The positively American shortness of the Easter break (two holiday days only) was something of a relief as we had nothing planned and our inner resources are very limited.
On Saturday, we went to the town hall where there was a children’s festival. What a wonderful way to spend our taxes, arguably, less wonderful if you have no children but the beauty of it is that, if you have no children, you won’t even have noticed it was on. There were local functionaries dressed up as wizards and witches trying to explain in an amusing way to young children what the commune does. There were real magicians. There were three bouncy castles (not quite clear what services these represented), there was a storyteller (library services), a place to draw and paint where you were asked very easy questions (creche services), witches testing your five senses using phials and boxes (unnervingly, services for foreigners), a quiz on the rules in relation to hygiene – apparently there is a rule that dogs can’t poo on the street, personally, I’m amazed (environmental services), a free photograph of your kiddy sitting in front of the gates of a castle dungeon (some wit had set this up outside the mayor’s office), face painting (social services, I think, I’m a little confused), free candy floss, sweets and the like (in the salle des marriages) and a magic show to round it all off (in the salle du conseil). Aside from being a very pleasant way to spend a cold, wet Saturday with the children, it did strike me as a very good introduction to local government and its management for little citizens.
On Easter Monday, I decided we would go an outing. Given that it was absolutely freezing, we felt an indoor attraction would be best. We took ourselves to the Sea Life Aquarium in Blankenberg, most famous, in my mind for providing a sandy beach for English people to duel after it became illegal in England (thank you Georgette Heyer). We thought that it would be deserted like its sister aquarium outside Dublin. As we queued in the snow and the children bleated we had cause to rethink that assumption. When we got in, it was fine, if a little crowded. When we emerged, the driving snow had not abated and we scurried to the car where we ate our cold roast lamb sandwiches. (I cooked lamb for Easter Sunday – aren’t you impressed ? The children refused to touch it on Easter Sunday on the grounds that this might be the tool they needed to drive their mother over the edge). The Princess said that the beef sandwiches were very nice. I was forced to point out to her that they were lamb. A real lamb? Yes, but it’s dead now. “Oh” she said and continued eating.
Since we were at the coast, we decided we would have a look at the beach. We went to a café first and, if you and your offspring are ever stuck in Blankenberg and looking for somewhere for a cup of tea near the seafront, you could do worse than take yourself to the Kiwi café. Despite the name, it’s done in traditional Flemish style with heavy beams and big dark furniture. Ideal for a cold, cold day. I wouldn’t recommend it for lunch as the apple tart I ordered, though inordinately large, was quite, quite vile, but definitely a good tea and pancake location. Fortified by our experience in the Kiwi we went to the beach which was absolutely perishing. The children were unaffected by the weather but we were frozen and miserable. The children wanted to stay and stay but we eventually managed to tug them back to the car with Daniel squirming and yelling (and that boy can yell) that he wanted to go SWIMMING.
Yesterday, we woke up to 5cms of snow, so Mr. Waffle took the children out to play on the road before we all went to our various places of detention. They were all wearing their moon boots and Mr. Waffle was wearing his hiking boots. The zip broke on my faithful black boots and as the ideal pumps to wear in the snow, I chose a pair that I had bought last Summer in America. I had never worn them before because I just never found anything to match them properly (don’t look at me like that, I’m not that kind of person at all) but I decided that they were the most likely to be waterproof. I was wrong. The soles are made of tweed. No, really, tweed. Why? By the time I found out, it was too late but I was not a happy bunny yesterday, I can tell you. The snow has melted today but my boots are still broken and my tweed soled shoes are still damp.