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Ho ho ho.....

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Coming from a family that always looks for the second magpie and never puts new shoes on the table at home - and from a nation that 'religiously' ensures that its Christmas tree and decorations are gone by 6th January (to avoid bad luck all year), it always feels odd to me that here in Flanders the Christmas trees, holly wreathes and illuminated reindeer can still been seen well into the New Year.

About five years ago, I noticed an influx of Santas amongst the decorations, hanging from little ropes. Antwerp was snowed under with them... a multitude of little red Father Christmasses could be seen crawling up a rope to East Flemish window sills - I remember counting 53 of them on the relatively short journey from my home into the centre of Antwerp! There are less of them this time around, and the 2012 version has the mini Father Christmas climbing up an LED rope.

Whilst out for my walk yesterday, I noticed that many of them are still there. I don't know why decorations stay up so long in Belgium - perhaps because it's so dark and miserable at this time of year that the extended season for bright lights and sparkly deco's helps to keep the locals cheerful. Going on the experiences of past years, I expect to see the little fellas hohohoing their way into February!

PS I LOVED the home decorations in America - just like on the films! Some people had really gone to town with decorating their properties - brought a huge smile to my face. Such fun!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEASIM1231 1/23/2013 2:00PM

    I leave my lights up for a while, because it is so dark here. I took down the Christmas decorations the first week of January, but left my 'winter' ones.

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BLUENOSE63 1/11/2013 5:48PM

  Now that's funny emoticon

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WILSONWR 1/9/2013 7:37PM

    Traditions seem like they are changing there!

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    In my neighborhood back in the US there were at least 2 houses that hung lights outside for Christmas one year...and never took them down again. I kid you not. They left their Christmas lights hanging from the roofs the entire year. One even left other Christmas decorations up for a number of months each year as well, it was not unusual to drive past in March or April and still see Santa or reindeer in the yard.

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JACKIE542 1/9/2013 9:30AM

    Interesting. emoticon

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RUNNING-TURTLE 1/9/2013 8:57AM


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NAYKNITS 1/9/2013 7:40AM

    Just looking at the picture and before reading, I thought someone was might unhappy with the gifts from Santa! Thank you for clarifying that Santa was climbing a rope, lol! emoticon

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BEBOP4ME 1/9/2013 7:04AM

    Hmmm! I might just have to find one of those Santas climbing up a rope. My two girls would love that! emoticon

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DMEYER4 1/9/2013 6:46AM

  I am always one to take down the decorations the week after christmas. I guess it comes from wanting everything neat and tidy and in its place. We have people in our neighborhood who still light their outside lights in May which is totally crazy.

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PHOENIX1949 1/9/2013 6:45AM


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LIFETIMER54 1/9/2013 6:43AM

  Hilarious... emoticon

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Now that Christmas is behind us (although some of it appears to be lingering around my midsection), and New Year's has passed (heralding in another 2 months of writing down the wrong year on all letters, forms and applications), it’s time for the next feestdag of the Flemish calendar – that of Driekoningendag, or Three Kings Day.

On this day, children in groups of 3 dress up to represent the kings and proceed from house to house. They sing special songs for the occasion and are rewarded with sweets or money. Koningentaart is prepared – a puff pastry cake filled with frangipane – and a coin or bean is hidden inside. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the coin is “King/Queen for the Day” and gets to wear the crown. Some people open the doors and windows to let in good luck for the year.

We’ve just got back from a costly 3.6 mile walk – encountering several kings along the route who lightened hubby’s wallet to the tune of quite a few euros!!! Well, you can’t really say no, can you?

I was hoping to have an epiphany of my own to share today but no amazing sudden realisations have flooded my mind. However, something that I truly believe in (and may have been an epiphany at some point in my life) is that we can make things happen by being positive. Being positive doesn't mean that bad things and negative feelings never happen or even that a little self indulgent sulking isn't a part of my life. It's knowing inside that you can make things work out no matter what obstacle you’re met with – eventually, by working at it. Being negative is powerful and can give you power to not try anymore. It robs you of your power to succeed in other areas. When I indulge in negative thinking, I spiral downwards and it feels like I have a mountain to climb. It's easy to think at these times that there is some force working against you. There is – it’s yourself.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1BEACHWALKER 1/8/2013 12:55AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SUSAN-IS-WORTHY 1/7/2013 10:21AM

    You are absolutely right! Positivity is the key and we are the ones that hold it. I need to stop locking myself out of my own house sometimes!

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ALIHIKES 1/6/2013 7:54PM

    Thank you for sharing the tradition of three kings, it is a really interesting and charming tradition! I totally agree with you about attitude. It makes all the difference in the world! emoticon

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BARBARASDIET 1/6/2013 2:06PM


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LIS193 1/6/2013 11:16AM

    Enjoy the festivities. I remember them being mostly "south of the rivers" in Holland.
Yo are so right about positive thinking - the mind is a powerful thing!

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JACKIE542 1/6/2013 10:29AM

    I love that you share stories of the history of where you live, and I am glad you got out today even though it was costly.
I very much agree on keeping positive, I never got anywhere by being negative. Take care. Have a great day. emoticon emoticon

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WILSONWR 1/6/2013 10:23AM

    Quite an interesting tradition!

I agree about the negativity - it's a program killer. We all have to be more positive!

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UNSWEETMAMA 1/6/2013 10:22AM

    Well said!

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NEPTUNE1939 1/6/2013 10:14AM

    Keep your eye on the ultimate goal - Health - it has some great rewards both seen and unseen, Earl emoticon

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Holiday draws to an end.....

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A couple of days ago, my sister was lamenting about how nice the weather is in Belgium compared to home, clear blue skies and lots of sun despite being a wee bit chilly. It was the kiss of death - yesterday we awoke to grey dampness and it hasn't stopped drizzling since.

Today was the last day of her stay. We went out for a "last run together", covering a steady 2 miles (2013 streak intact emoticon ). A quick shower and breakfast then we headed into Antwerp.

We collected daughter's friend (of aborted sleepover fame) on the way, thankfully fully recovered from her jippy tummy, and hit the outdoor ice skating rink. It's the last weekend it's up so we wanted to make the most of it. The girls stayed on a bit longer whilst the grown ups enjoyed a beaker of gluhwein. We had a late lunch in our favourite pizza restaurant then planned to walk around the shopping area for a while, but the weather had turned decidedly mizzly by now so we decided to call it a day and return home.

I've just got back from running my sister to the train station. She has a couple of hours journey to Schipol airport before catching the plane for the short hop over the Channel back to Lincolnshire. I hate goodbyes, but I'm getting better at them! I'll miss her - we're very close and she does make me laugh (and do more exercise than I normally do) - but I'll see her again in about 6 weeks when I visit my parents.

We are now musing.....tossed on the horns of a dilemma! School starts back on Monday, accompanied by early get-ups. Do we set the alarm tomorrow and have a practice, or do we make the most of our last chance of a lie-in and wake up naturally when we feel like it?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUDLECRAZY 1/6/2013 8:45AM

    I say take the last chance to sleep in, but I am probably too late with my opinion. emoticon

I hate it when my sister leaves; I don't get enough time with her. It's hard to see family leave after a good visit. I agree with Jackie, play some music and fill the house with sound.

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CANDOK1260 1/6/2013 6:19AM

    Great blog and good job getting your miles. In

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WILSONWR 1/5/2013 11:30PM

    Glad you got to visit with your sister!

I think I would enjoy one more day without the alarm...

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SPARKFRAN514 1/5/2013 11:10PM

    ounds like you had a wonderful Holiday and made soem great menories to late for me to vote but me i would enjoy one last day of no alarm clock
Happy New Year and Merry Little chrisatmas !!!! so see the holiday was not really over until Sunday any way.

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LIS193 1/5/2013 6:30PM

    Sounds like you had a wonderful visit. Way to go on the running - now you have to keep at it on your own :( What fun to go skating, have gluhwein and pizza - yum.
Goodbyes are sad but you'll see her again soon!

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JACKIE542 1/5/2013 4:24PM

    Glad you had a fun visit, I hate goodbyes too. You two were sure getting the exercise in, hope you can keep it going. Take care of yourself, I know the house will be quiet, maybe play some music. emoticon

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DETERMINED_ME 1/5/2013 4:05PM

    It's great that your sister had the opportunity to visit and that the 2 of you got in plenty of exercise.

I say get up early. Great practice to get back to normal.

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Past the house twice

Friday, January 04, 2013

We didn't have the best night's rest. My daughter had a friend sleepover who waited until 11.30pm to announce that she wasn't feeling too well and promptly rushing to the bathroom. She was bundled into the car and swiftly deposited back home. By the time I got back - having admired Brasschaat's Christmas lights, which I hadn't seen in the dark up until then - I was quite wide awake and the rain pounding on the velux windows ensured I didn't nod off until almost getting up time.

Hubby, sister and I between us made each other feel that we really had to go out in the damp drizzly murk for a 5 miler this morning. It was still nearly dark at 9am emoticon . I was really pleased to run the whole way, even past the house and up the road to get to the required 5 miles, 5.14 by the end, within the 59 minute time target. That's a run every day this year so far. That makes me happy and smug. And the moon is that tiny bit closer emoticon .

Later we were going out for a late lunch to a lovely pub that used to be a windmill. Chris drove us the 16 km it took to get there, only to find it closed. After a bit of consulting and combobulating, we agreed to another pub. 1km from home. So Chris drove us the 16km home, past the house and onto the pub. It was worth it - the steak was most heavenly and juicy and thick and tasty. Logged on the food tracker and still within calorie range for today emoticon .

Lynda has now taken my daughter for a walk in the dark, bribed by the promise of speculoos chocolate on the way round. It's great having mad aunties to stay.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUDLECRAZY 1/5/2013 8:06AM

    Woohooo! Congratulations on the run every day! emoticon

Yes, mad aunties are the best!

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LIS193 1/4/2013 7:34PM

    Way to go on your run! Glad you had a great meal, despite the first place being closed.

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CALGIRL80 1/4/2013 5:29PM

  Good job on running when it is not always what you want. Hope you get more sleep tonight.

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WILSONWR 1/4/2013 3:59PM

    Sounds like a great day (except for the pub being closed)!

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DR1939 1/4/2013 1:47PM


One of my daughters had a friend who would get up in the middle of the night and walk home. We finally had to say she couldn't sleep over. She did not wake anyone before she left.

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JACKIE542 1/4/2013 1:26PM

    Good job, you are doing really well!

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BARBARASDIET 1/4/2013 12:52PM


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    Was your daughter's friend really sick or did she play the sick card to go home? I remember sleepovers where I saw both of these phenomena happen.

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Berry strange.....

Thursday, January 03, 2013

I'm enjoying having my husband home for the week, daughter on school holidays and sister visiting. The house is alive with laughter!

Today we got up to rain, so decided to visit the local shopping mall. The sales started yesterday. They are Big News in Belgium as by law they are only allowed to have sales twice a year, in January and July, and they are proper sales with really good bargains to be had. We went into my favourite store and I was "delighted" to find the jumper and coat I was wearing had both been reduced by 50% emoticon

We all got some bargains but didn't stay too long as it was mega busy. We joined the mad scramble to negotiate the way out of the carpark - scary driving here, even in carparks. On the way home, we called in the local grocery store to buy ingredients for a "special cake" that my daughter and her friend were planning to make. Did I mention I have a special birthday coming up?

Lynda and I went for a quick walk - we have 1000 miles to log this year so every day counts. It was grey and damp but I enjoyed the fresh air. On the way round, we came across an elderly lady knelt on the path, meticulously arranging some large red berries that she was pulling of a nearby shrub into a pattern on top of a drain cover. She was taking up the whole pavement so we had to walk on the road. As we carried on our way, we came across several of these "arrangements"
along the side of the road. Goodness knows what she was doing.

Another 3 miles ticked off our journey to the moon. Diet a bit hit and miss - too many meals out whilst I have an Important Visitor - but there will be time for knuckling down when everyone disappears again next week.....

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SYNCHRODAD 1/3/2013 11:39PM

    You can always buy those 1/2 off clothes, take them in when you lose weight and have brand new "victory" clothes that you really like and show off. Happy 2013!

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-VIXEN- 1/3/2013 9:32PM

    Berry art is berry strange, but I bet it was pretty. :)

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WILSONWR 1/3/2013 7:39PM

    Sounds like a fun day!

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1CRAZYDOG 1/3/2013 4:19PM

    Hmmmm . . . definitely odd.

Glad you had a good time shopping! I didn't realize that in Belgium there are onnly sales twice/year. Glad you got to partake!

Enjoy your family. Have a great time.


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JACKIE542 1/3/2013 4:18PM

    It's good to have fun with visitors and family. It's great that you got your walk in. That is strange about the berries. LOL.

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LIS193 1/3/2013 3:46PM

    Berry strange indeed...
Too bad on your clothes being half off now but think about it - you have been able to wear them already :) (I know - not much of a consolation)
Have fun with your visitor and the family home!

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