Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bones sinking like stones, all that we've fought for

After reading my whiney entries I have decided to add another link to a friend of ours who is bravely motorcycling his way around the world, just to show you all that some people truly do remarkable things!

In our relatively non-eventful lives, we welcomed Jean-Marie (for you Aussies, the Jean is pronounced like Jean-Claude Van Damme...) - a Toyota Yaris. Gust was starting to pollute and die a little too much for our comfort, so we sold him to a nice African man who was to ship him off to Guinea - probably to sadly house a small family. But hopefully will bring some happiness to somebody.

Other news... my sexagenerian parents have bravely ventured out of Australia (not for the first time in their lives mind you) to the wonders of South America. Despite being a tourist hot spot, specifically in the past 5 years, I am still quite proud that they are still stepping outside of the proverbial comfort zone that many people their age tend to stay within. Am not entirely sure how my father enjoyed his flights from Rocky-Sydney-Auckland-Santiago-Quito, but I am sure once they are there, they won't have any regrets. Plus, once they make it all the way to Patagonia, I know dad won't want to come back. I have a lot of respect for the both of them, attending Spanish classes (run by a native Columbian) for the past 6 months, preparing them for this trip. I do pity poor South American who tries to converse with my ultra Aussie dad (who refuses to pronounce things the way they probably should be) but am happy mum is on hand!

Back in Belgiƫ, we have also been dealt a horribly early and cold winter this year. On Tuesday I scraped a cm of ice off the car (in October!) causing many a swear word, while the onlooking workmen (putting pipes in our street) were just watching smoking their ciggies. Sooooo - I am hoping that we will have a white christmas, because let's face it, I don't think there will be many of these in the future. But also, there may be the opportunity for the once in 10-20 year chance to see the 'elf steden toch'. An outdoor ice-skating marathon through 11 cities through the Netherlands. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One Time one thing occurred to me: What's real and what's for sale?

We have now been engaged for a few months, the wedding will not be until 2009, but I still cant seem to control myself. I have never considered myself as a girly girl to get consumed in the wedding stress, but am now finding myself spending hours looking at dresses, rings and ideas on the internet. It has now come to the point where I am banning myself from being so selfish (at least until January next year) and focus on other things in the meantime!

Our wedding was originally just to be a quiet small beach wedding where the official dresscode was to include thongs, followed by a barbecue and much dancing into the early hours. It is amazing how quickly this changes into something more chic and elaborate due my lack of backbone from hearing everyone elses contributions. 'That sounds nice Ingrid... but won't your guests want somewhere to sit'? OR 'That could work, but since people are already travelling so far, don't you think you could treat them to more'? SO, I am starting to succumb. Not that I am really stressed over it (not yet anyway!), but I have just come to realise that people will always try to make you question yourself. I know that it is just human response, but I think this is the first time in my life that is for something big.

I have many friends who have had babies in the past year, and I know it is even worse then. All mothers will give their own personal beliefs on raising a child - breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go. How can you not breastfeed? Shouldnt you check the nappy? Surely you should wake junior from his nap - he must be hungry now. Why are you drinking that tea? There is caffeine in that! In my day there was no baby food in the supermarkets - we made it all ourselves.

If there is anything that I have learnt over the past couple of months, it is that every bride and mother has their own ideas as to how they wish to do things. The best thing a friend or family member can do is support them in their decisions. They may be strange, cheap, odd, easy or heaven forbid, different - but as long as nobody is really hurt, and the person making the decisions is happy, then what's the problem?

With all that biting, I know that people are just trying to help, give suggestions, and back-up plans - but rest assured, I am not a shotgun bride, I have 21 months to plan and would like to be married the way Tom and I have dreamt.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Words like violence break the silence

It has been an interesting week for us - financially... I will apologise in advance for playing the poor victim growing up in a luxurious society, so all my whining is really meaningless - however sometimes we all just need a vent!

Poor Gust needed a new choke this week - so I managed to drive him to the Garage (while stalling at every set of lights, then starting him up with huge revving to keep the motor running... had many interesting looks from the BMW, Audi and Mercedes drivers around me!) so after a few days, he received a new thingy in his choke and was completely better.... until he caught the flu again 2 days later. So he is back at the Garage (after getting sick in the middle of Antwerp - poor Tom's nerves!) and we dont know if we will ever see him again. So time to take the trusy bike everywhere again, now that the temperatures are already hovering around 10°C. It's going to be a long cold winter for this little whiner!

On top of this, I am having huge issues with the student entitlements in this country. Fair enough, Belgium boasts such a great education system - HOWEVER - you are only entitled to any sort of student benefits until the age of 25.

I have been more than happy to forgoe one income, eating out and changing our lifestyle in general, but when the national public transport organisations force a full time students to pay €300 / 3 months for a train ticket (as opposed to €60 for under 25 years and under) I start to get a little shirty. Especially in the inexistance of an 'AUSTUDY' equivalent. Ironically - Tom would be entitled to a 'scholarship' with his school fees and books paid for IF we didn't have a de-facto relationship - However, I would not be allowed to stay in the country if we didn't have a de-facto contract. Go figure.

So, yes, once again, my problems are luxury problems - but sometimes, just sometimes, I would like to breathe comfortably and not count EVERY cent we spend.

By the way - it wasnt all drab this week - I managed to get onto the radio last weekend. Thought that I would request a song, and didnt realise they would call me back for a chat. It turns out that being Australian does have some 'fame' benefits here. So the lucky people of Belgium listened to my damaged Flemish for a whole minute, followed by the lovely voice of Mike Patton and Faith No More with Midlife Crisis (my second choice actually, but they didnt have any James in their library. Scandalous!)

PS - our street is looking very bald...