Monday, December 29, 2008

Whoops


It may appear that we have fallen beneath the radar, but rest assured that we are still here. Just a quicky before I go to bed, and will update more in the new year. Most of all, no matter where you are, we hope you have/had a fantastic holiday period, and a healthy and happy 2009. This proves to be a big year for us, with Tom (hopefully) completing the Bachelor part of his degree and of course, the wedding...

So a quick pic of Em - since she has been here for more than two months and I havent shown her yet! She had a great time in Salamanca and Barcelona and even squeezed in a level I Spanish course!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shouting lager lager lager lager

Now that a busy week of concerts is 'achter de rug', I am sure Tom and myself will be suffering some sort of dip!

The week began on the 10th of November, taking me to see Natalia (very poppy - not my style of music, but good company) with a group of colleagues, allowing us to shake our bums around a little and try some unique style of dancing. This was a lot of fun, and an ok show. Thankfully, tuesday was a public holiday(rememberence day gets an entire day in europe... not just one minute at 11am!).

Saturday, after  a little midday nap, and a shot of Guarana at 8pm, Tom and I found ourselves in Gent, meeting up with Benj and a whole wod of others (we had a group of 9 in total) for one of the biggest dance festivals in Europe: I love techno. FINALLY I had my chance to see Underworld live, and they definitely lived up to my expectations! We started off the evening in the 'blue room' with Hot Chip, LA Riots and Digitalism, before having a quick break in the chill-out lounge with our free water (a great initiative if you ask me!), before making it over to the red room (lucky we got in for the headlining act). The only regret was that we missed out on seeing Justice in the orange room (the room had a limit of 5000 and was full before Underworld had finished) But after a full 8 hours of dancing, I think we were all completely satisfied with what we experienced!


The red carpet arrival with Claudia, Tom, Valerie, myself, Benj and Johnno


Somewhere around HotChip with Benj, Tim, myself, Tom and a few randoms

The end of the Underworld Show. The born slippy .nuxx climax was just superb! I don't know how those guys find all that energy after nearly 30 years of performing (yes, probably something synthetic in the shape of a small circle is involved!)
video

The end of the evening. Completely buggered and chugging down the water!

Sunday saw a relaxing sleep-in, followed by a trip to Brussels to see one of the most spectacular groups I have ever seen live: Sigur Ros. They seem to have created their own genre of music, and play such an eclectic repetoir, that I for one was never bored and longing for more!

On the family front, Emme is now in Salamanca, attending language classes for a couple of weeks, to develop a basic knowledge of spanish, and mum will be here in 4 weeks. Looking forward to seeing them both!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Emme and other catastrophes

My dear, beloved sister arrived on the 22nd of October, and what a great reunion. Without going into too much personal detail of her past, it was a much needed 'run-away' and despite having quite a small appartment, my family will always be welcome to stay with us. 10 days after her arrival, she headed off again, and is now galavanting around southern europe, trying to absorb the final rays of sun before the cold winter really sets in, and she finds herself moving into a cold dark flat in London. Now one more Christiansen female to make it over here, and we can celebrate Christmas in full Australian style (much to the discomfort of any Belgians present, I'm sure). I just don't know where I am going to find a cricket bat made from 4x2, which will be used to play 'French Cricket' in our small, probably muddy communal yard. I will perservere however...

Tonight brings the first of the concerts/festivals of the week, in the form of Natalia. I am still contemplating whether or not to go after a rather embarrassing cause of events resulting in a nocturnal visit to the accidents and emergencies wing of our local hospital and am not sure whether I have fully recovered from my constant need to do pee pee. But they have given me some antibiotics (trust me, I don't take medication too easily, but when it comes to toilet trips every 5 minutes, any relief is fantastic!) so hopefully that will be cleared up sooner rather than later.!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.





November appears to be the month of concerts...

While I am a mad MGMT fan, we werent quite on time to get tickets for them, but this is hopefully for the best due to the timing of their show...

Emme arrives on wednesday (22 Oct), and Tom and I will be at the airport with bells on awaiting her arrival! A week later, I will be living a decadent life-long dream witnessing the artistic work displayed by the cirque du soleil. However, November is appearing to be the ball-breaker for this little Aussie: Firstly, I will be heading to the sportpaleis in Antwerpen to see Natalia (very famous Kylie Minogue Belgian equivalent) with the colleagues on teh 10th of November. Fortunately enough, the 11th is a holiday here... The 15th brings a huge party in Gent (with some of our friends in the UK driving over for it) also known as I love techno. However, the 16th November has been long booked with our faves: Sigur Ros. Don't know how our poor bodies will handle this, but fortunately, we couldn't make it to MGMT on the 14th of Nov, otherwise Sigur Ros would be an absolute disaster.

AM so excited for the following weeks... Such a social agenda again, before I start studying again...! No complaining this end however!
x

Monday, October 13, 2008

Control yourself. Take only what you need from them.

Thanks to one of my current faves: MGMT... very different sound, but right up my alley!

No photos this time - just a rant and rave (yes, it's October, the leaves have turned brown, the mood of the average Belgian has turned a little more sour, the knives have proverbially come out in some places!). While everyone in Oz is probably wearing teeny tiny little singlets and the aircons have once again been switched on for the long summer, the days here are getting dramatically shorter and a definite autumn feel reminds me of the long cold months to come!

I feel that I am relatively safe to use this blog as a so-called journal as to the 'happenings' in our lives, but am still a wee bit wary as to what goes on at the place I spend the majority of my life: work. I had quite a psychological chat to Tom this evening about the 'work-dynamic' and relationships formed and lost there. I have worked in enough places to be aware of the need for a hierachy everywhere, but I don't think I have ever worked anywhere with such a prominent 'clique' group and the remaining outcasts/independant workers (can you figure out where I am?!!). Don't get me wrong, I am not phased by this situation, but admittedly do become jealous when other colleagues are praised and encouraged because they are in the clique while the rest of us don't. This is my own self esteem issue, but who doesn't like encouragement?!!

I had a chat with the big boss a few weeks ago, (nothing in relation to the above) and he was so full of praise I am sure I went red, so why do I need encouragement from my peers if eventually the big boss is happy? Without being too cocky, my first year has gone well for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying again (even if the stress levels have increased) and the boss is more than willing to encourage me to keep going. BUT I have to bite my tongue around my HOD, because she constantly tells me 'you should feel yourself lucky' when I mention the study. It's just easier to keep quiet than get sarcastic remarks. SO, only one person at my work even remembers I am studying, and I feel a little bit selfish in wanting others to ask "so Ingrid, how is the uni work going?" but have realised once again, that Belgium is just another world to Australia. I often miss Wiggy and Therese with their constant support when I was at uni in my final years in oz.

Now I know I am nagging, but at least it is without the whiney voice, just the clittler clatter of a keyboard!

Em arrives in a week, am so looking forward to seeing my little sis - she needs this trip and her big sis and bro to look after her for a while. We have booked a show at Cirque du Soleil, then the following week, Tom and I will be killing ourselves in one weekend with I love techno, followed by Sigur Ros (quite a musical contradiction...)

Am off to finish my glass of Chianti (picked up while we were in Italy!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ein, zwei, drei, bier!


Perhaps it will be one of the last chances for us to have a weekend apart before the wedding (except for the fact that we are flying to australia on different dates!), as Tom has kindly headed east with his trusty sidekick Maarten for the biggest beer party in the world. I wouldn't have minded going, just for the novelty factor, but beer isn't really my thing, plus, my final piece of assessment is due on Friday next week, and I need to send it on Monday, still with too much to do! So now, I have found all possible nooks and crannies needing to be cleaned, all clothes have been washed, I will probably start vacuuming and mopping later, all in the good name of procrastination. I don't think I will quite make it to the ironing - so when this is all that remains, perhaps the review will be the lesser of two evils...

I hope not to get any drunken phonecalls in the following few evenings, but look forward to the photos which he will bring back with him!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dové é toilette?

First Pizza of our trip

The Grand Canale of Venice

Cycling through Ravenna (UNESCO world heritage site)

Tom and David: spot the difference


Shortly after our last post, we wandled back to our hotel, only to have one of the most wonderful evenings of our trip. It's funny how you can see all the cathedrals, castles, statues, architecture etc. you like, yet you don't really experience a truly memorious time until you chat with a local for hours!

The guy working on reception happened to be fantastic in English, and as we entered the hotel, we asked him about a rally happening down the street. He mentioned that there was a left-wing activist rally occurring, which got us onto politics, Italy, Berlusconi, Alitalia and life in general. An hour or so later, we found ourselves in the hotel bar chatting like old buddies. It almost felt a shame to leave him and head up to bed. I wish we had a photo of him, or spent more time in Bologna, but he has given us his card, so we will definitely go back to visit.

The following day, we drove up to Garda Lake (largest lake in Italy) along with the rest of Germany and Holland and their toddler children. While we had a fantastic deal in the most massive camping ground I had ever seen, and some glorious warm weather, I don't think I would go back again, purely because it was a catchment for young families, with small kids screaming at 7am. Yes, I sound selfish, but I enjoyed more of the real Italy. We went for a few drives around the lake, with some beautiful sites, but after some time, you become used to the old buildings and sick of the crowds. After two nights, we found ourselves heading back towards Venice via Verona.

Made famous via Shakespear, Verona also appeared to be a tourist magnet - disgustingly just around Juliet's house, while the rest of the city was quite vacant (a little like the Mona Lisa at the louvre). Our last night was back at the original camping, this time we asked for a discount in  larger cabin, away from the school and contiki groups! This however worked against us once again... after meeting some fantastic Aussie guys at 4pm touring the world over 6 months, and 7 hours later, we crashed in our beds, only to be awaken an hour or so later by the couple in the other half of the cabin: First having a blue, then the make-up pounding, drunken sex, then the toilet trips, then the showers, then the movie on their laptop (turned up full-blast). By the time this was done, we had around an hour or two sleep before our 5am wakeup... not happy campers...

Had a great trip, but the highlights were:
* Sitting down in Venice, dangling legs in the ocean. Who knows how long venice will still be there?
* Getting free bikes in Ravenna and cycling through the streets
* Having our one classy dinner in Marina Di Ravenna and being waited on hand and foot by an Indian guy with broken english/italian/indian in the most gorgeous seafood restaurant we'd ever seen.
* Playing on the beach
* The old Italian hospitality in Florence: Very old couple in the two star hotel who fell over backwards to help us
* Our friend at Hotel Maxim in Bologna
* Meeting Ben and Rod at Fusina Camping grounds on our last night

Strange how nothing includes the sites, but from my small amount of experience, I have found that the people I meet are far more interesting than the aesthetic beauty. Perhaps I haven't been to the most beautiful places though...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quanto Costa Per Favore?

Next checkpoints in Italy: Florence (+ Tuscany) and Bologna...

As we drove out of lovely sunny Ravenna, the rain clouds started gathering over the ENTIRE Italy, only to hit on us just as we entered the A1 heading south to the absolutely picturesque area of Tuscany. We arrived in Florence just as the rain cleared, but the GPS decided to direct us through the city centre (we punched in the name of a hotel recommended by the Lonely Planet), so we must have looked like absolute wankers driving through the pedestrian filled streets! Finally we just found a random park and checked into the nearest 2-star (very good in my books) and talked them down from a whopping 70 euros to 55. Florence turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous city, but the "holiday" idea was short lived when the predominant language heard was English (and American at that). I for one was quite happy just to stay a day and head off somewhere quieter.

This morning we drove around Tuscany a little and wound up in a small Chianti producing region nestled in mountainous landscapes known as Rufina. We managed to have our own personal wine tasting, and are now naturally 3 bottles of Chianti heavier... to store in our wine cellar....erhm!

We are now in Bologna, so have naturally had the bolognese for dinner while marvelling at the redness of the city! Of course, more photos will follow just to demonstrate how red it actually is! Once again, tom managed to talk the hotel receptionist down 30euros from the original price, but this time we are in a 3 star hotel! Perhaps by the time we leave, we will be staying in a 5 star for only 50euros... Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow we are heading to the city state of Verona, staying at lake Garda, so fingers crossed that the weather finally clears up! We do want to have a tiny bit more colour when we head back to Belgium on Thursday...

ciao until next time!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Venice and Ravenna

No photos just yet, however our vacation has officially begun! We flew into Treviso, found our hire car and headed off to the small coastal port of Fusina (25 min boat ride from Venice) to be greeted by our worst nightmare: Loads of Contiki travellers and an italian school trip. So, whilst the camping ground was lovely, quaint etc. VERY little sleep was achieved on our first two nights...

Venice was spectacular - I know everyone will probably say the same thing, but there is something unbelievably charming about an entire village (?city) on water. All the canals have street names and the only means of transport is via the water! Just out of curiosity, I asked a handsome young gondolier (very distinguished in their stripy tops and straw hats) how much it was to take a lovely ride in a gondola - BUT 80 euros was a teensy bit out of our budget. Next time maybe..

We are now staying in Ravenna (actually, the seaside hideaway approx 10km away) and it is so lovely. An UNESCO world heritage listed site, we found our way around with the "complementary bikes" the tourist office had to offer. Not the top quality sort (toms chain fell off twice, mine once) but enough to keep us smiling.

Tomorrow off to Florence, although a little hesitant to leave the glorious seaside behind; More to follow... stay tuned!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chinese Chocolate Guy

A small ode to my favourite busker of Antwerp - or as I like to call him, Chinese Chocolate Guy. He pops up everywhere from the big tourist attractions, to the small bohemian side streets, to random squares. He manages to choose his setting appropriate though to the acousitics in the surrounding environment (how aware he is of this, I'm not too sure - perhaps per fluke!).

What makes him unique in Antwerp is his cleanliness and friendliness. I enjoy the street artists which captivate their audiences, but I also enjoy buskers who aren't just begging. Actually, I'm quite sure by this guy's appearance, that he works a regular job and just busks for the fun of it. I'm also sure he has been trained in suzuki (I recognise the majority of his repetoir and the abililty he has to play for hours on end without a note of music in front of him). But what makes me smile most about him, is that for every cent he receives in his violin case, he stops playing (no matter where he is in his piece) and gives the 'donator' chocolate of some sort! It is actually very difficult to tell him 'no - just keep playing'!!

So my thanks goes out to you, Chinese Chocolate guy. I hope to see you for many more years on the Antwerp streets, keeping the air filled with classical music.

By the way - congrats to Tia Hellebout from Belgium! The first (and only) gold medal for these olympics, alongside the silver won by the 4x100m relay won by the women! I even had a tear in my eye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sæglópur, á lífi

With incredibly poor attempts trying  to squeeze in a little study, August has proven to be a great month so far (though wet and full of electrical storms!). We had another date with Anna (as Sabien has been frolicking around the pyrenees) and went  to a free show from a South American Theatre company (we think... - Spanish speaking in any case) to see Tony Travolta. Basically a sort operetta/musical (very little spoken text - mostly singing) but Tom and I were entertained the whole way through (despite little pitter patters of rain). Anna was a little more critical, but she has far more theatre experience than us, so she was probably right!
Sunday brought us some Aussie visitors, at the beginning of their European tour: Nicky and Liz. Such lovely guests and open to new Belgian specialties in the way of beer, waffles and schnapps. We made the most of "Zomerbar" (also with Anna) and the free movies playing on the Schelde (river passing through Antwerp). The movie showing for us on Sunday was "Road to Guantanamo" so not a nice happy flick for the new visitors, but the location was fantastic (sand hills built in an old hangar with a screen and projector) but sand can be quite hard on your bum after a few hours... Am going back on Sunday to see Little Miss sunshine again, and on Wednesday for No Country for Old Men (have become a late starter in the Coen Brothers cult followers).
Just thought I would include another from Tony Travolto - was very impressed!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ik wil je, blijf bij me, hou van me, ga nooit meer weg

Constant festivals here in the summer... on the last day of July we went to the Casablanca festival in Hemiksem (not far from where we live) which was completely free and full of music (and of course good company!). Bloody hot mind you, so when the rain started around midnight, we didn't mind the cold shower for the walk back to the car!

Nita and Natalie came along for a while (although I think Natalie was more interested in the jumping castle than the music - lucky for her, her mum is short enough to go on with her!)
It took place in a large field near an old abby, so the view was quite spectacular. As the sun went down, the entire abby was lit up - where the monks get their money from, I don't know (they don't brew the beer anymore...) I was quite happy too since they sold Ricard at this festival!
We spent most of the night with the Van den Broeck family (Martine is a colleague of mine and a good festival attender). So, Tom couldn't resist putting another child on his shoulders to get a good view, while the rest of us just gasbagged our way through the evening.

Tomorrow am off to another free concert, and Sunday brings some australian guests! Dunno what I am going to show them, but will do my best to flaunt Antwerp

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Everything.... in its right place

As does every other year, July brings Tom's birthday. But as the summer is always full of events, we had to squeeze in a small gathering on Sunday last week (after most of us had been to a barbecue the night before). So I managed to bake a cake and little blueberry muffins, and decorate the house with kiddy decorations (you may see a sign of bumba and balloons) and lit 27 candles (litereally) for the big child. I think he was quite happy, and luckily for us, the sun shone on and off, so we even had the opportunity to sit outside!

Natalie was the only guest under 27, but certainally was dressed to look sophisticated enough, and with my sunglasses on, was quite a little number!

Tom opening his box of goodies received from Philippe, Jan, Geert and Dave.

This weekend, the men are deep in the Ardennes (close to Luik/Liege) for Tom's adventure bucks weekend. Have heard all sorts of rumours from his friends as to what they have planned for him, but will be sure to hear about it tomorrow evening. In the meanwhile I am a lady of leisure this weekend, enjoying the 30°C sunshine. I hope he brings back some photos - will be sure to post them!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Too hasty

No pickies this week... but only because I was stupid enough not to take my camera with me!

In between squeezing time in to finish my fifth assignment (cancer chemotherapy, in particular receptor tyrosine kinase domain inhibitors) it has been time to 'profiteer' from the most wonderful time of the year (I sound like a christmas carol!)

I managed to remember to be on time (actually, with a nudge from tom, because once again, the clock was ticking and I didn't notice) to meet up with Sabien and Anna in the 'Summer bar' of Antwerp. Basically, it is just a huge field that they convert into an outdoor café serving Cava, Sangria (and fairtrade wine and beer) along with exotic meals - all for a good price - for the entire summer. It is so easy to lose track of the time when the sun doesn't set until after 11pm, so at 1am we gradually made our way home.

Yesterday, I carved a huge chunk into the remainer of my assignment, and was looking forward to an 'inge' night at home (Tom had a ticket to see Beerschot play a team from one of the 'stan' countries), and I received a strange phonecall from Alexia (a colleague) at 6:30pm. "Ingrid, I have two tickets to Rock Werchter for tonight, do you want them". I was oh to stupid and hasty, and said "I would love them, but I am alone, without a car, so I can't". STUPID ME!! I called Maarten, and he was keen, but by the time I got back to Alexia, the tickets were gone. So, no Sigur Ros, Roisin Murphy, Ben Harper or Radiohead for me. That will REALLY teach me!

Today is taking us to a barbecue (yes another one). Just received a txt from my mum on Kangaroo island. Seems like they are living it up sans children! Why not?!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hildeken's 40th

After a rushed visit to the NL, we drove a few hundred km to attend the 40th of Tom's 2nd cousin in 'the Flanders' (east flanders) - everyone has a slightly odd dialect there! As always, Hildeken planned a party with style, lots of delicious food, and DJ Ronny (who seems to have a thing for slows!). Was a fun night, but both Tom and myself were completely knackered, resorting to singing daggy 80s numbers in the car on the way home to keep ourselves awake. "I'm gonna keep on loving you.... if it's the only thing that I can do.....I don't wanna sleep, I just wanna keep on lovin' you" etc.

This first photo is one of Inge (Tom's sister) and Niels.

Maggie, Loreine (Tom's mum) and Hildeken (the birthday girl)

Here we have Pepe busting up a serious move on the dry-ice infested dance floor. Never ceases to amaze me! He always comes to every party in a full suit (usually his green one) and tie, and boogies his way through the night using beer as his fuel. Then walks home and is quite fine the next day. He is coming to Australia as well, next year, so look out!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no there's no limit

The weekend is not quite over, but here are some shots of our long awaited trip up to visit the Vellinga-Chan mixed-race household in Oegstgeest (Leiden), Holland. We had recently discovered that their eldest son (Kaemon) had a fascination with the word tractor, so didn't have to think too hard for a gift he would like. However, considering that everything is tractor (including his baby brother, Nelson), I am not sure if it was the tractor or the gift which made him happy...!
We were treated to some delicious indian (made by the hostess) and then took a drive to Noordwijk (the beach - much nicer than the belgian variety!). Since Nelson is only a month old, he had the special treatment of coming with us (while Kaemon was safely tucked in bed). Here is a nice shot of Kelly and Nelson while waiting to meet up with Douwe.

Douwe with Kaemon (and tractors)

Saturday lunch brought us to Den Haag to enjoy some very authentic Dim Sum (equipped with very kitch interior and tacky karaoke - the only way to eat your Dim Sum). VERY tasty!



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Turkey Vs Croatia, 20 June 2008

While I sat at home last night, making up on some much needed quiet time, Tom visitted Philippe and Jan (who incidentally live in the Turkish quarter of Antwerp). This proved to provide some awesome live entertainment due to the European Cup quarter final match between Turkey and Croatia.

As far as I know: The 90minutes ended with 0-0, so they were required to go into extra time. 


Quite amateur videography, but I can imagine you get the gist of what went on in a normally private neighbourhood of Antwerp.

Despite looking quite violent, it was apparently an incredibly joyous occasion (with fire?!).


Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the time of my life



This week brought my colleagues and I further together... after a very succesful audit from CAP (college of American Pathologists), my bosses decided that it was time to order bucket loads of wine, buy a huge house and celebrate the occasion with not only histogenex, but also the rest of the first floor from the Laboratory building in Middelheim Hospital, Antwerp (Histology staff). This brought a combined total to approx 40 happy, drunken staff enjoying eachothers company and very many below the belt type conversations.

Many photos of people's rear ends and blurry pieces of nothing were taken, but amongst these, I have selected a few of myself and other colleages. NB: the huge mauve stain on the table I am sitting at was not due to myself. I was just stupid enough to sit there (and on the wet chair) and have my picky taken there! Not a particularly flattering one of yours truly, but an honest conclusion to the night that was.




I have included my absolute favourite photo of the evening of Alexia (and Tim and myself) taken in the basement of the new house purchased by our bosses... the expression on her face says it all!

Tom has one exam remaining, so tonight he has joined Phillippe and Jan in witnessing one of the european cup matches (with Turkey vs something): P and J live in the turkish neighbourhood of Antwerp, so Tom is hoping for a victory and take as many photos as he can!

Next week we are heading north to Leiden and bombarding another mixed-race household (Aussie/malaysian and Hollander/Japanese). Will be sure for some interesting conversation, and fantastic food!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

dEUS this week

With the onset of the "alleged" summer months, the social calender seems to have gained a bit of momentem, but to the possible detriment of the studies...

This week has seen a long awaited catchup with Anna and Sabien - Anna was a classmate of mine in the last level of language school (who is incidently far and away more advanced than I am in dutch - I use the excuse that she is actually South African) and with her girlfriend, Sabien, they are preparing for their 'round the world trip starting in September/October. I dearly hope they can make it back to Australia next year, but will probably be hitching their way through Bolivia or something wild and exotic...

This appointment started out badly - I had already scheduled to meet Anna at a certain time on Thursday, but somehow it slipped my mind, and I turned up an hour late to the café. Thank god she was still waiting there.

Friday saw me visiting Ternat again, with fantastic hostess, Stefanie and her family. Spent a lot of time playing with her 1.5 year old. Friends' kids are just so much fun! Refreshingly happy when stress seems to build up!

Today, we incidently discovered that the Aussie male hockey team were playing against Belgium - basically in our back yard - for free, so we went along and lent our support to the green and golds. Wasn't much of a competition though, with a score like 6-0, but I did meet a couple of other aussies, and have been invited to the australian society gatherings (am a little conflicted when it comes to expat clubs. But I suppose it might be nice just to have a looksee...)

Tom has his following exam tomorrow: he is now half way through, and within a 'fat' week (as the belgians put it) he will be finished his 2nd year (fingers crossed). I will be boozing myself up at a work gathering on Wednesday, and hopefully enjoying a quiet weekend next weekend (enjoying is a little presumptuous - more like studying...) while my family celebrate my mum's birthday.

Not an interesting post, but need to keep up my diary :)

Tongue in cheek

If you just happen to have a spare 8 minutes, have a look at this. Ricky Gervais at his finest (released last year, but still terribly funny). 

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Werchter Classic, 2008




Tom is still busy with swot vak (or blocking as they call it here) and being the social butterfly (erhmm) I am, like to take advantage of any sort of event, so this lead me to Werchter classic. Held in the same venue as Rock Werchter, but for the 'older' generation. This being my 4th time at Werchter, but first time as one of the younger people! 

Maarten had a free ticket from his brother, so we drove to Werchter, and bought another ticket from a scalper (costing us a whole €20 to get in!) and we faced very grim skies, so were armed with ponchos and plastic boots (well I was...!). After being smug about our cheapy tickets, we were hit with paying double price for a beer and dinner, but enjoyed the show anyway. 

Conclusion: The police played their (alleged) last performance at Werchter, and it wasn't wow. Alright, but definitely not worth the €100 some people payed to see them last year.

Iggy Pop certainly knows how to put on a show. Old fart, but has the energy of a teenager! Still just as obsene as I'm sure he was 30 years ago, but what an entertainer!

The Scabs were ok - old belgian rockers, but the atmosphere was good.

Juannes was the wildcard - played early - chapeau to him for breaking the english speaking market, but not really my music.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Lente


Sometimes have insipiration depletions, despite keeping ourselves busy, there seems to be always an assignment that needs to be written, or a toilet which is dying for a good scrubbing or the inevitable work to go to... 

Have found a couple of snaps from the last weeks. We have had some great weather (as I type this, there is a tempest of a storm screaming its way through Edegem - something you hardly see in Belgium!).

A few weeks ago, we won a couple of tickets (from the Belgian equivalent of the ABC) to see a few actors and authors read some segments from their books or chosen works. While it was interesting enough, I found the venue more mind blowing than the performance. It is a fantastic old theatre in Antwerp which we have attended once before, with little private booths and seats covered in red velvet. Truly somewhere you can imagine the people of Antwerp attending weekly for the 'show' etc.

I took a half day off work in the same week, just to get some air, and we took a drive to Knokke (otherwise known as the sea). One of the not so many seaside villages but known to be the 'exclusive' location. This pretty much means that for a drink you pay double and can't find a carpark anywhere. We went on a Monday afternoon (most Belgian's only go in the weekend) and the place was deserted, so it was quite relaxing to have a walk on the beach.


Have also made the most of the parks in our surroundings: spotted a very strange leg poking out of the water in a park in Wilrijk - right on our doorstep.

Have been running around Fort VI as well lately. I haven't mentioned it before, but Antwerp is surrounded by 8 Forts - build primarily for the protection - and are now used as office buildings / training buildings for youth groups/sports etc. But they are all situated in a forest type environment with a pond/lake in the neighbourhood so are a quite picturesque place to go for a walk/bikeride/run. We have two in our neighbourhood (Fort V and Fort VI) so enjoy taking advantage of what they have to offer!

Uni is going well for me, and fingers crossed for Tom: his first exam is in a little over a week and finish in 3 weeks. I have handed in 3 assignments so far (come friday, 4) with one assignment remaining, + a poster (to be presented in the UK) and one review article. Am thoroughly enjoying the content. Just am tired and looking forward to the opportunity to take a holiday!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I've been trying to call you lately, I've been waiting by the phone

We haven't been to too many functions lately, so no photos to post this time, but thought it was about time to update the events of the past month!

I have now handed in 2 assignments (out of 5) and have 6 months remaining in my first year of study. Tom has 2 months remaining in his second year, and is aiming to have no "second sit" exams. Next year, he is able to choose his direction and has been to an info day to  help make his decision... As he already had decided, cognitive and biological psychology are still his favourites. But we will see what happens when it comes to the crunch.

 Weather here has been picking up - lots of sun (but still a bit nipply outside). I have started a 'start to run' course via my MP3 player. Basically it is a series of 27 lessons (3 a week for 9 weeks) where you do a series of short runs and walks between (to build you up for a 5km run). Have just finished my fourth week and lesson 13 is pending, but after lesson 12, I need a bit of a breather! My calves feel like enormous bricks right now!

So, this year is already pretty much planned with uni work and keeping fit! Not much of a chance for a holiday between us (which really is starting to bother me) but as Tom has the 'accountant' bone in this relationship, he has simply put it that if we are getting married next year, a few more pennies will need to be saved... whereas I am a little too impulsive and don't want my fantastic 6 weeks of holiday to go to any waste! Grrrr!

Am off to go shopping today: It was the intention to be a late birthday day for myself and another girlfriend, but has turned out that we are both too tight and are just taking her son to the hairdresser instead, while painting fingernails and cooking cake! May even watch an old rerun of the OC. May even spend some time picking out glasses... yes, went to the eye doctor (can't remember correct term in english - opthamologist?) and discovered that I have astigmatism of 180° in my left eye, causing me to be dizzy and tired... lefty is getting a little worn out from compensating! So, am off to find some lovely frames and contemplate the lenses for a little longer!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Student Parties at the VUB...














The goup - predeparture















Tom and Louis trying some new moves











Enjoying Nirvana Nevermind with Louis


















Happy couple at the end of the evening





The theme: 70s, 80s and 90s. The crowd: students from the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Tom's uni). The venue - a tent in the carpark of the campus in Etterbeek. So Tom and I took a trip down memory lane - me with my BYO bottle of smirnoff and a carton of OJ to get myself in the mood before we made it to the party. This didn't take too long considering my tolerance to hard liquor not really being tested in the last years. But it still tasted quite good! We started off with a group of psych/criminology and engineering students, but the latter group quickly wrote themselves off (yes, engineers are the same EVERYWHERE!) and the rest of us enjoyed a bit of boogying to the sounds of ABBA, BeeGees, Nirvana, Eurythmics and the rest is a big blur of beats and light. Got home around 4 (quite early I guess for a student party!) but I was prepared in advance with taking the day off today!

We have purchased all the stationary required for the invitations, so hopefully they will be signed sealed and delivered quite soon (to the belgian folk in any case!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kom Op Tegen Kanker



Been out of action for a little while, but thought I should mention what we got up to this past weekend. The Belgian government has been furiously raising money for an anti-cancer campaign or kom op tegen kanker by all possible means. So, on Sunday, Tom and I rode our pushies to Aartselaar (around 5km) to plant a 3 oak trees in a nature park donated by the local council. Each tree planted receives a name and all money raised is for the anti-cancer campaign. As you may see however, we were not so suitably attired... since we have no garden of our own, neither of us possess a lovely pair of galoshes and hense muddied ourselves up nice and proper!

Today, Belgium lost a very influencial writer, Hugo Claus - via the still unrecognised in oz, euthanasia. So, while Belgium is mourning for the loss of possibly the greatest Flemish writer/poet, my colleagues and I mourned the loss of a fellow worker (who incidentally died in the same hospital). She was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (aggressive brain tumour) on boxing day, and survived less than 3 months. A lot of us visited her for her birthday on Friday (43rd) but it was quite difficult to celebrate. Despite thinking that there may always be time after the initial diagnosis, don't be too fooled. I really need to get into a different field of work.

Tonight Tom and I are venturing off to a TD (T Dancé or student party) in Brussels, so I have wisely taken tomorrow off. I cannot seem to pull up the way I used to!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Without a title

"Nowhere in the world is an Australian as lonesome as when he's living in England. I sometimes miss Australia so bad, I can taste it. I yearn for it. But whenever I return, I want to get out of there after 2 months". Nick Cave, Spraakmakers, Canvas (Belgian television)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You came on your own, and that's how you leave, with hope in your hands and air to breathe

Well it's time for my yearly blog entry. As many of you already know: I passed my exams for the first time without failing any. Thus keeping my hopes up for a study-free holiday. Now, I just have to prove it wasn't a coincidence. I also experienced the best motivation by visiting my old job place right before the exams. That has given me strength in believing this is indeed the best choice I made. Nothing more fulfilling than seeing people being stuck on their desks for 8 hours a day under the tyranny of a boss "who means the best for his employees" and who does everything "from the goodness of his heart". Strange how these two things always seem to correlate with monetary benefits in his favor. For those of you who recognize themselves, I will be joining you anyway soon. Just let me enjoy my 4 hours a day of courses (tiring), discussing psych-subjects in the uni-bar ( women and sex) and believing I know how the world works (that's what you do as an 20-year old). To prove I am so busy: on an average I am reading 1 novel every two weeks.

I know life isn't always easy and we had to sacrifice a lot for my studies but despite my own efforts there is someone who even deserves more credit when I graduate and that's Ingrid. She is not only my motivation to strive for perfection but she has endured everything and is giving up a lot herself when it is not even requested. She has offered me a chance to fulfill a dream and is still the only reason why I am able to do what I am doing. There is not a day I don't realize how everything is because of her. I know I will never be able to thank her for this chance but I will try for the rest of my life. She knows how I feel but sometimes you just need to write it down. ( I could say this was written under duress to make it funny and be myself but for once I am going to let it go).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stop me if you think that you've heard this all before

Longest time between posts. I have been slack. Not busy, not overrun with other engagements, not working long hours, not studying too hard. Just slack, down and stuck in a hole desperately trying to dig myself out of.

I don't know when it started - probably around 6 months ago (along with the onset of winter I imagine), but I am not liking 'where I am at' at this particular moment.

I have officially started an MSc. externally while still working which has been quite stimulating (two people studying in one household generates some interesting conversation, discussions and encouragement). Have almost finished my first assignment and am already ploughing onto the 2nd. So, I am absolutely convinced I made the right choice to return to study. You reap what you sow, right?

Work couldn't really be too much better. My absolute best friends in Belgium are my colleagues (which can be a pro, but also a huge con), my direct HOD is a true champion - so smart, professional (yet capable of many a dirty conversation) and not at all arrogant. My big boss, despite being a pathologist, does his absolute best to be a good boss, and I think a very reasonable one. I voiced my opinion about a few things today (quite colourfully too) and he is always keen to hear constructive criticism. He is even depositing a bonus into our bank accounts next week which for me is fantastic (despite hearing some people still complain that it wont be enough...).

Am very happy at home. Madly in love with the child I am going to marry. I still laugh every day, even if out of pity... but am unbelievably lucky in my relationship.

So why am I down? The only answer I can come up with is that somehow, in the past 6 months, my idealistic expectations to 'life' are not being lived up to. I have once again jeopardised my friendship with one person, and fear that it may be for the last time. But, I will take on board something she said to me, and attempt to use it to my advantage: Those people who work hard will not go unnoticed - they will be rewarded in one way or other.

I hope to be happier soon.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lost Monday

Yesterday (Monday 7 January) was not only the day that my dear daddy turned 66, but also known as 'verloren maandag' or lost Monday - especially in the province of Antwerp. Although this is my 4th January in Belgium, I seem to have missed this strange tradition the past 3 years (or have been completely obvlivious to everything happening around me). I think I was in Edinburgh/Liverpool last year and skiing the year before that, so hopefully that gives me some sort of excuse...

So apparently, it is tradition to eat worstbrood and appelballen (sauceage bread and deep fried apple balls...)

I have found a snipped on Wikipedia about Verloren Maandag and will do my best to translate as I can't find it anywhere in English (erhm....)

Lost Monday is a Flemish tradition held on the Monday following Three Wise Men Day (6th of January). This tradition is especially prevalent in the province of Antwerp and has remained in Doornik.
In Flanders (especially Antwerp) It is tradition to eat sauceage bread and apple balls on this day. Previously the workers in the harbour from Antwerp received their pay cheques on Sundays. Some of this men then went to a bar, and the money which remained was given to their wives. But on Three Wise Men Day, everybody celebrated their entire pay cheques away with no remaining money the following Monday. Therefore, to ensure they didn't have an empty belly, the men foraged around the bars and butchers to ensure they had something to eat. The butchers then made sauceage bread which were quite cheap, yummy and filling and gave these to the workers. These days were always a day run at a loss for the butchers and was a day of lost work hence a Lost Monday.

If people now go for a drink in a café in Antwerp on Lost Monday, they receive guarenteed a free sauceage bread.

Am not sure how much of this is true - I haven't been to a bar on Lost Monday, but I love the little stories which come with the days here!




Dutch Translation (from wikipedia)

Verloren maandag of Verzworen maandag (Frans lundi perdu of lundi parjuré) is een Vlaamse traditie op de maandag na Driekoningen. Deze traditie is vooral hardnekkig in de provincie Antwerpen en in Doornik gebleven.
Het is in Vlaanderen en vooral in de provincie Antwerpen de traditie om op die dag worstenbroden en appelbollen te eten.
Vroeger kregen de arbeiders in de haven van Antwerpen 's zondags hun loon uitbetaald. Sommige mannen gingen dan op café zich bezatten en gaven de overschot van hun geld dan aan hun vrouw. Maar op Driekoningen, een feestdag, vierde iedereen feest met het loon en was er de volgende maandag zo goed als niets over. Dus, om toch niet met een lege maag te zitten, struinden de mannen alle cafés en slagers af om toch maar iets te eten te hebben voor hun kroost. De slagers maakten dan worstenbroodjes, wat goedkoop, heel lekker en vullend was en gaven die dan aan de arbeiders. Die dag werd er dan ook alleen verlies gemaakt door de slagers en het was dus een dag van verloren arbeid, een Verloren Maandag.
Als men tegenwoordig in Antwerpen op Verloren Maandag iets gaat drinken in een café krijgt men er steevast gratis een worstenbroodje bij.
Sommige bronnen menen dat "Verloren Maandag" valt op de maandag na de eerste zondag na Driekoningen. Valt Driekoningen op een zondag,dan valt "Verloren Maandag" in feite op 14 januari.