Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Monday, 28 December 2009

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Seasons Greetings

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

Next years blog calendar - January

I am off to the UK now for Christmas and will not have internet access for nearly two weeks. So rather than abandoning this blog (that has been somewhat neglected aver the past few weeks) I thought that I would leave some scheduled posts. I have put together a calendar, made from Photographs that I have used on this blog during 2009, that I intend to use in the side bar over 2010. I am posting these over the holiday period, if anyone else wants to use them or print them off that is fine by me.

January 2010


Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmasy Flanders, a photo post

As you may have noticed, I have added some Christmas decs to the blog to get into the spirit of the season. There is also a lot of Christmasy things happening around Flanders, including kerstmarkts (Christmas markets), I got to visit one in a small village but unfortunately arrived a little early and did not have time to hang around. Still I did manage to grab one or two Christmasy snaps.

This is manufactured snow on this tree

There where plenty of hot braziers to stand around and have a warm

And of course, plenty of places to partake of a flavoured Genever

Before buying your Christmas trinkets

Many shops have hand painted Christmas windows


Sunday, 6 December 2009

To blog or not to blog? That is the question

This is a failing blog

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing this blog and sharing my photos and videos but very few people come here to see what I have to offer. The best day that I have had so far was World Blog Surf Day but normally I only have 3 to 12 visitors a day and it just seems a bit weird, talking to the internet ether.

What am I going to do about it

Well I am going to carry on for a while and see how I feel about it but I am going to loosen up a bit about how and when I post. When I started this blog the main aim was to make it a bit of a resource for expats living in Belgium (side bar links etc) and people who are planning to visit Belgium and I did not want to post much outside of my own photos and vids. I think that I am going to throw my rule book out of the window and post what I feel like posting, when I feel like posting it.

So let's see how it goes from here


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Taking a sicky

I ended up having to go to hospital yesterday (Friday) and am not feeling on top of the world right now so I have decided to take a little break from this blog. The plan is that I will start posting again in two weeks, if all goes well.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres) Novmber 11th 2009

The field of poppies

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.

The Last Post

The crowd at the town side of the Gate

Part of the parade at the front side of the Menin Gate

The Belgian War Memorial in Ieper

We will remember them


Monday, 9 November 2009

A Soviet hat from Berlin - a show and tell

I was not planning to do another show and tell so soon after the last one but as the 9th of November marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, this one seemed appropriate.

My Soviet Russian military hat

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 the spare bedroom where I keep my books my library and is a constant reminder of the cold war days that I grew up in and the changing face of Europe in the post Soviet era.

There is one song that always reminds me of Berlin and that time (and also how pretentious some 80's videos could be) and every time that I think of my visits to Berlin this song starts going through my head.


Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Saturday Curiosity Box - A new blog for the roll - Remembrance Sunday

A new blog for the blog roll

A Flamingo in Utrecht - The blog that followed mine in last weeks World Blog Surf Day event and one that reminds me of the time that I lived in the Netherlands, where this blogger is based.

Remembrance Sunday

Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday The main fund raising event for the The Royal British Legion. To find out more about the appeal click on this link The Royal British Legion - The Poppy Appeal or it is possible to donate direct to the appeal through this link The Royal British Legion - Give to the Poppy Appeal today. The following clip is a compilation of news items outlining the Poppy Appeal and where the money goes.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A watercolour from Prague - Show and tell

As I said in my last post, I do not get about as much in winter and so I have had to think of one or two other things to post during this chilly season, one of them is "Show and tell". There are probably lots of bloggers doing this or something similar but the one that I stole the idea from was WRITER CRAMPS. Well here is one of my treasured possessions and a little about it.

A watercolour from Prague

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

Devils at the Heksestoet and a little word about winter posting

Winter posting

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.

Friday, 30 October 2009

World Blog Surf Day - Aller Heiligen (All Saints Day)

Hi and welcome to my first attempt at a World Blog Surf Day participation. For anyone who does not know what this event is about, a whole bunch of us expat bloggers post on the same day on the same theme. The Theme for this particular event is Holidays and Celebrations. Each blogger links to the next blogger on the list and thus it gives the surfer the opportunity to travel the world through the participating blogs. My thanks to Sher of Czech Off the Beaten Path for organizing this event and for those of you who use that Twit thing Karen of the blog Empty Nest Expat is reporting the event on her Twitter account, emptynestexpat.

A Flamingo in Utrecht
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)

Aller Heiligen (All Saints Day)
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.

From the Grandest of tombs

To the humblest of plots

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.

For the next blog in the chain for this event click on the link below

A Flamingo in Utrecht

If you find the link chain broken, there is a full list of participating blogs in the following post link

World Blog Surf Day Link List


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Art from Pieter Driessens - And some news on World Blog Surf Day

The art of Pieter Driessens

As described in This Post there was an art event in Flanders a couple of weeks ago. I did not get to as many exhibitions as I would have liked to because of circumstances beyond my control but I did get to see the work of one part time artist and am sharing it with you now.

A selection of sculptures
indoors and out

Pieter himself with one of his indoor pieces

World Blog Surf Day News

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

Gallo-Roman event Wervik, The Gauls, October 2009,

The Gauls

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.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Saturday Curiosity Box - The Poppy Appeal

The Poppy Appeal

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.

Wear Your Poppy With Pride

For more information on the Poppy Appeal and The Royal British Legion, please click on the following links

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

Daniel served in the Army for 7 years as a loader operator of the battle tank 'Challenger 2'. In March 2003, his tank was fired on. Daniel was lucky to survive, but two of his comrades were killed outright, and he himself was left with severe shrapnel wounds to his face and jaw, as well as significant hearing loss.

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".


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Gallo-Roman event Wervik, Romans and Gauls, October 2009, a photo post

As promised, some photos of the Gallo-Roman event that I attended in Wervik. These photos are of both the Gauls and the Romans.

A Roman soldier on the march

This Gaul wood turner was very good
I watched him working for ages

Flying the flag for the legion

Home life of Gaul women

It was amazing how advanced some of the Roman technology was

Some Gaul warriors having a barny

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,