Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Made in Belgium: School is cool

Well just before the start of the new school  year I had to post this new upcoming band.  "School is cool" got founded in 2009 but they already won Humo's Rockrally in 2010, usually a source of great new talent.  New kids in town was a  hit last year and this summer I really like their new single.  their clips seems somewhat absurd as is their band name, but I like it.   Yeay, great to see new talent doing well.

New kids in town - 2010

In want of something - 2011

The world's gonna end tonight - 2010

Monday, August 29, 2011

Museum M

Some images of our free visit yesterday where we saw part of the permanent collections and the Romantics exposition

Tea anyone?

the museum part housed in the 19th century hotel Vanderkelen-Mertens

Descent from the cross- following Rogier Van Der Weyden

Baking waffles in the early 18th century....some things never change

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Leuven auto-free

2 years ago Leuven would join a lot of other Flemish cities to be auto-free for a day and the local neighbours , who all live along the same busy road, started organising a neighbourhood party with lots of activities to profit from the occasion.   However 2 weeks before it was about to happen , the city of Leuven cancelled part of their plans because they figured it would hurt the downtown businesses if some major roads were traffic free as well. Bullocks...needless to say the neighbours were hugely disappointed to have cars driving by after all and we simply went diving instead.

Last year I have somehow missed that there has been a traffic-free day in the summer but now I had heard from it and Jan had found a note from some neighbours that they'd do a drink in the middle green park.

So we came back from the Ardennes to Leuven where indeed across the street all cars were banned, leaving a very very empty street. Not quite what I had expected. Just a few kids down the street riding their bike  and crashing down on the asphalt but the damage didn't seem to be more than lots of scratches for the kid when we checked it out. The traffic stewards that guarded the fences at each intersection had the text "event and crowd support" on their seemed rather ironic.

We went for a walk downtown where there were more people out as there were some practise circuits for little kids bikes, info stands on Cambio (a car sharing program) or special bike types etc and in the main shopping street some weird sculpture invited you to sketch your dream city. Still, the activity downtown wasn't exactly buzzing. Maybe we were on the road too early as some stuff would only start later on and a lot of neighbourhoods had local parties in their streets.

At 2 PM eg a bicycle tour started that circled the entire city ring road

Arriving back home some neighbours had gathered outside so we went out to meet them. City life along a big road, with some houses populated by ever changing student residents isn't always very optimal to get to know your neighbours easily.    But everyone had brought out some food and drinks and it turned out to be a very nice afternoon.

Turns out we have very colorful neighbours who enjoy a little funny dressing up for a small local parade

Afterwards we went downtown once again to enjoy the opportunity of a free visit to Museum M.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Biking near the F1

One of my German relatives works for a grand prix travel agency and therefore can always be found near the Belgian F1 race circuit of Spa-Francorchamps at the end of August. And that happens to be nearby our place (with a good westwind we enjoy all the race sounds just by opening our door).

Since she's on duty part of the day and came by bus with a group of customers and since we'd have difficulty getting our own car near the circuit entrances without being guided around, we parked in one of the villages nearby and bridged the last kilometers by bike in order to meet her.

I didn't quite conquer the long 8% climb to the Francorchamps village itself and some car fans thought my sweaty red face was quite amusing. But if also found it rather amusing to cruise my bike through F1 memorablia selling stands and people with Ferrari T-shirts with the loud sound of race cars nearby whose fumes were noticable.  We got there fine and it was good to hang out for a while with my family.

And going back we took the Ravel (old railroads turned into bike roads) with a very gradual climb which was just lovely.  Another drink in the pittoresque little village was the reward of a lovely afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Belgian gold

Belgium's own gold bars
Just one centimeter wide
Crisp delicious fries

After a long day's work
a comforting pack of warmth
with a homely smell

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Made in Belgium: Aedo

I realised that I haven't played any folk on here anymore for quite a while so now it's time for Aedo to hit the stage. This very young band (age between 19-24) has already been active for almost a decade and brings very dancable folk, just the way I like folk to be.  They've played at major folk festivals in Belgium and abroad.

I'm not sure but I've seen a very young but fun folk group performing at a friend's wedding in the early 2000's and since I've heard Aedo a few years later, I kept wondering if both were the same group. Always forgot to ask.

Iron Scottisch

La larme


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A weekend full of contrasts

It was a strange weekend full of contrasts....It started with my uncles funeral and ended with 2 birthday parties,  it had joy and sadness, heat & sunshine & threatening storms (and those can be fierce & sudden we unfortunately learned last week). I saw most of my relatives and hang out with a lot of friends.  I topped it all with a big sinus cold that keeps me sniffing with itchy eyes.

Here's some pictures of the better part of the weekend, the birthday parties

A monster truck!

Finally a sunny day...for now

Oh yes he still blows his candles in the most cute way

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yes we both speak Dutch

"So is that the 'kleedje' your refered to this morning or is it something else?" , he asks while pointing to my cardigan "because I was confused, "kleedje" is what we put on the floor."

A few hours before we were complaining about the weather when I had exclaimed a bit desperately that I had put on a dress that day and now it was so cool and grey again.   Turns out he had heard me exclaiming that I was wearing a rug.  And I thought his smile was about the fact that I underdressed for the weather, but I had no idea I was overdressing :D

More walks in the east of Belgium

Expecting and getting sad news when you're having guests over for a long weekend is both a curse and a blessing. You desperately try to constraint your emotions not to spoil the atmosphere, although they would understand but you're still very restrained to react... and yet they do give you the much needed distraction . And the quietness & beauty of the around nature was helpfull to clear my mind a bit and find silence & peace.  

The Ovifat red ski-hill slope in the summer

The Baheyon river

Baheyon waterfall  (stronger than in dry period)

Rocher de Falize

Croix de Prieur

Destroyed infrastructure from the April fire

At Belgium's highest point

Robertville lake

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Made in Belgium: Adamo

After the 2nd World War, Belgium welcomed a lot of of Italian workers to work in our coal mines and help restore our country in an organised and structured immigration wave. Salvatore Adamo immigrated as a 3 year old boy with his parents from Sicily to a mine region in Wallonia.

Salvatore started participating in music contests as a teenager and brought out his first single in 1961. He was immediately very succesful in Belgium and the surrounding countries, particularly in France as well. Now all these songs are classics that belong to our musical heritage although Adamo is still performing alive and kicking as a living legend. He got many awards for his life-time career and carries the title of knight.

Tombe la neige performed in 2006 for Japanese television - 1964

Vous permetez Monsieur - 1964

Dolce Paola- A song he wrote for the young Princess Paola who arrived from Italy to marry a Belgian prince and brought the Italian flair to our country.  Paolo is since 1993 the queen of Belgium.

C'est ma vie - 1976


Les filles au bord de mer -1965

(by the way, Arno's modern version you can here in this post)


Dear uncle Lucien,

You looked so fragile and silent when I just visited you.  This is not how I remember you.  As a little kid I was a little bit intimidated by your nice straight posture and your accent mixing the Flemish I was used to hear around me with some Brussels influences and your specific favourite expressions. You loved telling stories about the many people that crossed your path each day and your big smile & laughing eyes accompanied those little stories. When you knew we were coming, you kept guard at the window, checking the free parking spots down in the street and as we pulled into the street you were signalling where to park. As a true gentleman you always escorted us back down the staircase to the car.  When I was working crazy overtime during a project in Brussels, my mom and you arranged that I should not drive home anymore late at night but I was welcomed at your home to get pampered there.

You looked so fragile and silent when I just visited you. But I'll remember your tremendous courage and your love for your family that enabled you to fight for so long against all odds. When you were in pain, you wanted to know how our vacation had been or you told us the funny things your little great-grandchild had just said that morning.  When you moved to a different hospital department a few weeks ago, you invited us to come & visit your new room.

Now you've just made your last move to your final destination. Rest in peace, uncle, you do not need to fight anymore. We will miss you very much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Made in Belgium: Balthazar

So this is the band we missed at the Lokerse Feesten last week because of the pouring rain. Darn darn, quite a missed opportunity. I sure hope to see them another time on another one of the many Belgian festivals! With their 2 albums so far, they've sure created their own sound and gained their place in the Belgian music scene, so I'm sure they'll cross my path again, hopefully on a non-pouring moment.

This is a flirt -

Fifteen floors

I'll stay here

The boatman

Leuven at a summer sunset