In Belgium, in May, there are a lot of holidays and the weather generally improves – it’s great that way. So this was another holiday weekend. I am exhausted from the extensive programme of entertainment we have undertaken.
On Saturday afternoon we went and got ourselves badged up for the Parcours D’Artistes. All the artists in Saint Gilles, and there are lots, display their works in their homes and open them up to the public over three weekends. The children were all a bit stroppy so we actually didn’t get into any artists’ homes and took ourselves to a tiny playground boasting one slide and some sand. It’s main advantage being that it was across the road from where we had had an only moderately successful coffee break (wailing for crisps, crankiness, etc.)
The park was a success despite its modest attractions because it contained 3 10 year old Brazilian boys. After some initial confusion when they thought that we were Polish (Gin Dobre – there are not so many Belgians in this part of town, as they explained) and we thought that they were Portuguese (there are a lot of Portuguese in this part of town) we communicated successfully in French.
The boys were absolutely lovely to our three children and played with them and chatted to them. I can’t help wondering whether this is a Latin thing – I just can’t imagine three Irish ten year old boys doing the same thing. I was very impressed by the boy who had only arrived in November and already had pretty good French. At first, I had assumed that he had lived here all his life and wasappalled at his level of French and very disapproving of the the local schools. Now I think that they must be fantastic.
On Sunday morning, we went to a children’s farm where we have often been before. After 5 years, my husband has finally corrected my pronunciation of this place’s name: he tells me that I have been confusing it with a brand of rice. Sigh. Anyhow, for the Brussels weekend of fun they had games and bouncy castles all of which were only accessible by token obtained from a stall with a long queue. It made us very nostalgic for the cash economy.
In the afternoon, the Princess and I did a preliminary scout around artists’ houses while the boys slept. By far the most attractive exhibit as far as she was concerned was a Disney castle. In fact, I think that may, just possibly, not have been part of the exhibition at all. We stayed in this particular place so long (I looked at the photos, sculptures and paintings for cover) that one of the resident artists came in and offered us a drink. We also spent a long time investigating a very elaborate chair which was part of a theatre set. The Princess played with it while the indulgent artist looked on. Saint Gilles is awash with artists and they are a very tolerant bunch.
In an attempt to get full artistic value for the day we then went to a series of performances for children which were in various states of development. Mr. Waffle and I liked the last of these the best by far (cabaret singing duo) but the Princess was adamant that she liked the second the best putting it ahead of the cabaret, the puppet theatre and the clown (slightly weird clown but still a clown). The second piece featured a crucifix with two dolls attached to it stuck into a bed of nails and a woman trying to hang herself in a wardrobe. Mr. Waffle and I found the performance perplexing. Who was the target audience? It was a little disturbing for the under 5s, it seemed to us. I was unsurprised to see the two cast members wandering around afterwards with a baby looking bohemian (not a bad thing just a very expected thing). I am curious as to what they do for money as I really don’t think that that performance can be pulling in a great deal of cash for them.
Then today we went for a walk and a picnic in the forest. Broadly successful though Mr. Waffle got a little tense during the picnic when the children kept falling off the log we had decided to sit on and would only eat ketchup sandwiches. Onward and upwards to miniature trains in the afternoon. This was surprisingly pleasant as, once we had gone around on a train, the grown-ups were allowed to sit in the shade while the children gathered daisies and watched the trains go by.
Back to work tomorrow, thank God, we’re all flattened. No more bank holidays until the start of June. More on that when I’m feeling stronger.