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L’Actualité Dans Toute Sa Majesté

12 January, 2017 at 6:16 pm by belgianwaffle

When we lived in Belgium, I used to occasionally buy and read “Royals” magazine. The clue is in the title; it goes large on the Belgian royal family but all of the European royals feature from time to time (the Grimaldis are my absolute favourites; what a family) and sometimes more exotic royals from Asia or the Middle East. I used to read it in a post-modern, ironic way and, because it’s in French, it’s clearly not the same as reading, say, “Hello” magazine which I am obviously too lofty to read.

Mr. Waffle goes to Brussels for work from time to time and on his return he often picks me up a (post-modern, ironic) copy of “Royals” magazine. Inspired by his success he got me a subscription to 12 months of “Royals” magazine last Christmas. I have to tell you I was not delighted, I felt I’d tipped over from post-modern, ironic to weird middle-aged Belgian royalist lady. Anyway 12 months later, my subscription has finally expired. If you need to know anything about the Belgian royal family, ask me now. While I have to say that I enjoyed it more than I expected to, I am glad to have reverted to being an occasional consumer of Belgian royal family news rather than the Irish expert on Prince Laurent’s latest quirk.

Untitled

Brussels

22 March, 2016 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

For obvious reasons, I have been thinking about Brussels all day. It will always have a special place in my heart. I still have lots of friends living there all of whom are safe and well for which I am very thankful. It is very chilling to see this happening somewhere you have lived and in the most banal and everyday places.

Saint Nicolas on Tour

9 December, 2015 at 6:32 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael: How far is to Saint Nicolas?
Me: Well, we haven’t lived in Belgium for a long time now and, um…
Him: When is it?
Me: Well, some people might say it has already passed. Technically.
Him: When is it?
Me: December 6. But, you never liked the chocolate Santas anyway, he had to bring you crisps.
Him: That’s hardly the point.
[His siblings emerge from their bedrooms looking peeved.]
Me: Um, well, it’s really up to Saint Nicolas and I suppose we don’t live in Belgium any more….
Him: There will be three pairs of shoes beside the fireplace tomorrow night. Saint Nicolas had better deliver.
Me: Um, ok, we’ll have a word with him.

Saint Nicolas, Patron des Ecoliers

14 December, 2014 at 7:12 pm by belgianwaffle

Did I mention that, on the 6th of December, Saint Nicolas came to our house? We did think that since it is now 6 and a half years since we have lived in a jurisdiction where he has authority, he might give us a skip but the children were adamant that no, he should come. I blame myself. I offered Daniel 50 cents to read a French book aloud. He picked “T’choupi fête Noël” which had the dual advantage of being seasonal and short. As he read aloud the doings of the festive mole, it all came flooding back.

So, in fairness to him, at quite short notice, St. Nicolas came in line with expectations. He just brought some chocolates and crisps in accordance with his reduced obligations in this jurisdiction. This did not stop Michael sleeping on the floor beside his bedroom door in a state of advanced excitement or him waking me at 6.30 in some distress as Saint Nicolas had brought him the wrong type of crisps.

Nostalgie, La Legende

15 June, 2014 at 9:56 pm by belgianwaffle

I went to Brussels for work a couple of weeks ago. We left Brussels for good in July 2008 and this was only my third trip back. The first couple of times, shortly after we had left, I didn’t feel anything in particular and I remember remarking to people in Ireland how surprised I was that I didn’t miss Brussels at all.

This time, it was different though. The weather was lovely; much warmer than here. You forget that Brussels is warmer. And so much was the same, the Sablon, the 92 tram, I felt a remembering tug of all the things I used to love. I went to see some old friends in the evening and their children, in the manner of small children on whom you turn your back, had grown from infants to polite, slightly exotic older children who kissed me on both cheeks when they greeted me.

I think I would like to spend a long weekend in Brussels. Nobody is more surprised than I am.

In the airport on the way home I overheard a Belgian mama lamenting to her mother about the difficulty of finding an English speaking exchange for her child. She pointed out that everyone wants to learn English so the English can go where they like and their fancy rarely falls on Brussels. The grandmother asked whether she had considered Ireland although, she added doubtfully, she herself had been to Dublin and the English spoken in Ireland was entirely unintelligible.

I love Belgians too.

Belgian National Day

21 July, 2013 at 8:39 pm by belgianwaffle

Item 1 – wherein I am reminded of Belgian paperwork

I got a change of address form to fill in from my (entirely depleted, alas) savings account recently. It had to be witnessed by a solicitor, a commissioner for oaths, a clergyman, a garda or some other pillar of society. It had to be accompanied by an original utility bill from my new address (which would be returned to me – what if I only get my bill online, you ask).

I got a friend who is a practising solicitor to sign the form. Was that sufficient? No it was not; she had failed to affix her office stamp to the form (largely because she was in my house and it was 9 at night and I thought it wouldn’t matter). The form was returned to me with the place for the stamp circled and the words NB written on it. Of course it did because my savings were with an institution which was channelling the Belgian State. It made me feel very nostalgic for Belgium. I dutifully cycled to the local Garda station and got the guard on duty to fill in the form and, crucially, stamp it. That did the trick.

Item 2 – Wherein I decide to get my hands on the special edition of Point de Vue covering the life of King Albert.

As you will know, of course, King Albert has decided to abdicate today in favour of his son Philippe. The excitement. Mr. Waffle and I watched a very long programme on RTBF about the life of King Albert (possibly prepared in anticipation of his demise) which covered his father’s war record (not good) and his life as a playboy (possible explanation of why Queen Paola always looks displeased) but yet, somehow, failed to entrance. This may have been because these juicier nuggets were intercut with the King and Queen visiting yet another flooded home/exciting civic event in the years 1993 to 2013.

Item 3 – Happy Belgian National Day

Weekend Round Up

2 July, 2013 at 9:55 pm by belgianwaffle

That’s actually the weekend from weeks and weeks ago. I’m behind. Anyhow, some of the people I used to work with in Brussels came over for the weekend. It was lovely to see them and the weather was spectacularly beautiful.

One of my former colleagues, T, stayed with us. She does not have children herself and one can only hope that she has not been put off the idea by Michael’s constant, mortifying whining – “How much longer is she staying?” He gave up his room, most unwillingly, and boy did he want everyone to know that he wasn’t happy about it.

Typical conversation:
Me: Michael, did you know that T is a twin also?
Michael: I…DON’T…CARE!
Me: Michael that’s very rude, say ‘sorry’.
Michael: Sorry.
Me: Like you mean it.
Michael: Daniel doesn’t say sorry like he means it.

Yes, Ireland of the 1,000 welcomes.

Fortunately, former colleague N, who is working in Dublin for 8 months, had arranged an elaborate programme as I was something of a broken reed. They walked around Howth Head in searing heat (unusual); they came to my housewarming on Saturday night; they went for a stroll around Dalkey on Sunday.

On Saturday, Mr. Waffle had to work and I took the children off to the beach in Portrane. I had never taken them there before and was a bit uncertain of the way but we made it. It is a lovely sandy beach that is shallow for miles. When I reached waist height in the water, I collapsed after the long trek and had my first swim of the season. It was all very pleasant in a mild way. When I saw those who had walked for 4 hours around Howth Head earlier that day, I knew that I had been wise to acknowledge my limitations and only walk into the sea.

Not a great shot of the beach but you can see that the sea is a long way away.
2013-06-08 001

They have also decided to go for an unusual juxtaposition of old and modern in the siting of their water tower beside the clock tower:
2013-06-08 015

On the housewarming, one of my former colleagues asking whether there were any single men coming. A rapid mental scan of my guest list confirmed that there were not. Woe. On the plus side, older married couples are great with the presents. We are groaning with fancy champagne stocks. The weather was terrific and we stayed outside until late. One set of neighbours had brought their 10 and 12 year old children and our children stayed up until 12 to entertain them – something that herself particularly enjoyed. She was hyper all evening letting people in and telling them where to put their tasteful gifts and chatting animatedly. A friend commented that it was a shame that the Princess had set her face against an Irish medium second level school as she didn’t think that her English needed further improvement. I was torn between smug delight and angst at the knowledge that herself had been letting her, occasionally forceful, personality shine forth on the guests. At one stage during the evening, she hugged me and said, “I love this party!” She is really one of these children who love to talk to adults. Also, she is very sociable, like her father.

And then on Sunday, out to Dalkey: it really was beautiful and quite unlike Ireland; my Brussels friends now have a deeply warped view of what the Irish summer is like. All to the good really.

2013-06-09 008


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