Thursday, 21 August 2014

Family BBQ with loom bracelets & playing cousins

Every year on August 15th ( a Belgian catholic inspired bank holiday) all cousins of Jan gather for a BBQ.  

Everytime we had met children this summer we had seen them play with loom elastics and we were offered loom bracelets (and at work I saw all parents wearing them)...Jan couldn't hold his curiousity anymore and received a mini workshop. After a bit of confusion at the start, he got the hang of it and can now show off his own made loom bracelet :D.   Kabouter got his own made by his 2 cousins who had a lot of fun playing peekeboo with him. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Made in Belgium: Delrue

The group Yevgueni has been put on hold for a while and its lead singer Klaas Delrue is going solo now with French chansons...very nice, I want more of that!  But if possible both Yevgueni and Delrue :).

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

100 years ago WWI reached Leuven

On August 19, 1914  the Belgian army command and king left Leuven early in the morning to withdraw the troops at Antwerp  and they left Leuven undefended behind.   Later that day the German troops occupied the city.

Since the beginning of August there's a lot of attention and memorials to remember the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.   At that occasion Belgian newspapers publish each day what happened 100 year ago and there is also diaries and pictures published on a diary blog from Leuven each day (based on historic documents).

I must find it very interesting to follow and I learn a lot of new things. In all honesty, I seem to reduce WWI to the trenches at Flanders Fields but did not really know exactly what happened those first weeks after the outbreak of the war.   Reading these diary extracts from people in my own city makes it so real....what did they feel, what did they fear when reading about the war declaration, about the fights in Liege and the rumors that the forts were falling down one by one in the previous 2 weeks, ...How patriotic did they feel at first at the sight of the Belgian army gathering in Leuven and how did that change with the arrival of refugees from the east of the country with horrific stories on the German attrocities, ... What panic did they feel at the rumors that the last trains are leaving from Leuven and the connection was going to be cut, ...the realisation that the government has left the city behind to the Germans and the smoke at the horizon was approaching?

I also learned who was Leon Schreurs after whome a nearby street is named: one of left behind soldiers shooting at the arriving Germans at the next traffic lights . Ha, I never really wondered who he was, neither realised that a monument I've walked by very frequently is about him.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Made in Belgium: Vive la Fête (updated)

I'm not quite sure what to share extra informational on Vive la Fête. This eccentric sexy band are just continuing with their own sound & looks.

original post here

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

After spending a few days among the customer care colleagues I learned

  • There's adults that dare to send e-mails in purple comic sans ms 
  • There's customers who think we sell an innovative product against mosquito hares (?!?)
  • There's many Belgians that belief they are good in DIY when they really aren't...then they need help to fix it after they've messed around with silicones, tape,  cords, pebbles (?!?), ...
    We also apparently have a very strong urge to all paint over the ID plaque of the products.
  • There's people that think that an e-mail to ask for "the reference of a spare part for a window" will result in an accurate response. 
  • There's people that buy a competing product and when it's broken, phone us to see if we have advice to fix it.
  • There's people that only want an open/close function but buy a domotica system and then phone furiously because the remote control is too complicated for humans, full of options that just bug people. 
  • There's people that phone to get an article reference but when you give it to them, they first need to park the car to be able to write it down 
  • Flemish people send e-mails, Walloons pick up the phone to ask for support

Hard to belief he screamed the hell of his lungs the first 3 months when he had to bath

Now he cries when he has to go out of the bath tub :D

Monday, 11 August 2014

Belgian championship inline

Yesterday the Belgian championship inline skating was happening in our neighbourhood.   Although I had no clue what was going on, what the jargon was about, ...but it was nice to go and have a short look.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Meyboom tradition

We were on our way back from some downtown shopping yesterday when we heard a marching band approaching.   And so we saw an ancient tradition coming by:   the entry of this year's Meyboom (tree / may-pole) in the city. As all folklore in Leuven, it was preceded by some flags of the Men of the Year, a parade band, the giants of Leuven and a folk dansing group.

Unlike in many folklore's of other European cities, the Meyboom is planted in Brussels and Leuven on August 9th.

The tradition would date back to a wedding in Brussels in 1213 where a fight happened...(against people from Ghent or people of Leuven or maybe the wedding was in a different many sources & versions of the same legends).  But the count gave the 'Saint Laurentius' cross bow militia from Brussels, who had settled the fight,  the right to plant the Meyboom. But they had to do this on August 9th at 17h at the latest (the day before the remembrance day of Saint Laurentius) or they'd lose the right to Leuven. The tree could be cut by the city wood of Brussels. So it was done for more than 700 years and in the mean time it's recognised as cultural heritage by Unesco.

But 'the men of the year 1929' in Leuven decided in 1974 to change this right. Disguised as journalists they had found out which was the marked tree in 1974 and cut it the night before first, leaving a note that they tree was taken by the men of Leuven.  It got planted on August 9, 1974 before 17h in Leuven.  However in Brussels they simply took another tree and planted that one and since then both plant their Meyboom.  But obviously only Leuven has the official true Meyboom...a news fact often reaching a mention in the national news :p.

The result of this year's Meyboom planting by the men of 1969 can be seen here  including a film with the may-pole dancing and the flag waving:

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Leuven in Scène 2014

A month ago it was Leuven in Scène again. Leuven in Scène is a bi-annual street theater festival that I love very much. (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).   My love for the festival is contageous as some of my friends already pre-book it in their agenda and claim our guest room..

But this year was different. This year I didn't feel very much like going to Leuven in Scène.

First of all the traditional festival date had changed: instead of the long Pentacost weekend it was now on one of the already always so busy summer weekends.  (fortunately however, Pentacost weekend gave us terrible storms in Belgium, causing a lot of damage).
Secondly we had the family planning to build the garden house that weekend...which in the end failed due to non-stop rain...ugh double frustration. Most "big" acts were on Friday evening and Saturday so beforehand I had the feeling I'd miss most of it anyway.
Thirdly it had been raining almost all week before, causing a cold depressing week. That wasn't very stimulating at all to feel like hanging out on a summer festival. And the weekend weather promised more of the same (see 'secondly'), so I was rather in the mood to crawl under a blanket with a hot tea. 
Finally I knew the concept had changed and that there would be less huge acts, but more intimate scenes. 

But I had guests staying over in our house who had already been out on Saturday and they triggered my curiosity. The bloggers of Leven in Leuven were also doing an excellent job of reporting on the events.  So we packed up our rain jackets on Sunday and strolled out anyway.

First we went to the furthest park at the Keizersberg abbey where ETS Dynamogène had opened their pop-up music instrument factory "Le Petit Catalogue" .   After you have "clocked in" at the factory site, you can stroll among the site where 12 actors/mucisians demonstrate their utopian music boxes while inviting us for a little dance or demonstrate a singing saw or have a drink at their little bar corner.  After hanging out for a while in this nonsense utopia world, we walked by the pop-up opera further in the park, unforatunately without performance this afternoon and we saw the pop-up library and the workshop for children to build instruments.

Just in time for a good shower, we hided under the trees on our way back down to the city.  In the park The Bruul we all huddled almost on each other's lap under 2 umbrella's for a short and powerfull downpour while I was feeding Kabouter on a bench.

Then we could look around and watch eg Christophe Pavia who was making the most mysterious outrageous hairstyles on eager volunteers, the circus workshops for children, Scubabianchi the curious flooded car driven by a scuba man,  etc...

However we could not hang out too long in the Bruul as we wanted to see either Racebob or Ex Aequo ...we chose for the circus performance of Ex Aequo on a quiet bit hidden square in Leuven. Well...not so much hidden after all as quite a nice crowd had gathered beforehand to come and see the show by 2 young performers.

The young couple was moving in together for the first time and was checking where all the furniture should come and how they'd organise themselves in the house.   With just a few props you could see their arguments & fights, arrangements , reconciliations, ...and all in quite an acrobatic way.  Poetic and entertaining at the same time.   Well done for these young artists.

After the performance we quickly headed to the old market square to check whether by any chance Racebob's car was still racing by but there was no activity on the square anymore.   So we headed out for dinner....and were fortunately inside when for more than an hour a true downpour washed the streets clean.  So clean that we didn't see any of the small acts booked later in that evening anymore on the squares nearby.  I guess the Leuven in Scène weekend was washed out and the artist had chosen to go home as well.  In the mean time the World Cup final had started so nobody was interested in street theatre anymore and all pubs were broadcasting soccer already.

All in all it was a very fun day despite the rain and despite my mood beforehand.   I had had fun strolling around, discovering and watching artists in smaller or bigger acts.  Nothing was hugely spectacular and probably wouldn't make the national news as it had done in e.g. 2010 , but it hadn't to be.  It was a very pleasant day to be in the city, without claustrophobic crowds to discover here and there cute little things.   Cosy despite the rain.  But unlike previous years I didn't book the next date 2 years in advance in my agenda yet either.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Made in Belgium: Customs (updated)

After their hugely successful debut album, Customs, a band from around Leuven launched 2 more albums.  Harlequins of love was the source of several new hits, but I must say that I've not heard much airplay for their latest album "The Market" from last winter.  A pity as I really like their style (music + retro visuals). More of this , please!

Harlequins of love

original post: here

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Malibu and Santa Barbara

After 2 days in LA (during our May tour through California), we left the busy city and its clogged highways behind us and hit the coastal road nord.   A quick stop in Malibu where I wanted to check if Ashton Kutcher a.k.a. Walden Schmidt wasn't jogging on the beach.   Nice beach houses but the lagoon itself was quite smelly and knowing that the busy highway is racing right behind the houses, doesn't make them such a top location at all...except maybe for the surfers on the waves.  

Next stop is Santa Barbara. The name only rang a bell as tv soap to me but for some reason then I visualise it more with 'The Golden Ladies'.  So somehow I anticipated to arrive in a sleepy town with some gold blond ladies sipping a coffee and gossiping on those who stroll by.

However we arrived at a very pleasant city, where urbanism rules forbid a high skyline which fosters a lot of southern type white red-roofed buildings .  The pier seems to be home of a lot of Pelicans and the inner city hides some nice pedestrian streets. There's also quite some nice adobe houses & remainders of the old Spanish fort remaining.  We skipped the old Mission but we might have missed some really nice spot there...oh well, I wouldn't mind to come back to Santa Barbara anyway.

And that was in fact my first Mother's day with Kabouter

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Getty Center & Hollywood

During our California vacation in May we visited the Getty Center & Hollywood & Beverly Hills in the LA area.  

A good friend had recommended the Getty Center and she knows me well as I absolutely loved it.  It's a very modern complex on top of one of the LA hills with gorgeous vista's, filled with the world's best art. You must park down the hill in a huge nice car park and a little cable tram pulls you up the hill to the center.  

We strolled through the different complexes of art and I tried to suck in the Monet's, Van Gogh's, Rembrandts, much as I could. Unfortunately Kabouter had a very fussy morning and couldn't appreciate all the art. So we sort of rushed through the galleries , then strolled through the garden complex where his whiny attitude was less disturbing and had a snack.    But much much sooner than I would have wished, we were leaving again.  This is the only place in LA where I'd like to come back too and spend an entire day.

A very typical view of LA for me: with dominant huge busy freeways crossing everywhere

Once back at the car, Kabouter fell asleep and didn't even notice anymore the loading in the car, neither the unloading once we had reached Hollywood.  Due to some wrong guiding on my behalf, we found ourself 16 blocks from where we intended to be, so after a good walk we finally reached the touristic side of Hollywood.   Must say that the walk up to there through the residential areas of eg Melrose Avenue was much nicer than the tourist trap on Hollywood Avenue.  But at least we had seen it.   Now I don't need to go there anymore.