Belgium, Events, Food & Drinks

Zwevegem International Beer Festival 2019

Yesterday evening after dinner, D and I went to the international beer festival at Zwevegem. It was our second beer festival this year, after Brugge.

Despite the somewhat gloomy weather, the turn out was surprisingly good. Admittedly, I did not have much desire to drink beers, not after the last two gatherings in the week! I did enjoy the ambiance though. It is almost sure to be a pleasant time when one is amongst a happy crowd enjoying drinks, food, music and togetherness.

Belgium, Events, Jibber Jabber

A Calm Sunday

Yesterday morning, D and I went to the recycling park to toss several bags of ivy clippings. After that, we did a quick grocery run so that I may get all the ingredients I need for the recent appetizer orders I received a few days ago.

In the evening, we biked to the cultural centre to attend the wedding reception of our neighbour. What a night it turned out to be. It was 5am when D and I got home!

A calm Sunday for both of us today…


Every Drop Helps

It started to rain lightly at around ten this morning. Eventually the light drizzle turned into a steady stream of rain. Because it has been dry and warm for many weeks, the ground dried up in seconds as soon as it stopped raining.

It is 2.30 in the afternoon now. The weather forecast mentioned that there will be at least one significant rainfall heading this way. I hope so, because every single drop helps.

Belgium, Creative Business

Consumption Idiosyncrasy

July, the sales month, has ended yesterday. Business news reported that it had been a good month for summer outfits. There was of course the mention of the challenges that traditional retailers faced from online competitions. And then there was the announcement, that instead of shredding their unsold items (an on-going and horrible deed!), some businesses will be donating these items to charities.

Oh joy, some of us are not destroying new unsold clothes anymore. And then, my question is: wait, which charity?

Will we be sending these unsold items back to where they came from? Are these donations going to poor third world countries, which labour and resources we have already taken advantage of in the first place?

Imagine that you are a factory-line seamstress who earns €5 a month, working 10-12 hours a day, everyday of the week. I wonder how it feels to receive a bag of donated clothes that you have sewn with your own hands?

We need to change our minds significantly when it comes to consumption. Let’s not act like idiots and start watering our plants with energy drinks….

Belgium, Flashbacks, Numbers

Warm Mattress

I have survived yesterday’s dry heat which hit 40°C by mid afternoon. At bedtime, I only managed to fall asleep with the fan blowing over me. I woke up at 2.30am and moved myself and the fan to the guestroom. With the window wide opened (at this point, I did not care about mosquitoes), I slept till 5am. Belgian news keep calling this tropical heat, believe me, it is not. This is more like the desert heat which I have experienced in Las Vegas.

Today’s maximum temperature is 30°C. On top of that, it is a bit humid. Now, that is tropical heat. Am I crazy to be looking forward to this weekend’s rainstorms and plummeting temperatures?!

Also, I now know the average price of a decent mobile air-conditioning.

Belgium, Travels

Meet Up In Ostend

D and I met up with our travelling trio of friends again before they leave for Japan and the US. This time, we chose the coastal city of Ostend (Oostende in Dutch) as our meeting point.

Despite having only a few hours in the afternoon, the five of us managed to see most of the well-known attractions. We had a lovely lunch at a sea-side restaurant, found the hidden Japanese garden which D and I did not know about till now, and took a walk on the beach. We talked, caught up with the things that matter and strengthened our friendships. At the end of the afternoon, we went to a café near the train station to have something to drink. Time flew by and before we know it, we were bidding our farewells at the train station and off they went on a train heading for Brussels.

Man… now I really want to visit Japan?!

Belgium, Flashbacks, Travels

European Holiday

Yesterday, D and I met up with a trio of old friends and acquaintance in Gent. The mother-daughter pair had flown in from Japan two days ago and only have a week here. The third person in the group was someone I met in San Diego more than a decade ago, and he flew in from the US. I had a wonderful time catching up with my Japanese friends, K and I, whom I have known in San Francisco since 2001! D and I enjoyed showing the three of them around our beloved Gent.

After seeing most of the popular sights in Gent, we packed everyone in our little car, drove home to show them our house. They have shown great interests in seeing the house we built. We then had a quick dinner in Kortrijk and sent our friends off at the train station. It was a very joyful meet-up, a wonderful time spent together, and a draining trip down memory lane for me.

In 2011, a 70-year old friend from New York City crossed the Atlantic to come visit me. This year, Japanese friends crossed an entire continent to be here for a short holiday and still managed to meet up. I crossed the ocean in 2007 to experience and live a long term European holiday. I would not have imagined that I possess such strong ties and influence to be able to motivate other people to come visit! How incredible!

Belgium, Jibber Jabber

Mini Sphinx

I woke up when the street light came on and shone through our opened bedroom window at 4.30am this morning. I got up to let the blinds down, and then went downstairs to get some reprieve from the bedroom’s heat build-up.

While downstairs, I decided to open the back door for a bit to let in some cool morning air, creating a chimney effect. Before turning the key, I glanced out to the backyard hoping to see an early bird or two. Instead, I saw Marley, our neighbour’s cat, perched on top of our garden shed. What the heck, I thought to myself and had to laugh quietly at the strange and silly sight. It did not even care to look surprised when I opened the door, but stared at me for a bit, did a lazy stretch and hung one of its paws over the corner of the shed. One had to realise that the poor thing have a fur coat it cannot remove in this unforgiving heat.

After cooling down, I closed the back door and went back to bed. I fell back to sleep with a smile on my face. And won’t anyone? It is not every day one gets to have an early morning chance encounter with the Mini Sphinx of Goudberg!

Belgium, Jibber Jabber

Sea Breeze

I woke up at around 7am this morning. Not from the warmth, mind you, but from the chilly morning air that seeped through our opened bedroom window.

Thank goodness for living not too far from the sea. A Northern sea breeze had brought West Flanders some reprieve and stopped this recent oppressive summer heat at its track! As of today, it is one day short of being an official heat wave because you need three days of above 30°C temperatures for that.

After dealing with yesterday’s heat, today’s 26°C actually felt comfortable. D and I even had the energy and courage to brave the outside to run some errands. We went grocery shopping (acquiring five free reusable bags for fruits and vegetables) and then to a new place to buy potatoes.

How did I ever survive and was able to function in the Malaysian heat?!

Belgium, Flashbacks, Health, Jibber Jabber

Warm Bedroom

D got up earlier than I this morning! We were unsure of the exact reason, but the most probable culprit was the increasing warmth in the bedroom. Welcome to the first day of this year’s first heat wave.

I have to admit that I slept relatively well last night. The comforter was taken out, leaving behind the cover as a light blanket. Our bedroom window was kept opened till 5am, I wore loose fitting cotton outfit to bed, I prepared an ice baby, and have followed some logic pre-bedtime procedures.

The temperature will be rising these next few days, making the bedroom uncomfortably warm. A good night sleep will be sort of a blessing for people without air conditioning. My backup plan and final option will be sleeping in a tent, like I did last year.