|Another spurious fact, Belgium's road system is almost thee times the circumference of the Earth.|
It is true that many places lack visual appeal, the liver coloured brick buildings, old industrial relics and unfortunate concrete carbuncles.do look grim. However, how important are appearances? There are whole swathes of Britain's former industrial heartlands that look equally terrible - the Rhondda and most other former mining areas, parts of the Black Country, the outskirts of Dundee are all places we have driven through that are far more ugly than anywhere we saw today.
We speculate - maybe the country's more tawdry aspects are part of the charm - a kind of shabby chic. That feels familiar, comforting almost, for Britain can have that quality too in the way we actually like the faded grandeur of our old seaside resorts and decrepit country towns. There is even a sub-genre of travel writing that seeks out and celebrates Britain's more desolate spots - Jonathon Meade's TV programmes, books like Tim Moore's 'You are awful but I like you', or Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island'. I can imagine something similar being written about Belgium, perhaps it has already.