world war memorials and, inevitably, three Commonwealth war graves in the village cemetery. Now the stately home has been converted into luxury apartments. The aristocracy, the De Bethune, is apparently still extant, though it is unclear if the family has retained any links with the village. The carriage house has been converted into a location for events. The listed farmhouse is still there but the decoratively cobbled lanes around it have been neglected. And around all of this there is a nature reserve, the Doode Bemde. Being close to flourishing Leuven, the village is certainly not poor. But the architectural ensemble hints at a more cohesively ambitious past.