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Saint Nicolas

6 December, 2011 at 12:01 am by belgianwaffle

When we came back from Belgium, Saint Nicolas came with us. He didn’t come last year as we had been back in Ireland several years and he just can’t cover everyone. However, due to persistent local demand, he is coming tonight. At least, I hope he is; boots have been left by the fireplace, a carrot for his donkey in the hall and a bottle of beer on the table. Yes, beer, Leffe, since you ask. He is a Belgian tradition after all.

Obviously the Cool People Were Waiting for us to Leave

12 October, 2011 at 7:57 pm by belgianwaffle

Look, the NY Times loves Brussels .

Husband’s email on being sent this link:

Brussels “is definitely not a city where everything is obvious, announced and organized,” explains Dimitri Jeurissen, the Belgian creative director of BaseDesign.


Some Thoughts on Race

25 November, 2010 at 10:08 pm by belgianwaffle

When I lived in Brussels, I was once walking in Matonge during the evening and a black woman spat at me. It was a bit disconcerting but I assume you could write it down to madness rather than racial tension.

In the Princess’s class in Belgium, there was a little black boy called Charles. She once said to me that she was one of the Belgians in her class but he was not Belgian. When asked where he was from she couldn’t say but she was adamant that black people couldn’t be Belgian. As she was an Irish child talking about a Belgian little boy, there was some irony there.

Once a Chinese baby looking at the Princess started to cry. “He probably wishes he had Belgian skin like me,” she commented.

I’m sure that racism is alive and well in Ireland but I am glad that it seems to have completely stopped appearing in my daughter’s conversation in the way that it did in Belgium and never appeared on the boys’ radar at all as far as I can see. It’s not all bad here, you know. Though being the centre of European attention as a bush fire that may lead to contagion is about as much fun as you would think it might be. I was at the National History Museum with the kids yesterday (near the Dáil and Government buildings) and the place was heaving with foreign camera crews. If you saw small children in grey uniforms waving behind the reporter who carried the Irish story in your country, they were mine.

I’ve been saving this

18 November, 2010 at 11:01 pm by belgianwaffle

My friend J who sometimes sends me things from Brussels sent me an email about an event in Anderlecht. Anderlecht is an urban cutting edge commune (some people might call it rough but, as someone who lives across the road from a boarded up house, I wouldn’t).

The event is called “Action « crottes de chiens » ce samedi à Anderlecht”. No, you have not misunderstood – it’s called “Action “dog poo” this Saturday in Anderlecht.” I suppose I should contextualise this by saying that there is more dog poo on the pavements of Belgium than there is anywhere else in the developed world but it still doesn’t stop it being odd, I think you will agree.

For any francophones among you, the full text is reproduced below. Let me translate some highlights:

This is a festival to make dog “poo-poo” owners aware of their responsibilities.

On the agenda for the day is a “Poo parade” [which will open with] a float with a giant dog poo which the students from the local school have designed…

People often ask me whether I miss Belgium – well, I think you would only get the crotte parade in Belgium; it’s the home of surrealism for a reason, you know.

[L]es comités de quartier des Etangs et Frans Hals à Anderlecht organisent une opération festive de sensibilisation des propriétaires de chiens baptisée « Crotti-Crotta ». Le but: leur rappeler leurs responsabilités (chiens en laisse et ramassage des crottes) de manière ludique. Cette action a été initiée par la cellule de sensibilisation Propreté de l’échevine Monique Cassart en collaboration avec la Maison de la Participation dans le cadre de la campagne RéapPROPRiez vous votre commune.

Au programme de cette journée, une grande « Parade de la crotte », qui débutera à 14h rue Frans Hals. Un char avec une crotte géante, réalisée par les élèves de l’école P18, ouvrira le cortège. Des flyers et des sacs à crotte seront distribués aux propriétaires de chiens par les habitants du quartier et les élèves de l’école.

Cette parade se rendra place Bizet avant de rejoindre le terrain Marius Renard où une démonstration de la brigade canine est entre autres prévue à 16h. Cette journée, qui se veut avant tout festive, se clôturera par un barbecue au parc Marius Renard.

Par ailleurs, ces deux comités de quartier ont convaincu deux grandes enseignes commerciales des environs de vendre du matériel de ramassage. En effet, ce n’est pas tout d’obliger les propriétaires de chiens à ramasser leurs crottes, encore faut-il que ce matériel soit facilement accessible au public, et pas uniquement dans les magasins spécialisés.


28 November, 2009 at 11:32 pm by belgianwaffle

I have started to become concerned that the cat might be pregnant. Why would my cat be the one teenage pregnant cat statistic? Why? I suppose it could be worse, we could have a dog like my friend Praxis:

“Your cat looked very cute (for a cat) lying on top of the books in your bookcase. Lily had a sort of sympathetic motherhood recently. We bought her a cuddly rat from Ikea. She thought it was a puppy and started covering it with kisses and bringing it to bed at night. But she was also happy to have it flung violently across the room for her to fetch – so I don’t know what kind of mother she’d make. She even started lactating so, on the vet’s orders, we’ve had to confiscate her baby. As a mother yourself, this may speak to you in a ways I can only struggle to imagine.”

Happy anniversary

28 July, 2009 at 8:59 pm by belgianwaffle

On 28th of July 2001, my husband and I got married. And now, eight years later, we have three children and, a real triumph this, are still happily married. Rejoice with me.

It is also the first anniversary of the day we left Belgium. I am surprised how little I miss it. Although I do miss some things as do the other members of the family. The other day the Princess asked whether I would be going to Brussels for work at any point. No. Why? “I miss the tarte au citron from the Pain Quotidien“.

Just us and 300 Belgians

21 July, 2009 at 10:55 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle decided to check whether there were any activities planned in Dublin for Belgian national day. Don’t laugh, Mr. Waffle and the children got free sweets and some rousing songs in the park on Norwegian national day and they’re not even Norwegian.

Of course, technically, we’re not Belgian either but, since all the children were born there, he thought that it would be nice to stay in touch. He rang the Embassy and the secretary (Flemish sounding) puzzled for a time over his query. Then, having discussed matters with the Ambassador, she came back and said that there would be activities with lots of fun for children also. A couple of days later this arrived in the post:


No it doesn’t say fun for children to me either but I was touched all the same and this evening we dressed ourselves up in our best clothes and pushed off to the Belgian Embassy. All of the excitement was in the back garden of the embassy which was huge and was, prudently, covered in army tents. After some initial unfortunate incidents (I saw the boys running wild on the grass and they nearly knocked over an eminent judge who didn’t look as though he enjoyed indulging young children – in marked contrast to all the other punters who were extraordinarily relaxed and kind) we headed down to the far end of the garden where there were some other families with young children. This was quite pleasant, the sun shone and, finally, after many years of effort, we met some Belgians.

There was beer and cheese but, alas, there were no chips. There were Leonidas chocolates. The children found out where they were coming from and attacked the caterers at source:

Caterers under attack

I suppose we’ll be back next year. Lucky old Belgians.

Flag waving

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