Thursday, May 25, 2017

Singing and dancing children

Last Sunday, we almost didn't go to the Canteclaer parade for the simple reason that we just wanted to spend a lazy afternoon in the sun and it was really gorgeous out in my parent's garden.

The kids were having a good time: Beertje enjoys climbing up and down and up and down any staircase endlessly  while Kabouter engineered some submarines and entertained us all with singing and dancing. It was nice to have a relax moment together with the family.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Last night in Leuven, not Manchester

1 AM 

I sit with Beertje in my arms on the edge of my bed, feeding him back to sleep. I curse because the warm weather apparently makes him drink more frequently again while I was just cheering the fact that he finally seemed to start sleeping long blocks at night, only drinking once.

As usual I grab my phone to log the feeding in an app and I see a push alert of breaking news on an explosion in Manchester. I curse, I push it away, I don't want to see such stuff in the middle of the night, but it's too late... I am aware. While reading a tweet reply that it was something in the backstage, I hush myself and turn off my phone again.

I sit with the sleeping Beertje in my arms for a while and I watch his face.  He has the cutest round cheeks.

4.10 AM

Beertje is awake again and I couldn't resist picking up my phone again. More push alerts are on the main screen which leave no doubt that there are many casualties due to a terror attack.
I rock my baby and watch him. I turn on the webcam to watch Kabouter sleep for a short moment. My little world.

I remember being sleepless during the Bataclan attacks end 2015, feeling nausea and fear, watching Kabouter asleep as well while rubbing my big pregnant belly. I worried in which world they'd grow up. I felt very distressed.
So much has happened since then: #prayforIstanbul,  #prayforBrussels, #prayforNice, #PrayforStockholm, #prayforBerlin, #prayforParis, #prayforLondon, .... I'm shocked when I realise that all has happened in Europe withing the last 1,5 year.

I think about the 2 busy parades where we were last weekend, where I took my children with me into the crowd without any second thought (thank goodness for that); about the loose powder gun shots that were shot in the parade from the "French army" which were extremely loud and smoky, where Jan commented that he was surprised they got permission to do so during this terror security level. (and the public just reacted really normal to those shots, thank goodness).

I see the images of the drowned toddler in Turkey, the doll of a little girl in the middle of the road in Nice, a little afraid boy in a hospital in Aleppo, crowds burning candles.

The weirdest thing is that I don't feel many emotions. Whereas the Bataclan attack had a major impact on me, right now I don't feel scared, not sad, ...just numb.

Beertje's eyes fall down heavy and he glides back to sleep in my arms. We sit together at the edge of the bed in silence.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canteclaer parade

One can never have too many parades and too many giants in one weekend, was our motto last weekend.  After the giant parade "Reuzeleuven" in Leuven on Saturday we visited my parents on the day that the 5-yearly Canteclaer parade went out in my childhood town.

We were in doubt whether we wanted to see yet another parade in the same weekend, especially since it'd be rather late.  Jan and I were simply tired, had not seen much of each other all week and simply longed to an evening at home.  I had the feeling I know the Canteclaer parade by heart: the history of Deinze, the history and the importance of the local chicken market, the epic tales of the fox Reynaert and the rooster Canteclaer.

But a parade that only leaves every 5 years is an excellent marketing tool. If it'd do so every 2 years, we surely wouldn't have gone.  But in 5 years, Kabouter would be 8,5 years already and his attitude to parades would be totally different again. And where would we be in 5 years, chances are we'd not be around.  And so you doubt. It's a big parade after all, that in its succes years in the 90ies was even broadcast live on tv.

Last minute, we left with Kabouter while my parents would babysit Beertje. While walking downtown , there were more and more people walking the same direction.  And then we saw the first groups.

We saw the history of Deinze coming by with some new aspects eg the a tribute to Lucien Buysse who won the Tour de France in 1926  and a tableau vivant of the famous local painting "De Bietenoogst" of Emile Claus

De Bietenoogst - tableau vivant after Emile Claus

The fluidity of the parade was sometimes interrupted  (and once an ambulance had to come through) but the sunny weather kept everyone cheerful.

The last traditional part of the parade about the chicken market and the tales of Reynaert and Canteclaer seemed a lot shorter than I remembered. And the float of Canteclaer itself seemed small! 

Beware of your geese (chicken) when the fox preaches 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Giants and knights

Since 2013 the men of the year 1973 have relaunched the folklore of giants in Leuven. They have given the city a new giant and relaunched the tradition of a giant parade every 3 years.

This year the men of the year 1952, 62, 72 had the concession of a big bar tent at the main square so Jan was quite busy with all preparations this week. As a result we had not seen him very much this week. At lunch time we joined him downtown for a quick lunch after which I joined the helpers. Beertje's godfather was so kind to take the boys for some walking and shopping in the city until the parade came by.

It was rather quiet until the parade had passed by. As a result the ratio of helpers was too high and I could watch some of the giants passing by in the parade.  Before and after a knights re-enacting organisation gave some tournament demonstrations on the square. 

In the middle of the afternoon it was finally time for the giants. The biggest one had been installed on the square as the structure was too heavy to parade through the city.  All the others enjoyed a stroll through the city. 

At the end of the afternoon all giants arrived on the square again together with a big curious crowd.  One of the Leuven giants got baptised by the priest and it all ended with a giant dance. 

See you in 3 years again??

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Made in Belgium: I will I swear

The hot weather the last 2 days inspired me to post "Summer Nights" from I will, I swear.  I'm just as energetic as the slow beat of this song in this weather. That's ok because tomorrow it rains again. Boohoo.

I will, I swear is one of the "Nieuwe lichting" winners from Studio Brussel in 2015. Unfortunately it's been rather still from this group since then.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Leuven boasts to be a circus city.  Circus acts have always played a prominent role in the former city street act festival "Leuven in Scene" as you can see here and here. Also in other years, there's always some room for circus acts at other events, often hosted by our local circus school which is actually closeby from our home.  

Since last summer, the city of Leuven is rearranging and reinventing all the festivals : abandonning longtime succesful events such as Leuven in Scène and Marktrock and introducing new festivals at new dates at new locations. Rather confusing. Let's hope we get used to the new rhythm so we don't miss out on anything in our vibrant little city.

Previous weekend there was a new circus festival downtown: CIRKL.
In the harbour area, that is in full reconversion with old AB Inbev brewery buildings being thrown down and replaced by hip new expensive apartment blocks overlooking the tiny harbour, multiple circus tents and 2 theatre locations were set-up for a whole series of shows.  Most of them were too long for our young children to concentrate so we didn't even consider that.

But the new square that opened last week boasted free circus activities for children:  a funky hairdresser, some animation but mostly a lot of easy and harder circus related challenges that they could try. It took 1 minute for the kids to take off once they were released on the grass and we saw them now and then reappearing , all sweaty and dirty from under building blocks, balls, etc... Beertje was fascinated by the rolling tons, so I had to frequently grab him away from under the path of a young unexperienced child running on such a ton. Kabouter was a full minute impressed with the cord dansers crossing from building to building all the time, than ran to a big mattrass and showed me a fall as answer what would happen if they would fall, and that was that. No big deal if they fall down.

While we discovered some of Kabouter's classmates, we could hang out and watch (and run and rescue) the children and chill with the other parents. The weather that was unstable all weekend and that threatened to launch some showers, kept sunny and warm after all. Go figure when you are dragging rain jackets, umbrella's and stroller covers along ;).