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?


Why Vegan?

Graffiti, pig, Brussels

That seems to be a common place question nowadays. So I asked myself the very same question. And answered well, why not?

I’ve been pondering on the matter lately. I grew up on a farm. I saw animals live and die up close and personal, and I claim to know a thing or two about what makes a happy cow, and what does not.

I am having difficulties in believing, that a living, thinking and feeling animal can be happy in a factory farm. And since most of the dairy, meat and egg products on the shop shelves comes from those factories, I can’t be too happy about eating them. I am not saying that there are not good farmers and farms who actually look after their animals, so that they live a happy life, but those will most probably be in the minority. Plus it is environmentally a very bad thing to eat meat. The famine that is still going wild in the third world countries, meat eating is definitely not helping that. By the way, what a lovely word to distance our nice and clean and healthy society from those guys. The third world… Fish are being over fished too, the list goes on. You have to be rather blind and ignorant to justify excessive meat eating in today’s world.

I have been avoiding meat already for years, but haven’t given it up completely. I really have no acceptable excuses for that. I just always thought, that finding good foods would be first of all difficult, and second of all expensive. Never mind all the family parties you go to, and need to explain, why you are not attacking the ham. I don’t think I am completely alone with these prejudices.

Well, anyways. I have now decided to take on the vegan challenge, brought to you by a Finnish animal rights organization, Oikeutta Eläimille. That was a very easy step towards changing the interior of the fridge and now my mailbox is bursting with all new and exciting recipes for all sorts of all veggie foods. Nomm. Turns out, you can do just about everything delicious without meat, milk, eggs or magic. I still have Waffle, who is slightly murmuring in the corner something about loosing his rights for omelettes and some such. But I think his views are brightening too.

The thing is now starting. We are slowly eating out all the animal origin stuff that still occupies in our fridge, since it would be stupid to just throw them out, and buying new veggie things to replace them.

Last weekend there happened to be also a vegan potluck in Brussels.Potluck is an event where everybody brings a little something everybody can eat, judge and ask recipes for. We went there with my Finnish ex-colleague Terhi, salsa and potato salad tucked into our tupperwares. That was a wonderful way to get this whole thing going. Waffle got also a little bit more of a taste what our food life might become in the near future. He did not run out screaming, though his face was worth seeing. Unfortunately he had the camera so no pictures.

We were a little bit disappointed though, since an event like that, I guess, is supposed to be  a little bit social. People sharing the same ideology should be happy to meet each other, share ideas over food and make friends. Well, true to the shy nature of good and decent Belgians, none of that happened. Good thing that there is a Facebook group for less intimate communication where people actually started chatting and sharing pictures and stuff. And all in all, the food didn’t let anybody down. It was, for the most part, very tasty!

Have you by the way noticed how important taking photos has become in every food related activity? The camera is more important than the fork…

Well, today I want shopping for all vegan foods. I have now stuff for Chili con vege (the link in Finnish, sorry), burgers with cauliflower mash and a nice carrot soup plus of course a bit of yogurt, soy milk etc. for only just 15 euros and that will feed the two of us. There goes the thing of vegan food being expensive. Plus you can collect quite some of the dry stuff, quinoa, beans, lentils in big quantities when ever they happen to be the cheapest, since they don’t go bad! It does still take a lot of searching and getting used to things, but I have a good feeling about this.

I would love to hear your experiences, thoughts and hints in this matter. Are you one of those vegan people, or are you planning to become one? Please give a yell!


Brussels attacks and terror

Cherry flowers

Brussels was under attack today as bombs were exploding in the airport and in the metro. Hopefully not too many of that kind are to come anymore. This is such a shock. Right after Abdeslam was caught, this happens. While maybe some hope for the terrorist attacks to be over was arising, thanks to the arrest. People are scared and angry, understandably.

I can spare very little understanding to these people, who feel it is their right to draw innocent lives into their agenda of rising terror. I do know, the reasons behind this are far from black and white, but no reason should allow anyone to killing people blindly and at random, driving a nation into such a crisis.

Over here, where I am sitting, Brussels is luckily rather distant, there is no chaos or panic, but devastation is still very present. For me, coming from a very peaceful country, this attack and the earlier ones from last year, are something incomprehensible. Before, terrorism to me was something distant. It was an abstract word, describing something not too significant. I have changed in that matter. Terror has become something very apparent, concrete and real.

These attacks today resulted into over 20 lives being lost. Over 20 worlds stopped existing. There are bigger catastrophes in this world, I don’t deny that. The Brussels and Paris events just come so very close to me, and to seemingly so peaceful Europe. These lives lost in vain by an ideology that should not have a any place in Europe, nor anywhere else in the world. An ideology that gives permission to kill the way these bombings and shootings kill, is evil. There is no way around that.

I don’t know where Europe is going to end up. Is the terror going to end, and if, when? Are we going to see another world war? I don’t think anyone can want that. I think  it is now more important than ever, that we do not give in to fear. All of us people, loving one another should stand into supporting one another and not leave room for fear. The side of people, who see these attacks justified, for whatever cause, ideology or motivation. We will have to show them that bombs are not going to cut our spirits down.

See people as people. Not judged by their culture, ethnicity or religion, that might lead us finally to peace.

All of you who lost a loved one today, have hope, have strength.