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Ireland!

One of the perks of living in Belgium is of course, that it’s easy to go somewhere else. A couple of hours in any direction brings you into a completely new culture and language without the inconvenience of having to change currencies. In fact, even in Belgium I sometimes feel like I’ve stepped onto another planet as I suddenly find the twist on the Dutch accent impossible to understand and even my children who attend Dutch schools also sometimes have to admit defeat.

Cheap-ish flight tickets made it possible for us to visit Ireland last week and how amazing it was. Firstly I was blown away by the amazing feeling of space as we trundled along a massive nearly empty highway to visit my cousin in Galway. I knew I wasn’t in Belgium when I asked a shop assistant where to buy running shorts for my son and received a lengthy description of the town and suitable stores to visit. Of course while we were there we stocked up on smarties, jelly tots and cadburys chocolate. I gave the custard powder and jelly powder a miss as my kids ( as befits true Philistines ) have given up on these colonial delicacies and insist on liking the harder to find (read expensive) specialities like blitong ( akin to jerky) and dried sausage.

A real breath of fresh air was being able to stop at any time, anywhere for a meal. Sings in restaurants and pubs proclaiming ‘Food served all day’ just made me want to go in there and order something to eat. And on that topic, there’s a certain restaurant in Kinsale called ‘Fishy Fishy’ which is worth rather a large detour to visit. Apart from the main course which was nothing short of perfection, I had sticky toffee pudding for the first time in my life. WHile I’m not a sweet tooth, the taste will linger on and bring a smile to my lips for a good long while.

We spent a couple of days marvelling at the massive newly-built highways and the convoluted local roads passing the most desolate, amazing scenery I’ve had the fortune to experience. But even here, in paradise there’s trouble, gated communities are empty, office blocks aren’t sold and super expensive byways continue to be built because they were improved in boom times, ouch!

Still, even people in Dublin seemed relaxed and friendly and donned their leprechaun hats with attached beards in anticipation of a six nations home rugby match I was sorry to miss.

Fortunately I had the sense to steer clear of Guinness when I was asked by a bar tender whether I wanted a real beer or some yellow stuff. What I didn’t remember is that somehow we don’t live in a global village and that pints aren’t created equally. So imagine my surprise when I received huge glass of beer when all I requested was an innocent ‘pintje’.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

On books…

Recently I had to fill out some questions including the last ten books I read and the 10 greatest children’s books. The questionnaire was flexible and you didn’t absolutely have to keep to ten, thank goodness.

Briefly, I’ve been reading mostly Middle Grade and Young Adult lately but I’ve also indulged in ‘The time-traveller’s wife which really keeps you guessing and emotional. Imagine a scenario where you could impregante your wife in the future because you’re visiting her from the past, but not in the present because you’ve had a vasectomy. My mind is reeling just thinking about it.

Icefall was an interesting Middle Grade almost a detective story about the King’s children who get taken in by someone in their close circle.

Holes is fairly bleak in terms of setting, but that’s the idea. Detention consists of digging holes to find treasure for the camp manager.

I love series because it’s often difficult to find an author and a theme that appeals to me so once I do, I latch on and read everything by that person. Therefore I’ve read all of the Ranger’s Apprentice, don’t despair, the first one isn’t the best one. The next series which starts with The Outsiders, is even better.

Twilight provided large entertainment value as books and movies. Lots of criticism of the writing and so on but I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The Hunger Games were great to read because there was so much tension in this post-modernday world. Fabulous stuff.

I nearly forgot Harry Potter who took the world by storm. Great reads.

I’m a big fan of Percy Jackson too, just the idea of half-bloods running around who are mostly dyslexic spells interesting story!

And of course as a child I loved all the Secret Sevens, Noddy books, Famous Five, the Narnia series and My friend Flicka.

I’m not sure what I would have done if I had the range of choice kids have today….

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

New book

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

So we splurged and went to watch the Boks play the French at the Stade de France. Somehow I prefer not to be outnumbered as a supporter and felt sorry for the guys who left the field and couldn’t even hear the appreciation from the crowd. Still, I can happily say that the French know their anthem and know more than three words: ‘Allez les bleus’.Paris (48 of 95)

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Doel

They kicked everyone out of this town to expand the harbour or the electric plant 10, some say twenty years ago. Some people came back and squatted but I think a handful decided not to move. Tragic to say the least and a waste, such under-utilized infrastructure, we could go paintballing there…Plus it was a beautiful misty day, just to add to the eerie atmosphere.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Dutch, French, English…?

http://www.fansofflanders.be/Categories/Blogs/14_October_2013/21102013_Olivia_de_Vos

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Beer

We all know that Belgium is the beer capital of the world. Every second monastery seems to have its own brew, every town, in fact has some kind of speciality where beer is concerned. Well this is what it feels like sometimes when I look at the array of beer to be tasted. Some are extremely heavy, very high in alcohol and dangerous if you come from warmer climes and beer is a thirst quencher rather than a drink to be savoured like wine.

On this subject, I would like to say how much I enjoy beer ads that aren’t perfectly sexist, I mean what does ‘men know why’ even mean, so I’m not allowed to be drinking this beer becasue I’m a woman? Because I wouldn’t understand it, thanks! There’s a Spanish beer that has a great non-sexist feel-good ad and of course there’s a recent one of guys all playing basketball in wheelchairs together, I can handle that, the theme is friendship and it’s not exclusive. People who make ads haven’t seen old ladies quaffing beer here, there and everywhere in Belgium. Get them when they’re young is what I say, and they’re missing a market.

Now, imagine my surprise when I fell upon this site: http://belgium.beertourism.com/. A perfectly good idea to combine beer, beer tasting, beer making with tourism and food. This site has masses of information about beer and about places to visit. I love a site if it’s in English and easy to navigate and I’ve found loads of new information. Beer lovers will love it if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to take a look.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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