Saturday, July 11, 2009

Last, final, Goodbye Mons post

I kept meaning to write my last, goodbye Mons post, and then life got in the way and I kept forgetting, and then I couldn't think of anything worth writing, so just left it.

I am appreciative of my lazy nature now, as I can write this final, last goodbye Mons post.

I've been back in the UK now for three weeks, and I have a job selling insurance over the phone. It's a world away from trotting to the laundrette every other week, and I would not be hard pressed to tell you which lifestyle I preferred. But time ticks inexorably on, and I knew the Mons adventure wouldn't last forever.

My last missive to you documents the happenings of last night. I went out in Canterbury with Alana, and as the night drew to a close we found ourselves meandering towards the Loft, as the DJ there had caught Alana's eye and she wanted another look. Two chaps behind us commented at the speed of our meanderings, and Alana politely asked them why they didn't just overtake - we were walking down a street that could comfortably fit six or seven people walking in a row. One of them said something in response, but what he actually said was lost underneath his bizarre accent.

There is a funny bit Eddie Izzard does, about the bad guys in Bond films having unrecogniseable accents. 'What is your accent?' Eddie's impeccable impression of Bond asks. 'I hev it stuk on shiop demonsraation' says his villain.

If you've seen the sketch to which I refer, you'll understand. If not, I expect that was thoroughly confusing. I apologise. Basically, his accent was all over the place, starting in South Africa, skimming across to India, touching on Spanish and ending up in Abba.

Not unreasonably, Alana and I accused him of making up an accent. As we had previously pretended to be a lesbian couple on our first date to avoid the attentions of an over amourous builder, we weren't judging, we just wanted to know the truth.

'Ay em not mekin thees accent up,' he told us in confusion. 'Whet diu yiu myean?'

'It just sounds made up,' we told him. 'Where are you from?'

'Wheyere diu yiu theenk?' he asked.

Lana guessed South Africa. I went for Dutch, having confused those accents in the past. He said Dutch was close, so I guessed Sweden. Nope, but close. My geography all but exhausted, Alana took the lead, and guessed a host of countries that I've only heard about on Eurovision. Finally, she shrugged her shoulders.

'I dunno. Belgium?'

'Yeeeyes!' he cried gleefully. "Ey em frem Brussels!'

'She lived in Mons!' Alana said, pointing at me.

He looked at me with a bemused expression.

'Why?'

That question is one many people have asked, and I didn't feel like explaining to a drunk Belge dressed as a cowboy. Instead I tried to wow him with my French. He looked even more confused.

'I don't think that means what you think it means," he said. 'Did you mean to ask me whether I sell binbags?'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't take your Dragon to the Doudou

My time in Mons is drawing to a close this weekend, as my papa is coming to pick me up along with all my belongings and taking me back to Blighty. I feel a bit sad that my Belgium adventure is over, but we finished it on a high.

This is adapted from a message I just sent my friend Tim, as I am (as previously mentioned) an inherently lazy person, and copy and paste is my friend.

*

Well, this weekend was fairly insane.

To give you some background, the Doudou Festival has been going in Mons since the 1340s and it still has an incredibly medieval feel to it. We arrived on Sunday for the Lume├žon, which is a reenactment of St George fighting the Dragon. It was supposed to start at 12, so we got there about 11 in a futile attempt to get a good spot.

The Grand Place was packed with people surrounding a roped off circle in the centre. In this circle the 'young men' of Mons were drunkenly wrestling, and anyone daring to enter the circle - or even get too close to it - with a t-shirt on, immediately got it ripped off. Ben did not get too close, and zipped his hoodie up.

The Doudou is a massive event in Mons - everyone goes, and they all look forward to it for about a month. In fact, there's even a saying that amuses Ben at work - 'You don't take sausages to Berlin, so don't take your Dragon to the Doudou', which means widely 'don't take something somewhere that is famed for having lots of that particular something', but more specifically, 'don't take your wife to the Doudou, because there's so many drunk girls you'll be able to get laid anyway'. I didn't notice many drunk girls though, or in fact many girls; it was basically shoulder to shoulder drunk men. Drunk sweaty stinky men. But that's Mons for you!

So anyway, we got a relatively good place near the centre, that is until about quarter to 12, when the number of people in the square doubled and we found ourselves slowly pushed back to the middle of the crowd where we couldn't see anything but the backs of the aforementioned sweaty, stinky men. Then it started to rain - those big fat drops that indicate a proper tipping it down is about to occur.

Ben pointed at the Town Hall, which has a covered archway through to the Town Hall Gardens.

"Let's take shelter under there, before everyone tries to,' he said in my ear.

'But we won't seeeeeee anything,' I wailed.

'We're not gonna see anything here anyway. At least there we'll be dry,' he said, very reasonably, and off we scuttled.

There were a few people there already, so we ended up only just in the shelter. I couldn't see the circle at all, but at least we were dry.

Then something odd started to happen. Lots of policemen came over and started shooing people away from the archway, one stocky guy in particular (see photo), who kept physically throwing himself at anyone who dared to join us under the shelter, yet kept coming back to us and saying something in French that sounded reassuring. Look at him! He almost singlehandedly kept that crowd back! I have no idea why he took to us, but I was glad he did - I saw him almost rip some girl's arm off when she ran out of the crowd to stand next to me.

It turned out that we had managed to stand in the ONLY bit that the public were allowed to stand in, and the procession went right by us, through the archway! So there we were, watching the procession of the dragon and St George, in the dry, whilst the rest of Mons jostled each other for a good look in the rain. It was amazing.

















That green pole is actually the Dragon's tail. And that's the only bit of the Dragon I saw. I was a bit envious of Ben who saw the whole thing. Damn my average height for a women stature. I couldn't actually see any of the fight, which was a shame, but I wouldn't have done anyway unless we were right at the front, which was never going to happen.

It was amazing right up to when the procession went past and the public were allowed back to where we were, as I then found myself once again staring at the backs of those sweaty, smelly men. And then, at the end, the procession went back through the archway, only with less organisation, so they basically piled through, squishing Ben and I up against the unforgiving stone of the Town Hall. Ben got humped by a squat little fat man, and some poor kid got pressed against me with his head on a level with my boobies. He didn't look that unhappy though, the little perv.

So all in all it was good, except for the groping at the end. And we had a burger that was tasty at the time but my stomach grumbled for the rest of the day. So don't take your dragon to the Doudou, and whilst you're there, don't eat any of the burgers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just when I thought Belgium couldn't get any weirder

I just went to the shop - the Intermarche rather than Delhaize, because it's a little bit closer and it's all rainy outside.

That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was assuming it would sell minced beef.

It doesn't.

I'll tell you what it does sell though.

Chien Viande.

Yep.

Minced dog.


My third mistake, although this by no means tops the minced dog incident and only goes last due to chronological ordering, is that I stupidly - STUPIDLY - tried to buy only one can of tomato puree. In Intermarche no one does this, apparently. You have to buy two or more. Why? No one knows. Is it on offer? No. Are they sold together, packaged together? No. It's just an adorable quirk.

Lidl all the way.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

J'AI NONNE PAS BESOIN!!

I just bumped into Mrs Busybody after months of managing to avoid her. She's been asking Ben where I am so that she can give me some sac poubelles, he's been saying 'En Angleterre' to put her off.

So when our paths crossed just now, she asked me if I would like a sac poubelle - which I understood, incidently - and although we are running low, I knew that getting a sac poubelle off her would unavoidably mean her working out that I do not reside in room 14, but actually have been living with Ben this past 10 months, so I shook my head no and said 'c'est d'accord' which means, no thanks, I'm ok. Instead of accepting this and walking off she fired more French at me. From what I could gather she was asking if she should pop over now and give me some bin bags. I shook my head again and stumbled through a sentence telling her I'd bought 'beaucoup' in DelHaize (Lies, all lies). She refused to accept this, and told me to wait and she'd bring me some sac poubelles. At which point it would have been great to pull out the phrase my mum taught me, the phrase I had rehearsed over and over again, so much so that it became like a mantra that I repeated when leaving the room in order to keep Mrs Busybody away.

On this instance, this moment where I really really needed to tell her 'I have no need of any more bin bags', could I remember it? Could I heck. I couldn't even remember what it began with, and given that it starts with 'je', as in 'I', shows just how far into my subconscious it had fled.

I ended up shaking my head like a dog shaking a rat and walking backwards. It seemed to occur to her then that I was acting a bit crazy, and she too started to retreat, eyeing me suspiciously. Then, as I gave her a final, desperate, 'c'est d'accord!!' and ran into the apartment block, the phrase jumped out at me, waving its hands and shouting 'TAH DAH! Here I am! Just when you don't need me!' J'ai nonne pas besoin. J'ai nonne pas besoin! J'AI NONNE PAS BESOIN!! Goddamn it. I actually took a step towards the door to yell it at Mrs Busybody's retreating back, but thought better of it.

On the note of scaring people away, when Liam came to stay we all went for a drink in the Irish Bar. Ben and Liam wandered off to get drinks, leaving me on my own where I was approached by an American man, who asked if he could buy me a drink. Thank goodness I wasn't on the pull, as for some reason I thought it would be completely appropriate banter to tell him "No thank you, I don't drink anymore... because when I do I go crazy and knife people." I was just joking (OBVIOUSLY) but he made a fairly rapid exit. I have no idea why i said it. Belgium is getting to me.

Also, when I mentioned the Brandenburg Gate here, I completely forgot to mention Liam. I don't knwo why, because I actually set out to credit him when I started to write, then got distracted by wikipedia (story of my life). It was Liam who told me that the Brandenburg Gate was important; that was why I looked on wiki, just to get the details right. Liam gave a very funny account of it too, as he told me how in 1806 Napoleon took a fancy to the four horsed chariot on top and took it back to France, only for the Prussian soldiers to take it back in 1814.

Annoyingly, I did actually have a photo of it, but deleted it to make room for more pictures as I didn't realise what it was. Pay attention in history lessons, kids, or else in 10 years time your inattention will come back and bite you on the bum.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Celine the Smoker

I just wandered into the bathroom and discovered it smells in there - not the sort of smell you'd usually associate with a bathroom, before you ask, but of cigarettes.

Obviously Celine has been having a bit of a smoko in her down time from bothering me whilst I wash. I have images of her hastily stubbing it out as I approach, clearing her throat in preparation of breaking into glorious song, and then looking annoyed when I leave again after grabbing the nail clippers from the bathroom cabinet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Heart Will Go On Part Deux

I just had a shower (see? I do wash) and after a while I became aware of music. Well, 'music'. Namely Celine Dion, and My Heart Will Go On, the theme to everyone's secret favourite film. I wondered vaguely where it was coming from, and then (shower being finished) stepped out into the bathroom and once appropriately towel-clad, into the bedroom (slashkitchenslashstudyslashsittingroomslashguestroomslashdrawingroomslashpantryslashetc).

The music stopped.

I stepped back into the bathroom.

...love can touch us one tiiiiiime, and laaaaast foooooor, a liiiiife-...

Back in to the bedroom (slashkitchen...).

Silence.

Bathroom

...thaaaaat is how I know you, go onnnnnnnn...

There is only one logical conclusion. Celine Dion is haunting our shower cubicle. Which means she saw me nudey! How embarrassing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm watching you...

I noticed this some time ago, but today it's really freaking me out.

Here is the view from our window (I know, attractive)














Here is the window over the road in close up.














Closer...














Behold! Creepy, huh?

On the note of the window we had a man in to fix ours the other day. It's one of those that either has a small crack at the top or the whole thing swings inwards. Of course, ours is broken so that it will only open one way, the rubbish tiny crack at the top way. As the room is currently the temperature of the lower echelons of hell, we hoped he would fix the freaking window.

He didn't, on the basis that if he did, it would present a safety hazard - namely, we might jump out.

He wouldn't fix the window because he seriously thought that if he did, we might consider it a suitable alternative to taking the stairs.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

But look at the fuzzzzeeeee!

You might remember, some time ago, a few very excited posts about the black swans in the local park. Together they created an almighty nest of epic proportions and laid six eggs. I was very excited, then one day we went to see them and there were no eggs, and no babies.

At first we hoped that the cygnets were under the parents' wings, but after a few more visits it was clear that it was impossible for six baby swans to be hidden for that long, and we sadly accepted the fact that something had gone wrong and we wouldn't be seeing any baby swans in the near future.

Yesterday we strolled down to the park with some day old baguette, just for something to do. The swans were nowhere to be seen in the main pond, so we wandered round to the secondary pond.

There they were, as elegant and graceful as ever, only there was ... something else.

Something small and grey and fuzzy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Suspicious and suspiciouser

In England I never shopped in Lidl. Not out of snobbishness, but because the nearest Lidl is far away up a hill in Hawkinge and Sainsburys, Tescos and their ilk are much closer.

But Lidl not only sells 13 kiwis for 0,99 Euros (7p a kiwi, people) it also gives away free extras that you don't expect.

I purchased a bag of spinach earlier today to go in a salad. After slaving away over a cold fridge for the best part of half an hour to create an awesome dinner I slid Ben's plate in front of him. Whilst I was turned away he popped something off the plate into his mouth and then made this noise: "Bleurrgrrrrrhhh!" and scooched his chair back from the table in an attempt to distance himself from whatever had so disgusted him.

"What?" I asked, scanning the plate for un-Ben friendly foods - he'd already reminded me not to put spring onions on his plate, had I forgotten? But no, everything on there was usually to his taste. To check I ate a few bits and pieces off his plate (perhaps more than strictly necessary) but it all tasted a-ok.

"It was lemony," he said, screwing his nose up.

We continued our dinner with no further unexpected flavours until I hit upon something stalky and decidedly un-spinachy.

I am not much of a botanist, but I think it was a nettle.

Bleurgh indeed. But at least we discovered the whereabouts of villainous salad infiltrator, right?

Then Ben nibbled a leaf, pulled a face and said 'It isn't whatever I had in mine."

Which means that we did not recieve one unasked for mysterious extra in our spinach, but two.

The generosity of Lidl knows no bounds.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eurovision

I meant to post about this when it actually aired on TV, but I was on the sofa and the laptop on the other side of the room and it was just tooooooo farrrrrr away. My memory has been jogged by the discovery of another blog, written by an Aussie currently living in Belge, so here is Ben and my take on it.

I haven't actually watched Eurovision since the year we won, with a horrific song I would rather not name in case it gets stuck in my head... too late, it's there. Damn. Anyway, this year Ben and I managed to catch it on TV whilst flicking through the channels, so we gave it a bit of a watch. When France came on, however, we decided she had too much of a funny face, and Ben went back to channel hopping, a hobby he enjoys and drives me mad. On a channel that shows almost entirely MGM movies we discovered 'Welcome to Woop Woop', a film set in a remote part of Australia that actually makes the Eurovision song contest seem normal in comparison. I do not recommend it; the best bit about it is the title. We watched it anyway, and flicked back over to Eurovision once the titles had rolled, just in time to catch Jade, England's entry. We watched her (and her creepy little hobbit sidekick) on Jonathan Ross and I thought she was quite sweet, so I was rooting for her.

One thing both Ben and I noticed yet has not be remarked upon in the articles I've read reviewing her performance was the fact that whilst walking down the stairs she managed to bop one of the violinists. How has this been glossed over?! She WALKED INTO one of the musicians! Surely that's worth more of a mention than Dita Von Teese's frankly lack lustre and faintly fluttery 'performance' in Germany's entry. Although not as worth a mention as one act that featured 'half naked rockin' out Romans', as Ben eloquantly put it.

Graham Norton was particularly amusing - not so much with his remarks about each entry, but his comment about the segment that played before each act; a strange looking girl with oddly highlighted hair blowing about in a very pop starlet fashion. As she appeared for the 24th time Graham paused halfway through what he was saying and said with some mild irratation, 'I'm getting really bored of her hair.'

That's why I like Graham Norton.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Germany was not a country I was interested in going to. So when Ben suggested going to Berlin for a few days before going to Hamburg to celebrate his friend Liam's 21st I agreed with no particular enthusiasm.

Then a few days before we left I started to get a bit excited. As I might have mentioned, my interest in history - especially the two world wars - is increasing as I age, and I decided I would like to see the Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin Wall.

So I was in a good mood when we arrived in Germany, and the few days we spent there were fantastic.

Ben got his head round the U-Bahn train stations quickly and we ended up filling our days up to the brim with excursions and adventures.

But I'll try to start from the beginning.

The hotel was really nice - although, like the rest of Berlin, they seemed to have found the look they wanted to go with back in the 70s and decided to stick with it. I recommend it, if you go - the Agon Aldea Hotel - clean and comfy and pleasant.

From there we visited the Potzdamer Platz, where we grabbed some interesting looking pastries for our first breakfast. Ben did ok, but I managed to chose something that appeared to basically be cherry crumble on a doughnut. Awesome? Yes; healthy breakfast? Not so much.

On Liam's recommendation we opted to spend one day taking a bus tour around the city. We though this was a good idea as we could hop on and off, and we chose a rainy day to go so that we wouldn't have to trudge around too much outside.

Unfortunately, like the hotel, the bus we ended up on seemed to have been made in the 70s and not updated since.

We hopped on and attempted to sit downstairs, but the driver stopped us with some expressive yet gutteral grunts and jerked his thumb up the stairs. The meaning was clear; get up to the top deck or I might murder you.

We acquiesed to his request.

Upstairs the canvas roof of the bus that peels back on sunny days was loosely strapped down. The important word in that sentence is loosely, as everytime there was a particularly enthusiastic gust of wind it flapped up, allowing all the rain that had collected on it and the rain still falling to drop squarely on my head. Soon there was a mini tide flowing up and down the aisle and we gave up on trying to hear the recorded guide through the tinny headphones and started concentrating on staying dry.

This is not usually what one expects to concern oneself with on a bus tour.

Luckily we had actually managed to find most of the important things on our own anyway; though my appalling lack of knowledge on certain subjects meant that I didn't quite grasp the historical relevance of the Brandenburg Gate until it was explained to be later, and just thought it was a nice looking monument. Wikipedia tells me pitingly "It is considered one of Europe's most famous landmarks"; thanks Wikipedia, I felt silly enough already. You didn't have to rub it in, you know-it-all online encyclopedia smartass.

The Holocaust Memorial was just round the corner, and at least I knew more about that then the American blog writer my friend Tim just told me about, who refers to it as "some sort of Jewish memorial. You could climb on all the blocks like a giant game of Q-Bert!"

Although Ben did quite enjoy playing hide and seek whilst I was trying to be melancholy and pensive.

We were sad to leave our hotel room but the train ride to Hamburg made up for it - they gave us free muffins, orange juice, and then a little chocolate in a box for no apparent reason.

Liam seemed to get the better deal of this year in industry thing - rather than living in a little room with an interfering busybody upstairs and a drunk man downstairs, he lives in a huge seven bedroom house with one other person, surrounded by beautiful countryside. If that isn't bad enough, they have two washing machines and a dishwasher. I shook my fist at that, I can tell you.

We spent a day in Hamburg, where we accidentally happened upon the celebrations for the 321st anniversary of the harbour. I would have liked to have seen more of Hamburg than we did, but my wishes were granted when Ben and I rocked up to the airport check in on Sunday and were told we'd booked a flight for Monday.

"Do you want to go back to the hotel in Berlin?" Ben asked ruefully. "We could say 'Please let us stay, we used to have a reservation, it was for last week, but can we stay anyway?'"

We never found out if that plan would have worked, as a quick visit to the internet found us an awesome hotel that Ben only picked because they offered free bathrobes and slippers.

"Slippers! Slippers, Amanda, slippers!" he cried gleefully, his little face lighting up.

Who could say no to that?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kersmash!

I bemoaned the driving standards in Belge back in October and today we were given another example of it.

We were sitting on the sofa; Ben playing some Star Wars game on the Playstation, and me as ever on my beloved laptop. There was a sudden noise outside and Ben, being intrinsically nosy got up to have a look.

"Someone's crashed their car outside!" he told me excitedly.

I got up to look, expecting to see a car with a bit of a ding. Instead we saw a car right up on the pavement with the post for the bus stop embedded in the front of the car.

The bus stop I was talking about last night, in case you were wondering.

Everyone came out of their houses to have a look and a chat, people stopped their cars; it was a real social event for them. The driver got out after a bit, so don't worry about him, in case you were.

We couldn't work out what happened, until one of the people busily milling round pointed out what we assume was the car's trajectory. It seemed to have swerved off the road onto the pavement on the other side of our apartment block and just carried on going until it was car-stopped by a bus-stop. As Ben pointed out, we never heard brakes; just the kersmash. So we really have no idea what happened, but one important detail stands out.

It took out the water pipe.

The water pipe is gone.

We can sleep again.

It was a car sent from Heaven.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GickBling

My friend Laura, knowing my interest* in cockroaches, has let me in on an almost unbelievable fashion accessory - so almost unbelievable that even after checking various sources that back up her claims, I am still oscillating wildly between belief and disbelief like a child asked to choose between its parents.

Cockroach Jewellery

Cockroaches that live on a small chain and are bedecked in various bling. The ultimate accessory? Lord, I hope not.

Behold!


Gick. Sparkly gick, but gick all the same. With extra iiiiii for emphasis. Giiiiiick.

I would like to point out that our cockroaches were about twenty times smaller than the pimped out dude in the picture and in comparison, relatively cute.

*for 'interest', read absolute horror, detestation and occasional pity and remorse derived from impaling one on a fork.


In other news, Ben and I were woken up last night at around 1am by the man changing the posters in the bus stop. He has to do this, apparently, in the dead of night with the orange flashing lights on the van going overdrive.

As though that isn't annoying enough, another van promptly pulled up behind with equally annoying and bright flashing lights, another man got out, and (from what I could gather, peering through our blinds and not understanding French) they had an argument about whose turn it was to replace the poster.













I got back into bed shaking my head at the absurdity as Ben said from his pillow,

"Always the way, isn't it? You wait for ages for them to change the posters in the bus-stop, and then two come along at once."

You can also see, in the bottom left hand corner of the two van picture a long pipe running into a drain.

This pipe is currently the bane of our nights. For some reason, we know not why, this pipe is extracting water from the building site next door. You know, the one that's building over an Ancient Belgian Burial Ground. It used to gush out onto the pavement and flow down to the drain, which whilst loud was actually relatively pleasant; it sounded a bit like we were next to a beach.

This was not good enough for the Belgies, however. They decided that the noise was not quite loud enough to well and truly keep us up, so they installed a second pipe that takes the water from the first pipe directly down the drain. But they had to bend it to get it to do that, so the water now builds up behind the bend and at irregular intervals when there is enough pressure the water whooshes out. It sounds a bit like an elephant taking a drink and then being startled by another elephant who is also taking a drink.

I was much more comfortable drifting off to sleep by imagining myself by the sea than I am with the idea of sleeping my some thirsty pachyderms, I can tell you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How was Nice? Was it - DON'T SAY IT

I asked Ben what I should blog about tonight, and he did the cheeky monkey mechanic face again and said "have you talked about Nice?"

I haven't yet, I told him. What should I say about it?

"We went there?" he replied helpfully.

Ta, Ben. I bless the day that I picked you to be my muse.

So here goes. We have just (last Friday, actually, but I've only now got round to writing about it. You know how it is, Hotmail to de-junk, Facebook to check, Lolcats to lol at; I'm a busy lady) returned from the South of France. Nice, to be exact, on the French Rivieria, and it was lovely, pleasant, interesting and fun. All the words that your teacher in primary school told you to use when describing something 'not bad' instead of the awful 'n' word. You know what word I mean. Yes, that word. If I had a penny for everyone who has made a Nice joke, I would have... at least a quid. In fact I might go round and demand a penny from everyone who subjected me yet another Nice pun; every little helps, and Nice isn't the cheapest holiday resort on the map.

I wanted [Ben] to buy a souvenir item of clothing, a tradition I picked up in Paris a year or two ago. It's really just an excuse to buy clothes, but I've managed to grab a top in Pisa and one in Mons since. Ok, so Mons isn't that impressive since I actually live here, but still. However, the cheapest pieces in Nice were in the bargain bins full of clothes even a Peacocks aficionado would turn their noses up at, and the price was never lower than 20 euros. 20 euros! For a top I could make with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back!* So with a heavy heart I returned from Nice clothes-less, apart from the clothes I was wearing and those in my bag, which don't count.

Prior to jetting off to Nice we spent a week at home. It was really good to catch up with my friends and fambly; I really miss home when I'm back in Mons, but I'm aware that people only make quite such an effort to see me because at the moment I play a cameo role in their lives, that it won't be quite the same when I'm a series regular.

Once again I just turned to Ben to offer some insight into what events from our brief home visit were worthy of mentioning.

"We had chinese food on Saturday ... and indian food with Dave and Kaylee ... and a roast dinner at Weatherspoons," he recounted thoughtfully.

To say Ben likes his food is a bit of an understatement. If I didn't know how far he has to ride to work and back everyday and if I didn't essentially just sit on the sofa all day I would really resent his slimness.


*This is a slight** mistruth ***for emphasis. I think it worked.

** For 'slight', read 'substantial'.

*** For 'mistruth', read 'lie'.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Petsitting and Ostriches

Last night Ben asked what I would do third if I somehow came into possession of a kazillion dollars (a kazillion is somewhere between a billion and a majillion, we have decided). I thought about it long and hard, and decided that the third thing I would do, after going on a crazy shopping spree and bestowing lavish amounts of cash on my nearest and dearest, would be to build an orphanage in Africa to protect the witch children (children who are villified by religious 'pillars of the community' - ie evil, evil people. It's awful - google it, you'll be horrified). I waxed lyrical about what I would do, sinking wells and setting up schools with massive security fences to keep out the bad guys. After I finished Ben was quiet.

"Why, what would you do?" I asked.

"I'd have a wee," he replied.

"...What?" I asked, wondering if I'd misheard.

"Well, after I ran round going 'WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and then going and buying loads of stuff, I'd probably need a wee."

Ben is very practical like that.


In other news, it has come to my attention (on this blog I am omnipotent. More or less) that someone stumbled upon this blog via Google, with the search term 'Pet sitting in Mons'. There have been funnier terms that have landed Googlers here, like 'Boobies in Mons' and 'Woosterisms', but I'm mentioning this one because I would very much like to petsit. If you happen to refind this blog, petsittee anonymous, look no further. I will petsit; I have plenty of experience from a small colony of rabbits and guinea pigs we had in the back garden when I was growing up, my demanding, grumpy dog back in Blighty, and from looking after Ben.


Speaking of Ben, I just asked him what else has happened that's worth mentioning. He looked up to the ceilings and blew his cheeks out expressively, looking a cross between a naughty monkey and a mechanic who is about to tell you your car is going to cost more than he originally anticipated.

"We ate ostrich the other day," he pointed out, after some thought.

He's right. We did. Traditional Belgium cuisine, all the way.

Incidently, petsittee anonymous, if your pet is an ostrich, I promise not to eat it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whoops

We just scuttled back dripping after stepping outside in bright sunshine. By the time we reached the end of the road it was hailing and blowing up a storm, and once our brolly flipped itself inside out we thought it might be best to turn around and go home. We got in and shook ourselves... and outside the rain stopped and the sun came out.

"It's my fault" I told Ben gloomily.

"Why?" he asked. "We took the brolly; this shouldn't have happened."

He hasn't read my last post yet, but when he does, he'll blame me too. I laughed in the face of Sod and he exacted a revenge most soggy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sod and his Law

I'm a great believer in Sod's Law (or Murphy's Law, as my mum insists on calling it and tries to insist on me calling it - sorry Mum, Murphy's Law makes no sense; I mean, who is this Murphy? What kind of a guy is he (or she, of course) to go round trying to spanner the works and what authority does he has over the fickle ways of Fate anyway? At least you know where you are with Sod). My belief thusly caused me to be in two minds about even posting this, but when I mentioned it to Alana she made me laugh, so I thought what the heck.

I went to the laundrette today (yes, another laundrette post. Are you surprised? Mons really is that boring). I went to see the swans on the way - there is no trace of the cygnets whatever. The eggs are gone, but there aren't any fuzzy babies. We thought for a while maybe they were hiding under their parents wings, but today I had a good look and I really don't think they are. Tis very sad. Anyway, as I was leaving it was very bright, and I thought, shall I take my sunglasses? Then I thought, better not, Sod's Law and all that. In fact, I thought to myself, I'll take my brolly and a heavy coat, then it'll be gorgeous weather.

Then of course as I was leaving I forgot both the brolly and the coat, and left with only a jumper on. The weather was pleasant though, and so nice that when I got to the swans I took my jumper off.

Upon arriving at the laundrette the heavens opened - with hail stones, no less! Tch, I thought gloomily. It's my fault, that is, for forgetting my brolly. At least I've got my jumper... where is my jumper?

In the wash, of course.

So I sat and watched as the rain fell outside and people rushed by. My wash finished and I spent all the change I had on dryer tokens. At the end everything was dry - except for one item of clothing.

My jumper.

I sighed heavily, dreading the walk home.

Then as I stepped outside I realised the rain had stopped, and the clouds were dispersing, and the sun was shining. It carried on shining until I stepped through the door of the room, when suddenly it got very dark and started to rain again.

This led me to wonder - had I accidently pleased Sod somewhere along the line; so much so that he had decided to exempt me from his tyrannic Law? If so, what had I done, and could I keep doing it?

I mentioned it in an email to Alana, and she thought about it for a minute before replying wisely.

"Maybe it was just that numbers were working in your favour and he could upset more people by doing it that way round. In which case, its luck you need to be worrying about appeasing."

It will be the first time that numbers have ever worked in my favour, but I am not complaining. Now I just need to work out how I've been appeasing luck.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Heart Will Go On

No posts recently because I have been roadtripping across the universe (England) with Sara and as might be expected internet access was few and far between.

We arrived at our penultimate destination at our uncle's house in Oakham with Nana in tow and breathed a sigh of relief as we hooked up our laptops to their wireless.

I brought with me a recent purchase - the special edition of Titanic on DVD. I don't much like girlie films; Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, Bridget Jones I have no time for, but Titanic is my weakness. I saw it four times at our local sticky floored cinema (12 hours of my life I'll never see again) and I generally start crying half way through, which means I have to have a large glass of water nearby in order to stay hydrated.

This special edition is special as it has an ALTERNATE ENDING - 9 minutes worth, no less. Auntie Di is, like Sara and I, a self confessed Titanic fan, so we fired it up. It was rubbish. Jack still died, the boat still sank; rubbish. They just had a party on the boat in the present day (who watches it for the present day bits, honestly) and had an argument with old Rose when she insists (stupidly) on throwing the diamond into the sea because of some trite faux-philosophical nonsense "The real treasure is our day to day moments, blah blah etc"

But then it went back to the proper ending, where old Rose dies and goes back to the boat. To my horror and embarrassment my eyes welled up in a Pavlovian response, even though we hadn't watched the film itself. Then Auntie Di turned to me with a sheepish expression and shiny eyes, and Sara shouted "You're both crying too!" which made me feel a bit better. Soppiness loves company.

Auntie Di made me giggle, as we grumbled about how our respective other halves probably would push us off the wardrobe door, or at least say "Move up you fat cow, it's freezing in here" (sorry Ben, you know it's true) and she leaned back in her chair to call to Uncle Mark, pottering around the kitchen, tidying away.

"Sweetie? If we were floating around in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, would you say 'Don't worry love, I'm toastie warm down here, you stay comfy up there'? Sweetie? What would you say?"

There was a brief pause whilst Uncle Mark considered the implications.

"I always look out for you," he said.

Which was very sweet, but did not actually answer the question.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Have I stumbled into a low budget horror movie?

There is a small child standing outside my window, and I swear, I swear she is calling my name over and over again. Eerily.

I am concerned because they are building something next door and you hear about ghosts turning up if people build on burial grounds- what if Native Belgium Burial Grounds are actually worse than their American counterparts?! It could happen - and the small child ghost outside might just be a bit keen to get things started, so is practising on freaking out me.

I was supposed to be going to the laundrette today, but the ghost child combined with Mrs Busybody enthusiastically cleaning the stairs means another day inside.

Ah well, I'll just sit here and eat some more oreos. Nyem nyem nyem.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And all

Ben just found a link for the trailer of the variety show we watched and posted about a week of two ago - you know, the one with the, erm, hmmm. The you-know-whats... The one with the boobies!

Here it is - boobies and all