It’s been a while…

A long time between blogs

Very thought provoking – the Jewish Memorial in Berlin – a great work of art

There has been plenty happening – and the more that happens the less I can blog – it’s sort of the inverse law of blogging – the true excuse however is that I have been travelling so much for work that what spare time I do have I try and commit to Chrissy Edie and Olive.
However motivated by Chrissy’s biggest ever day of hits on her blog – and while I await the arrival of friends with our takeaway Indian (yes that busy) – oh and I mean take-away Indian food not a take-away Indian! – I thought well why not thrash out one of those many blogs that have occurred to you in the last month or so.
Possible titles:

  • Why we are moving to Virginia
  • The name of my new blog is…
  • OMG we’re leaving Belgium
  • Great friends and special people I have met in the last 20 months
  • Things I won’t miss in the least (rudeness, traffic, grey, traffic, gray, grey, waiting for everything, grey , gray – did I mention grey?)
  • My amazing family
  • Take life by the Kahuna’s
  • Croa(d)tia here we come
  • The dumbest things I’ve seen in Europe
  • The best things I’ve seen in Europe
  • I think I’m turning Germanese, turning Germanese I really think so…
  • Running in, around and from Antwerp
  • People who I really want to see again
  • The smells of Belgium
  • Great food disasters in my travels
  • Don’t get a 3 year lease just buy noose and hang yourself
  • The many shades of grey (gray) – mainly found in Belgium
  • Castle catastrophes
  • My worst summer holiday
  • How to know you really love your partner
  • At the Berlin Wall – East side – where i never thought I would be

  • Constant reminders
  • Friends in low places
  • Friend sin far-away places
  • Support, supporters and suppositories
  • Apotheek’s and reducing the size of your bank balance
  • Mountain biking on a flat surface
  • Enjoying traffic
  • Why vehicle pollution is such an issue in modern Europe
  • Laughing at yourself
  • Being genuinely and pleasantly surprised
  • Music as an icebreaker
  • Staying fit
  • Fat and Sugar
  • Friends, Belgians, Countrymen, bring more your greens
  • The right to party hard
  • Living with global children (who know as much as you do, possibly more)
  • How to conceal Great public events in a cosmopolitan society
  • Why I still want to be French – or at least claim some hereditary status
  • NZ is neither the end of the nor is it all things to the world, stay there or stay away at your peril
  • Zoo 101 – Berlin
  • The wall …and ways to hit it

So anyway – I could go on, and as you can see there is quite a list, now I have no time to attend to any of them.
Votes for which one you would like me to start on are gratefully received
And I promise I will.

For many in Antwerp – you won’t need the blog post – you’ll get it in two or three words from each topic, for others, I promise all will be explained over the next few months

Oh and as a hint my new blog will be http://www.youcannotbserious.wordpress.com

My favourite girls – living the life in Berlin!

Love you all
Croadie

I’ve got rhythm…

I didn’t run to the Nederlands at the weekend – I drove with my family to Kinderdijk, and then onto Middelburg after some cycling and fun around the windmills.

On the outskirts of Kinderdijk - my second shot - I missed the all important windmill on the first one

I had come down with my worst ever allergic reaction on Wednesday and had cautiously recovered through Friday and Saturday, going for a shortish10km romp with 2 laps around Rivierenhof on a rainy cool Saturday night.

I felt sorry for all the locals and travellers who will have booked tickets for the nightly outdoor music concerts held in Rivierenhof (just flicker search it if you want a squizillion pics of the concerts) July/August with some great acts – but unfortunately atrocious weather for this season. It is a beautiful park if not for the unfortunate constant hum of traffic which has come to symbolise Belgium for me in many respects:

Not my pic, from flicker, it does look as good as this though! (stinky water again however)

As I commenced my second lap however it occurred to me what one of my many problems is.

To run as I do – and I’m lucky because I feel much the same at 10kms as I do at 1km – and usually that is not too bad – I was reminded that it is about rhythm.

Of course! Since we have been here we have no rhythm.

And because of what we have, or don’t have, here – we are always keen to escape.

Catch 22; the more you escape the less rhythm you create – because for one  – you won’t escape to the same place twice (We’re stuck in this ‘not a holiday, not a life’ mode, so to return somewhere is to usurp any opportunity to go somewhere different).

So I’m open to ideas.

We lack rhythm, yet can’t handle the monotony. Many Belgians relish rhythm often returning to the same holiday spot year after year (Kiwis do this too I note). But we don’t have those hubs, those family gathering, old chum back slapping options.

Further all the expats we do sometimes slap backs with do the same as us – we behave somewhat like an exploding skyrocket, escaping the city at tremendous pace and dispersing in every possible direction to see where we might head towards and then fade out.

…And we must see what we can see, though at times I crave to see it as an explorer and not a tourist – to actually dwell in one place/region for a while, discover the hidden charms, observe the way of life, live in their shoes a while.

…and then of course, leave and go back to our rhythm which is not rhythm.

Perhaps I’m living a Jazz, and just like Jazz at first it feels a little odd, but there is a pattern, there is a core, and life and purpose and vibrancy can spring from it.

…or you take the record off.

Easy on a Sunday morning

It’s been 10 weeks since I last posted – wow that’s bad. Truth is it has been full on, no particular fault of Antwerp, but a disproportionate number of things coming to a head, and in some cases fizzing out completely.

And to keep it simple I’m going to stick with my running theme – as 10 weeks later I am still running.

Truth is I found a way around my dilemma of the local park – I started running a different route – more urban, fewer drunks/ dropouts. It hasn’t solved anything of the real problem but it has allowed me to keep running.

So here’s what I observed when I headed out for a 15km run on Sunday morning at 0615 hrs.

  • Several groups of slightly weary ‘gents’ heading home or back to their hotel / home.
  • One person asleep (almost on a park bench)
  • Before entering the lift to take me through the Sint Anna pedestrian tunnel under the Schelde the guy on his push bike sculled his can of Jupiter (beer) and threw it to the ground. I got in with him – just a little anxious.
  • At the other end (578 metres long) – he had waited for me – keeping the lift door open (the world is full of suprises), and gave me a cheery smile.
  • The cavernous lift (made for bicycles) had a dubious wet patch on the floor (I don’t think it was his).
  • On the other side (Linkerover) I ran to the John F Kennedy tunnel (and checked the air pollution as a possibility of running later) – the answer is no.
  • Passed one illegal camper fast asleep with his tent flap up and his hairy bum showing (worse is yet to come)
  • Passed a strange man in full waterproof garb fishing who knows what out of the reeds with a little net (I hope that was his job, otherwise he must get a life)
  • Saw the most rabbits I have ever seen in a short space of time– probably 3 or 4 hundred over the next 30 minutes of running.
  • Passed the 8 or 10 sailing clubs hunched around a lake the size Westpac Stadium, looking rather like a bad sideshow. (Why couldn’t they all agree to share one decent facility)?
  • At about 0700 I reached a carpark where two male joggers had just driven in – I thought they looked ‘suspect’ in their white shorts and matching backpacks – the pre-jog kiss confirmed it. I ran faster.
  • On reaching the Schelde again I encountered another strange clubhouse thingy – and disturbed someone relieving himself in the Schelde (OK downstream from Antwerp – but only confirms my intention never to set a toe in its waters).
  • Finally a lady walking her dogs.
  • Another lady, another dog (her dog I mean)
  • As I headed towards the bend which leads the river back to Antwerp a flash of white caught my eye – yes another bottom – this time female – doing the wild thing. (I must learn how to cough politely or run more noisily, I slipped off down the other side of the bank so as not to disrupt their rhythm)
  • I then encountered a bunch of crazy taverns, a camp ground, and an outdoor swimming pool. All looking rather tired, like some closed down amusement park that had run out of cash and patrons (whilst knowing that on a nice day many Belgians would think this the lap of luxury).
  • I weaved my way near and far from the river due to restricted acces in many parts with more yacht clubs, more strange clubs I couldn’t understand, and sometimes for no reason I could understand.
  • A group of Englishmen/ Scotsmen (one with his countries flag wrapped around him) – heading for the aforementioned Campground – after a BIG night out.
  • Another illegal camper – strangely within walking distance of the camp facilities.
  • Two more people – sleeping next to the river – not active to my relief.
  • Back through the tunnel – again with an accompanying cyclist – looking totally confused as to why anyone would run at all! (Yet again the lift was ‘held’ for me – not that i was far behind this languid cyclist)
  • And then finally back through the Meir – where I saw to my amazement – in the last 200 metres of my run – another runner. I waved to her, she back.

Hope you enjoyed the trip.

I plan on running from home to the Nederland’s this weekend.

This is particularly amusing for a Kiwi – we can’t run to any country – so there is some unusual lure and anticipation about it.

Hopefully the local authorities don’t find out I may get locked up, i certainly won’t have my Belgian residents card on me.

Even littering is done in an orderly fashion

I’m going crazy.

I just illegally disposed of some ‘rubbish’ in a proper Belgian manner – very low key, somewhat orderly, and designed to create the least possible offence, even though it is an offence in all probability.

It’s like this:

We bought a Xmas tree, did the Xmas decoration thing, Xmas passed as did the use by date of the tree ( a proper one – you know they start green, drop needles everywhere, turn brown and invite cockroaches to stay over).

Chrissy went to the Belgian rules and regulations filing cabinet (thats the really big one), pulled out the disposing of Xmas trees rule book, referenced the section stipulating that if this was your first Xmas in Belgium, that the tree was bought from a certified Belgian Xmas tree seller and had been previously decorated in the correct manner, within the allotted time period then this was how you could dispose of it –

So we did as it said and placed it outside our house, and voila – it was still there the next day.

So we brought it inside, reread the rules, found we didn’t have it rotated the right way around and put it out on the next allotted night.

Still there.

And so it went – at one month later, we knew we had missed something, but had no idea what. We even had someone stand the tree up for us in our front garden at one stage – of course we didn’t ask for that, but that is a sort of Belgian thing too.

And then, well three months later I spied a stash in the local park where they neatly place fallen branches to rot down…so I hatched a plan.

Tonight under the cover of darkness, I took the said tree,walked 200 metres into the park, located the stash and added our relatively ungainly, very dry and ugly, once beautiful, xmas tree.

Yes I checked for onlookers, and I am confident if one had seen me they would have wanted to know what I was doing.

I must check the local papers to see if it becomes a scandal.

I shall for-ever remember my Xmas tree litter in Belgium.

living here has even changed how I litter (not that I was ever very good at it).

Footnote:

Can somebody please explain why when I walked into the park mindful of anyone looking on, I felt brave and emboldened with my lousy, dry, ugly 1.8m tree. After dumping it (tidily) whilst returning I felt exposed and a bit edgy about whatever loomed in the dark – I mean what was I thinking – that the Xmas tree was a useful weapon, or that any onlooker would be so convinced I was a loony they wouldn’t come near me?