Sunday, September 30, 2012

Plankendael Zoo

Today we had a family day from work at Plankendael in Mechelen.  Even though passing by regularly and having heard so often that it is way nicer than the associated Zoo in Antwerp , which is 150 years old and squeezed in the historic city center.  In Plankendael however they lack no space and combine large animal spaces with fun playgrounds.  Additionally there's a great amount of storks living freely in the park, often seen on the streetlights in the neighbouring towns as well. 

what a fat raccoon!

Gimme the food

Ndela baby giraf on the right

kangaroo tanning on his back

baby snow leopard in the tree

The famous Kai Mook and his family moved recently from Antwerp Zoo to  brand new and huge new complex in Plankendael

sleeping red panda

Friday, September 28, 2012

Komt een vrouw bij de dokter

After reading multiple detective stories this summer I felt like something quite different and more real life.  So I picked "Komt een vrouw bij de dokter" (A woman arrives at the doctor).  I had heard somewhere about that book but didn't remember the context very well. Afterwards now I realised it is the most sold Dutch book ever and filmed and hyped in the Netherlands so no wonder I knew this title.

It has taken me many weeks to read the book and finish it. I struggled and wondered all the time whether I wanted to read this and why I'd finish it.  And yet it's raw honesty and the whirlwind of emotions kept me going to to the sad end eventually.

The story is about Stijn whose wife is diagnosed with uncurable form of it.  His perfect glamour world (2 owned businesses, happy family with cute toddler, wild parties, ...) is shattered.  While he struggles with the fears ,frustrations and sadness of his wife's fight, his existing habit to cheat on his wife gets out of proportion. In fact, the main character is an incredibly unbearable asshole.

And yet he describes everything so vivid, so raw, so seemingly honestly that it is refreshing (although that word isn't appropriate in the context). He even got me convinced that in his own failing way did love his wife very much, as he did his mistress where he finds peace in the middle of the turmoil that his family has become. The last chapters are very moving and emotional but also beautiful.  The whole story is so chokingly real if you've lived through the fight against cancer from closeby....and seriously who hasn't lost anyone to this disease yet?   Reviews criticized the author by playing on such themes and emotions but it would be his own story, written after he lost his wife.

I'm not sure I want to recommend the book to anyone...because of its topic. If you do, have your tissues closeby.  I'll probably check his next novels though.

Made in Belgium: Stash

In all honesty, for me is Stash mostly a one hit wonder with their still goosebump hit Sadness.   It's a classic, it's wow,  it's great.  And the clip where so many other Belgian top artists lipsynch their song is just brilliant!! (can attentive readers spot Guy Swinnen, Maurice Engelen, Walter Grootaers, Stijn Meuris, Luc De Vos, ...

Also in the other songs, I love the sad nostalgic sound that seems to come back. Good news is that their website announces that they work on new material.


 I need a woman (duet with Sarah Bettens)

 All that is left

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


As a kid we went often on vacation to Spain and on the Wednesday evening market  I discovered churros.  I loved it and it settled as a Spanish vacation memory.   In that period they also showed in the youth program  Kameleon (hey Flemish readers....remember the good old Kameleon with Danny Verbiest? ) how to make them.

In more recent  years they show up regularly now at local fairs, next to the fries, oliebollen and beignets.   When we walked by the kermis on its last day in Leuven , I couldn't resist buying some.   Not as good as on a summer night on a Spanish village market but still.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Redball project

Kurt Perschke's Redball project has arrived in Leuven....and it's conceptually just as awesome and original as simple.  And now all social media is full of the most fun pictures with a giant red inflated ball at different locations in the historic city center.....have a look here

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stress test

"Don't listen to the beeps, there is not always going to be a light" , she had told me and I knew that already.

Beep -  Light -  Click
Beep - Light - Click
Beep - faint light - Click
Beep ............
Beep ............
Beep  - faint light - click
Beep ...........

Damn, that's a lot of time that I don't see any lights.  That wasn't the case last times I did this vision test, was it? Seriously

Beep ...........
Beep - Light - Click
Beep - Light - Click
Beep ...........
Beep - faint light - Click
Beep - Light - Click

Aaah my eye is probably not focused , I must have missed lights.  

Beep - Light - Click
oh that one was in the center again, I see mainly lights in the center.  Have I seen any on the right outer side already?  

Beep - Light - Click
Beep - faint light - Click
Beep - faint light - Click

I haven't...nope don't think I haven't seen any one on the side. That's no good, if my vision field would have been touched, then it would probably start there....but how could I already have field vision damage if  I didn't even have increased intraoccular pressure over the last years? 

Beep - Light - Click  yeaaay saw that one
Beep - Light - Click got that one too
Beep - very faint light - Click   oooh that was to the side...faintly but I'm sure it was there. 

I had my bi-annual eye-tests today to test for glaucoma . I'm still fine: good intraoccular eye pressure and perfect eyesight as well. Yeay. But for a few moments there, I got quite stressed during that eye vision field test.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Made in Belgium: Trinity

This week I discovered a new 70ies disco band...apparently the guys from the Pebbles realised in the 70ies that disco was the new thing.  They found some hilarious fashionable outfits, hired a young singer to join them (apparently there were al plenty of duo's , so a trio would be more original).

So Trinity was born  and Trinity was succesful during a couple of year.    35 years later it's hard to imagine that this was seriously the music & looks that was all around.  Those must have been the days :D, living in one big dress-up party.

002345709 that's my number

Drop drop drop

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


When I feel tired and I didn't have my coffee yet, it happens regularly that the coffee machine in the office (fortunately they are smarter than me) points out that I forgot to place my cup or that I put it on the wrong side.  Ha, point proven then that I really needed that coffee, right?

Today I was phoning some consultant and looked up his phone number out of an e-mail conversation we had had.  Just when I phone him , my mobile starts ringing too. Very annoying.  I quickly glance at the screen of my mobile while I wait for my respondent to pick up.  Much to my surprise it's a local number on my fixed number.   Yeay, I was phoning myself.

Tonight I first started to set the table for 2 even though Jan has just left on an overseas business trip.  A bit later I was frustrated because the pan warmed so slowly....or not at all. It's hard to warm a pan if you don't turn the stove on.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This is why our knees hurt

60 m² of attic flooring + insulation...still a bit more to go unfortunately after which we'll tackle the actual roof insulation.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Glass wool

When I was 7, I went on my first summer camp located in some renovated farm.  In the evening we could watch our leaders perform some little play for us, while eating some vanilla pudding. We all sat down in the attic of the farm and most of us quickly climbed on the nice fluffy big roles of yellow stuff that were piled up there. 

Our leaders were too busy getting organised, or were simply ignorant ...but it took until multiple kids started whining and complaining the itch that we were all rushed off our yellow thrones.

Today we launched our big flooring and insulation excercise on the attick and this time I was wearing long sleaves, gloves and a breathing dust mask....still nasty stuff to work with, it stings through my pants!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Made in Belgium: KIA

Aweful nineties flashback to some hiphop in local dialect about going out, picking up girls and drinking too's no coincidence they are called "krapoel in axe"  (translated "scum in action")

and yet it brings me flashbacks to my student time
and yet it somehow brings me a big smile on my face, because it's so wrong but energetic and partylike.

Gosh, where did time go?...fortunately they came and disappear again in 1997 ;)




't snieuwt

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Since last winter I started reading books on a tablet.   Beforehand I would have thought I'd miss physical books in my hand.  But actually you quickly get used to the screen and in fact I find it way more practical.
The biggest advantage is of course to carry a full library at hand on your tablet, which is for the enternal traveller like me a huge advantage.  Secondly I love being able to read a book handsfree (thanks to the holder of the tablet)...handy at a table while having a meal or so.    Those 2 facts overrule greatly the loss of feeling a real page.

Disadvantage is that I tend to read less frequently anymore in bed just before dozing off. I suppose that at that point of the day, I do not enjoy the lighted up screen anymore (I don't have a kindle, ...I guess they are better for that).   Additionally, I seem to have been reading less in general over the last weeks, but that could be due to the type of books I recently read. Still there is on my tablet so many other distractions that need to compete with reading books.

What is  your experience with reading books vs e-books?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Parade of "the years"

Last week I explained the existence of "the men of the years" in Leuven...organisations for each age of men. The fair is still going on in Leuven and previous weekend the parade of all the years happend throughout the city.  The weather was brilliant so lots of people were outside.

Organised by blocs (bloc 2 for the men of 1922, 1932, 1942, 1952, 1962 and 1972  , bloc 2 for the men of 1923, 1933, ....) and alternated with lots of different types of marching bands.....some proudly marching, some getting a ride in a cool car , others half dancing or simply walking by nonchalantly...dozens and dozens of men coming by.

There was a Dutch would have never guessed

the cutest hats!

Our beautify city hall

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Made in Belgium: Wannes Van De Velde

When you think of folk music in Flanders, brought in the own local dialect, you can't ignore Wannes Van De Velde.  He seems, together with Roland, Willem Vermandere the founding father of poetic, folkloric chanson.

Wannes was a poet, sculpture, musician and singer from Antwerp. In the 60ies he started to write folksongs & protestsongs.  Not speaking any of the "official correct Dutch" he stuck to his local dialect from Antwerp which is so typical in his songs and a lot of songtexts also related to his home city.  He was surrounded with excellent musicians , creating a very unique own sound.  At the same time he was quite active in (puppet) theatre, writing movie music and also writing poetry.

In 2008 Wannes passed away after fighting leukemia for several years.  He has received several decorations & awards for his career and in Bornem there is a street named after him.

Ik wil deze nacht in de straten verdwalen

 Als ik zou sterven

Bitter zeemanslied

 Hier is em terug

 De flamingant ne me traĆ®tez

PS: this post was in fact a request from Sponzen Ridder .   Thanks for taking interest in my series!  Always fun to get some response :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Celebrating Abraham 2012

When you start living in Leuven, you come across all kinds of references to the "men of the year xx" or "organisation of the years" .  I never really got what it is about, not even when Jan joined "the men of the year 72" . There seems to be so many traditions that I can't keep track off, but essentially each year a new organisation is founded with men from around Leuven turning 40.   They get together , plan activities together (going on a weekend, rock festival, sport...or just going for drinks) , ...and stay active for at least 10 years when they celebrate their 50th birthday. The fun part of it is that you make a group of friends unrelated to your study time, work, sport club, ....but a cross-section of people in the city with the same age.

On top of that, as said, there's loads of traditions and activities linked to events in the city  and linked to other "men of the years".   Men of the year often help at local festivals and fairs for fundraising etc...

Earlier this year the associations of "men of the years" got recognition as Unesco culteral heritage.

So last Saturday it was Abraham celebration and since Jan left with a brand new nice suit (ha, the men of 72 have flashy unesco blue colored shirts!) , I had to go check out what it was all about.
The park had filled with clusters of men in similar suits, flags, a marching band , curious people watching and passing families on their way to the fair.

Every association has its own flag

Speeches for the men of 62 who see Abraham this year

Clusters of men in similar suits

Parade towards "Kamerood Sesteg", sculpture for the men turning 40

Kamerood Sesteg, dressed in uniform men of 62

Kamerood Sestig getting T-shirt men of 72

Men of 62 giving men of 72 a pin

Abraham watching it all approvingly

Flag of the association being handed from the men of 72 to the newly founded men of 73

Fonske dressed up in suit of men of 62 in city center

Men of 72 posing in front of congratulations to men of 62