Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Made in Belgium: Marc Moulin

Just imagine a warm summer evening. It's been a long day and you're tired.  You get home and there's a cocktail waiting for you and you enjoy it together in the dark outside in the garden.  And in the background is this jazzy lounge music....

Perfect isn't it??

Marc Moulin is a Brussels jazz musician who also became an author, radio producer and composed & produced a lot of jazz influenced music that got fused with other music styles.  He passed away in 2008.

in the dark

I am you - 2007

who stole the groove


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biking in the east of Belgium

Jan started talking about getting some bikes in the Ardennes a while ago and now that summer had arrived, he really wanted to get going. Given the fact that I suck in demanding bikerides with a lot of slopes up & down and given the fact that the Ardennes aren't exactly like flat Flanders , I was rather reluctant about the new project. Surely I am not cut out to bike around there.

But we left anyway, we'd see how it goes. The first hill on the other side from the lake almost killed me already and I am confused about the differrent gears to use etc  but it slowly got better and the landscapes were gorgeous and the weather was ideal for a ride.

This little restaurant bar next to a fish pond was a nice stop too and I even went up that hill in the background (which went on much further by the way, up and up for a few kms) fairly good. 

but by the end I was more energy, breath and only trembling muscles left.  Ironically enough we seemed to find ourselves on a road along which the way of the cross was displayed.

But with some extra stops (gotta make some pictures right :p) and a slow rhythm I made it.  If I look tired in that last picture, that's because I was.

Back in the Ardennes

  • When we arrived here last year for the first time, our neighbour pointed to his lawn and said "├ža pousse bien ici" (1).  Hmm, we noticed that after our several weeks of absence. Ouch, that grass cutting job was challenging to say the least. It looked almost like last year's wilderness again but we tamed it succesfully. Got even the moss out of the terras stone edges.

  • We heard that the neighbour cat that always comes visiting, had been run over by a car :( :( :( 
  • The neighbours do have a new little kitten in the house and I  can't wait to have it visiting .  The other older cat now seems a bit lost and is taking its distance after the accident.
  • Jan thought this morning that a cow was having a calf.  It didn't but now he got me staring at all those big cows again now, checking every now and then whether the series would start again, whether any of these big bellies are twitching. 
  • I don't think the calves are happy to see Jan back. He amuses himself to startle them whenever they come close.  It's funny to watch Jan make funny moves and than cracking up in laughter himself. Boys will always be boys I suppose.
  • The fens that had burned in that big fire look green already...I guess at least grass comes back really quickly but the peat layers and the more delicate and rare plants not quite so. But I had never expected to see it freshly green again so quickly.
  • It was 29C at the Botrange this afternoon.  Quite amasing since usually the Ardennes are consistently colder than the rest of the country and since yesterday it was still only 11C and raining.

(1) it grows fast/well here

Thursday, June 23, 2011

...and we saw a few bears too

I've spent in the past a total of more than 14 months living in British Columbia and have seen about 30seconds a bear so far, running back into the woods.

But this time we must have been on the road at a perfect time:  end of May/start of June when the snow had just barely (and unusually  late) melted but not just yet higher up from the highways.  But next to the highways it had just melted enough  to let some fresh grass & clover grow. And bears are hungry when they wake up after winter so they went where they could find the yummie clover, often not too bothered by the passing cars and foreign tourists snapping pictures.

Bear # 1: too far from the highway to get a picture

Bear #2: a nice looking brownish black bear, very comfortable to graze closeby our car but startled by some noisy crows after which he hobbled swiftly back into the woods

Bear # 3:  a shy one, hiding behind the ditch

Bear # 4 &#5  a mom and cub running back into the woods before we could take a picture

Bear # 6: a beautiful big black bear that just kept on posing and grazing and posing even after a second car had approached and lined up behind us

Bear # 7:   hotel staff was proud to point out to us a bear wandering on the Whistler ski slope on the other side of the valley. can you see him?

Bear # 8:  if there's a traffic jam in the National parks....look at the side for bears :p

Bear # 9:
Bear # 10 and # 11

Bear # 12 on a slope at a curve where we could not stop safely

Bear # 13 was our lucky sight to spot a grizzly

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Made in Belgium: Lady Lin and the magnificient seven

Every summer again there's a fresh sexy appearance on Belgium's many summer festivals : Lady Linn (and her magnificent seven).  This talented lady from Ghent  studied jazz and gathered 7 mucisians to form a group. First she mainly covered jazzy old songs, but since a few years she brings her own music.  She's fresh and she's good and she's ever more succesfull. Right now, we all get entertained by her "Cry baby cry" and in 2009 and 2010 she got the Flemish music industry award for best female artist.  So it's about time I introduce her to you all :)

Cry Baby Cry - Spring 2011

Love affair - 2010

I don't wanna dance - 2009

Here we go again - 2009

Mercy - Music clash Selah Sue / Trigger Finger / Lady Linn / Absynth Minded (I add especially this long clip with 4 excellent groups and know Betsy will love me for that) (Betsy, there were in the metro in Paris big posters about a festival in Arras where apparently Selah Sue is one of the headliners!! way to go!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beautiful British Columbia

I had written before how I've enjoyed getting away from the Canadian cities and drive through the countryside and nature parks.  Well still all the nature in Quebec and Ontaria did not compare at all to the scenery in the west.  Even though I knew that, it was once again such an overwhelming & pleasant surprise to arrive in the rugged wild nature of BC. 

Rough high rocks towering over the road, winding highways along ocean bays with view on islands like little drops on the water (and with some luck a while spraying by?),  ospreys & bald eagles circling as if they were blackbirds in a city yard,  glacier lips bending over cautiously to check out the traffic,  desert valleys with their own arid beauty,  red cedars & douglas fir that rise up to meet the sky where your neck hurts to watch, green furtile river wide valleys alternated with long impressive lakes,  wine ranks & fruit orchards with a mountain view, ....

We've been here before and often our jaw dropped in the car and you could hear a wow escaping. 
"Beautiful British Columbia", it's not an idle tagline. I love it and I miss it

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canuck fever

Tonight is the night for the Vancouver Canucks (ice hockey).  For the first time in their history they might win the NHL Stanley Cup and it would be the first tine since 1993 that a Canadian team would win the much desired trophee again.   The cup goes to the team that wins 4 out of max 7 games between 2 finalists who have won their play-off series.

Needless to say that we experienced just a little bit of hockey fever in Canada (after all hockey is "Canada's game"), especially in BC,  :p. 

We were around in downtown Vancouver near the Rogers arena during game 5 , same arena where the deciding game will be held tonight since the Boston Bruins and the Vanouver Canucks tie in a 3-3 at the moment.  But Vancouver has the home advantage so in honor to them and all my dear friends that are big fans


Rogers Arena
Vancouver air traffic control is fan



Boston Pizza was renamed Vancouver pizza all across Canada to show they are proud Canuck fans

Busses go go go