Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another walk through the high fens & surrounding woods

Fagne De Polleur   
View on Fagne de Polleur

Coral mushroom

Railbike near German border



This winter I had redone our bathroom . The clean fresh bathroom was such a relief but the all-white felt a bit sterile so I dreamed already quite a while to add some color.

Just when I was ready to tape off the edges, I noticed that the paper started to show some small swollen cracked spots.  Darn. Well if you try to do everything yourself, you also make mistakes. It turned out that our choice of paint for the humid bathroom had not been sufficiently strong to withstand all the damp.  Arrrrgh, big  disappointment.  Instead of coloring 1 row of tiles quickly, the bathroom needed a bigger make-over already to prevent more damage.

So last weekend our camping plans were cancelled due to the rainy cold weekend and how else to better spend an unexpected free day on a grey rainy day, than to paint?

A few hours later all walls & ceiling looked nice shiny white again, this time with paint that should not get bothered by the damp as it could be applied on the outside of our house as well :D.

And then it was finally time to add my little funky color. I was so excited to get it finally done, looking forward to the result. One row of tiles in bright turquoise with the name "snorkelling". I just had to have that color.

While painting I got this weird feeling that despite the hours of carefull taping I had done, the result would be disastrous. The big color contrast needed a delicate lining effect but I did not dare to create it by free hand.

As soon as I was done, I pulled off all tape immediately as I knew that letting it dry first, enhanced the risk that the paint dried through the tape.  But it was too late already. The result looked horrible, as if had not taped anything at all. Everywhere drips had managed to roll down behind/through the tape. If the paint had been red, it was a horror scene. I was so terribly disappointed.  My friends on FB could have guessed something was wrong as I had announced the painting...but no pictures followed.

But this weekend I spent several hours with a tiny brush, religning the white edges carefully & patiently layer after layer with my free hand until it finally started to look like I had envisioned it.   I can still see the 'retouches' I've done, but I hope it looks decent enough to show to our visitors now and that it is no longer screaming "amateur".  I'm still very fond of my concept :)

Friday, July 29, 2011


Dear Rusty,

16 years ago you were waving me enthousiastically at the airport before we had even ever met.  Before I could introduce myself, I was embraced in a big hug .   A few weeks ago we met again and we could talk and  connect and I could thank you once again for all the things you've done for me during my exchange year as my host dad and Rotary councellor.  I am so gratefull I've been able to hug you again so recently, but I had never thought it would have been the last time.

At this moment it is with a heavy heart that I join your family and friends when they say their last good-byes. Rest in peace Rusty.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Made in Belgium : 2manydj's

2 sons of a famous Belgian radio DJ and tv show presentor , Stephen  & David Dewaele founded their rock group Soulwax succesfully but as a side project they also among others pull off 2manyDJ's.  2manyDJ's became the leaders in the world of mash-ups and bastard pop and are now asked by groups such as Daft Punk, Gorillaz and Coldplay ask them to remix their work. 

It all started with some radioshows where they filled an hour with impossible music combinations: disco combined with rock, hip-hop and new wave. The MP3's started spreading and now the 2  brothers are rarely ever in Belgium anymore. When they come back from a show in Brazil, Australia or the US, it's big news in Belgium.  They were headliners at Tommorrowland, Belgium's biggest dance festival last weekend.

There's a lot of material on Youtube, but a lot of crappy  live recordings. Best impression of their work you can hear in their webradio:    Try it, I bet you won't turn it off easily.  Always full of surprises what comes by.

Joe Le Taxi / Crush On You

Satisfaction in the club

Out Of Space (Prodigy) vs Emerge (Fischerspooner)

Live at Rock Werchter 2009

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Scouts and other youth groups invaded the Ardennes again

as they do each summer. So you can't go on a walk along the fields without coming across about 3-4 camps sites, you can't turn off in a street without a group youngsters in uniform with some maps & backpacks on the edge of the road, you can't enter the bakery without some muddy shoes and shaky French in front of you  :D.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beleuvenissen tropical 2011

The weather wasn't exactly tropical at all. In fact, we were supposed to be diving and camping in the Netherlands this long Belgian holiday weekend but the weekend got cancelled due to the horrendous (cold, wind, rain) predictions.  All in all the weekend didn't turn out as bad as expected, yet it still felt pretty absurd to go to a "tropical" festival.

Weapened with a rainjacket and my thick sweater, I was still rilling when going downtown and talked to Jan about maybe returning.  But we gave it a chance, went on and as soon as we turned to the Hogeschoolplein where cuban (type) music floated towards us and the crowd was happely watching, chatting and drinking cocktails, it felt a lot warmer immediately. 

We cruised along all the squares alternating young urban cuban music with a swinging Columbian music, to a fiesta loco from Antwerp.  Everywhere the atmosphere seemed good and little kids were jumping and dancing...amazing how they pick up rhythms naturally.

Only at the Big Market square we didn't stay for long...Loes Van De Heuvel really sings out of tune, yikes.  I did not need a revival of the Championettes.  We stayed the longest at the Oude Markt to listen to Sweet Coffee. Very nice, but the "tropical" theme was truly lost here.  A bit out of place, but nevertheless nice listening.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nideggen in the Eifel

It promised to be another grey and rainy day but Jan had read about Nideggen a lovely midieval town in the Eifel (Germany) and suggested to go and visit.  So we drove further than Monschau which we already start to know fairly well. Just before we reached Nidegger we followed some arrows to a look-out, only to never find it before the road descended back into the valley where we had come from.  We missed a turn back to the town and then Jan stubbornly ignored the GPS and he continuously went on a little further as that was surely the quicker road to go back.   I agree that making U-turns is boring and so we ended up touring a bit through the valley.

"Look there, a fort"
We pulled over at the little village square named "Uben der/den (?) Graben" (Above the graves) of Untermaubach to explore what seemed a big village fortification currently (divided and) privately owned. We wandered around on the inner courtyard but found no explanation on the what and where of the place so we went on again. You can tell when an area is scattered with historical places when there's no need to put up interpretive signs.





When we were approaching Nideggen again, we tried another viewpoint and this time we found a trail leading to a watchtower high above the forrest with a stunning 360° view back towards Belgium , the nearby Eifel nature park, the fortified Nideggen on the next hill, the villages & dammed lake we had just passed etc...

The area had been mostly destroyed in '44 by WWII battlefields when the US troops had reached Germany here already 14 days after D-Day, yet fought for 5 months in these hills.  This is the cross of a missing US soldier whose body was found in the woods here in '91.

1,5h after our original passing, we finally arrived at Nideggen and parked just outside the midieval town gates.
The little town indeed was filled with welcoming little squares and cobblestone roads lined with charming houses and some restaurants. These led to the fortress we had seen from far towering over the surrounding valleys.

We drove back with another detour through the Eifel and discovered that the area is really scattered by pittoresque towns that most of them have some sort of midieval fortification and they are not all flocked with tourists like the much more popular Monschau.

Abtei Mariawald