Sunday, April 23, 2017

Some reflections when your car is your office

I'm currently following some of our service technicians on the road to accompany them during the go-live of a project. So my car or their van is temporary my office these days.

This made me realize the following things:

  • Hungry

The first days I felt constantly hungry. I realized how spoiled we are in our office with the constant availability of plates with an assortment of freshly cut fruits, dried fruits and nuts. I usually go and help myself once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All of a sudden I was driving around, spent time in people's homes...and I was hungry without snacks nearby.

As a response, I shopped for a lot of snacks and stacked my car with cookies, drinks etc in a gas station.  Not quite the sustainable approach in the long run either. But after a few weeks I started feeling slightly less the need to snack in between. Yet it is very remarkable that almost all technicians have eaten their lunch sandwiches while driving before it is noon.

  • Balance coffee/ toilets

Similarly as being hungry, I also felt tired.   Now that I don't have a constant supply of coffee available (and I still have very interrupted nights), fatigue was much much harder.  On top of that, the fact of driving constantly made me more tired, especially if I had been in heavy traffic.

But when I was driving around with my thermos cup, I drank too much too soon which gave me an upset stomac and a very irritated bladder. And the latter is truly something to avoid when being on the road and on construction sites and in other people's homes constantly.

  • Awareness of weather
You are very much aware of the weather when being on the road, in contrast of doing office work. In the latter, you leave sometimes the office building, completely surprised that it very sunny or pouring rain or ...

Not so much when you are driving around and are working in people's houses with the window open.
  • Nice weather
It's fun to be on the road when it's beautiful sunny weather. Everything looks so happy and attractive. A good radio and some sun can make me quite happy behind the wheel, as long as I don't have traffic jams. I'm just chilling a bit, enjoying the landscapes.

Yet I realize that it is quite the opposite on rainy days.  Then it becomes quite stressful. There's nothing so dreadful as to drive for a long time in the rain with bad visibility and potentially slippery roads.

  • Memories

Driving around the country is often a trip down the memory lane.
Constantly I think "Oh, I went on a camp here nearby when I was a child." "I had a pen pal in this town as a teenager." "Relative x lives really close-by from here."  "Oh this tv-programme was recorded here." "Aaaaah this is the place where this or that happened" "Oh that's this zoo that is in some ads, I didn't know it was here".

  • Discipline

It would cost me discipline to have a job on the road on my own.  I'd be tempted to quickly stop at a bakery to buy some bread or so. But as I claimed above, it is equally tempting to quickly stop for 5 minutes at some acquaintances that you "drive by" just to say hi because you haven't seen them in ages.  Or when you pass through a cute little village shining in the sun, I'd love to stop at a terrace and have a slow lunch there.

I suppose it wouldn't be bad to do such a thing if planning allows, but obviously it needs to be balanced and work planning needs to be respected and the priority.
  • Loniless
As I am accompanying a technician, I'm not alone. Yet I believe I'd feel lonely as a technician or representative on the road as a regular job. You get to meet a lot of people constantly but they are strangers.  I like to be amidst people that I know well.

  • Feeling you accomplish less 

Because you lose a lot of time getting from place A to B, I have the feeling I have a very limited work time. So at the end of the day I have the feeling I have not accomplished a lot. That is a very strange sensation, probably due to the fact that I'm used to sit 8 hours behind my computer.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The arrival of new / the return of old furniture

We still need a layer of paint. But for organisational reasons my parents-in-law have to come and help out this week and therefore we must really put back the bed in the guest room.  Too bad for the painters, they'll have to deal with a bed in the room.  While we were at it we finally got shopping for the long promised big bed for Kabouter. He was quite excited and urged us to build his bed quickly.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Flashback : The final countdown

Some music immediately triggers a flashback down the memory lane and will forever be linked to some images, memories, events. 

When I was 10,  some of my friends and I felt quite big in school already. We were already in grade 4!!  We were too big to play games on the playground during recession. So we brought secretly a tape recorder to the school.  In the corner of the playground was a sheltered room as if it was an old garage without gate.  It was most of the time out of sight of the teachers that were on duty.  
In that garage we playbacked on the Final Countdown.

I think we were attracted by the hit, by the energy but I can't recall how we felt about the big haired lipstick wearing guys form Europe. I assume they were a "normal" eighties sight but we were also still a bit before the "music video" area, so the attraction from the song was mostly generated by the music alone.  It's now that I'm watching the video with great amusement. Gosh, how dated, how overacted, how funny.

Anyhow, I can't listen to Europe without seeing us in that garage corner of the playground with our portable tape recorder...dancing and playbacking.  Around us gathered the smaller kids that watched us in awe, while we danced in the illusion that the teachers had no clue what we were doing.  The illusion of doing something clandestine was even more cool.

When I hear the song now, I have to move and sing along again...shake my head and put a fist in the air while I'm convinced there are some backing vocals behind me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do we need any more Easter chocolate??

The Easter bunny did not only come in the Ardennes but also at all the grandparents.   Even better: the Easter bunny arrived conveniently a day late at both grandparents...just before our arrival. Kabouter became a well routined searcher for Easter eggs.

So after an excellent family Easter brunch, cakes and coffee at the other family etc, we can also eat chocolate for the rest of the year! 
Fortunately there was also enough coffee as Beertje is suffering from chicken-pox and he had kept us quite awake the previous night. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tour de la Warche once again

At the request of Kabouter, we walked the Tour de la Warche once again, only 2 days after our first time. This time Jan and Beertje joined us. The weather was whimsical april-like: sun, clouds, icy wind, some hail, some rain. But we were prepared with warm clothes.

It was funny to hear Kabouter guide his dad through the walk and to hear the conversation we had 2 days before echo through his mouth again. Together they gathered some branches and sticks to bring to school for his project week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New attic rooms in Leuven

The staircase is finished, the rooms start to look ready for use but still lack some paint.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New attic rooms in the Ardennes

We can't get enough of creating new rooms in the attic at the moment.  All the structures have been finished in the Ardennes previous weeks. It's great to see the spaces and to start to imagine how we'll use them. We now have a small bathroom, a small room for the boys to sleep and a nicer open space that'll serve as play room with a desk and spare sleeping space thanks to some sleeping sofa's. Behind the corners we still have storage as well. 

Kabouter was excited by the paint brush we bought and was quite disappointed we only had to paint behind the future heating radiators for now so the plumber can finish that aspect next week.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A garden full of Easter eggs

The village in the Ardennes doesn't have (Easter) bells in the church, that ring on Easter morning. That is a pity...Easter without joyfully ringing bells simply isn't the same as Easter with ringing bells.  Fortunately the Easter bunny does come by in these regions and he wasn't afraid of the icy morning cold.

We could gather a full bucket of chocolate! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tour de la Warche with Kabouter

When Beertje was asleep, it was an excellent moment to leave him behind with Jan and take Kabouter on a walk through the woods. I recently have the feeling we hardly go walking anymore in the Ardennes, and if we do, we seem to stick to short walks on decent roads as we take the stroller and/or Kabouter's bike.

But he had requested a few times to go into the woods and I really felt like doing the Tour de la Warche again.  I gambled that Kabouter would be up for the (most) of the > 4km walk and that I'd hopefully not have to carry him all around.

I was right: at a few stretches (uphill of course) I had to carry him in my arms, but in the woods he climbed and descended the trail with a lot of enthousiasm. We enjoyed the wild daffodils that are currently fully blooming along the river bed and the blossoms in the fruit trees. 

wild daffodils at the borders of the Warche river