What happened in October

November is usually the depressingly boring month, when the autumn really sets in, turning everything into grey, wet and cold misery. Then the nature goes to sleep, sun does not want to rise anymore and people are getting ill and depressed. At the same time the wheels of the economy are starting to spin faster after the summer break. That is usually a bad combination, and unnatural, in my humble opinion.

The starting of my October was not quite that depressing, or business-wheely. It started of with a birthday hike. Our dear German friend from Karhunkierros was getting older, and she had had the wonderful idea of hiking a part of the famous Mullerthal trail accompanied by hiking people. For us that was also a wonderful opportunity to get together with more or less the same group with which we hiked the most important hike of my life. Oh the nostalgia and the pretty memories! We should start doing that more often!

The planned hike started from Mullerthal and looped back via Larochette, 37 km of Luxembourgish countryside for us to hike in 2 days. We drove to Mullerthal in pouring rain. The weather didn’t get much better when it was time to get going on foot. So we all ended up looking more or less like walking tents in our rain gear.

The first day took our convoy through a beautiful valley all the way to Larochette. By the time we got there the rain had more or less ended and our wet convoy of hikers was able to get their feet dry. The evening was starting to turn a little bit moist though; Someone had brought some absinthe, and the store of the camping had a good supply of beer. We were able to get our birthday girl, and more importantly, the rest of the group, nicely tipsy. Soon there were plenty of inappropriate German jokes and out of focus pool games around.

The return hike to the car began in the late morning and was sturdily hangoverish. The convoy was walking less than straight, but everybody seemed to be pleased with the small party we had had the night before, I certainly was. We crossed quite a bit of beautiful Luxembourgian countryside with rain and wind on our backs.

The ending part of the trail took us to a wooden path that was extremely slippery after a couple of days of rain. On every second step someone was almost dropping off to greet the bushes. Soon we started to see more and more people, we were approaching the very popular bit of the famous stone formations, waterfalls and bridges, which many people obviously want to see.

Soon after that we found the cars, packed all the wet hikers into them, and drove home. For us it was a bath awaiting accompanied by some good wine.

The next weekend it was time to teach some basics of kiting to our dear friends Maria and Bram, who we have met via my Dutch lessons. One Friday we sent them off to Les Hemmes with their camper van and children. We would be coming after them on Friday.

That weekend turned out to be full of surprises.  First one being, that the camping we have started to use, was closed for the whole winter.  We had sent our friends there to find a closed gate and felt very bad about it. They had to go look for another campsite for the night.

On Saturday we arrived too, and got a confirmation of the camping really being closed. Another set of our dear friends, Maarten and Yvan, had found us another camping and even reserved a spot. Lovely people those guys! So we managed to focus on the more important tasks at hand, socializing over a beer with buggiers that is.

There was of course eventually a time for the beach too. The beach was perfect, I realized and felt immediately sorry for myself, since my wrist would not allow me to kite or drive at all. But the weather was nice, I had a chair, a camera and a good book with me, so the beach life would not be that bad.

By the time Maria and Bram joined the group we had already built our buggies and enjoyed a very buggier-like portion of beer, thanks to our dear friend Maarten. It was definitely time to drag ourselves to the beach. We set camp and Waffle started teaching.

Waffle’s day turned out to be hectic. There were two adults to be instructed and their kids to entertain. He was driving our tandem up and down the beach all day long, with too low wind and massive kites and kind yelling at him to go either faster or slower. If he wasn’t driving he was teaching people to fly a kite. I was ruminating my own misery of not being allowed to even touch a kite (I did though, do not tell Waffle).

That teaching resulted to the next surprise of the day. Bram was incredibly talented. Waffle shoved bigger and bigger kites into his hands and he didn’t die. Soon Bram found himself in a buggy with the kite and sure enough, he drove! He found the correct wind direction very easily and managed to drive some very impressive lines. Either Waffle is getting great at teaching or Bram is phenomenal.

The following day the wind was completely gone. Other activities needed to be invented. Since there were kids and all, we decided to go see the seals. As usual, to see them we had to drive through the makeshift refugee camp, The Jungle. Driving through that place is always an experience. To the kids it left quite an impression for sure.

At the shore we saw quite some seals. Apparently very contempt and happy seals. I have never seen them so relaxed before. They were just floating around with the current and socializing with the other blobbers. It was great to end that weekend like that, watching something so beautiful.

After that my October became a little bit more business-wheely. I had to stop my Dutch lessons (still getting my diploma though, with 89% score!) and get to work. So it finally started. My new challenge in working life. I work in the EU quarter in Brussels, right in the middle of EU politics. Which is surprisingly lot of fun. The job is interesting and the people are great, finally I am happy to be working again!

But I do spend a lot of time on the road. It is not the optimal journey to work from Rupelmonde to Brussels, especially as I am for the time being refusing to drive to the center on my own. That is why I haven’t been writing too much lately, at least in English, so sorry about that. I just haven’t had the time. But I’ll try to get it going again.

We do have some things coming up. Waffle is doing his No Alcohol November and we are going to Mallorca for a getaway weekend. There is another set of Finnish Beer Festival coming up and of course, Christmas is here pretty soon. I am happy to announce, that we’ll be spending it in Finland!

How is autumn getting along there, where ever you are?

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Happy Days of the Fading Summer

Eifel, Germany

The time I can spend with the books at the river, its buoys and ducks and docs has been drastically reduced. It apparently is something that frequently happens around September. I am talking about the starting school season of course.

And so, I have too, returned to school. I decided to take the advancing course in Dutch and it is going on since the start of this week. There I have been, sitting in a class room of 22 students, instead of spending my time getting pleasantly bored by the side of the Scheldt. I am not complaining. I get to see my friends every day, meet new people and so forth.

It has been an interesting start for the course. Well, technically, I am having two courses, one for verbal communication and hearing exercises and the other one for reading and writing. There are only some of the people from the spring left and quite some new faces. I am struggling a bit with my packaged arm since I haven’t yet learned to write with my left. Plus I am not allowed to drive, so by bus I go and notes are made on a tablet, that Waffle has so generously allowed me to use.

These courses is moving a lot slower that the previous ones, which is as it should be, I was on the extra intensive one during the spring, and this is just the normal paced one. I have a lot of time to get bored. The teacher has the habit of asking a lot of input from us students. She wants to know out interests and the thing that make us very happy. And now we have to hold a diary over happiness causing things. It feels like we a bunch of clinically depressed people in therapy, not so much learning a language.

The teacher has made us to first think of the dates for the happiest moments in our lives (a lot of childbirths, wedding days etc. then there is this one idiot who mentions the date of getting her first horse…), and now we have a task of keeping a geluksdagboek ( lovely word isn’t it) which translates to happiness diary. So we have to write down three things each day, that make us happy. Which actually is rather nice, I don’t feel at all like being clinically depressed person in treatment, I feel like I have to find a pair of rose colored glasses to put on my nose and start searching all those tiny details, that make me happy. For me, that does not cause much trouble. I am a very joyous idiot.

Now I also have a very very great thing to be actually extremely happy about. Remember the pain and sweat I went through while writing and application letter in Finnish? Well, all that has payed off! I have a new job now, starting from October / November. I could not be happier! Although I do have a stomach bug and it is trying hard to get my mood down…

So, the three happy things from today:

1 I have a new job.

2 Waffle is almost home and we can start the weekend!

3 The foam in my bubble bath was extra firm this time.

Which are your daily happy things for today?

The stars above

Last weekend was weird… ish. We stayed inside the Belgian borders.

We did not manage even to leave from home on Friday, so we slept indoors, in our own bed. Cycled to the in-laws on Saturday, that was a 50 – 55 km tour. On not so comfy bike saddle and with minimal amount of fitness. Auh. You know what I am talking about. Auh.

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So, after that torture, we decided to go sleep outside and hike the next day. Good weather was promised for the whole weekend, and a bit of autumn colors were pushing through. What better place to be, than Wallonia? Saturday’s painful cycling was followed by a small argument on where we actually should camp, and ending into the realization, that we cannot travel by car through forests; we kinda need to stick to the roads, and the distances of course grow and all that kind of yapping.

So, we decided to go camp into a spot we already knew to be good. We arrived under starlight. Standing there, in the darkness, being able to see only the silhouettes of trees drawn against the starry sky, be there with your Waffle. Those moments are the things you live for.

A side note to rookies, please check what kind of a tree you are pitching your tent under. If it is autumn, and if the tree in question is an oak. You won’t sleep too peacefully.

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Waking up, and taking off slowly the next morning. We drove to the small city of Rochefort. Famous for beer and cheese made by monks. From there we bought a walking map of the surroundings, and received also a list of areas closed for hunting. That is nice. That way you won’t get shot. Before heading for the bush, we did a small tour around the town. Bought a baquette and some local honey. Yummy!

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Hiking at this time of the year in the Luxembourg province usually means meeting a lot of mushroom hunters. All of whom trying to hide a little, so you won’t attack the same shroomy hot spot. Those forest are filled with deer and boar, too. Almost every inch of the forest bed is dug up by the strong trunks of boar. Searching for the tastiest mushrooms. It is the meat pantry on Belgium. Almost in every yard, there is a small 4×4 parked and ready to go for hunting.

I am in love with that part of the country. There are endless amounts of forests, valleys and rivers. the villages are so small and drowsy.

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The stare of a cat.

Every other street could pose for a post card. Those people out there must be so happy! They live in a paradise. I am sure, in the spring they all run hand in hand across the fields and sing happy songs. Sunshine touching their hair and butterflies sitting on their shoulders. Stopping only when the winter comes. Then they’ll get into their warm homes, sit behind lace curtains, sipping tea and eating speculoos.

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Pumpkins on a windowsill

I think I am delusional. But I want to move down there! At least to have a hill in sight would make me happy. Maybe we’ll live there, one day. In couple of months. Waffle seems to be quite happy about that plan too!

Over and out for now. Off for home hunting. Or something. hear you next time!