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?

Advertisements

A Cacophony in Dutch

elgiumOh, after the weekend my brain was a wreckage. I entered a complete zombiemode on Sunday and Monday came as a relief. It would at least bring some order to the cacophony.

Compared to normal, we had a surprisingly social weekend planned. There was some relaxed campfires and a couple of birthday parties to attend to. As on the go we needed to plan the whole trip to Romania, which is only a few moments away.

Well, it all started very nicely. We camped with our dear friends at one of the bivak zones they have here in Belgium. We chose the one in Stekene in Stropersbos, since it was the only one close by with no forecasted rain. There were a whole bunch of Dutch people too around the campfire. They were apparently hoping to get a glimpse of the lunar eclipse that was meant to happen that night. So we chatted over very very inappropriate topics, laughed from the bottoms of our bellies and completely missed the eclipse. partially thanks to the clouds, partially because we were afraid of someone turning into a werewolf. After a busy week of working and studying, we all went to bed at a respectable hour.

The bivak in Stropersbos is a very pleasant camping spot. It is a short walk away from a road and nicely in a middle of a nature preserve. They also heard semi wild Galloway cows and horses there. One of those ruminants were seeing us off, in the morning. Lovely, huge black beast.

On the Saturday morning we needed to get fast up and going. Waffle had finally hunted down the map for Retezat park in Romania and we needed to pick it up. From Ronse, a small town in the Flemish Ardennes.

Saturday had also a birthday party lined up for us. One of Waffles good old friends got older and a celebration was in order. This time without fireworks, oh thank the lord. We arrived into a garden filled with young families. Loads of laughter and noise. We were literally the only couple with no kids, nor any plans of having kids. The reality of those people was so far apart from ours it was even a little scary. Many of them were somehow expecting that me and Waffle would have also a very clear picture of our future, a five year plan on life, with a set of determined steps and all that. They were having difficult time in finding out, that we do not. I was feeling like a bit of an alien.

Well, it was a lot to take in, that evening. The conversations were all in Dutch, loud and quick. I was doing my best to understand even some parts of it all. Difficult! I could hear my brain popping while it was working and trying to find meanings to the words and understand the complete sentences. I was absolutely finished after the evening. And don’t get me wrong, the party was fun, with music, dancing and helium, the normal things, you know.

We returned to Waffle’s parent’s, where we had earlier brought our tent. We thought it would be a nice idea to sleep outdoors, since the weather was great. It felt heavenly to crawl into the sleeping back, snuggle with Waffle and fall asleep with the cool air of summer night tickling our noses.

But why on earth were we sleeping in a tent in Waffle’s parent’s field? Well, there was yet another birthday party. Waffle’s father had turned 70 and the children had bought him a grand gift of a safari in South-Africa! Waffle’s dad was so very happy, he couldn’t stop thanking people.

We had a lunch with grilled nibbles. All the children with their spouses and grand kids were there. I was again faced with a cacophony of Dutch.  The center for language in my brain over heated, packed its bags and walked out of my ear.

We finally got home to the sofa, I was hugging a pillow, restoring my capability to think.As our TV showed us something pointless.

Monday came, back to school I went, for the only day for this week. Tomorrow a doctor is going to go all wise and smart on my wrist and we’ll find out whether I’ll hike with or without cast. Wednesday we are off to Romania, Wheee!!

 

 

An Anniversary and Random Thoughts

First of all, before getting into mumbling over the happenings of the weekend, I want to thank you guys, my readers! There are now over a hundred of you, following me! I think that is quite a bunch! I am so happy to know, that I manage to somehow entertain so many of you! I hope to do so also in the future, please tell me to shut up if I don’t.

Well into the porridge of today, the weekend came and the Les Hemmes part of Waffle’s birthday was there to be tackled. I was still feeling ill on Friday, so our take off was postponed to Saturday. We also left the buggies home for wind related reasons. It felt weird to be driving to Les Hemmes without the trailer hanging along. The plan was just to go there, hang around, feed beers to people and just have a fill up on the hippie atmosphere.

That we achieved, strolling on the beach, sipping on our beers and chatting around with people. Though Waffle did most of the chatting, since it was mainly French people around. I sat in my slowly deflating inflatable sofa and enjoyed the wind on my face. Came evening, and the beer kept flowing and the guitar was softly keeping everybody awake. It was almost morning when we finally crawled towards our tent.

As I woke up, Sunday was already eager to tell Waffle, that he had had a good amount of birthday drinks; the sleeping bag next to me was quietly moaning. Waffle pushed some painkillers down his throat and soon there were only some eye bags reminding us of yesterday. We left to hunt down a French bakery, to find some breakfast. It was our anniversary. We have now been together for 2 years. Still going strong, no end in sight. So we deserved some buttery French goodies.

In the hunt for those goodies we ended up all the way to Wissant, which was completely cut off from the world by a running competition. All the roads to Wissant were closed, and of course, since it is France, there is no warnings about the occurrence anywhere. After hitting a couple of the road blocks we made it to the center and to the bakery right before the closing time.

After our breakfast it was time to take Waffles hangover out to the sea air. There was a nice small loop of a walk leaving from Cap Blanc Nez and we decided to do that. The air above the English Channel was clear and we could admire the white cliffs of England, from the white cliffs of France. It was probably the clearest I have ever seen them.

By the way, imagine the first person ever, to wander around the norther coast of France. If it was a normal cloudy day, it is very easy to think, that you are walking along the very edge of the world. That person, walking there, must have been happy, journey of thousands and thousands of kilometers is done, no more world ahead after this point! Woohoo!

Until the sun ruins the moment, takes the clouds away, and reveals a land across the sea. Yeah. No woohoo. Maybe he went and built a boat and became the first Brit, that poor bastard, and continued his search for the end of the world. Too bad for him.

We had noticed an aerodrome in our map, and Waffle being always so enthusiastic about flying and it being our anniversary, we decided to check it out. So we went and asked, whether we could be taken up for a minute or two. That worked out good. The pilot just took someone to take a test first and afterwards we could go and fly a small round of 15 minutes. That, I think, was an excellent way to celebrate our anniversary.

I have told you for a few times how I love the landscape of northern France. Apparently it is very very beautiful from up in the air too. We flew over all the different colors of fields and hills and headed over the sea. I was sitting as a co-pilot and was handling the steering stick while being scared for killing us all.

As we reached the sea, we turned to fly alongside the coast. At some point there, the actual pilot got bored of my shyness, and just pushed the stick all to the left, so that we were falling sideways in that small little can of a plane! I yelled an ugly word by mistake since I was heartily spooked by the sudden tilting. Waffle might have been even more scared, since he didn’t know, who did the maneuver.

But the cliffs seen from the air were definitely worth the money we payed for our flight  (60 euros per two for 15 minutes, Aerodrome de Deux Caps) and I do warmly recommend it. The guys from the flight club are truly proud of their field, saying that it is the most beautiful on the whole coast.

After all that excitement we were ready to return home. We took down the tent, said bye to the beach and drove off. To an amazing traffic jam. There were broken down buses in France, and the rush of people returning from the beach in Belgium, plus a few accidents as a bonus. But we made it home, late in the evening. Now we are deeply into planning the trip to Romania. Nicely in time….