03 December, 2007

Cherry Indulgence

Mmmhh.... Cake with Cherries has become my new hit!! I've put it again here (I wrote about this cake on my other blog) as I just can't get enough of it. Replacing the custard sugar with rough brown sugar (that's a hint!!) changed the colour of the dough into this nice caramel, yellowy beige which brings up the dark cherries so well....mmmh!!!

02 December, 2007

175

The governemental crisis was almost solved yesterday, and today the solution of the conflict between the parties is again out of reach. At the end no one knows wheather it is between the french- and the flemishspeaking parties or within the flemish coalition parties...? One big mess. It seems as if no party cannot agree with any party. I think it's the biggest crisis in Belgian parlament history so far. Any way the longest - 175days.

Mr Leterme, who has been negotiating so far, resigned yesterday, gave up, droped his weapons. And that's for the second time already. It doesn't surprise me. It must be extremely tiring and dissappointing. In this case I'm really pleased that the polish governement was formed within two weeks after the elections, with Mr Tusk on top, as the Prime Minister. Now the president from the opposit party sits there on top lonely, ha ha... and has to do it without the support of his twin brother.

Anyway I have other work to do. It's raining like hell today. Perfect for staying at home. And we are about to start a new firm, or at least look for new clients as we change our strategy and working profile. A lot of image collecting for the new portfolio...

30 November, 2007

Still no governement. Now, when the frenchspeaking and the flemishspeaking parties reached an agreement concerning the reforms of the state, there is a conflict within the flemish coalition parties. Guys, it will never get solved like this!!!

Yesterday some weird research came up with the conclusion that the roads in Flanders are in a very bad condition. I laughed!!! These people should go to eastern Europe...

Today P stayes at home so we will have fun :-S. Hopefully my daily schedule will not suffer from any unexpected changes. I have to finish my lovely yellow handbag.

21 November, 2007

I wanted to describe here the "weird" things about living in Belgium. I really thought that I was able to do it, but now it seems more difficult then I thought. There are not that many strange things in my opinion. I'm wondering wheather I integrated so well or it is the life in my country that evoluted the same direction ??

If there were more comments or questions under my posts that would give me more ideas to write about and would help...

15 November, 2007

Contacts with nature

The weather has been beautiful the last few days, very cold but sunny and dry. I went for a walk yesterday and today...but people looked at me very strange, like "what is she doing? walking? by foot????"

Imagine, you feel ok, go for a walk, along the road to the center of the town, there is a pavement, even a bike path, ok it is cold, and people pass by in their cars and look at you like at an alien, turning their heads as they go forward. Pff!?? There is a pavement, not that I disturb the traffic; the weather is more then fine, not that I'm walking in the rain; I'm dressed normal, as far as my judgment can tell, so what's the problem??

It happened already many times and my only conclusion is that it can be two things. One is that it is not normal to go for a walk on a weekday, apparently. Its' Flanders - I should be working. I know I should be working, but if I have time and the weather is great I want to take adventage of it. Or the other thinhg is that even if I'm busy with work, like going to the bank, w
hy don't I take a car, it's faster?!! Today I went by foot to the bookkeeper, because it's better then fitness. Usually I manage to make friends with the local animal polulation standing and grazing on the fields: some horses that approach me as I pass by (very beautiful and intelligent animals), or donkeys that show their feelings very loud, they also approach. And yesterday some two big grey domestic ducks were trying very much to explain me something, both of them came to the fence as I stoped to watch them, and were kwaking with all the power, sometimes to me and at the moments to each other, but unfortunately I didn't get the message. Then there was a small ugly, an unidentified race, dog barking at me like hell!! I told him that I was already going, of course. He was very angry... Next there is a new house being built and there were some workers busy with building. As I came closer, the chatting, calling, whispering, and dirty joking started!! Yes, that was to be expected!! But they didn't approach the fence, lucky.

Nature!! Fascinating!! If I had taken the car I would have missed all that...

14 November, 2007

157 days leter...

The King is worried. Despite the fact that he has no executive power, still he came back from his holidays to talk to the leaders of the winning parties. Now he is the "formateur", the negotiator...? The political situation up side down. Head over hills. There even no legislation, no special accurate laws to organize the new elections in such a crisis situation. So, even that's impossible.

The ex-Prime Minister, Guy Verhofdstat, wants to pack his desk and go home. He's got other job offers, as he prooved to be a great man of the state. The last eight years new not many difficulties that were not solved. But Guy is not allowed to go home. Not yet. So, he sits there in his tower with no power. And that rhymes.... It's been over 5 months that the belgian economy has been abandoned, no one takes care of it. And the politicians are better and better in saying NO to each other.

The would-be-Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, is about to burry his carreer, as he has failed. He has not been able to create his governement, he's getting negative opinions, bad critics and I don't think he will be ever able and allowed to come back to the top. And it looked so good for him when his party, CD&V won the last elections.... The sun has come down.

So far, no solution. and in the meantime the so called Committe for the Language Action (TaalActieComité), organizes controversive actions. Which means that they gather at night in double-language comunities and remove/cover the french versions of the oficial names (street, institutions, etc...), as they claim that these are the dutch-speaking areas. Pfff! And the mair comes to look at it, and grabs his head in disbelieve, and the police comes to talk to the committe, to calm the action down and the televison comes to show it all and hit up the situation even more... pff... we"ll see.

11 November, 2007

Sunday Blues

What is typical about the sundays in belgium?

First of all: croissants. The man of the house will get them at the local bakery early in the morning. They see it as their mission and they think "I do take care of my family and the household" :))

Second of all: the tv live show called De Zevende Dag (The Seventh Day), which invites all kinds of guests before noon to talk about the most recent news in the country. It starts with politics, especially the last few weeks, as the crisis has never been that seriuos and the solution that far away. There are also other guest like writers to talk about their latest books, singers, actors... I think it's a very good program and it cannot be compared with any american evening chatshow.

Third of all:... what else makes the sundays here so flemish?? The rain. The walking groups, and more and more the nordic-walking groups....hm....and many other things like visiting your family, making a big proper lunch including a dessert (just because you have time for it), a general laziness - cocooning, your hobbies, just like anywhere else in the world, I guess.

... oh, no, the sun has just shined, for a minute, in between the clouds... :)

10 November, 2007

And now?!?!!

Will the country fall apart or not??

The Flemish politicians organized the voting for splitting Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (where the frenchspeaking politicians would loose power), but the frenchspeaking politicians left the building. Those who stayed voted anyway. And that means WAR! The
frenchspeaking politicians feel excluded from the politics, angry and pushed away.

I have a feeling that at the moment none of the parties will compromise. Not on the important issues. So, where doas it lead to? Who knows.

07 November, 2007

Political crisis

Now it is offical: the politicians themselves announced a political crisis in Belgium.

The negotiations yesterday ended up with a fiasco. No agreement. The biggest problem seems to be a spliting of an electoral B-H-V (Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde), flamish communities (Brussels partly) with many frenchspeaking inhabitants. The Flemish politicians to split it for the sake of the oficial use of the flemish language, the Walloon politicians do not, because of the votes loss.

They are not getting anywhere like that. It starts becoming an national problem. And I thought that the Polish politics was a problem...

05 November, 2007

147 days

It's been already 147 days of Belgium without the government. The situation seems dramatic, although I didn't notice anyone on the streets or in the shops really panicking. The Flemish don't care, they wouldn't mind the separation. They've been always fighting for the right of speaking flemish. And now they are fed up with the fact that a very big part of their tax money go to Wallony, where people do not work as much (so it is said).

The Walloons are worried about the separation due to the money loss, which is about 6mln euro per year. And one can say it is modern times, countries come and go, even Mr. Havel says "Just separate. It's easy!". However there's one small problem here: Brussels. Both parts want it and it lays exactly on the language border. Tsjechoslovakian separation cannot be used here as an example.

The negotiations between the politicians and the parties go on, the situation doesn't seem to approach any solution and it's got so complicated that even Kosovo decided to watch Belgium for a while and see how this problem gets solved around here, in a very european country, before they continue fighting for souverenity. Straf da!!

22 October, 2007

Autumn starts


7,76km. It was sunny and perfect. I made a walk through the fields and small roads. I think that the autumn starts... There were galopping horses passing me by with teenegaers on top, dressed in elegant white trousers and green blouses, their parents in a long carriage behind; there were few men hunting at the egde of the forest, with faithfull dogs bringing the "poultry" that was shot; and there were beautiful golden leaves falling down and sparkling in the sunshine... Just wonderfull.

I enjoyed my walk and didn't even notice that it was so long. I took unexpectedly the unkown roads and paths, some of them very romantic with willow trees growing along the side as a natural border between the dusty field roads and the green juicy meadows behind. Living here so long doesn't give me much choice of liking or disliking the land. After so many years you start noticing the good sides of life here, you start discovering the beautifull nature and the wonders of, not much but still, a different world.

19 October, 2007

Flemish TV

It was late last night. And it's all because of the tv. There are too many good programs on flemish tv. I watched first "Rare Streken" a very well made nature program about two young european otters (it's the same word in flemish: een otter), growing up on their own, after their mother had been hit by a car and never came back to the nest again (oooo.... ;( ), learning hunting and defending themselves and finding their way in the nature.

Especially Canvas (the former TV2, the flemish national channel) is good, showing a lot of art, nature and science. Few of my favourite programs are "Over leven", "Rare streken", "Panorama", many good historical docummentaries and the new one "The Power of Art".

However the TV1, called "één" right now, which means "one", can also make me stick to the tv set for the whole evening with the immortal "Allo, Allo", "Keeping up Appearances" and, of course, "Fawlty Towers" which gets better and better every time they repeat it. I love the flemish tv for the simple fact that they dare to show/reapeat the best programs (showing 20years old american bad movies does not happen here). It never gets boring. Thar rae either new good flemish programs or the best classic ones.

The typical flemish shows are certainly "Thuis" (Home), an everyday serie about the life of few flemish families (the idea can be compared with the British "Eastenders", the Australian "Neighbours" or the Polish "M jak Milosc") but quit good, well written and with some excellent flemish actors. You might get addicted. Just like me. Every weekday at 8pm. The absolutely best ever are "In de Gloria" (very funny stituation sketches), "Het Geslacht De Pauw" (incredibly unbelievable and funny!!)... and maybe also the serie called "Life as it is" ("Het Leven zoals het is"). Ther are many good shows.

The quality of the chosen/made shows is very high. And I noticed that I don't even need the satelite tv with hundreds of channels about nothing and repeating this nothing.

The other channels like VTM, Kanaal2, VT4, I don't watch that much. It's a different kind of TV-entertainment. However I can find sometimes useful hints and ideas on Vitaya or Vijf tv, the lifestyle channels for women about clothing, style, interior design and all kinds of makeovers.

I don't watch Waloon Tv simply because I understand maybe only 1/3 of it. It's in French.

18 October, 2007

Beautiful day

Well, or not well, the life is going to get 30% more expansive (the gas and electricity prices will also go up during the next months), there's still no government in Belgium after 130 days, app. the 3000 Polish got a legal job in Belgium on the last Job Fairs, the district road in front of our house is being remade and the traffic jams are gigantic as it's a main road to Brussels, on top of that Al Gore got a Nobel Price (despite this BBC documentary film "The Great Global Warming Swindle" ?), my dad is getting 60 (!!!) next month (which makes me how old...?! :-O) and there are so many childern dying of hunger every day..., but today couldn't start any more beautiful:: with a rainbow...
:))

17 October, 2007

the usual belgian

Today is going to be a long, cold and very rainy day. However this morning I thought "oh! rain, at last! that's how I know it here!!" which sounded like I've become a Belgian... WHAT?!?!?!!!! No way, it's just another good excuse not to go out and stay at home and create :))

14 October, 2007

Holywood, Disneyland and the Pirates of the Carribean

Sunday was a Day of Architecture, in Belgium. You could visit many unusual buildings. Many interesting buildings were open for public. There were some organised walks with a guide but also an architecture flight by a heli. We were in Gent but unfortunately had no idea about aal that. Pitty because I love architecture, especially the modern one. It can be very unusual and inventive.

We went to Gent because it was a great weather, fantastic warm and sunny weekend.It doesn't happen so often here so you take adventage, as many other people. But I guess I wrote about it already, that was about the bicycles. Well today it was in the city. We decided to go to S.M.A.K., the museum of modern art in Gent. Remember:: don't go to a museum on sunday afternoon. Many people, many cars around the building and even more kids in the building and noise, noise, noise... . However the main reason for all that was not only the sunday in the city, where by definition there are many people, but the biggest retrospective of an american artist Paul McCarthy 1966-2006. The dirty old man! The only thing that botherd me were many 3year old children walking around looking at all this and listening to all that. I don't mind teaching children about art and taking them to musea, but this exhibition was not suitable for the small ones. That's my opinion.

12 October, 2007

Mr. Fog


This is the street where I live. Since two weeks every morning looks like that... the FOG....

And every night looks like that... It's never been that foggy since I've moved here.

11 October, 2007

Slimming economy

The news of today is that the food will get 30% more expansive. Ah!! And one of the reasons for that is the bad crops this year. Isn't that interesting?!?!? The whole Eastern Europe stops gradually ploughing their fields because it's not bringing money, half of Poland has become one big green meadow, the farmers are living from social security and the Western Europe says that there's not enough food!!???? Well, the whole economy is a strange thing...

Even the cheapest shops in Belgium, like Lidl, Aldi and Colruyt will rise their prices. People are not pleased at all, who would be? However the customer will not feel the difference in his wallet, says Paul d'Hoore, the most most sympathetic TV jurnalist on
economy, because the luxury goods will not become more expansive, what's more, they will get cheaper. Ha! The conclusion is to buy a digital camera while getting a loaf of bread. Or the buy a TV set when all you need is a weekly grocery shopping. If you compare then what you spend now with the total payed a month ago (if you would buy a TV set or a camera, of course!), it will appear that you not only payed less but that you actually saved money. That's the logic.

Anyway, let's look at the bright side of it, buying less can never be bad for a personal state of the finances. And in these days of an almost epidemic obesitas, the economy might actually help us slim down and be beautiful. On top of that the luxury will get cheap and we all will live in glitter & glamour. Whow!! Isn't that something?!?

07 October, 2007

Croissant versus Speculaas


Sunday is the only day in the week when we eat croissants. That's a habit in many flemish families. Usually the fathers go early in the morning to the bakery to get the fresh bread for sunday and croissants, french pastry. They should be light and fluffy and not too sweet. Most of the times the croissants in Belgium are too sweet and covered with icing or chocolate. That's the local taste. And these can be so different. For example the croissants in Poland are usually made of the yeast pastry, like for fruitcakes. That makes them taste and look completely different then the originals. The Polish don't mind because that's the kind of pastry they are used to. The Belgian croisaants are more french, but still not the same. The original french croissants are made of so called french pastry (the best in the world and only the french can make it right!), which has many layers separating from eachother during the baking process. When the pastry rises, the layers go open creating kind of caves. The original croissants are rather neutral, so that you can eat them either with butter and jam or butter and ham. They function like luxury breakfast buns.

During the belgian (flemish), hardworking week there's usually no time for breakfast, which is not that healthy, of course. There are people who do find time to eat a sandwich everyday but as far as I noticed it's very rare. Especially the families with small children try to create this healthy morning habit and teach their children the healthy way of living, as the breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The retired people also have time to eat thier sandwich with cheese or jam and read the newspaper.

It is usually cheese or ham on bread, and most of the times without butter. But there is one very special, very tasty as I've learned, thing to put on bread. There are in Belgium very typical, kind of ginger bread dry cookies, called SPECULAAS. The main ingredients are brown sugar and cynamon. Many people dip them in their morning coffee to replce the breafast or other meal. But many people dip the speculaas in their coffee, to make them soft and spread-like and put them on a slice of bread. And I can assure you it's really tasty and in my opinion much more healthy then a chocolate spread. Or, unfortunatelly, any croissants.

03 October, 2007

Milk inc.



Milk inc. is a belgian dance group (a guy and a girl - very sympathetic and very popular). I'm not going to write about the music but I thought the name "milk incorporated" describes very well the belgian weather (again!).


Since two days it's been white everywhere. Yesterday I woke up in a glass of milk, today - on a cloud... Like in Heaven. Give me wings and I can be an angel. Maybe a guardian angel, looking from above at the passing traffic and the black road that enters the cloud in both directions and fades out, literally vanishing into thin air. One car after another, each one with a person inside, moving fast from left to right or from right to left. And some of them could use some protection as they drive with NO LIGHTS ON, not even mentioning the special fog lights.

That's how it is here, the lights are not obligatory in Belgium. Never (maybe just at night). Not that the cars in Belgium are built without lights like robots without eyeballs, only with
empty, scary, roaring gaps, and some wires hanig out. It's only suggested turning the lights on in situations of worse visibility like heavy rains, snowstorms or fog. However many belgian drivers feel so self-assured of their road position and selfish thinking that everyone should see them, that they just neglect the safety of the other road users (not only cars) as well as their own. That wouldn't be a big problem if all cars here were painted bright yellow with fluorescent orange polka dots all over them. But they are all very fashionalble, all shades of grey and black, which equals INVISIBLE.

I had the same feeling two days ago, when it was raining. It was a very strange rain: a very "slow" and "regular" I was driving to the center and these huge and heavy drops were of my car splashing against the windshield and covering half of the visibility area. So then, again many cars were riding with NO LIGHTS ON. It's so dangerous and unthinkable for me. In Poland every driver would immediately strat warning the other driver to turn the lights on by
giving signs with his own lights... And here no one seems to be bothered.

26 September, 2007

One hand is always the leading one

Although they say here: "like two hands on one belly", ona hand is always the leading one...

A country is like a business, it needs a good leader, good politics and a good strategy. “Strength through Unity” is the Belgian motto, which means that the two biggest language communities, despite the huge differences, should be able to work together in order to make this country work.

But we all know how difficult it is to run a business, to find a good bunch of people, to introduce them with the ideologies and the technologies, to make them feel responsible for your thing and expect that everyone will be happy. That’s why it’s even more difficult, to make the business profitable and longlasting. Someone will eventually start complaining. At least 50% of the companies goes bankrupt after two years. That’s the risk.

It has been working well till now in Belgium, but what will happen next...? First they made an artificial country out off three different language communities, then they introduced the obligatory French, as the official language and afterwards they created a three-tiered federation: federal, regional, and community governments That was supposed to be a compromise to minimize linguistic, cultural, social and economic tensions, which had than already started. The Flemish want to speak dutch, the Walloons want to speak french, the German-speaking community wants to be left alone, and those who live in Brussels and its suberbs want to speak flemish, french, turkish, arabic, italian and polish. Voilà.

The Flemish are very proud that they stimulate the economy with their good visions, good business education and an unusual hardworking and undertaking attitude. They get up early in the morning, rush to work spending, despite of the few thousand kilometers highways, long hours in unavoidable traffic jams, sit at work from dusk till dawn, (because working nine-to-five, or rather nine-to-four is a privilege of the state clerks and teachers), they come home when it’s already dark, can’t spend much time with thier kids because someone has to cook, clean do the laundry (unless they earn enough to hire a housekeeper), they have hardly time for hobbies, fall asleep on the sofa during the 7 ‘o clock News and the next day, next week and next month it’s still the same, over and over again. Not mentioning that the Flamish during their working hours have to stand up to a long list of criteria, where active, undertaking, responsible, strategic, multitasking, energetic, teamworker, inventive... are only the top of the iceberg.

On the other hand (!!!) ther are the Walloons who suffer a huge hangover after so many decades of prospering industry which collapsed almost completely by the end of the last century. They seem to be paralised and not able of any what so ever action or work. They can sit in front of their Provence-like houses, buit off beautifull yellow stones, enjoy the afternoon sun with a glass of good wine and complain that the economy is not developping. (now there should be a protest)

Of course, not everyone fits the description. But that’s what it basiclly looks like here. This is one huge, overwhelming stereotype that drives these two communities apart. It is used in politics, in art, on tv, on the street, everywhere. And what’s worse they don’t even realise that they use this cliché constantly against each other.
It’s been much more then 100 days since the last elections and there’s still no Prime Minister nor a government. So far so good, because the record belongs to Mr. Dehaene, who was responsible for the formation of Martens VIII-government in 1988, and it took 148 days. Getting close!! The motto of Belgium says “Strength through Unity”, which for me means as much as “although we are so different, all unique personalities, let’s stick together and make it work”. I’m just wondering for how long one can pull it off... The Belgium state reflects very accuratelly the flemish vision on doing business. And they are very good businessmen. So, I believe they will manage this time again. Soon.

24 July, 2007

When the wheels became squares...

There are many, very many bike paths in Belgium and they all lead to everywhere. So we took them. And four hours later we still didn't reach our destination.

It was a nice sunny day, not too warm and just perfect for biking. We had a plan. We decided to go 15km further to visit a friend and look at his boat at the river. We had a plan but we didn't look at the map. We crossed the village center and the railways, and then the forest, and then another village, and one more. It was saturday, perfect weather for biking, not many people biking (saturday), enjoying the nature, watching the houses, comparing the gardens, what more does one would want...? At the certain point we even got to the middle of Flanders, Opdorp. This is a small village with a huge market place with a park in the middle of it. We passed few nice restaurants but it was not a time to eat so we continued the trip with a plan to come there on our way back. Lots of green around us. Blue sky... and airplanes!! The 21st of July is the National Day in Belgium.

Het was op 21 juli 1831 dat Leopold I, de eerste Koning der Belgen, de grondwettelijke eed aflegde. The first King of the Belgian Leopold I took the constitutional oath on the 21st of july 1831. Belgium is a rather young kingdom. In 2031 will become 200years old... Funny! For us the Polish, it is unthinkable that our country would exist only 100 something years. What a short backward perspective!! Call us the nationalists but we are proud of our more then 1000years history as one nation and country. The first Polish king Boleslaw Chrobry was crowned in 1025 although he ruled the country as a Duke already since 992, after the death of his father, the first Duke of Poland Mieszko I. So, that's a hell of a history there!!

But coming back to Belgium, it's an artificial country. Artificial meaning, they took some people, they told them::
- From now on, these are the borders, this will be your king and you will be Belgium.
- But not all of us speak the same language! - they replied
- That's OK. There are two different nations here. We took a bit from the North and a bit from the south but it's not a problem. You will be living peacefully together. We want it like this and you shut up.
- OK. - they agreed and walked away.
That is not true, of course. The Belgian provinces separated from the Dutch ones because they didn't like the Dutch Orange Prince. They created their own state and wrote their very first own constitution. Found a candidate for a king and took off as a country. How difficult can it be?? The country holds two communities of different origins, the Flemings (descendants of the people of Flanders) to the north and the Walloons (Frankish descent) to the south. That's why they speak no belgian
around here but dutch as well as french. Some - more "as well as" then th others but, admit, it's confusing. Let's not be surprised. And its' amazing how two so very much different mentalities (one more north -dutch, the other more south-french) can exist within one country. Why haven't they split up yet? ...They do think they are one country... I guess. One wouldn't survive without another (at least one way). And the another feels responsible for the first one. They are like brother and sister; one takes care of the other one despite the age and intrests difference. They stick together.

Proceeding our biking trip, we stopped along the road, in the middle of the field to watch the parade of the belgian airforces. There were many military airplanes flying through above our heads, some F16's, some B52's, old airplanes, new ones, many of them. At a certain moment I thought I saw a fat lumpy boeing with a royal family on board passing by... but it could have been fatamorgana...we were standing on a cornfield afterall. And they were flying quite low so that one could have a good look. So far we asked three diffrent people about our biking route. We tried to follow the "schelderoute", however sometimes we "managed" to follow the "aspergesroute"... We came to one more forest and much bigger then the first one, with almost no traffic at all, a street we didn't recall,
the names we didn't know and the area we didn't remember - we got a bit suspicious. At that moment we might have thought that we were slightly LOST.

After biking a whole nice circle around the province (!!), asking two more people about the direction, visiting hundreds of local villages, we managed to reach the river bank. Schelde, halleluja!! This one we had to get!! BUT, we were too far. We still had to bike few more kilometers back along the river. Eventually, after 2,5hours, we got to our friend and his boat. And all that by following the bike paths. Amazing.

Ps.: We spent there the rest of our afternoon. Enjoyed the community BBQ organized at the local café, with music, beer, fish stright from the grill and local weirdo's. The way back was even more interesting, we left at around 8, and we got home at midninight. That's another long story. We didn't get lost. But went to a tapas-restaurant where they didn't want to serve us food (!!). We had a laugh, overworked thighs and soar bottoms. So we went for a pitta.

21 July, 2007

21 July

Het was op 21 juli 1831 dat Leopold I, de eerste Koning der Belgen, de grondwettelijke eed aflegde. The first King of the Belgian Leopold I took the constitutional oath on the 21st of july 1831. Belgium is a rather young kingdom. In 2031 will become 200years old... Funny! For us the Polish, it is unthinkable that our country would exist only 100 something years. What a short backward perspective!! Call us the nationalists but we are proud of our more then 1000years history as one nation and country. The first Polish king Boleslaw Chrobry was crowned in 1025 although he ruled the country as a Duke already since 992, after the death of his father, the first Duke of Poland Mieszko I. So, that's a hell of a history there!!

But coming back to Belgium, it's an artificial country. Artificial meaning, they took some people, they told them::
- From now on, these are the borders, this will be your king and you will be Belgium.
- But not all of us speak the same language! - they replied
- That's OK. There are two different nations here. We took a bit from the North and a bit from the south but it's not a problem. You will be living peacefully together. We want it like this and you shut up.
- OK. - they agreed and walked away.
That is not true, of course. The Belgian provinces separated from the Dutch ones because they didn't like the Dutch Orange Prince. They created their own state and wrote their very first own constitution. Found a candidate for a king and took off as a country. How difficult can it be?? The country holds two communities of different origins, the Flemings (descendants of the people of Flanders) to the north and the Walloons (Frankish descent) to the south. That's why they speak no belgian around here but dutch as well as french. Some - more "as well as" then th others but, admit, it's confusing. Let's not be surprised. And its' amazing how two so very much different mentalities (one more north -dutch, the other more south-french) can exist within one country. Why haven't they split up yet? ...They do think they are one country... I guess. One wouldn't survive without another (at least one way). And the another feels responsible for the first one. They are like brother and sister; one takes care of the other one despite the age and intrests difference. They stick together.

08 July, 2007

It's arrived!! It's Beau... and it's not the Jolais.


Who would have thought!!?!?!! It's there... It's arrived. The summer!! It's still colder than it should be but the weather is nice. The short-sleeve temeratures, the few puffed cumulusees on the post-card blue sky and the shinning sun will allow us to enjoy the day outdoors. And that's been a while now. So, this is the specifics of the outdoor leasures in Belgium. It's dictated by the weather. Just like everywhere else, I assume, however with this difference that whenever the sun shines in Belgium, Evereyone goes outside. It's the masses that go biking, skating, walking, jogging, crawling wherever they can. All pedestrians' paths get crowded. And you have to know, there's a lot of them in the country. The bike routes and the pedestrians' paths create a well organized network. You can get almost everywhere using them. So, when the weather allows, you have to go too. You must take benefits of the weather because it might start raing tomorrow and never stop for the next three months. Mind that!!



The sunday in this case is the worst day. If you have in mind a quiet, peacefull excursion, enjoying the nature on your own, the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, to avoid the sunday-afetrnoon crowd of walking families, with kids spreading everywhere, and the dogs barking on everything that passes by (you), I've got advice for you, start early in the morning... Although (!!!), even then you might get crashed by the passing super-trooper energetic 70yearolds in their expensive professional hiking boots, kneeshort-trouseres in masking colours, and waving with very long sticks. Try to enjoy.
If you're done with your sunny-sporty sunday, you will sit on a closest cosy sun-terrace of a café and enjoy your trappist with blocks of cheese or salami, watching the people passing by, talking or laughing at the weirdo's and being happy that
you didn't waist the day.

03 July, 2007

Subscription to Rain

That is the first thing that stroke me - the rain. It's incredible how much it rains in Belgium. You Belgian people maybe don't even realise it... The first two years I was so excited with my new life (in a new place, in a new world, with new people, new experiences, everything was wooohww!!!!) that I didn't even notice what was going on. Or maybe it were two exeptionally dry years...?? whatever. When I thought about it really well (I'm blond but I managed to do that without any breincomplications) I realised that most of the time it's grey and wet here. The sky is most of the time grey, as if the clouds are meant to cover this country with a thick leyer of compressed waterbubbles and only in times of very strong winds they get chased away.
And the rains are also very special here: they don't stop!!. Voilà, I said it. At least this is the general feeling I get sent into my brein from the perception organs. And I've got few of these.... Seriously, the rain just keeps on drizzling all day long.

So you say, what about an umbrella?? Sure, what about?? Isn't it that round, deep thing to put you groceries in????... only this stick in the middle gets in the way.... See, the altantic climat can get so cruel that you will be sorry that you even botherd to take that thing with you. It's no use because the wind will push the water drops all directions including the inside of your umbrella, your coat, your face, you hair.... And at the end you'll be struggling more with the umbrella then with the rain. Just like that:

The difference with Poland couldn't be bigger. I remember that when it was about to start raining everyone was kind of... how to describe it??? Anxious but delighted because you knew that the rain wouldn't take long and afterwards it would become a sunny rest of the day. Even when it was announced to be bad weather day you could forsee that it would rain heavily, it would storm like hell with thunder and lightening on a navy blue sky,... everyone would go outside on a balkony and watch the beautiful and overwhelming nature play... but it would STOP. Even if it took 2-3hours it would stop and suddenly this beautiful sun would come out from behind these powerful clouds and the sky would become so bright blue!!!! And you knew - the rainbow, of course, the most beautiful rainbow would appear, just amazing!!?!??!??!!

I miss it.

01 July, 2007

So, I come from Poland.

And I've got few different blogs already. All my blogs are about sth else. This one will be (notice: "be", he...? clever, he...?!?!?? ;) ) about Belgium (BE). It will help me place "Belgium", the country I've been living in for the past 10 years, in the right place in my consciousness and memory. And hopefully I will have said what I have to say.

So, I will tell you how I see the everyday life of an average Belgian. I never became a real Belgian, and that's gooood. I did it on purpose. Why should I? To keep my own national identity (at least a part of it, 'cos a huge part I've already lost; that's inevitable), I keep a distance. Not that I haven't adjusted to the Belgian life and customs...; actually I did it very wel. There was even a moment that I started thinking in Flemish (Oh, oh!!). That's scary, I can tell. You suddenly realise that you lost the touch with your own mother language. What's even worse, you have to look for words to say things, because you'd forgotten them... Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!!?!!??!!???

Now, I keep things in perspective.
That's a good way to survive. And that took me 10 years?? Yep. I'm a diesel. So, here you will find out what I think of one of the smallest but richest countries in Europe, Belgium.

Watch out, it might get interesting...