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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bar Brawl

Yesterday, Wolf came home from the day-care centre looking like a street fighter. He had a series of cuts and bruises around his left eye.

It seems he got involved in a fight with another toddler for a bottle of hard liquor – still water to be precise. It was unclear who was going to win the brawl, because Anna (who runs the day-care) intervened.

Apparently, Wolf wasn’t the one that picked the fight, but still there’s no excuse for resorting to violence. We sent him to bed early, with only two portions of banana yoghurt and a cookie for supper.

That’ll teach him to behave.

Posted by Bart at 6:58 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 9:38 PM
Categories: Next Generation

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bit Nippy

The seasons are changing – not that it easy to notice with the summer we’ve had. But it’s clear that the days are shortening and it’s getting quite chilly in the morning as I leave for work. Mrs.B put on an extra cover on our bed, and we stuff Wolf inside a blanket inside his winter sleeping bag, as he keeps pushing his covers away only to wake up in the dead of night because he’s too cold. As a consequence, there’s a giant sausage roll lying in his baby bed now.

Yep, it’s time to put on the heating. Except that we don’t have a heating for the moment yet. There are numerous parts of a heating system installed all over the house, including five of the nine radiators, kilometres of red and blue pipes decoratively running over ceilings and behind closets and over walls and so on. Impressive technical installations and a boiler with many – but not all – water, gas and exhaust connections linked to aforementioned pipes, complete the picture.

The new central heating doesn’t heat yet, but it does chill. The wind blows through the many holes I drilled for the pipes and connections. Floorboards were removed, so that we have now various interesting and exiting new ways of going from one floor to another. A number decorative panels were removed to reveal a pletora of less than decorative walls with ghastly fifty year old wallpaper. The trenches that I cut into the walls, floors and ceilings produce a slightly moist, dusty odour; as if the mummy of Tutankhamen just farted.

I think my fellow residents would appreciate it if I finished the whole damn installation a.s.a.p. Preferably yesterday, thank you very much. So I toil and I toil until my fingers hurt – give me a hammer in my hands and I’ll whack them to a pulp, guaranteed. But try as I may, it’ll still take me a couple of weekends before I get this thing finished.

I hope we’ll all survive.

Posted by Bart at 11:01 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Collection

Summer is like so over, so here at Bart’s Fashion Boutique we are proud to give you an exclusive preview of the 2008 Autumn and Winter Collection.

First up, we have this wonderful Gastric Flu on offer, which comes complete with a whole rage of needles, hooks, rusty nails and various other razor sharp implements that seem to slice, hack and slash trough your stomach. Thanks to Gastric Flu, or Gastroenteritis as we like to call it in the business, you won’t touch a morsel of food for days on end. Guaranteed to make you collapse in your bed and whimper like a baby.

A classic at parties is our Acute Tonsillitis. Infect your friends! Get the family together and croak in turn like a parched raven that’s eating sandpaper in the Sahara desert. Bored of swallowing? Tonsillitis will without any doubt make you prefer drooling in public to passing your excess saliva. You’d rather die than make any movements with your throat. It’s fun-fun-fun!

And last but not least, there’s that evergreen at parties: acute unstoppable diarrhoea. Clench your bottom while trying to engage in stimulating conversation. Pretend not to feel that small trickle of foul liquid that announces a veritable dam-burst of putrid raw sewerage. Feel your head turn red every time your rubber-like anal sphincter lets go of a waft of bio-gas. Give Usain Bolt a run for his money as you sprint in record time to the nearest loo.

The 2008 Autumn’s collection has something to everyone’s taste, and we tested it all for you, dear readers! In fact, that's practically all I've been doing for the past two weeks.

And if my son brings one more disease from day-care, I refuse to hug him without one of those white bio-hazard protection suits.

Posted by Bart at 9:27 PM
Categories: Miscellaneous

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Work In Progress

As you may have noticed, I've been busy changing the lay-out of my weblog. It's a work in progress, so things may go hay-shaped and look pear-wired for a while.

I've had that boring old lay-out from the very beginning of this weblog, and I've been contemplating a change for a while now. But I never found the time to make it all right at once, so I thought I just get it started and tweak it over time until it's perfect, or bland but functional.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tourist Attractions

Finally, the long awaited pictures of our trip to...

Weekend London  

Lloyds building - London  

Stern of an old sail freighter - St Catherine Docks - London  

Southwark - London  

Southwark - London  

Seventies LSD trip turned into a statue - London  

Seventies LSD trip turned into a statue (2) - London  

Entrance to China Town - London  

Old & new: an old church seen through a modern glass building - London  

Houses of Parliament Clock Tower with Big Ben - London  

Obligatory picture n°1: the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, housing the famous Big Ben.

Small statue in door frame of Westminster Abbey - London  

Heavily guarded entrance to Downing Street - London  

Why every tourist has to flock to the entrance of Downing Street is beyond me. I mean, there is absolutely nothing to see, apart from fences, CCTV cameras, barbed wire, armed police personnel, road barriers, etc. You can't even get a glimpse of n°10. For all we know, it's all a hoax. In reality, the PM lives somewhere in Surrey or Lincolnshire or Scotland.

The pond in Sint James' Park - London  

St-James' Park, where geese rule the lawns.

Trousers covered in geese poo  

And there they are, my beige shorts covered in geese poo.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stand-up Comedian

Wolf can stand upright, all on his own. Not for a very long time, mind you. His current world record is 20 seconds.

But he loves it! He’s having a blast standing up, falling on his bum, standing up again, falling down again, standing up again… He really cries with laughter.

He only does it when one of us is sitting with him on the ground though, he’s still too insecure to do such mind-boggling experiments on his own.

Posted by Bart at 9:44 PM
Categories: Next Generation

Monday, September 08, 2008

Why I Hate Geese

The weather was spectacularly fine on our second day in London. I had mocked Mrs.B when she packed my shorts and sandals, saying that it always rains in London. But she insisted that the weather man had said it would be warm, and she mocked in me in return for taking along my umbrella.

Don't say nasty things about London, she'll only take revenge.

So it was a brillant Saturday morning, and after thoroughly testing the mattress of our hotel room, we headed for a pub right next to the Tower for a huge English breakfast. The perfect stereotypical tourists, that's us. Then we took a ride on the Underground (alright like that, Zoe?) to Westminster, to get filmed by a zillion CCTV cameras, stared at by heavily armed security personnel while behinst our back, MI-5 and MI-6 personnel were busy collecting our finger prints for their database. Oh, and we saw the Houses of Parliament and listened to Big Ben, stared at Westminster Cathedral and saw a glimpse of the lamp post that stands in front of Downing Street n°10. If you ask me, it's a good thing they keep their Prime Minister locked up in a heavily guarded prison like that. They should do the same thing here.

Mrs.B was eager to go see the Queen's little hideout – Buckingham Palace that is. We went through St-James' Park, and because the weather was so nice we sat down on the lush green grass. It was an idylic scene, with the pond in the back and the age-old trees and the geese quacking happily along. So we just laid there for a while in the grass and then I got bored and shuffled around a bit to take some pictures. Finally I wanted to move on, so I jumped up and bent over to take our rucksack.

'Oh no!', cried Mrs.B

'What?' I asked.

'Your pants! They're covered in geese poo!'

I swallowed. 'It's just a little spot, right?'

'No', she said, 'it's like this big.' She indicated an area the size of a football pitch with her hands. 'It's a big black stain on your (beige) shorts.'

I calculated the shortest route to our hotel, but there was no way around it: I had to cross the biggest tourist attraction in London to reach a station on one of the busiest Underground lines in the country, nay in the World, to get out at another of the biggest tourist attractions and scurry to our (four stars) hotel.

All in all it wasn't that bad. I estimate that no more than four million people have seen me in my soiled trousers. My deep red face got the attention of those that would otherwise have passed me without taking a second look. My derriere is now on roughly 350,000 home videos. Expect my butt to make appearances on every 'Funniest Home Videos' show anywhere in the world for the coming ten years.

I must admit I admire how Londoners that regularly use the tube can camouflage their sniggering, not bursting out into downright holloring. The hotel clerk that inadvertantly got a glimpse of my soiled derriere is still recovering, thanks to Mrs.B who just had to draw her attention when I tried to sneak my way into the elevator.

So the rest of the day I wandered through the city in my very warm regular trousers, trying not to get recognised by my fellow tourists. Funy how the tourist busses made it a point to halt right next to me every time they passed.

They'll pay for this, those geese. This year at Christmas, the turkeys don't have to fear a thing from our family.

Posted by Bart at 2:40 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

London Calling


The day before we left, Mrs.B ‘inadvertently’ opens my Visa bill and discovers that I ordered a weekend in London. So far for the big surprise then. I was not amused.

Last Friday...

...we got up at 6 AM – why do voyages always have to start at such early hours? The taxi I ordered almost missed our house, but I was on the lookout so I was able to grab him by the neck. After a train ride of an hour, we arrived at the Eurostar check-in desk at Brussels’ South station (oh, for the group of English tourists at the bakery shop: Bruxelles-Midi = Brussel Zuid = Brussels South Station. They’re not three different train stations).

It was there and then that Mrs.B discovers that she’d forgotten her ID-card. And despite the fact that the English are radically against ID-cards, you still have to have one to enter their stupid country. I didn’t take much imagination to see my wonderful weekend in London fly away, together with the 500 or so Euros it had cost me. I had steam coming out of my ears, my eyes were shooting fire and as we say here, I was shitting beans. But luckily-luckily-luckily this very nice-nice-nice lady from Eurostar had mercy on our poor souls and she managed to find us a couple of places on the next train, around noon.

So we took the train back to Antwerp, then a taxi back to our house, where Mrs.B ran in and out to fetch her ID-card and the we taxied back to the train station and took the next train to Brussels South Station. The whole operation took us a mere two and a half hours, but we’d made it.

Of course, we had to make do with the seats that were left. And I must say, I’ve rarely had any crappier seats on a train before. Even a toddler would complain about the leg room and the seat drooped so that we constantly felt we were sliding under the seats on the opposite side. By the time we’d arrived, both our backs and bums were broken, shattered, crumbled and bruised slightly.

The other good news was that the Eurostar now has its own custom-laid tracks, which enables it to ride at full speed. And there are lots of tunnels, which you enter and leave at around 300 kilometres per hour. This means that the air pressure in the train builds and drops violently, making your eyes pop like one of those clicker toys.

Big compensation for this whole experience: I made Mrs.B look in the middle of the tunnel under the English channel by pointing outside and saying: ‘hey look, a fish’.

After we’d arrived in the beautifully restored St-Pancras station, we took the tube (subway/metro) to our hotel. For once, I’d managed to book a hotel that doesn’t look stunning on the internet, only to discover it’s a cramped, flea-infested shack in real life. The only downside was that it was robot-operated: we had to check-in ourselves on a terminal, using a credit card. Luckily, there was human assistance to do the fully automated check-in procedure for us (so what’s the whole bloody point?) Sadly, all our credit cards were not acceptable in the UK or otherwise very, very empty. Luckily, I was able to dig one out of my wallet that I’d been meaning to give up for ages, but which now came in handy.

The room was nice and spacious, but the oversized air-conditioning had its very British interpretation of a balmy room temperature: it was freezing. So we had to keep each other warm. With physical exercise. In the bed.

More on this trip later, including the infamous ‘Incident in the Park’…

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