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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gold Fever

Tomorrow we’re leaving for Ecuador to get a well-deserved Latin-American honeymoon after all those months of hard working and getting married. I’ve been looking forward to this a lot, despite the fact that we’ll have to get up in the middle of the night (4.30 AM).

It’s going to be an adventurous trip, but with some compromises in terms of comfort. We’ll be travelling with public transport and stay in small local hotels or with local people, but we’ll also have a guide that will take care of time-schedules and finding accommodation. This way, we get the best of both worlds. We can do whatever we feel like, and we don’t have to worry about catching busses that only leave once every three days after full moon. The organisation that organises these tours is called GAP adventures, and I did a trip with them through Central America a couple of years ago. I liked the formula so much, I proposed to do it again for our honeymoon.

Tomorrow will be a long day of travelling. First from Brussels to Madrid, then a long-haul flight from Madrid to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. There we’ll stay a day or two, and then we head for the volcanic hot springs of Papallacta. Then it’s off to the Amazon, where we will participate in the typical local tradition of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and the occasional snake. Oh, and apparently it’s the rainy season, in the Amazon rain forest that is. So it’s going to be wet. On the up stay, we get to stay in a real jungle lodge with real Amazon Indians (I should say Indigénas, they detest being mixed up with people from East Asia).

After that, it’s hot water spring time again. Oh, I just can’t wait to be lying on my lazy back with a huge cocktail in my hand. We’ll also have the chance to climb some volcanoes, some of which are working. Anyway, it was nice to have known you all…

We’ll also have the chance to do some horse-riding, at a real hacienda. And after that it’s back to Quito again. All in all we’ll be gone for three weeks (you can follow the trip we're doing here), and you know what that means. If I have the opportunity (and feel like it) I’ll keep you updated via the Haloscan comments. If you don’t hear from me, maybe someone should look around for a very big Anaconda slithering through the Amazon…

Posted by Bart at 5:45 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Free At Last

Last day at work today, three weeks of freedom lie ahead of me.


Posted by Bart at 9:23 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


So there we are, Mr and Mss Bartlog. We had a beautiful and glorious wedding, despite getting bombarded by everything the Belgian climate could throw at us: rain, hail, violent gusts of wind,… But the sun broke trough the clouds on all the right moments. It was pouring when we left for city hall, but when we arrived the sun was shining in all its splendour. And it remained as if it was a really nice spring day until the moment we climbed on the coach again. We had a big coach, drawn by three black ‘Friesian’ horses and the whole city was admiring us when we drove through the streets of Antwerp. Except this one guy who thought it was a funeral and who made a cross sign when we passed!

The wedding ceremony was on what is know here as ‘the beautiful floor’, where the mayor and aldermen have their offices. It’s a magnificent building, designed by Rubens himself in Italian Renaissance style. We weren’t too nervous, although I had serious troubles getting the wedding ring over my bride’s finger. She has narrow fingers but broad joints, so it took me ages and I must confess some sweat ran along my spine before I finally had the stupid thing in place.

We went to the Antwerp Zoo for the photo shoot, which gave us a lot of logistical problems. My stunning looking wife had to keep her stunning dress from the stunningly muddy paths, but luckily the sun did us a favour again so we didn’t have to mess around with umbrellas. However, it was a bit nippy, especially for her because the dress had a broad bare back. She nearly froze there and she still has a bit of a cold.

So off to the wedding party. You know we were planning to have a demonstration in advanced horse riding, but unfortunately it would look more like a demonstration in advanced mud wrestling. The paddock was a giant swimming pool, and so were the places where the people had to stand. We thought about cancelling the whole thing, but then we decided to try and improvise something inside. This is also where the tent AND the inflatable jumping balloon castle thing stood, both in bright colours, so there was a good chance that Julia (my girlfriend wife’s horse) would panic and flee. But instead she was as calm as can be, performing admirably and with grace. Which is more than I did, since I had already sampled a lot of the drinks. You can’t risk serving lousy drinks to 130 guests, I had to take the responsibility!

The children had a great time on the inflatable jumping balloon castle thing (what’s the right English word for such a contraption anyway?) and on the ponies. Many a parent was surprised that his/her child dared to mount a pony. Many a parent will also be surprised that their child will whine incessantly for a pony until its 18th birthday.

Food: excellent! Roast pig and lamb chops, you can’t go wrong there. Although the bride was so nervous and busy getting every detail right that she barely could get anything down her throat. Drinks were good too, and plenty, but luckily I’d been practicing the days before so I managed to hold on to the end.

The opening dance was… ‘Zij’ (she) by Marco Borsato, a Dutch singer most of you won’t know. But after that we had almost every song you suggested, and more. In fact, the DJ was VERY fond of slows, up to the point were it almost got boring. But slowly (wooha!), the action on the dance floor started and I must say that as usual I overdid it and made myself look ridiculous. It was a good thing the incessant flow of guests coming and leaving took a lot of our attention.

We went to bed around 4 o’clock in the morning, and especially for you dear blog readers I will unveil what happened during the night: we slept. That’s it, no saucy sex scenes, no steaming wedding night. We were just finished after days and weeks of preparations. (Afterwards we did make up for it of course, but I already said to much).

So that’s it. Now we finally understand why people call this the most beautiful day of your life. It’s not the fact that you got married, it’s the knowledge that you won’t have to sacrifice your every free moment choosing napkins, tents, hors d’oeuvres and what not!

Posted by Bart at 9:09 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It’s the season to be sneezy…

3 days and panicking to day ‘M’

This morning I woke up with tears in my eyes. Not that I had an emotional break-down with the wedding in sight. Nope, it was just my good old allergy again. I’ve been allergic since I was a kid, courtesy of the pharmaceutical plant right next to our door where my father worked. We’re talking about the days when factories could still blow tonnes of sulphur in the air so that the pine trees all had yellow dust on their needles.

So when I was a teenager, I spent one half of the year sniffing and sneezing because of allergies, and the other half because of a continuous series of colds. My nose has more of a decorative function than any respiratory one. It streamlines my face, that’s all. And it produces odd noises, varying from a record-breaking 140 decibel 348 km/h sneeze that will break all windows within a 500 meter radius, to a low, loud, rumbling noise that is often mixed up with the sound of an ocean steamer entering the harbour when I blow my nose. The strangest noise it ever produced was a loud and shrill peep whenever I was just about to fall asleep. I spent half a night looking for the mouse that climbed on my pillow before I realised it was my own head toying with my mind. The least popular function of my nose is its night-long snoring capability, which almost made me loose a future wife last night.

This morning, it was not just the nose that was running harder than a Cheetah on amphetamines with its tail on fire. My eyes were playing Niagara too. It took me three pills to stop both floods, but then I got quite dizzy, which in turn lead to some interesting situations when I drove on the ring way around Antwerp this afternoon.

If this happens again on Saturday, I have the choice between option a) snot all over my costume and waste my mascara with a stream of non-emotional tears, or option b) get all drugged up and play zombie all day.

Wedding? What wedding?

Posted by Bart at 8:48 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Slow Time

7 days and counting to day ‘M’

I’d like to launch a general appeal to my readers. You see, we urgently have to decide what songs we’re gone play to open the dance on our wedding. As with any good traditional (hum) Belgian wedding, we as the freshly married couple will start the dance evening with a couple of slows. The problem is: which slows?

‘Lady in Red’ is not an option, like me make this clear at the start. My fresh young wife will be wearing white and blue for starters (not that I’m supposed to know of course), and it’s the kind of song that makes me scramble for a brown paper bag to review last week’s diners.

Apparently, my bride-to-be has something against a jolly nice guitar riff. Anything remotely akin to Metal seems to be out of the question (I always found Metallica’s ‘One’ a touching song that would reach me emotionally on a deeper level).

So we urgently need your help. Please tell us all about your favourite wedding-dance-openers and sticky romantic songs!

Posted by Bart at 7:41 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pas d’un

9 days and counting to day ‘M’

The marriage is approaching fast, and months of preparation are falling into place. Or rather, they are falling into shambles.

As I divulged before, one of the things we wanted to do during the wedding party, was to show off our horse riding talents before the assembled masses of friends and family. The plan was to do a Pas de Deux, an exercise in which two horses make a series of figures riding either exactly next to each other or mirroring each other’s movements on both sides of the paddock.

For this purpose, I borrowed a horse, Irene. Our first attempts together were not exactly a success, she was difficult to handle. But after a lot of training, things started to look nice. I got Irene under control, we succeeded in doing the figures in a reasonable degree of synchronicity and low and behold, the new horse-riding centre got finished with a delay of a mere two months, so we even got a place to ride!

But it was not to be. When we went to the manège on Saturday, our teacher had to break us some very bad news. Irene had suffered a heart attack.

I wasn’t even aware that horses could have a heart attack. As far as I could tell, Irene never smokes. She follows a healthy vegetarian diet and never drinks any alcohol. And she does sport at regular intervals. Nevertheless, she was found laying on the floor of her stable a couple of days ago, breathing heavily and shocking over her whole body. The teacher got her up against the wall to support her, but a couple of times she almost fell down again. Later the vet confirmed that she had suffered a heart attack. ‘With humans we put a pacemaker, but with horses there’s nothing much you can do’, was his verdict.

So that’s the end of poor Irene’s career. She has to remain calm now, without any excitement. Maybe she’ll live for a long time to come – she’s only 19 – or maybe she’ll die tomorrow.

So the Pas de Deux is off. Even if we could find another horse, I don’t have enough time to practise with it to reach a decent level. Months of hard work are down the drain, but I’m especially sad that I won’t be able to ride her again now that things were going so well.

We considered alternatives, but we decided against me running on foot next to she-who-looks-stunning-in-black-leather-boots-and-handles-the-whip-with-grace-and-ferocity. I tried some of the dogs running around in the centre, but the saddle was just too big.

Instead, I will give a solo display of dressage on Julia (my fiancées horse) and after that she will also mount Julia and do a small obstacle course.

Nine more days to practice, or rather three evenings. If we even manage that, because there’s so much more to do that we may have to postpone the whole wedding until 2045.

Posted by Bart at 7:20 PM
Categories: Animal Farm

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


17 days and counting to day ‘M’

When I woke up and stumbled into the kitchen a couple of days ago, I found that the floor was covered in uncooked spaghetti. We don’t have the habit of storing our pasta on the kitchen floor, even when the cupboards are completely stacked with it and with other stuff. Our apartment has many spare rooms for such cases of overflowing cupboards in times of pasta plenty.

Given the fact that it was still very early in the morning, my brain was unwilling to process this strange information any further. Instead, it ordered my foot to do an investigative prod, after which it decided this was just too much to handle before 7 o’clock. When I returned to the kitchen, she-who-is-horrendously-active-during-mornings already cleaned up the mess, which made my brain very content and thereby the incident was closed.

The next day however, when I returned home from work I found a similar scene. Although she-who-will-be-my-wife-in-exactly-17-days had secured the spaghetti in a glass jar of reasonable size and weight, a criminal gang of at least two had managed to cover the kitchen floor yet again with Italy’s most well known culinary product. I caught the culprits red-handed, or should I say red-pawed? (I probably shouldn’t, it sounds ridiculous and if by now you haven’t figured out this post is about our cats, please contact your physician)

Yes, it was the cats that did it! <shock and awe gulf through my readers all over the world>

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always believed that cats are carnivores. I never saw a lion on National Geographic that stalked a herd of tagliatelli. Jaguars and panthers generally don’t ambush plates of macaroni-with-cheese. Cheetahs did not develop into the worlds fastest runners in order to tackle light-footed cannelloni. Yet our feline foes seem to be crazy about pasta. I already noticed they will go nuts about a drop of tomato-sauce dropped on the kitchen floor. At night we can here the rattling of dirty dishes and pots when we had something with tomato-sauce for dinner. And now this!

I think it’s time to put my collection of Garfield comics behind solid bars.

Posted by Bart at 7:01 PM
Categories: Animal Farm

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Final Countdown

18 days and counting to day ‘M’

We’re May.

No world-shocking news there, you would think, but for us the final countdown has begun. After months of preparations the wedding is getting close. In 18 days we will experience what many call the most beautiful day of our life.

If we’re still alive that is. We’re both not feeling very well lately, mainly because of general fatigue. We have trouble staying awake, getting asleep, sleeping, getting up and getting around. We had two ‘soirées’ with friends this weekend, and I’m afraid we’ve been rather absent in everything but physical presence. There was image, but no sound, and the image was blurred.

Anyway, enough whining. How about I treat you to a couple of excellent links to even more excellent weblogs? There are many thousands of new blogs popping up every day, I’m told, but as you will notice many of them range from absolute crap to interstellar boredom. You’re so lucky you’ve found my blog!

So when you’re done reading every entry in the Bartlog, feel free to click to these golden nuggets:

Posted by Bart at 7:05 PM
Edited on: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 7:12 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

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