Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you

Back to some politics. Elections are looming (again? I hear you ask!) - this time its the big time: The feds - so I will have two elections this year (plus, not to mention the exciting coverage of the US shortly after...) to follow. Currently, Belgium is led by a 'purple' government: a coalition between the socialists (which are strangely enough coloured red) and the liberals (not to be compared with the so-called liberals they have in Australia - coloured blue). Interestingly, there are more than 2 political parties in this country (yes, more than 2) which makes politics a total other ballgame than the 2 major right-of-centre parties we are confronted with in Australia (yes, there are others, but lets be honest - the day that the Greens finally take over, it will be snowing in Emu Park). If you even know something remotely about me, you will have probably picked up that I am somewhere in the realm of a khaki voter (can't think of another colour to resemble a mix between red and green) so it drives me bananas to see the stupidity of the extreme right parties here....

Let me explain! Last year, the provincial (like state) elections were held, and in Antwerp (not just a city, but a province as well) the socialists won, (no landslide however) with their biggest contenders being the absolute right, Vlaams Belang (Flemish Importance party. Ring any bells? Pauline?) I am a big fan of the mayor (I'm sure Tom also voted for him because they both back the same football club...) as he has campaigned using only positive reinforcement. Never complaining about the other parties, people, problems, rather promoting the beauty in an otherwise not so lovely province. One such campaign is the 'zonder haat straat':

Signs you could hang in your window, which look exactly the same as a street sign, with 'without hate street' written on them. Especially in Antwerp, where probably 10% of people are first or second generation Belgians, but still have a 'brown' appearance and constantly the butt of such hatred and racism, the signs are a nice gesture.

So, considering the Vlaams Belang contender did not become Mayor of Antwerp, he has decided to run in the federal elections to represent Antwerp. Why he thinks the public will vote for him now, I'm not sure... But, his latest campaign is: Wait for it... Zonder Jihad Straat (without Jihad street). You can imagine how people are reacting to this - especially since he hung the signs everywhere in the middle of the most multicultural suburb of Antwerp.

For more info...
Zonder Jihad Straat

10 Points to you, De Winter. I look forward to being sent home - oh that's right, I can stay because I'm not brown. At least I will be able to stay in your new country, Flanders (who needs that horrible French speaking lumpy part, which actually has some trees) and being a stay at home mum with my 5 children (because women are not meant to work).

And you think the brown people cause problems...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Get out of bed, pick up the phone, time to tell the press

Quite a notable absence - yes I know! Doesn't really help that our internet provider decided to do some work in our neighbourhood, and change some details without us knowing. But, we are back on track now and ready to update the last two, not-so-eventful weeks!

I suppose the highlight of this week involved tom making spaghetti bol with a twist... On my birthday, my parents-in-law bought me some delicious oils and vinegars in a set, and although these weren't labelled, it was quite clear to me (via the use of my olfactories) which was which. Tom didn't realise that the proven├žal oil had run out, as so had the wok oil, leaving raspberry vinegar. So, thinking this was also oil, he seasoned the pan with the raspberry vinegar (thinking it was oil) then threw in the mince, herbs and the rest of the bol ingredients. I came into the kitchen somewhat later and thought that something was wrong with the meat, but didn't comment until later when I noticed that the bottle which formerly held the raspberry vinegar was now empty. Only then did he realise his boo-boo. The spag bol was ok, but there has been a lesson learnt here...!

Philippe became an uncle/god father this week - the third child for philippe and jan! Gay people must be attractive to give as godparents - surely they won't have their own!! Congrats philippe!

Received my invitation for the school reunion as well. After much arranging, and sorting out dates, plus some crap planning on my behalf, I discovered that I was a matter of a day too late letting the organisers know that I could indeed make it on a particular date, only to discover that the date had been changed to 2 weeks after I leave Australia. So girls and boys - considering I wasn't originally too phased whether or not to go, I was surprisingly cut up about it this week. I considered throwing a barbecue while I was back in Australia, but then thought that it would be stupid to invite everyone back to Rocky for one weekend, when they have to come back for the reunion 2 weeks later anyway...

It is funny - I know I will offend people with this, and if I do, this is not the intention, just a passing thought: When you move to another country, another lifestyle/culture, you regard your friends from 'home' higher than anyone you meet while you are away: They know you, have seen you grow up, go through all sorts of changes, crushes, first-times etc. But, this isn't fair on anyone - not on the old friends or the new ones. I have come to realise that I am not as important to my friends back in Australia as I thought I was, (as they are probably not as important to me), the world does not revolve around me, and that I should be more open with my new friends because who knows what could happen tomorrow.? I still love all of my friends from school so dearly, and look forward to catching up with whomever I can, again, but will attempt to feel less jealous when they are all together without me.

So, no hard feelings anyone. Have a drink or two for me, and I may see some of you again soon

Monday, May 14, 2007

Molitva - winner of eurovision

As the title suggests to any fluent Serbian, 'Prayer' is the English translation to the winning number for the weekends 'event of the year' in the gay calendar.

Quite a dramatic performance - but definitely worth the spectacle! For the 2nd year running, Tom and I won the 'local' eurovision contest - last year picking up a toilet roll holder containing a radio and a vase, and this year a chess/drafts set with shot-glasses as playing pieces. All about class. Thanks Philippe.

Speaking of which - I am not allowed to write anymore without mentioning that Kym, Benj, Tom, Philippe, Dave and I went to the football (Germinal Beerschot Vs Circla Brugge) to witness a lot of lovely boys kicking a ball around. Beerschot won 1-0 (but apparently played like crap) - Kym and I were more interested in the captain (Cruz) and star striker (Sterchele - dont know how to spell it!). Mmmmmmm!

So there you are philippe! You predicted my next blog to a 'T'! Look forward to Eurovision 2008 - perhaps Flanders will make it amonst the 'eastovision' countries (which seem to make up the bulk of the entries...)!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend with Aussies

Another visit from Kym and Benj - and once again all over far too quickly. I have to admit, that I do feel so lucky that I have some of my most wonderful, genuine friends, only a couple of hours away (while I dearly miss those who are not so nearby).

We took Gust for a day trip to Ieper (Ypres) to visit one of the most horrific battlegrounds of WWI (a subject I am embarrassed to say, I still know relatively little about, except that the ANZACs went to Gallipoli. Sadly, just as much devasation occurred in other parts of the world). Of the millions who perished in WWI, 500,000 were killed in battles in and around Ieper - so after visiting the Flanders fields museum, we took a small drive around the village, to see that mass graves surrounded the countryside (most of which belonged to unknown soldiers). The white graves were those of soldiers from the Commonwealth (mostly from the UK, with some from Canada) while the others simply marked a mass grave of 44,000 German Soldiers - 20,000 in one mass grave).

I am not one who likes to glorify the war, nor dwell on it. I am not a firm Bruce Ruxton fan, but I was overwhelmed at the amount of death which took place in a seemingly small area.

Sunday, we rode our bikes into Antwerp (after a minor delay with an exploding tyre on my ever painful bike) to watch an awesome street performer followed by Japanese for dinner.

Am looking forward to finally heading over to London (to see more than just Heathrow airport next time!)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Efteling

Today was our outing to De Efteling (I imagine Holland's equivalent of Disneyland) and I have to say that it was quite lovely.

For once, I wasnt overly pissed at the amount of people pushing prams (considering it is a park more for kids than adults this certainally would have been a bit trollish on my behalf). We started the day getting lost in Holland (missing the exit and doing a 60km detour... grrrr) but once we arrived it was as though we were in some sort of surreal wonderland. Instead of disney characters polluting the scenery, it had more a gnome/mushroom sort of vibe (suiting the forrest setting). De efteling is actually a sprookjes park (based on fairy-tale characters) so there was a lot of imagination involved with all of the attractions - we were there with Tom, Nita and Natalie and even though Natalie is only 17 months, she too could get involved with some of the activities. Of course we left her with her daddy when we wanted to ride the roller coasters... Note to self - waiting for one hour for a 1 minute ride is not as appealing as it was in highschool...

Have incuded a few happy snaps from the internet (we stupidly forgot our camera) - one I found particularly cute was the picture of the fat man - or if you look closer - a glorified rubbish bin. He periodically says 'papier hier' (I dont think a translation is necessary) and when you feed him, he munches it up then farts. All sorts of these were placed thoughout the park and kids were actually looking for garbage just to hear the strange noises they made!

Better sign off - Liverpool and Chelsea are playing and although I really dont have that much interest, I fear that the rest of my evening depends on the outcome of this game! (In case you're not sure - if chelsea wins, I certainally won't)