Changing scenery

It has already been a while, since this happened, but I just haven’t had the inspiration to write about it. But anyways, we have a new home! We moved in May this year.

Nothing spectacular, we are still in Belgium and in Flanders, but Rupelmonde, charming and lovely Rupelmonde was left behind. We had been searching for a new place to live in for the whole spring. The main goal was to get closer to work. The 3 hours that disappeared every day while going to and coming from work was finally getting too much.

We selected the approximate areas where we would like to see ourselves living in. Not in Brussels but somewhere along an easyish railway connection to there. Simple, in theory. Many of you probably know that theory is often far from reality.

First of all we (Waffle) had to get our heads around the fact that an apartment might be a viable option (lower heating costs and maintenance etc.), then we started to create more requirements, like garage, preferably for two cars. Waffle wasn’t even turning his ear to any living space, smaller than 80m2. I was tearing my hair out, since almost none of the rental ads displayed the layout of the home advertised, which to me is more or less the most important piece of information when choosing a home!

Anyhow, we slowly began to find homes which more or less matched the criteria, and got on with visiting some of them. At times the lack of service-mindedness from the real estate agents was striking. They offered no help to us, nor the land lords. Frustrating! But anyhow, one day the moment came, Waffle called me to work, telling me he had found what we were looking for. I received a video of the visit, and approved. A week later we signed the rental contract and became happy inhabitants to be of the jolly town of Merchtem!

A few weeks passed, with packing boxes, sorting out stuff and so on. Waffle had been living in the same house for close to 10 years, accumulating surprisingly lot of things that you easily forget about. Also the fact, that we were moving from a 3 storey house into an apartment, forced us to get rid of quite some belongings. Including a hole pile of guitars, Waffle had collected… That was eventually a refreshing experience! Plus we hardly needed to buy anything new!

The move itself was a hassle, as they always are. But thanks to all our friends who lend their helping hands our stuff switched addresses quickly and we got to enjoy our pizzas and beers.

So that was done, our belongings were moved and we got to settle in. The building of new routines could commence.  I myself was very happy to find out that my walk to train station is only 3 minutes. And my travel time to work was cut to half (provided the trains bother driving)! Waffle has it even better, traveling to work in less than half an hour at best. Both of us are secretly nurturing the idea of eventually cycling to work, although for me crossing the Brussels center in morning traffic by bike is a somewhat terrifying thought.

But the main thing is, that we now have at least an extra hour to every day, and I am more independent in my mobility. Which is great, I’m sure you can imagine! Merchtem is not a bad place to live either. Although the population seems to be somewhat politically active (the local elections are approaching and the amount of propa… advertisements is overwhelming) the neighborhood is tidy, calm, fresh and green.

As we have been exploring the neighborhood, we have found a local kiwi grower and wine maker, a very jolly fellow. And as every self respecting Belgian, we have mapped the best places to get fries from (unfortunately the best has since burned down, forcing us to buy our fatty potatoes from the second best joint). We also found out that Merchtem is the proud town of stilt walkers! Apparently the area used to flood frequently, so the dwellers needed to figure out a way to keep their toes dry. Stilts were the answer!

Still, we are missing the beautiful nature area we had in Rupelmonde and the Skelt -river. Merchtem is mainly surrounded by endless fields of corn and paddocks for cows. No Beavers or otters here. We do have two big forests relatively close by, which is great, and there are trails to run on, when ever one of us lazies gets off of the sofa.  Also our caravan is sitting in our own garage, so our weekend trips got just a little bit easier to depart onto! So everything all fine and dandy.

Schelde, Rupelmonde, Belgium

The added time has enabled me to revive my old hobby, which is great, on that I will write a completely separate blogety blog!

 

 

 

 

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Teeny Weeny Winter

Rupelmonde, Spanish mill

The weather has been on the chilly side for a while already all over Belgium. Finally, this Saturday it snowed a little in Flanders! That is a rare event and is a cause for joy for many. I spotted the first kid running around with a sledge outside before 9 in the morning.

We were less amused, since it was that day that we had to take Waffle’s new buggy to be adjusted. That meant driving to Roosendaal in the Netherlands, on the snowy roads. You see, snow on the road in Belgium is not a very good thing. It causes panic and screaming and upside down cars, usually not a pretty sight. And sure enough, before we passed Antwerp we saw 3 accidents and judging by the radio, more was in the making.

With good luck we managed to get to Roosendaal in one piece and dropped of the buggy to be made narrower. That caused some discussion since the maker of Xxtreme buggies is a sworn competitor. He did not have much understanding for Waffle’s style of driving. The narrowing would change the weight balance of the thing, which would make it slower, etc. etc.

We were told to call him in two hours time to check if he was done with the thing. That gave us enough time to head for Rotterdam. The snow covered Netherlands is a beautiful sight with its muffled colors and bolders and trees appearing from the haze. Such a pity we left our camera home.

Netherlands, Winter, Snow
Here is a pic for you from couple of years back…

In Rotterdam some shopping happened. Yes. You read correctly, we went shopping. We found a street, right in the center of town, with coffee shops mixed with all sorts of small boutiques selling oddities, vintage and trinkets. Luckily we had no time to go circling too many other streets. We went home with a pair of very seventies dresses (I actually do wear normal people clothes outside of the trail), and a remarkably narrower buggy.

By Sunday all the snow was gone. It seemed to have evaporated and turned into mist. The white cloud wrapped around everything: The windmills seemed to appear from nowhere as we drove past them towards Dendermonde, where we wanted to have a walk.

There we did a loop between the rivers Scheldt and Dender. The side of the Scheldt seems to be the Dendermonde villa district.The walking path took us in between the grand houses and the river, hiding in the dense fog. I must admit, I like looking at peoples homes. Especially if they are houses I would not be able to ever own, and the ones some architect designed and by some miracle managed to sell to some poor fool.

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We were following the wonderful numbered crossing system, and our selected route took us quickly into more calm countryside. Everything was white, it felt like we were walking through a cloud, that only slowly revealed what was coming up ahead. A surprisingly lovely weather for a walk.

That was such a calm weekend. After that it is good to turn our gazes towards the trip Cyprus, which is here in a day or two. We are especially looking forward to the flocks of flamingos and the empty beaches. Maybe some mountains too!

Till then, behave all my dear people!

 

 

 

Escape to the neighborhood

I was looking forward to a nice, calm and relaxed Sunday today. Our neighbors had a different idea. They have just bought the house, and the renovation is on full swing during the weekends. Now they are killing the floor and apparently some of the walls with great passion.

My ears were ringing and I was getting irritated. So was Waffle.  Some browsing later we took our way to escape to Hamme, a small town a bit further up the river from us, with plenty of calm countryside walks. It was a beautifully chilly, sunny autumn day, so why not go out?

We arrived close to sunset, and the colors were stunning. There was frost and a bedding of brown leaves coloring the ground and a sea of reeds waving in the quieter waters as a golden fuzz. It’s been long time since we last did these short hikes around our own home. You don’t always have to go far to find things beautiful and interesting.

 

It was good to be out together. We had time to get silly again, I love his brain, refusing to get adult and serious, always looking for ways to do something silly. I think I tell that to him way too seldom.

The autumn air was getting our minds working on more smart things too. We spent a good amount of time planning. There is this dream of a “home extension”. A thing to be built that would bring quite some new aspects to our weekend travels. Waffle’s father is also in with the plan, which is great, because the two of us don’t necessarily have all the knowledge needed to do such a thing. (Irritating isn’t it, that I don’t let you know what it is? You’ll find out soon enough, trust me).

The walk chilled our cheeks and noses and gave a nicely wintery feeling. It feels so good  now to be back in the warmth of our home. The neighbors have stopped and the local marching band is still sober. Now over and out, with my glass of glögi off to the sofa.