31 Dec 2015

BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR

This week is rather special, I feel as if I am on holidays without being on holidays. After Christmas people are running around to get rid of unwanted Christmas gifts, too narrow clothes (or too large), smartphones and tablets etc. In Belgium there is only one Christmas day, the 26 is a normal day and all shops open. Therefore there were many people in the center.

I had nothing to change only food to buy. I met with Nicole for lunch and then we had coffee at her home. Charlie greeted me with enthusiasm !

Ever since Nicole has fallen on her knees and has a muscle contortion under her ribs, (first they thought a rib was broken) she has difficulties to hold big Charlie on a leash. It hurts when he pulls a little bit and if he would see a cat it would be the catastrophe !



So she was walking very slowly and Charlie trotted besides her, not very happy when suddenly three about 12 year old boys approached and asked if they could help and hold Charlie's leash. Nicole was so surprised by the kindness of these boys, and  of course agreed. The boys walked Charlie and Nicole walked slowly behind, keeping an eye on them. They didn't want any money, Nicole had offered them a little bit for buying chocolate or something. I found this really very nice such things don't happen so often.

I observed in town that there are a lot of Miss Marples walking around and checking the prices in the shops. In Belgium "Sale" is only allowed twice a year in summer and now in winter from the 1st January on. Some of them have paper and pencil and write down the price of an item they like but wouldn't buy because they will wait for sales ! Some shop owners increase the prices before Christmas and drop them to normal after the first with a big label "Sales" ! Apparently some people think that when there is a sign "Sales" it is automatically cheaper !

Therefore the shops are full but nobody buys anything, the big rush will be on the 2nd when people storm the shops to make a bargain ! I saw many winter coats or jackets which hadn't been sold due to the unusual warm weather.


Sales !




Linking to What happens in your surroundings this week ? and Warm heart Wednesday

29 Dec 2015

AMSTERDAM IN CHRISTMAS TIME

If you are living in a country where houses and streets are decorated for Christmas, where you see Christmas trees on every corner and beautiful decorations everywhere, then please don't go to Amsterdam because you will get a nervous breakdown !

We went on Christmas day to the Amsterdam center, because there should have been a light festival and a Christmas market.




To park in Amsterdam is a luxury ! 35 € (38 $) per day. We found a parking space but even on holidays you have to pay. At least in Brussels on the street you don't pay nothing on holidays and Sundays.





During walking for a while, I tried to find some Christmas decoration and to take pictures, but there was nothing !





The promised lights on the canals weren't there. (Today I read that it had been canceled)









The Christmas market was a few stalls, nothing to do with the German Christmas markets or our Christmas market in Brussels with 230 stalls ! It was very disappointing !




It had started to rain and it was very windy so we had a coffee in a cute little bar, where it was cozy and warm.



and going to the toilet besides the steps this cute cat was sleeping on a chair and everybody could pet him.

We were happy when we arrived home and it was nice and warm and the Christmas tree was shining !

Conclusion Amsterdam is certainly a beautiful and interesting city but not for Christmas ! It must be the only capital in Europe which has such poor Christmas decoration.




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28 Dec 2015

CHRISTMAS WEEKEND REVIEW 2015

It took some time to wrap all the gifts which Mr. G. then put in our laundry basket. He loaded the car and off we went to Amsterdam, celebrating Christmas with our son and family.



The laundry basket for another purpose !

The highways to Amsterdam were nearly empty and we arrived after 2.30 h with a coffee break just for lunch at our son's house. The laundry basket had to stay in the car of course, as grandson Toby believes that Father Christmas will come during the night and put the gifts under the tree.



Toby and I were asked to color the table cloth. We did our best, but it was impossible to color all the Christmas trees, animals etc. but we had a lot of fun !



Then he showed us how to make designs with these little tubes on a round or a star plastic pattern. This little boy of 5 has such a lot of patience ! I helped him by sorting out these tiny tubes per color.
So the afternoon went by rather quickly. Outside it rained and it was quite windy.



In one corner of the living room stood this very beautiful Christmas tree, with the handmade crib from Mr. G. He got it when he was two years old and now it belongs to his grandson. This creche is 72 years old and still very pretty.



On Christmas eve for  supper we had a Pierrade with beef and chicken pieces, fish and cheese. You cook everything yourself and it is served with Broccolis, salad and baked potatoes.!  Toby's mouth watered in front of the "buche de noël" (Christmas log) and the Dinosaur's too ! We chatted and listened to Christmas music and I danced with Toby and then he danced with his mum; We had a lot of fun ! We didn't go to bed late because we thought we have to get up early as Father Christmas would appear ! 



Our son took this picture of the three of us for the family album



And then Mr. G. was asked to make a picture of the young family. What a procedure, he doesn't like to take pictures in the first place and this enormous camera didn't make it easier. It was so heavy that he had difficulties to hold it and to find the button. Son and grandson tried to help, while I took these pictures and laughed my head off !

The next morning Toby discovered with surprise all the gifts under the Christmas tree





He distributed the boxes and packages and unwrapped his gifts ! He was a real happy little boy ! He started to play with everything a little and then picked out one Lego and put it together in no time !



The breakfast table was beautifully set up by our son and we had a nice breakfast together after having unwrapped all our gifts.

In the afternoon we made a little walk through Amsterdam city, unfortunately it rained and it was windy. So we didn't stay very long.




Our son is an excellent cook and had prepared a very special plate for Christmas instead of the traditional turkey. Once Mr. G. had mentioned that he was fed up to eat always turkey on Christmas. So we had seafood, it tasted delicious. It was served with risotto and spinach leaves.

My DIL had made a special desert and I liked it so much that I emptied the bowl ! Normally I am not so for sweet things !

On Saturday we returned home, this time the sun was shining so much that it was difficult to drive ! Fortunately I had my Madame GPS to show me the highway exits. We arrived just for lunch and were greeted by our cats. My neighbor had taken good care of them.

Sunday we didn't do anything but spending a very lazy day !

25 Dec 2015

FRIDAY's FAVE FIVE

Besides  wrapping gifts for Christmas, I haven't done anything special this week. The city was too crowded and there was a lot of traffic, so I was happy that I had done all my Christmas shopping before and not in the last minute.

Now I pack our suitcase and we are off to Amsterdam to celebrate Christmas with our son and family.







more participants at Susanne at Living to tell the Story.



24 Dec 2015

AT THE AIRPORT IN EGYPT

On our return flight from Egypt, we arrived at the Hurghada airport, which I had known as a little barn in the past and which has become a big very modern airport ! A man in uniform asked us with which travel agency we had arrived and then told us to wait outside.

Normally that wouldn't have bothered me, but it was very windy and therefore cool. So I asked the man if my friend and I could wait inside, where he was standing at the entrance hall. There was a bench on the left with two other men sitting there. He looked at me and Nicole and then said, OK, come in and sit down here. The men got up, smiled and we had a nice seat in the warmth, while the others were lined up freezing in the wind like a flock of sheep.

Then the man stood up on his toes and shouted : All old woman can come in ! Nobody came and we laughed our heads off. A more than vintage aged man with a crutch was also asked to come in and sit down, but he proudly refused.


The old women

Then the others could come in and the check in started.



Linking to What happens in your surroundings this week ? and Warm heart Wednesday

23 Dec 2015

22 Dec 2015

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN BRAINE

Each little town around Waterloo has its own Christmas market. I missed the one in Waterloo, because I was on holidays and this weekend there was another one in the next little town, Braine l'Alleud.





In front of the City Hall stood a big Christmas tree, just besides a blooming flower bed. This is very unusual for Belgium ! Normally it should be snow or at least it should be very cold !



Little stalls were all over the place



and in a huge tent other stalls selling arts and crafts,



In front of the post office is also a huge tree and an old carousel



Of course the roasted chestnuts stand is not missing.

I haven't been to the Brussels Christmas market yet, because it is so crowded that you can hardly walk despite the terrorist alert level n° 3 on 4. On TV I have seen soldiers with in one hand their machine gun and in the other Christmas shopping bags ! That's Belgium ! The market is very big with more than 230 stalls.


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21 Dec 2015

WEEKEND REVIEW - December 19

Before my holidays in Egypt, I had sworn to myself that this year I wouldn't do any Christmas decoration at all, because the Christmas we celebrate now, has nothing to do with the Christmas celebrations I was used to since my childhood  and during our marriage ! Now we celebrate with my son and family and everything has changed.

To my own surprise when I came back and had seen all the beautiful Christmas decorations in the Hotel, and listened and danced to the Christmas songs (that's where I fell and still have a huge bruise on my bottom) Saturday it itched in my fingers and I carried up the box containing Christmas decoration with the label "Christmas for two".

And here is the result



on the bottom right the smallest Christmas tree we ever had, even smaller than last year, but with little candles !



On the table is the advent wreath with four led candles. I can switch them on with a little remote control !



I also put garlands in our plants, and I am quite happy with the result, the whole living room looks very cozy !



In the afternoon I went to Ilona to exchange our Christmas gift, her tree was bigger, but she also receives her 5 grandchildren with husbands or partners and two great grandchildren ! I think her living room will explode ! Fortunately her daughter does all the work, a cold buffet, otherwise it would be a little too much for her !

Sunday while I was helping Nicole with her Christmas decoration, the Waterloo alderman brought me the 2016 calender which had been printed in honor of the volunteers who had helped during the bicentenary festivities of the Waterloo battle.

He rang our bell and Mr. G. received the calender, in my absence.



The first two pages



An introduction from our female mayor and the alderman, thanking the volunteers ! A picture of the Duke of Wellington, the King of the Netherlands, and the other descendants of the Generals.

I will give this calender to my grandson, so when he learns the Battle of Waterloo at school, he can say that his grandma was a volunteer at the bicentenary of the battle. 

19 Dec 2015

THE END OF MY FIR TREE PART 2



The tree before





and now decorated

Here is the story The end of my fir tree

18 Dec 2015

FRIDAY's FAVE FIVE

1.


On Monday we had to leave the Sunrise Resort Hotel in Hurghada, which had been home to us for 2 weeks.

The morning we spent at the swimming pool and watched the animation team perform, then we packed our suitcases and went for lunch. We said good-bye to all the people we had met, and promised to come back next year.

The luggages were put at the entrance and I took the last view on the beautiful Christmas tree ! The bus which picked us up to bring us to the airport was a very special one. A modern looking bus, but as soon as you sat on the seat  it fell into sleeping position. That provoked screams of surprise, complaints and then laughter ! All seats were looking normal, but then they fell back. So we were all hanging or laying or sitting in our seats. The guide excused himself for the bus, and promised to get it repaired, but that will be for the next load of tourists !

2. The check in at the Hurghada airport earns an extra post ! It was hilarious, you only could take it with humor or you would have gotten a heart attack of anger ! We had to show our passport 5 times and take off our shoes 4 times. We also were body checked after the scan which hadn't said a peep but apparently the all in black dressed woman with a black scarf, looking as if she had just swallowed a glass of vinegar, loved to touch women from top to bottom.

Finally we made it into the airplane and had a smooth flight back. Mr. G. picked us up at the airport.

3. The first day at home I felt strange. It was cold and gray and looking out of the kitchen, I saw the empty space where our fir tree stood (see post below), how sad.  My suitcase contained bathing suits and T-shirts. What a difference from the day before. Finally I pulled my courage together and emptied my suitcase, threw everything into the laundry and was exhausted.



After all this beautiful Christmas decoration in Egypt, our living room looked so cold and empty. I took out the advent wreath and put four candles around, at least a little something. The rest will follow another day !

4. I had missed aqua gym 3 times so I went to recuperate one lesson. I met some other people and the teacher was a young man. He wore a Father Christmas hat and that looked quite funny. He wasn't as good as my usual teacher, but it was nice. After that I did some very necessary shopping and then went home.

5. I went to my painting class to celebrate Christmas, because next week there are the Christmas Holidays.



The entrance of the retirement home where we have our classes was nicely decorated.



Jeanine, one of my class mates had baked these Christmas cakes called "Buches de Noël" which means "Christmas logs".  They were absolutely delicious. I had the honor to eat baby Jesus.



Here we are celebrating, the one in black is Jeanine who had made the Christmas logs.

In the afternoon I went one step further in my Christmas decoration, I carried the box from the basement to the living room !



more participants at Susanne at Living to tell the Story.