Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
I am not near a computer right now and will not be for a few days yet, I am celebrating Christmas with my family, in the UK. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you are enjoying yourself. Enjoy your celebrations.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I attended the 11 o' clock service at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres) today, to commemorate Armistice Day. I do not like to be in the "circus" on the road near the Gate so I observed from the old town walls. The following clip shows the field of poppies on the old walls, by the gate, followed by the last post.
Monday, 9 November 2009
I remember watching the events of the fall of the Berlin wall. It was during my student days and myself and others watched events unfold in the common room of a student hostel. Discussions came to two themes, 1/this was just a glitch in the status quo and the wall and the rest of the iron curtain would be back up in a couple of months, 2/this was it, the start of World War III. We had all been born into the cold war and it was all that we knew, the idea that Soviet Block Communism would come to an end was something that did not even occur to us, at that time. Little would I have guessed that I would be working in the eastern side of Berlin, less than three years later.
I was based in the Netherlands at the time and the organization that I worked for had a small team based in Berlin but they only had four guys there and when the Berlin wall had fallen they taken responsibility for a site in Stahnsdorf, that was badly in need of renovation. Not having the manpower in Berlin, teams where sent from Belgium and the Netherlands to help with the renovations and I was a member of one of those teams. Staying as guests of Her Majesties forces, at Devon house, the Berlin civilian mess, I was to visit Berlin many times, over the next couple of years.
On my first visit, in 1992 the East side of Berlin was still very much as it had been in the Soviet era and the stub of the old wall could still be seen across the road by the Brandenburg Gate. It was there that many stalls had been set up, mostly selling Russian army artifacts, everything from watches to infra red night sights. That is where I purchased this hat. I have since found out that it is an officers hat of the motorized infantry from some time in the late 50's or early 60's. An officer probably made a bit of cash by selling off his old uniform to the traders. I was to visit Berlin a lot in the 90's, both to work and to visit a friend who lives there and I watched as the old East side of the city transformed and became westernized.
This hat now hangs in
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
It was in 1992 that I first took a trip through central Europe, with two friends. Our first stop was Prague, in what was still then Czechoslovakia. On the first day in the city we came across a watercolour painter in the center of the city selling his wares. Myself and one of my companions took a liking to his paintings and asked his prices. Language was a bit of a barrier but we soon worked out that rather than buying a painting each, we could have three paintings for the price of two, which we did. I really liked this one and only wanted one and so we split our little bundle accordingly.
The thing about this holiday was that it was happening at a time of transition. Communism had crumbled but it ghosts could still be seen in the countries that we visited (especially Poland). I have traveled through central Europe since then but the lingering cold war atmosphere and the feeling of things changing at a supersonic rate have gone and the countries have settled down to work on their growing democracies and westernization. This painting represents the memories of a trip that could never happen again. The memories of this trip are still strong in my mind, they happened in a moment of history, the likes of which we will never see again in the same way. This painting reminds me of what I saw as the world changed on a mammoth scale.
Monday, 2 November 2009
I want this blog to be mostly about happenings, events and things to see in and around Flanders and Belgium other than chocolates, beer and statues of little boys peeing (although these will make the odd appearance). But as the weather gets cooler and the days grow shorter, there is less going on and sometimes I like to snuggle up in the warm at the weekends, after spending the week outside (I am a hands in the dirt horticulturalist) and so I will have less fresh material to post here over the winter, although there will be some current posting. So rather than reducing the regularity of posting, I have some material from the summer that I have saved for winter and I have one or two ideas for posts, in the quieter weeks.
Devils from the Heksenstoet
I was going to post this clip as a special for Halloween but it clashed with World Blog Surf Day, so I am posting it now. It is of the Heksenstoet in Beselare and features the devils that took part in this parade.
The witch parade (Heksenstoet) in Beselare, Witches and Cats, July 2009
The witch parade (Heksenstoet) in Beselare, a photo post, July 2009
The witch parade (Heksenstoet) in Beselare, bands, July 2009
The photograph at the top of this post came from this website Heksenstoet.
Friday, 30 October 2009
is the blog on the list that follows this one. It is the blog of Alison who is originally from the USA and is now living in The Netherlands (Holland)
or Chrysanthemum day (as I like to call it)
Of course, All Saints Day happens in the UK but it is not really of much note there. In Belgium the first of November is a public holiday and is the time when people remember their loved ones, family and friends that have departed this mortal realm. In the run up to the day people visit cemeteries on mass clean, polish and generally spruce up the graves of those whom are no longer with us and leave potted Chrysanthemums on or near their graves.
For those that have recently lost loved ones this can be an important part of the grieving process but for others it is a chance to remember a person who is gone. The atmosphere around the cemeteries is surprisingly up beat, in the period running up to the day, people bump into and chat with others that they have not seen for a while and the whole feel is that of a community event. whilst I visited cemeteries, to take photographs, a few people asked what I was doing, when I told them all where very approving of my motives and some shared stories of the persons whose graves they where tending. All in all it seems to bring back to life the memories of those who are now gone. The cemeteries are very busy at this time of year.
These plants are everywhere at this time of year. Local authorities replace the annual bedding schemes with them, people have them outside of their doors and garden walls and of coarse many shops have great colourful displays of what they have for sale. Literally millions of Chrysanthemums are sold in Belgium at this time of year, there are many plant nurseries that produce large amounts of these and some produce nothing else and their entire production is dedicated to this event.
You will find the same level of care and chrysanthemums will be left. It is strange how something that you would think may be a somber occasion, can create such a feeling of community and have such an up beat feel. I think this is symbolized by the normally grey and sober cemeteries turning into a riot of colour. It is a time to celebrate and remember the lives of the departed, not a time to weep.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
The art of Pieter Driessens
indoors and out
The final arrangements for this event has been announced in this post World Blog Surf Day Link List on the blog Czech Off the Beaten Path. I will be taking part and the event will be reported on Twitter by Karen of the blog Empty Nest Expat.
Monday, 26 October 2009
The following clip is of the Gauls at the Gallo-Roman weekend in Wervik. It shows some of the craft work displays including wood turning, chain mail manufacture, wood carving and cord making. The clip ends with some Gaulish warriors displaying their martial skills.
Gallo-Roman event Wervik, the Roman Army, October 2009
Gallo-Roman event Wervik, Romans and Gauls, October 2009, a photo post
Saturday, 24 October 2009
It is coming up to the 11th of November and Remembrance Sunday and so this weeks Saturday Curiosity Box is focusing on The Poppy Appeal that goes along with these events. This happens in many countries and if yours is one of them I hope that you will support the relevant organization for your country or country of origin but as I am English I am focusing on the work of The Royal British Legion. Please help support the troops that help keep us safe, once their duty is done. After they have been to all the bad places of the world, it is the responsibility of the rest of us to help look after them.
The Royal British Legion - Homepage - Welcome to The Royal British Legion - Caring and campaigning for the serving and ex-Service community
The Royal British Legion - The Poppy Appeal
An example of the type of work that the RBL do
Since the incident, Daniel has had to undergo over 20 operations, including skin grafts and plastic surgery, to try and repair the disfigurement to his face and body.
It was whilst organizing a Remembrance service for his two comrades that Daniel discovered that he was eligible for Legion assistance. Since he got in touch with us, we have helped him obtain the War Disablement Pension he deserves, and also helped him to pay for a much needed special moisturizing treatment for all his skin grafts.
Recently, Daniel said: "Before I approached the Legion I had no idea that they could help young ex-Service people like me. Now I look at the poppy in a new light, knowing the lifeline that it provides to Service leavers like me".BBE
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I watched him working for ages
If you want to see other posts in this series, follow the links below.
Gallo-Roman event Wervik, the Roman Army, October 2009
Gallo-Roman event Wervik, The Gauls, October 2009,