Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Efteling in winter
My little niece Hebe in the arms of Pardijn, one of the theme park's mascots.
The Efteling has a wonderful collection of antique merry-go-rounds. Some of them are still powered by steam engines.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Well, SOMEONE must have been good this year, because Sinterklaas visited our house on Saturday night. So this Sunday morning...
Chocolate! And biscuits! And candy! And more biscuits! (And mandarines)
Someone's going to school in a couple of weeks
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
A couple of weeks ago on a rainy day, we crossed the border to visit Amsterdam. It must have been almost twenty years since I've been there the last time, but not that much had changed: the canals were still there.
Amsterdam is a very Bart-friendly city.
The Kalverstraat - Amsterdam's main shopping street (for non-hallucinogetic items).
Wolf with his cool Siberian winter hat
Guess who had hot cocoa?
Somwhere underneath this pile of bikes lies the famous Damplein.
I first saw these elephant statues on Invader Stu's blog and I was so pleased to see them for real. Wolf loved them too. They are scatered trought the city and painted in all sorts of colours and themes. This is clearly an Indian elephant.
Mrs.B was feeling peckish and wanted a little something. Yes, it's the 'Walletjes', Amsterdam's famous red light district. Wolf liked it too, because there were a lot of shops with 'balloons'. That's when we decided to set another course.
The local cuisine is simple but delicious, if you like raw herring with bits of onions that is.
Social welfare in the 17th century: it's pretty clear who the clients were.
Canals, more canals, with boats, and more boats. And many, many more boats.
You have 'champignon de Paris' and you have 'champignon d'Amsterdam'. Do not serve the latter in a cream sauce with your steak.
Time for a snack, after such a long walk. Do they have hot cocoa here?
Ok, the VERY last picture of a canal.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Feel Like A Wreck
Aaah, la Picardie...
Derilict fishing boats at the end of the harbour of Le Crotoy
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
On the second day of our holiday, we tooka historical train ride around part of the Bay of the Somme. There are two main lines, from Saint-Valéry sur Somme to Cayeux (to the south at the coast) and back and the other one from Saint-Valéry (on the South side of the bay) to Le Crotoy (on the North side), with a stop at Noyelles-sur-Mer. We opted for that second tour, because it's with a real steam train whereas the trip to Cayeux is with an old Diesel locomotive.
However, when we'd bought our tickets we only found the Diesel train. So thinking that it replaced the normal steam train ride, we boarded. It was only when we left the train station that we say the steam train leave from another station, just 500 meters from where we hopped on our Diesel train.
I blame the French for being absolutely incapable of giving clear indications. They put one arrow in the general direction, then another and then you're left to your own devises, until you see an arrow pointing completely in the opposite direction (so at least you know you're too far).
My wife blames me, of course.
So it was with red cheeks that I handed over the tickets to the train conductor, who claimed again that their directions were perfectly clear. Luckily, he didn't kick us off the train. And besides, that old diesel locomotive was at least as charming as the steam train, wasn't it?
Arrival at Cayeux. Forty-five minutes later the train returned to Saint-Valéry sur Somme.
And we're off again!
We smuggled Booh, Wolf's favourite cuddle, into the passenger compartment. She really didn't want to travel with the cargo because there were no windows.
It was very hot that day (28°C!), so Wolf made sure that Booh drank regularly.
'That's what you get for trying to scare me and my cuddle cow!'
When we got back to Saint-Valéry, we heard a steam whistle. This is the train to Crotoy and Noyelles (where we were supposed to go). See, it's not half as nice as our little diesel train!
Although admit that the cars do look more comfortable than the ones we had. But then again, we could see the tracks through the cracks between the floor boards.
Ok, it IS a nice train.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Dance de l'Equateur
I had a busy schedule for my last trip to Congo, so for once I didn't take my camera. After all, I'd only be seing the inside of meeting rooms and conference halls. Boy, did I regret that decision! Although I must admit my hand lugage was only half as heavy as it normally was.
Anyway, here are some pictures from my last trip. On the evening before our return to Kinshasa, we were invited to a party in honour of three young men that had just become priests. All in all, the party was pretty lame. Everybody was sitting around tables, talking and drinking, but nothing much happened.
And then this crazy dance group entered:
Shake that boooooh-taaay!
For your information: one of these women is a nun. Guess which one.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The funfair was in town a couple of weeks ago. Not the big one, that's in August, but this one was perfect for little boys that have never been in a Merry-go-round before. We went to the fair for our third honeymoon aniversary - having a large portion of fries with a 'curryworst' (fricandelle) and a desert of 'smoutebollen' (kind of a sweet doughnut but without the whole in the middle), rather than a fancy candle-light diner.
Wolf had a blast, after stuffing his cheeks with fries from daddy and smoutebollen from mummy, he tried out the minicars and the Merry-go-round. Here you see him taking off in a plane, which he could make go up and down by pushing a button. He tries every button in his reach, but that was the best button ever!
Luckily, all that turning around and flying up and down didn't make his dinner come out. And he even got a free ride! But then it was time to head home, and surprisingly we didn't have to tear his little fingers from the cars, planes and horses to make him come with us. He's such a good boy!
Most of the time...
Thursday, May 28, 2009
While I was staying in Mbandaka, I met this little fellow:
His name is Gaston, and he was staying at the same place as I did.
Although I must admit that my room was slightly more comfortable. And more spatious too.
He was staying at the procure of the archbishop of Mbandaka, after being 'rescued'. This means that he was bought from a trader, but of course that's exactly what keeps the trade in baby chimps and baby bonobos going. Hunting, catching and selling chimpansees and bonobos is 'highly illegal' in Congo, which means that you have to avoid the cops or you may have to bribe them.
The sad part is that to catch these baby/infant chimps, they have to kill the mother. Gaston is still a young animal, but when he's fullgrown, he'll be able to tear that cage apart like a house of cards.
There's nothing really much for him to do all day long in that little cage, except for eating. As you can imagine, his diet is not really adapted to his needs, although the staff of the center are quite fond of him and regularly offer him food.
He spends a lot of time sucking on a piece of bone.
All in all, his food was almost as fresh as ours...
As you can imagine, it's a pretty miserable life. The chances that he'll ever get out are slim. I talked to his caretaker, and he said that he would be released into the wild when he would be old enough. Problem is, he won't know how to feed himself even if he does regain his freedom. One stormy night, his old cage blew over and broke apart. But Gaston didn't run away. He was lured back into another cage with a bit of food.
To try to cheer him up, I made him some toys. My brother works with bonobos in the zoo, so I tried to create something similar to what I saw there, something that might keep him busy for a couple of hours. Here you see the Chimp Amusement Device Mk II (the Mk I was just an empty water bottle). You can see the hole in the cap, which is just big enough to get one of the nuts out that are inside the bottle.
Gaston was very happy when I offered it to him. It captured his imagination for at least five whole seconds. Then he understood that it was not immediately edible, and that he'd have to work a bit to get the peanuts out. So he discarded it on the floor of his cage.
Well, at least I tried.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Evening view on the Congo river in Mbandaka (Dem. Republic of the Congo).
Just to let you know I'm back and more or less still alive.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Sharing Is For Loosers
A month ago, we took advantage of one of the first nice days to take Wolf to the playground.
He learned to climb on the slide all by himself. To celebrate this momentous occasion, he crowned himself the Supreme Head Tyrant of the Slide. Other kids were banned from the slide from that moment forth, as far as he was concerned. Sadly for him, we used our Omni-Overruling Parental Veto and spoiled his day by allowing other kids on the slide. He then made a daring bid for power over the swings.
This was also the first time that he actually touched the sand, although not with a lot of enthusiasm.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Winter In Zeeland
It's been cold these past few days - to Belgian standards that is. The freezing wind and the low sun reminded me of our weekend in the Dutch province of Zeeland last year.
We were staying in a holiday resort on an isle between the North sea and two salt water lakes. The wide beaches are excellent playgrounds for all kinds of wind-powered toys, like these kite riders.
Although there was not a lot of wind (phew for that), it still was very cold. But for Wolf, it must have been nice and warm in his fifteen layers of clothing, blankets, duvets, sleeping bags, etc.
My true love brings sunshine in my life.
That's the Dutch for you: always building things in the water.
We went to Zeeland to celebrate my mother's birthday. And this was the very festive house in which we were staying. You have to admit it looks very much like a birthday cake. Just needs some giant candles on top, and a bit of sugar frosting.
In contrast to Belgium, the Netherlands still have a real coast line with dunes and tide pools and inlets and beaches and so on. Nothing like the wall of concrete that borders the small strip of sandy beaches in my poor country. As for the dunes: I think we still have three. Maybe three and a half.
Here you see my family dragging the babies in their buggies through the soft sand of the dunes. On the left my sister and her husband, with my mother in the back between them. On the right Mrs.B with my father peeping over her shoulder. Notice that it took considerably less effort to get Wolf in his all-terrain 3x3 turbine-powered buggy through the sand, while sis and B-I-L had to pull and heave little Hebe all the way to the hard sand near the beach.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
With The Kids In Africa
It's my birthday today (feel free to send me money) and I don't feel like writing a long post today. So how about some pictures from my last trip to Congo?
These are some children I photografed in a nutritional health care centre (CNS) in the Vitamine district (I kid you not) in Kinshasa.
I really like this picture.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Canon + Concrete
I had a wee little accident last week
We went to the zoo of Antwerp with the whole family. We'd just been to the reptile building, where I had taken some pictures with my Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. It's not a zoom lens, but it's quite sensitive to light, so I could take pictures inside without having to use my flash. With the glass in between myself and the reptiles, flashing would have been useless because I'd get nothing but a white blur on my photos.
When we came out of the building, I wanted to switch this lens for my 18-55mm. But when I reached for my camera bag, it slipped out of my hands and landed. Not on the grass, but right on the concrete pathway. You can see the result: it's broken in two and the electrical wiring (the copper ribbon on the left) had broken in two.
It was my cheapest lens (at around 100 €), but I only had it for half a year.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
One Small Step...
About a month ago, Wolf started to stand up on his own. As he gained more confidence, he tried to bridge the distance between the couch and the living-room table, or the dinner table and the chairs. And a week ago, he made his first few steps.
Whoa! This is tricky!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner
Here are some more sights from the capital of flat beer, rainy days, Horse Guards and geese poo...
What better way than to start the day with a breakfast of epic proportions? Mrs.B is enjoying the normal sized breakfast, while yours truly was about to attack the full-option farmers' breakfast. Sure gets you through the day!
The Covent Garden Market
Darth Vader's secret love child, from Australia and currently touring through Europe.
There is an invisible man on every corner of every street. It's a real invasion!
Dilbert has a cousin in London.
Obligatory picture n°2: a Horse Guard that's lost his horse. They stand like this for hours on end, not moving a muscle.
But this one really had to go to the loo.
Now this is what I call a monument.
On Trafalgar Square, behind Nelson's Column, there are these markings that show you how big a yard, a foot etc. is. And it is very accurate too, here you can see that a foot is exactly the length of my foot. Or to put it differently: one english foot is a European size 44.
Also notice that I changed pants after the incident.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Finally, the long awaited pictures of our trip to...
Obligatory picture n°1: the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, housing the famous Big Ben.
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.
St-James' Park, where geese rule the lawns.
And there they are, my beige shorts covered in geese poo.