Brussels Women's Club

Passport November 2023


PASSPORT – November 2023

BWC Committee Update Report

As you have probably noticed, our Club is busier than ever before, as it continues to expand its membership (8 new members in the past 4 weeks).

This also means that we, as your Committee, want to be sure to keep everyone as up to date as possible on what we are working on and how we are responding to member suggestions and concerns.  And so we have decided to launch a new monthly feature in Passport called “Committee Update”!

Here’s an overview of what’s been happening:

Membership fees for 2024 – Good news!  As we mentioned at our May AGM, we planned to evaluate our financial position towards the end of the year and to announce our membership fees for 2024 then.  We are happy to say that we are on track to cover our operating costs this year and therefore will be able to maintain our 2024 membership fees at the same level as 2023.  This is something we have worked hard to be able to do, and we appreciate everyone’s support.  Our goal is to be able to do the same in 2024!

Membership renewal – Following last year’s successful online renewal – which saved hundreds of hours of work and saw over 85% of our membership renewing online — we will be doing the same again this year.  As of December 1, you can renew online by clicking on the “renew my membership” button on MyBWC.  If you need help renewing online, Carmel Delaney and Alka Patel will be at the Clubhouse Library on Wednesday 15 November from 13:00 – 15:00 to help.  Please sign up via the website by clicking here or via email to Carmel at

Clubhouse news – If you have been in the Clubhouse recently, you may have noticed a few changes.  With a Club of over 220 Members, we are always receiving feedback and ideas and we do our best to respond.  Here is what has been going on lately:

The Welcome Desk now has a lot more space for Welcomers to do their work.  One multi-section garbage has replaced the multiple garbage cans; counter space has been cleared by replacing the cash boxes with ones that will tuck under the counter overhang; the storage area has been re-organized so that items most used are easily accessible and others are stored more efficiently; the large brown and unfinished etagère that protruded into the workspace has temporarily been replaced by a smaller bookcase unit that matches the wall colour and stores the same number of glasses in a much smaller space.  Of course, the walls will need to be painted at some point, but all of this means more room for the Welcomers, as well as a more pleasing look, at little to no cost.

Closet cleanouts and bulletin board tidying – The committee recently spent a full afternoon cleaning out closets, removing unused items and making space for needed items.  Our Clubhouse has changing needs and uses, and so we now have storage space for the yoga mats and weights used in our very popular fitness classes (Pilates, yoga and chair yoga).  Being able to move furniture easily and make space for these classes is important.

Green cushions on the wicker chairs – These are temporary and borrowed from our outdoor chairs, so that we could all have a look at what it would feel like if we had cushions with a brighter colour.  We have received a lot more positive responses than negative ones, and so we believe we’re on the right track!  Any new cushions will be coordinated with the colour scheme of the Clubhouse. 

Library renovation – The library is a work in progress but if you haven’t taken a look yet, please go upstairs to see our new space.  We now have a space to sit and read a book from our extensive library, have a quiet coffee with a friend, or just have a space to sit and do a bit of work.  Bookcases have been removed, books are being reorganized, and CDs and DVDs have been distributed for free and removed.  Books for sale are now located in the room outside the library, temporarily on the windowsill.  We hope that you will take advantage of this terrific new space.  Pat Thompson and Sheila Hewitt are hard at work re-shelving books and have started purchasing new books again.  A selection of books for sale will be curated  by Pat and will be available downstairs as well.  We hope to have the library work completed by the end of November.  In the meantime, it is still open for business so come and have a look and ask Pat for a recommendation of a good book!

Overall, we have received a lot of extremely positive feedback about the small changes made to date and how the Clubhouse feels more welcoming and pleasant, along with comments and encouragement about continuing to refresh.  We have also heard from those who are not happy about the changes, and we have done our best to listen carefully and to balance the needs with all the other (and sometimes new) needs that we have.  With such a large membership, it is always a balance to try to make as many people happy as possible.

Membership survey:  We want to make sure to hear from all our Members, and in order to do so, we will be sending out an online survey in the coming weeks to get your thoughts and feedback on the Clubhouse and what you would like to see in the future.  We hope you will all participate, and we look forward to your feedback.

New events- We have lots of members suggesting and organising new events, which is the lifeblood of our Club.  In October we added “Gentle Walks with Jo” led by Jo Ley, “Gentle Walks with Dogs” led by Sophie Ellis-Retter, a Wellington Museum visit organised by Jill Clarkson, a guided tour to Leuven organised by Jenny Hulme, and a lunchtime Concertini at the Opera House organised by Jo Ley.  In November, we are already looking forward to a guided tour of the Opera House organised by Carmel and Jenny, plus a Friday evening (17 Nov.) wine and cheese /Meet the Artist event at the Clubhouse organized by Kathy Whalley and Carmel.

Do you have a good idea for a Club activity?  Wondering how to get started?  It’s easy:

Check calendar availability by emailing Gillian Scott (  with your idea and requested dates. 

Once you have your date, and have worked out the details, fill out the form attached here Link and send to Gillian. 

Gillian will check details, fill in gaps if necessary, and then circulate it to the Committee to be added to the calendar.  We are a Club by Members for Members, so we look forward to your good ideas and in helping bring them to the rest of the Club!

Your Committee,

Alka, Carmel, Carol, Gillian, and Lilian

Click here to see some photos

Enjoy a Day Trip to Aachen

By Lilian Eilers

On Thursday 7 December, we’ll be hopping onto our comfortable, and warm, coach and heading off to Aachen!

Even though the biggest attraction will be the Christmas Market, you may be able to fit in some other non-shopping activities.

See Aachen Cathedral: step into history by visiting the stunning Dom, an 8th century World Culture Heritage Site.  The magnificent interior is made up of 32 million mosaic stones and no less than 30 kings have been buried there!  Entry is free.

Visit the Town Hall: The historic façade is already an indication of the building’s glorious history: 50 rulers, 31 of whom were crowned in Aachen, surround the central figures of Charlemagne, Jesus and Pope Leo III.  Stroll through elaborately decorated rooms and see the coronation hall, where formerly the rulers took a meal after being crowned.  There is an entrance fee of € 6.

Savour German specialties: have a bite to eat at the Hexenhof Kulthütte located in between the Dom (cathedral) and the Rathaus (town hall), open only during the Christmas Market.  Warm up with a mug of Glühwein or a lovely German wine and enjoy baked potatoes with various toppings, schnitzels or flammkuchen.

On Thursday 7 December, we’ll be leaving from the BWC Clubhouse roundabout at 08:45 for a 09:00 departure. We’ll leave Aachen at 17:00 to arrive back at the Clubhouse around 19:00.  The fee is €25 for Members and Guests, and €35 for Non-members.

So if you (and your guest) haven’t signed up yet, please do so before Monday 27 November by clicking on this link. Please note that if you cancel after Monday 27 November, we will not be able to give you a refund.

Looking forward to seeing a merry bunch board the coach on Thursday 7 December!


Prince Charles, Count of Flanders, Saves the Day

(10 October 1903 – 1 June 1983)

By Ann Englander

In World War I, the children of the Belgian royal family were sent to Britain.  There Charles attended Wixenford School in Berkshire and in 1917 proceeded to the Royal Naval College and two years later to Dartmouth.  He received the honorary rank of sub-lieutenant in the British Royal Navy.  He spent periods on board various British warships.  Later in 1926 he returned to Belgium where he went to the Royal Military School of Brussels.

During World War II, Charles went under the assumed name of General du Boc to hide his identity.  He had an association with RAF Hullavington, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, where many top officers from Allied nations were based.

The Belgian royal family was in deep trouble after the War.  A judicial commission investigated Charles’ elder brother, King Leopold III, as to whether he betrayed the Allies by a premature surrender in 1940 and collaboration with the Nazis during the occupation.  Leopold was not in the country, having been deported to Germany.  As the constitution provides for the possibility of a Regency, Charles was made Regent of the Kingdom by parliament.  He exercised the royal prerogatives until 1950.

During Charles’s regency, important economic and political decisions were taken.  With the aid of the Marshall plan, the Belgian building sector was stimulated by government grants to repair war-damaged buildings and to build social housing.  A social welfare system was introduced, and a system was set up to govern labour relations.  The Benelux customs union was formed.  Belgium became a member of the United Nations, and the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) was signed.  Also, during this period, in 1948, women obtained the right to vote in parliamentary elections.  Better late than never!

Charles’ regency ended in 1950 when Leopold returned to Belgium and resumed his kingly duties.  However, just over a year later, parliamentary and public dissent forced Leopold to abdicate in favour of his son, Baudouin.

Charles retired from public life, took up residence in Ostend and involved himself in artistic pursuits.  He signed his paintings “Karel van Vlaanderen” (Charles of Flanders).  His life story is little known outside Belgium but he is an unsung hero who saved the Belgian monarchy during a turbulent time.

Charles alleged marriage and illegitimate daughter

It was reported that Charles had married Jacqueline Peyrebrune in a religious ceremony in Paris in 1977.  This has, however, been disputed as there was no civil marriage and the religious ceremony has also been called into question as none is registered.  Instead, the so-called marriage was actually a private blessing.  This was confirmed by Jacqueline herself in her memoirs Love in Shadow – The Secret Garden of Prince Charles of Belgium.

Charles also had an illegitimate daughter, Isabelle Wybo, born in 1938, as the result of a relationship with another Jacqueline, Jacqueline Werhli, daughter of a Brussels baker.  Isabelle made an official appearance with her first cousin, Prince Laurent, in 2012.  This is becoming somewhat of a Belgian royal tradition!

BWC Art Gallery – New Exhibition

Kathy Whalley

A new exhibition of the work of Alberte Lemmens will be starting at the Clubhouse on 11 November.

Born in Belgium, Alberte Lemmens grew up in a family where drawing and painting were a gift.  It is only in 1996 that she started painting classes, theory and practice, working indoors and outdoors (Venice, Bruges, .. ) she progressed.  Watercolour was used in different subjects and evolved into abstraction after a period of 10 years.

From there on she progressively moved on to acrylic and oil on canvas.  Her works, first figurative, very soon became more abstract allowing much more freedom for imagination and creativity.  Inspiration mostly comes from nature, land and sea.

If my painting moves the viewer, stirs his soul, or just pleases the aesthetics, then I have reached my goal”.

And, as Salvador Dali puts it: “The viewer is the ultimate artist”.

“My work is based on a quiet, simple abstract environment where natural elements are blended into a structured background, be it a mixture of concrete with sand, silk paper or fabric, allowing to capture the light that will vary according to the angle you look at.

It is spontaneous, starting from a vibrant harmony of colours and hues, it develops intuitively at the moment of painting.

I have exhibited in Brussels, Coxyde, Lasne … but also in New York.  Nowadays, I still take part in the different “Artists’ walking exhibitions” in our area.”

Please join us at the Clubhouse for a special Wine and Cheese/Meet the Artist event on Friday 17 November from 17.00-19.00 where you can meet Alberte and view her exhibit first hand.  Please sign up by clicking here
Link: Photo Album

Golf – Lady Captain’s Report for October

On 29 September six ladies played at Rigenée under strong wind and overcast skies.  The course was in excellent condition and thankfully the rain waited until the beginning of the second 9 holes.  Then it poured!  The sun came out;  we all dried off;  but, by 14.00, as forecast, the rain was so bad that the last flight of 3 was forced to scratch the 18th hole and take refuge in the 19th!  Myfanwy van de Velde came first with a very creditable 26 points.

Our 2 monthly 9-hole competitions at Golf Park Tervuren were won, on 2 October, by Boff (12 points) and then Debbie Meijer (16 points) on 16 October.

Our first big competition was a Mixed Charity Competition with BWC and MUGS playing at Rougemont.  Nikki Hayes (a member of MUGS as well as BWC) organised the event brilliantly.  Our member, Beate Seidel-Beelitz, and her husband, Ulli, were the sponsors.  They offered prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd for Men and Women in Silver and Bronze categories.  BWC Golf prepared several lovely hampers for the raffle.  In addition, players were encouraged to buy Mulligans (same as wild cards to be used in case of a bad shot) and were penalized financially for any lost balls.  Among our members, Anne Lise Libo, came first with 39 points, followed by Lynette 2nd, Boff 3rd and Carol Jones 4th.

The second big competition was our annual President’s Cup, in memory of Margaret Latham, our former President and founder member.  It was a pleasant, though extremely windy day again with consequent fast greens.  We played at Royal Ravenstein on 13 October, which just happened to be Margaret’s birthday!  The winner of the Silver Category was Lynette Boydell (35 points) followed by Marie-Astrid Dubois (31 points).  In the Bronze Category Carol Jones came 1st (36 points), 2nd was Laraine Alder (33 points) and 3rd was Janice Meanwell (30 points).  The trophy for the most wins since the last President’ Cup was Janice, who has won seven competitions.  Carol Jones kindly sponsored and offered her home-made jams and marmalades in memory of Margaret Latham, who was renowned for her preserves.

On 24 October we played at Sept Fontaines with Barbara Briggs sponsoring.  Six ladies set off in the drizzle, fully expecting the rain to stop after an hour.  However, the weather deteriorated steadily until it started coming down stair rods at noon.  Veronica Trestour was warned by some Sept Fontaines’ members that the Fôret course was becoming dangerous for buggies and so it was decided to cut our losses and stop after 9 holes.  The winner was Marie-Astrid Dubois (19 points on countback) with Veronica Trestour 2nd.  The ‘Least Putts’ prize went to Myfanwy van de Velde.  In fact Veronica had won it but she kindly donated her prize, not wanting to go away with 2 prizes!

Unfortunately, our Mingling Evening in the Clubhouse has been cancelled as there were just too few members who signed up.  The Raffle draw has been postponed and will now be drawn at the Xmas Fun competition and lunch at the beginning of December.

Link: Photo Album

Leuven in a Nutshell

By Jenny Hulme / Lilian Eilers

On Tuesday 17 October, a rather cold windy day, a group of seventeen BWC Members and guests met our guide, Ann Brugmans, outside Leuven’s Gothic Town Hall, a truly impressive architectural jewel.

Sadly, we were unable to go inside the Town Hall because of restoration works which will be ongoing until 2028!  Instead, we visited the newly restored Church of Saint Peter, erected in the 15th century, to view some of its treasures.  We saw the rather ornate Baroque pulpit, which had originally been in the church in Ninove and was dedicated to Saint Norbert, who could be seen at the front of the pulpit.  This was a problem, as the Leuven church was dedicated to Saint Peter, so a cockerel was added to the back of the pulpit, next to a carving of the saint.  If you don’t know why, read your Bible!

Ann then took us to the tomb of Henry I.  You could see that he was a rich man by his bulging coin purse hanging from his belt.  During the restoration, they were hoping to find his remains in this tomb but he seemed to be the only one not in the tomb!  There were boxes containing the remains of his grandfather, father and his son, but he was missing.  Fortunately, they found him elsewhere in the church and put them back all together.

Wonderful stories which Ann continued to share with us throughout the visit, including one about a copy of a Middle Age triptych panel which had been used to hang coats on!  The two famous Dieric Bouts paintings were not in situ but will be on show in the M Museum, where a large exhibition of his life in Leuven opens on Friday.  Definitely one for your diaries!

We walked on to the longest bar in the world – the Oude Markt!  Here we saw where the Leuven university library stood, before it was burned down by the Germans in the 1914-18 war.  We also saw a bronze figure on a bench, a “kotmadam” (landlady for student housing).  She was not a typical kotmadam because they are usually on the plump side.  This one was very skinny, and certain parts of her body were quite well polished by the touch of many hands!  Next, we had a short walk to the ancient Cloth Hall which is now the registration centre for the university students, along with a student cafe.  Originally, this was where you bought cloth made from wool from English sheep – it was the best.  However, after wars between England and the Low Countries, it was no longer possible to get this wool, and so the newly founded (1475) university took over the building.  We walked on to the Pope’s College where the only Pope from the Netherlands until now – Adrian VI (1523) – had studied.

We ended our tour in brilliant sunshine on top of the M Museum where we could see the roofs of the buildings we had visited.  Have you ever wondered why the Museum is called the M Museum?  It is because the sound of the letter ‘m’ appears in every spoken language in the world, and the museum aims to attract artists from all over the world.  Very fitting, don’t you think?

Throughout the visit, Ann regaled us with fascinating and interesting anecdotes and information about Leuven, past and present.  We hope to do more Leuven visits with her in the future!

Link: Photo Album



How Smart is your Right Foot?

Origin unknown


While searching for an old email on the computer recently, this popped up.

Guaranteed to make you smile.

“This is hysterical.  You have to try this.  It is absolutely true.  I guess there are some things that the brain cannot handle.

You have to try this please.  It takes two seconds.  I could not believe this.  It is from an orthopedic surgeon.  This will confuse your mind and you will keep trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you cannot it is pre-programmed in your brain.

  1. While sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
  2. Now while doing this, draw a number ‘6’ in the air with your right hand.  Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!  And there’s nothing you can do about it.  You and I both know how funny it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if you have not already done so.”

Cont’d on next page





A trip down memory lane as this month’s recipe is taken from the 2005 Club Recipe Book.  Here is the contribution of our Founding Chairman, Meg Dodd.  Enjoy!

                                Serves 10-12

                                                                                       Oven temp 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5

                                                                                     Oven Temp 220 C / 425 F / Gas Mar,k 7

            Cooking Time 30 minutes

                                                                                                           Standing Time 15 minutes


2 cups crushed digestive biscuits

110 g (4oz) sugar

110 g (4oz) melted butter

450 g (1 lb) Philadelphia cheese

2 eggs

170 g (6 oz) sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup sour cream

2 tbsp sugar


  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits, sugar (110 g /4oz) and melted butter.
  2. Press into the base and sides of a 23 cm (9 in) spring form cake tin to form a crust.
  3. Cream the Philadelphia cheese, softened until smooth, then blend in the eggs, a scant 170 (6oz) sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  4. Pour into the crust and bake at 190 C (375 F / Gas Mark 5) for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes.
  6. Combine the sour cream with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  7. Spread carefully over the baked filling.
  8. Return the pie to the oven at 220 C (425 F / Gas Mark 7) for 10 minutes. Watch that it does not burn.
  9. Cool and chill overnight.

Cont’d on next page

Feature – 60th Anniversary of Passport

Here is a reproduction of the very first edition of our Club magazine.

November 1963


The magazine

of the British and Commonwealth Women’s Club

of Brussels



Those of you who came to the inaugural meeting of the B.C.W.C. on the 29th October may have been surprised to find yourselves not at all alone.  In fact there were nearly eighty would-be members present that afternoon, and we hope that each succeeding monthly meeting will add to the number.  The more members there are the easier it will be to cater to their varied interests.  And a greater variety of interests, as shown by the application forms, it would be hard to find.  Lots of people want to play bridge, to improve their French, their flower-arranging or their cookery, but pity the ones – or twos – who are interested in learning Flemish, bird-watching, fencing, or playing bingo!  You see how important it is to spread the news about the Club to anyone you meet who might be interested in becoming a member.


December 11th – the children’s Christmas Party

A party for children between the ages of four and twelve will be held on Wednesday, December 11th, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Elgise Protestante, 13 rue Belliard, Brussels 4.  The main attraction will certainly be the puppet show which Mrs. Carradine is giving.  In addition there will be other amusements and, of course, a tea.  No charge is to be made.

December 17th – a sherry party

All members are invited, with or without male escort.  A charge of 40 frs. per head will be made to cover the cost of the sherry and the hiring of the room.  Make a note of the time – 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. – and the place, the new Centre Feminin headquarters at 16, avenue de la Toison d’Or (above the Brevitt’s show shop).  December 10th, the second Tuesday of the month, is the date fixed for bridge.  And don’t forget that the beginners class is held weekly on Thursday mornings.  If you would like to come to either of these sessions, please get in touch with Mrs. Davies.

The next issue of “PASSPORT” will be published in time for the January meeting.  All contributions gratefully received by Mrs. Coke, 155 rue Franocoin Gay, Woluwe St. Pierre, Brussels 15.

Remembering Friends

Those of you who knew Linda Kelloway (Area 3) will be sad to hear that she passed away on 31 July in St. Luc hospital.

Another favourite of Carole Jenner’s

Banana Bread – a deliciously gooey version.

3 very ripe bananas – mashed with a fork
200 g Brown sugar
100 g Butter
2 well-beaten eggs
150 g SR flour
Half tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar. By hand, mix in the mashed bananas and beaten eggs. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together and mix into the wet ingredients.
Line two 500 gr. loaf tins with baking paper and pour in the mixture. Bake at 180° for about 35/40 minutes.
When cool, slice but no need to butter the slices!

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