Sunday, November 23, 2008

First Snow!

Belgium just had its first snow of this Winter. Bad for drivers, good for photographers. This is what our garden looks like now:

Snow (1 of 1)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to Secondary School!

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my former secondary school teacher of Latin and Greek, Jan Defauw. In his spare time, Jan is a city guide in Antwerp. One of his favorite exhibitions at this moment is the one in Het Steen in Antwerp about the Red Star Line:


So when Jan and I met these couple of weeks ago, we soon hit upon the idea of organizing a guided visit to this exhibition with our former class of Latin and Greek. Last weekend, that moment had come:

EllisIslandDefauw (1 of 8)

The Red Star Line was a shipping company that was active from about 1870 until 1930. Its main activity was the immigration from Europe to the USA. Apart from some ship models and utensils, the exhibition was mainly focused on photographs. The vivid and passionate arguments of Jan however, made every picture come alive so that we all hung on his lips for the whole time:

EllisIslandDefauw (2 of 8)

After the exhibition, we went to a nearby cozy bar to catch up on the evolution of our former school, what everyone had been doing since we left there, and the plans for the future:


We promised ourselves not to wait another eight years to organize the next meeting… After the drink, Jan and some of us left. The others continued to the restaurant De Negen Vaten for dinner:

EllisIslandDefauw (4 of 8)

Underway, I had a nice chance to take this picture of Het Steen by night:

EllisIslandDefauw (3 of 8)

By the way, the good pictures in this post—that is, the first and the fourth ones—were taken by Philip… In the restaurant, Evi and Elke joined us for dinner. The food was nice, the atmosphere even better:

EllisIslandDefauw (7 of 8)

I forgot to take a picture of my plate before starting to eat. However, this one was taken afterwards:

EllisIslandDefauw (8 of 8)

You have to admit that, even eaten, it still looks delicious, doesn’t it?

Jan, thanks again for sharing the catching and vivid stories behind the pictures of the exhibition with us! We all agreed that you still haven’t lost any of your teaching vigor and enthusiasm. We will certainly contact you again soon to show us more hidden gems of our gorgeous home town…

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bike Trip to the Ardennes

Last weekend we went on a trip to the Ardennes by motorbike. We, that would be Maarten, who is a former fellow university student and now a good friend, his cousin Ben, Lynn, a colleague PhD student from IMEC, and her boyfriend Dries. Or, from left to right: Ben, Wim, Maarten, Dries and Lynn:

Motoweekendje (3 of 8)

Why on Earth would we take a girl on a motorbike trip, I can hear those who own a bike think. Well, for cooking, obviously! However, as you can see from the black spaghetti pot, that was not such a good idea:


But we have to admit that Lynn did a good job saving our lives by keeping us away from the tempting abbey ales. Oh yes, those are all hot chocolates there:

Motoweekendje (1 of 8)

Lynn must have known that I would put the spaghetti-disaster story on my blog: afterwards, she did not want to be recognized in the pictures anymore:

Motoweekendje (4 of 8)

Obviously, another way not to be recognized was taking the pictures herself. Here, we are in the abbey of Orval. Next year, we’ll just leave the bikes at home so that we can pay a “decent” visit to the brewery!

Motoweekendje (5 of 8)

Dries and Lynn went home on Sunday evening. Maarten, Ben and I stayed until Monday evening. By then, we were getting a little fed up of each other, so Maarten started to talk to the ducks rather than to us:


The Castle of Horst, home of Johan the Red Knight, was our last stop together:

Motoweekendje (8 of 8)

Here, our roads split. An amazing weekend, without accidents or bad weather, with an excellent atmosphere and beautiful rides had come to an end.

Last year, we were three. This year, Dries and Lynn joined us and assured us afterwards that they would very probably come again next year. Any other volunteers will of course be very welcome too…