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Friday, August 28, 2009

My Preciousssss

Finally! Summer holidays, fourteen days peace and calm. Well, I don't know about that, but at least I don't have to go to work each day. I'm trying to stay away from my DIY tools, but this Tuesday was marked on the calendar: I'd promised my parents to re-plaster the kitchen wall after they'd had a new giant window installed.

It was a difficult job, with lots of fiddling behind central heating pipes, scores of corners, combining existing plasterwork with new patches and so on. I started around eleven in the morning and I'd finally finished by ten in the evening. But I must say, I was proud on the quality of my work. I feel I can say I'm starting to master the difficult discipline of plastering walls.

We stayed over at my parents', because the next day we were going to the Efteling, a theme park in Holland. But when we drove off, I noticed I wasn't wearing my wedding ring. So we turned back as I tried to remember if and where I'd taken it off. I remembered that I was wearing it while working, something I normally don't do and that I shouldn't do. I ran up and down the house trying to find it, but it wasn't in the bedroom or the bathroom or the kitchen or the living room...

Rivulets of cold sweat were streaming down my back as I contemplated the only other option: it must have slipped off in a bucket of water – or worse – in a bucket of plaster. So my father and I toppled over the bags of surplus plaster that were still in the garden and prodded the stuff apart to look for the ring.

We couldn't find it, and because we were supposed to meet my sister and sister in law with their children at the amusement park, we drove off. Meanwhile dad started to sift trough the half hardened muck in the hope of finding it.

We had a blast at the Efteling – although it took us ages to find the others – but the lost ring kept bothering me. In the afternoon, I got a text message that my father's archaeological methods had failed to bring the ring to the surface.

At this point I can tell you that Mrs.B was very much NOT amused by my loss. Sis-in-law poured some gasoline on the fire by saying that this was a bad omen for our marriage. There was tension in the air.

The next day I got a phone call from my mum. She'd found the ring! In the washing machine – how it had gotten there is beyond me, really. But it doesn't matter, I've got it back! I'm saved!!!

My Preciousssss...

Posted by Bart at 6:31 PM

Thursday, August 13, 2009


At 1:30 AM all is peace and quiet in our house, while outside thieves and roberers search their way and vampires hide in dark portals waiting for a foolish blonde maiden to come their way. In the master bedroom, I'm going crescendo to a grande finale in masterpiece in Snore flat.

Then suddenly, I get whacked in the face. Panick stricken, I awake while a hand claws violently in my eyes. It's like someone is trying to kill me and I start fighting back! I try to get a grip on the arm of my attacker.

'What are you doing ?!?!', I yell to Mrs.B.

She stares at me in confusion and bewilderment.

'I thought that Wolf was falling out of bed', she mutters.

'You daft woman, Wolf is in his own bed.'

'It was a bad dream', she explains, half apologising.

I grumble and try to go back to sleep, the adrenalin still pumping trough my veins.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


We went to Paradisio a couple of weeks ago, a parc not far from Ath, in the South of Belgium. It's mostly famous for its bird of prey, but there are other animals too. We had some trouble finding the damn place, and the weather was a bit dreary, but all in all it was very nice. It's really more of a parc with animals than a zoo, and the displays are all very nice.

Lemur in Paradisio animal parc  

I took a 137 pictures that day, but this is the only one that I think is pretty Ok. I really have to practice more...

Posted by Bart at 9:59 PM

Friday, August 07, 2009

Vive La France

We’ve finally decided on our holiday destination. We already knew we wanted to go to France, where the sun always shines. Not that we’re going very far to the south, I don’t think a two-year-old would take well to sitting in a car for ten hours straight. So we looked for something more to the north, in the region of Picardie, Normandy or Pas de Calais. Alternatively, we could have gone to the French Ardennes or the Champagne region. But we wanted sand and sea, so they were quickly dismissed.

Budgetary considerations meant that three weeks in a five star hotel was out of the question. Instead, we’ve hired a little ‘maisonette’ on a camping at the ‘Baie de la Somme’. On the website, the camping looked lovely and clean with plenty of sand dunes and the occasional pine tree. Mmmmh, the scent of warm pine while you sip on a cocktail with your feet in the warm sand…

On the other hand, we had an occasional bad experience with places we reserved on the internet after looking at pictures that showed spacious rooms and clean hotels. And no doubt our caravan will wash away in the Somme river after days of torrential rain. But I don’t care; I want to go on holiday abroad!

Only three more weeks and we’re off…

Posted by Bart at 8:58 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bicycle Repair Man

It was rather nice and sunny last Saturday, so we decided to head for the big city and go by bike rather the car (parking tickets/costs!) or the bus (moving greenhouse). I decided to give my bike’s tires a refill of air, and while I was at it, I also resuscitated the tires of Mrs.B’s bike.

I’d just finished the last tire, when I heard an ominous ‘PSHSHSHshshshsh’. Within seconds, the front wheel tire was as flat as a slug on a test course for steamrollers. The tire had ripped where the valve is attached.

So we took the bus to go to the city. It was damn hot inside.

Not that this was so surprising, because the ruin on two wheels that serves as Mrs.B’s mode of transport only resembles a bike of you look at it from a great distance, with your eyes squinted, in the mist, and without your glasses if you wear any. Up close you’d only see a big pile of rust, worn down rubber and various bike parts that are crooked, broken and/or all together dysfunctional.

Yesterday Mrs.B handed me a new tire and asked me to change it. Taking out the round piece of smudge and grease that once was the wheel wasn’t that difficult, it was just very, very dirty. When I took the outer tire from the rim I noticed just how worn the rubber was, it was cracking everywhere. Luckily I didn’t tear it apart, and once it came off changing the inner tire was a work of minutes (once I’d finally found my bike tools that is).

After I’d put the wheel back, I took a good look at that old bike and decided to try and improve it, as far as that was still possible. I liberally drizzled oil on the chain, the wheel axles and the brakes. Now it moves like lightning but your bum slides off the saddle and your feet off the pedals. Then I removed the remnants of the gears and one of the two old bells that dangle on the handlebars. I might as well have taken off the other one, because it doesn’t work, but then an overzealous policeman/woman might stop my wife for driving without a bell and at least now it looks as if her bike has a functioning warning apparatus. I also reattached the front mudguard, although it really needs to be replaced because under the fork the attachment point rusted away and Mrs.B reattached it with a piece of string. So every time she drives over a cobblestone road, it sounds as if someone is rolling a container of crockery off a steep hill. At least they’ll hear her coming without needing a bell.

When I’d finished my work, I took it out for a spin and a noticed that instead of riding a slow heap of rust and dirt, my loved one can now ride a moderately fast heap of rust and dirt to work.

Not that is safe to ride it at any speed, because quite a lot of the oil came on the wheel and break pads, so you need at least five hundred metres to come to a full stop. If you don’t have a backwind, that is.

Posted by Bart at 9:27 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

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