Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Made in Belgium: Tijs Delbeke & Bart Moeyaert

The main radio had an interesting project last year:  "Writer searches singer"  where well-known authors wrote a song text in Dutch and teamed up with a musician to create a new song.

Apparently the collaboration between Tijs Delbeke & Bart Moyaert was so succesful since they've created 4 more songs together. They are songs full emotion, pureness. I've heard the new single "Het Botste einde" now a couple of times on the radio this week and I love it.  "Never I was not thinking of you...but never was not enough"







Monday, 21 April 2014

Tour de la Warche part 2

The weekend was predicted to be unstable with showers. But last Saturday it was cool yet sunny ...perfect to make a well dressed walk in the Ardennes. 

The southend side of the lake has been clearcut of the trees: very strange to see it so bare!  (Drun, I guess you'd see the stroller thieves now...but the trail has become less interesting to walk :( )



We intended to make a tour via the nearby Ravel.  While we were on the former railroad trail on our way to the next village, we noticed a Warche tour sign where the Ravel crossed on top of the Warche river.  We often walk a part of the Warche tour just around our village , which makes an gorgeous short walk. But we had never done the next part connecting to the next town.  Guessing that the recent dry weather would make the path well accessible (you never know with a river trail how muddy it'll get), we gave it a go. 




At the Ravel crossing across the Warche we learned how this river  valley crossing played an important during the war:  in the 2nd half of the 19th century a big arched railroad bridge had been built and at the outbreak of the 1rst world war it was protected by a Belgian army unit and it was stacked with dynamite to explode it if needed.   A German unit was specifically trained to master this bridge...when they attacked the Belgians withdrew / escaped  ...but they could still launch the dynamite from distance and that was an unknown fact to the Germans. So they arrived here, communicated back to Germany that the bridge had been mastered after which many train loads left Germany with troops & material to enter Belgium and launch the war.    Yet the bridge exploded and the German trains needed to be unloaded here...and the war started here.



The rest of the trail was just gorgeous, so I think we'll make this extension to our favourite walk more often.







Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

We were busy hunting Easter eggs at both my parent's and in-laws today and celebrating Easter together with the rest of the family. 









Kabouter's first Easter egg tasting

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Made in Belgium: Pragha Khan updated

25 years after the launch of Praga Khan, Maurice Engelen has released a new album Soulsplitter in 2012. His son collaborated on this one.  However I don't think he is at his top anymore...Maybe I'm not part of the right circuit as I do not tend to go out where this type of music is played anymore. I have no clue in fact.  

Nevertheless Maurice Engelen is overly recognised by his expertise , even by more mainstream media. He was among other jury of the X factor in 2008 in Belgium. Lately he is mainly known by his crowdfunding music platform that should enables young artists to fund the recording of an album more easily (in the mean time he quit his own firm SonicAngels already).








Original post here

Monday, 14 April 2014

Random thoughts on jobhunting

I’ve been so busy to post a lot on here (yet so many blog posts in my mind…the day that I can blog telepathically, you’ll see this blog explode from activity!) that I even forgot to mention until now that my job hunting is over.  As a rule I don’t post too much about my professional life on here and I had only briefly mentioned the fact that I was without job .  But  I’m happy to say that since 4 weeks already I’m back in business and it feels good to be working again.

Some miscellaneous thoughts on job hunting:
  • It takes much more time than anticipated if you want to do it well: work on your CV, on your network, research job leads, respond to recruiters, prepare interviews and go to interviews, … My mental picture that I’d be home idle with loads of time on my hands, wiggling my thumbs and getting all those household chores done that never seem to happen was a huge illusion.  All those household chores….are still outstanding and I’m now ironically enough trying to achieve some of them now on weekdays while juggling the new reality of being a working mother.
  •  It’s an illusion that you can job hunt 3 days a week and “enjoy” the time with Kabouter on the other days by only sending him part-time to the daycare.   Recruiters do not know this arrangement and contact you anyway and appointments get booked last-minute and need to be prepared.  So on my “days off” I often hoped that Kabouter would sleep a lot or Jan would be home and occupy him with Kabouter so I could continue.   On the other hand, the days that I was “working” also resulted in much less effective time than anticipated as I’d also felt obliged to do some grocery shopping, cooking,  …and I had to express milk multiple times a day etc etc.    In the end the “working/free” days distinction became rather vague.
  • The job market in Belgium is not as bad as I had feared it would be.  Obviously it depends how picky you are in the job requirements you are looking for but there are definitely some interesting jobs out there. 
  • Much to my relief, I seem to have an interesting profile to recruiters as I have not pursued any job opportunity pro-actively myself, but only responded to recruiters who contacted me.  However there is clearly much more activity on the ‘consulting’ market…a road I did not want to take.
  • On that last point, jobhunting taught me once again how much I hate to move to a new environment...something which is inherent to the life of a consultant.  
  • On that last point, it's pretty scary to say 'no' though. You don't know how many chances you'll get and I don't deal well with uncertainty, neither with making choices. Somehow I always focus on the potential loss in a choice so saying no to job offers that didn't attract me, was nevertheless stressfull & scary.
  • Stepstone is a big international firm, nevertheless their e-mails generated by the jobsearch I saved was full of dead hyperlinks. Argh, completely useless.  How unprofessional. 
  • Also very unprofessional are the arrogant recruiters that phone & e-mail me purely in French. It's not because I list myself correctly as bilingual that you shouldn't show me some respect and contact me in my own language.  Don't treat me so obviously as a "product" that you can use...you also need me. I might be the perfect candidate you are looking for and therefore you can also do some effort to gain my interest.
    And no...I don't drop everything right away to drive to the center of Brussels only to find out a bit more on the job vacancy you have in mind:  first give me the minimum of information that ensures me that the meeting will be worth the effort.  Geez show some respect to potential candidates, even if they will not pay your invoice.
    Unforatunately for you, I've only truly engaged in a job application process with recruiters that were polite, informative & respectful.
  • It was the first time I used Glassdoor.com.   Quite interesting, yet not that much information on Belgian firms yet. A pitty.

Other than that it's still strange to me that I am now on a strict schedule to leave work in time in order to pick-up Kabouter in time from the daycare rather than finish what I'm doing like I've always been used to do.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

#4mee April 12th day of street child



Since 4 years already, a lot of humanitarian global organisations claim April 12th as the international day for the street children and they lobby at the UN to make this day official.  So does Mobile School, the organisation where Jan has been volunteering over the last couple of years and where I'm getting a bit more involved myself this year.

Previous year there was a big awareness campaign on social media #nostreetkidding ending with an enormous chalk drawing on Leuven's major square. For several reasons we decided this year to do something smaller scale yet to fully celebrate & experience 12th of April with the group of volunteers of Mobile School. And maybe next year for the 5th time, we can repeat this scenario on a much larger scale...we'll see.

The idea was simple:  we will live & sleep & play on the street for 24 hours. Ok, I admit it, only a core group was outside for the full 24 hours and having a small baby was the perfect excuse for me to sneek home for the night (just around the corner as a matter of fact so it was easy to go back & forth all the time).

We started off with drinks & snacks on Friday evening after work. Then we got a Streetwize training on resilience & agility. Streetwize is the commercial sister company of Mobile School that commercializes corporate training formulas with competencies we can learn from street children. The profits from Streetwize fund currently 70% of the costs of the Mobile School operations.





After the training we skyped with 2 Mobile School colleagues that were on a mission in Nairobi, Kenia to train a new local partner NGO on the implementation of a local mobile school.




After some more drinks I took Kabouter home to a warm comfy bed where I left the others out with their sleeping bags, cardboard & fleeces.


But the next day we were ready again to bring the other volunteers, together with other relatives & sympathising fans, a lovely potluck brunch in the park.  With the sun out it was just warm enough to snooze, hang out, eat, play games , discover the different exercises on the mobile school and to #tweetforthechildren.




  









#tweetforthechildren






Friday, 11 April 2014

Shopping buddys

Kabouter always has a shoppy buddy coming along to the clothing stores, which makes shopping quite entertaining for him at the moment.  The same buddy also joins us on our travels in different hotel rooms....we love his little friend and so does he :)





Thursday, 10 April 2014

Flemish cycling culture

If you happen to have a family gathering on a day of an important cycling race (which are plenty in spring) then this happens ...





(it's an old picture but the current big races these weeks made me look it up again :) )

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Kabouter's baptism (2)

After the christening ceremony, we were lucky enough to  enjoy family time in the garden as the weather was better than predicted.  While the men watched the major cycling race on tv part of the time and the kids were playing games, Kabouter sucked in all the attention from everybody and managed to stay awake most of the time. After a beautiful & yummy cake it was time to go to the restaurant for a great dinner together.  Since Kabouter is already quite used to join us in restaurants, he enjoyed himself very much.