October 30, 2011

Trick or treat

Halloween seems to become more popular here but the "trick or treat" part of the custom is still more of an exception;  children dress up and go from house to house for treats.  
There is a different but comparable custom in some towns in Belgium. In January, either on New Year's eve or on Epiphany,  kids stop at the doors and sing songs. They  wish the generous givers of oranges, cookies, chocolates...  a happy new year.  
Wishing you a Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2011

Tintin (-mania?)

Tintin-mania all over the place and not only in Brussels where last Saturday, October 22,  Steven Spielberg came by for a visit at the occasion of the world première of his film... and then there was the inauguration of the new statue,  the Thalys train recoated with Tintin took Spielberg to Paris ...and today,  Time magazine shows Tintin on its cover and offers seven pages to " It's Tintin Time!"
A reader of Patricks blog (http://lescoinsdebruxelles.skynetblogs.be/) commented: " j'en ai deja une indigestion de ces fêtes tintinophilesques"...I believe this quote speaks for itself, put a bit strongly, maybe?
This being said, also I thought I had no choice but to head for downtown Brussels to snap the new and already famous bronze statue of Tintin and Snowy...wondering how many today remember that this boy started out in Hergé's Belgian comic strip in 1929!

October 24, 2011


This combination of an elderly lady and a young boy was impossible to pass up.

October 21, 2011

Josse De Pauw

Last Sunday evening was a real treat, I had the opportunity to see a master at work:  hear Josse De Pauw read from Russian author Venedikt Jerovejev. 
De Pauw is an actor,  an author, a columnist, a film director, a remarkable artist.
And I am a fan!
About a year ago, I was very impressed by the way he portrayed the consul character in Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano" in the beautiful Bourla theater in Antwerp. 
But to see him at work in a smaller setting was kind of special. Even though I was still just a bit too far away to get a great photo, I think this picture shows the concentration of the performer and the strength of his presence on the podium.

October 19, 2011

From Florida to Brussels by Eric Adrien

Books, bookstores and coffee are some of my many favorite things .... so, obviously, one day, I had to run into Eric and his Forewords coffee shop in front of Brussels' Waterstone's.
Eric's story is interesting. After growing up in Florida, Eric went to Germany with a Fulbright grant as an English language assistant and he worked as a high school teacher.  He left Germany for Belgium to study at the University of Kent in Brussels, where he met his Dutch girlfriend.
Visa problems in the Netherlands led him to set up his own company in Brussels. He first worked as a journalist, focusing on the European Parliament. After a while, he transformed his company into what is now Foreword's Coffee shop because he enjoys the combination of books and coffee. Because the car and coffee service are moveable, he can be either in front of or inside the bookshop. 
He is seen here with his helper and his most regular and loyal customer. 
According to Eric, every good book should begin with a cup of coffee.  That makes sense to me.  He explains his vision on www.forewords-coffee.com

October 16, 2011

Where is my dino?

Driving a paper dinosaur at the back of a bike through a pedestrian shopping street in Brussels seems to have achieved its objective of getting people's attention...

I am grateful to "lapommeduverger" who sent the link to the website www.whereismydino.be because it appears that the purpose of the dinosaur walking around the streets of Brussels was not really, as I was told by people watching the phenomenon, to advertise the dinosaur exhibition in the Museum of Natural Sciences.  Instead, the dinosaur invites people to send comments, reactions and photographs relating to the subject of "administrative hassle" in the Brussels region.  
The link with the museum remains, because the contest promises tickets to this wonderful museum with its  "large dinosaur gallery which emphasizes science and authenticity.  With the famous iguanodons of Bernissart and lots of new dinosaur skeletons and casts as well as interactive exhibits and an on-site paleontology and geology laboratory for children."

October 14, 2011

Mall activism

This photo was taken with my telephone because I was running an errand and did not carry a camera with me.
The exhibition shows mannequins carrying photographs referring to women's rights or the violation thereof.  
I often wonder whether shoppers even see (get?) the message. 

October 12, 2011

Are you kidding?

photo taken with my old analog Canon

October 10, 2011

The Beguinage in Bruges

Very often visitors from abroad are fascinated by the phenomenon of "Beguinage/Begijnhof" and wonder whether its inhabitants were religious persons, spinsters, divorcees, or just poor and abandoned women who had nowhere else to live.
The first thing the visitor feels upon entering Bruges' beguinage is quietness, tranquility, peace, calmness. There are, still today, signs everywhere calling for  "Silence/Stilte".  "Ten Wijngaerde"  is a beautiful landmark, well kept and a major tourist attraction.  It lies just behind the Minnewater and consists of a group of houses around a garden surrounded by large poplar trees.
In the last picture a beguine watches over the customers and tourists in a conspicuously attentive way.

The beguines of Bruges lived here for the last seven centuries.  "In 1937 the beguinage became a monastery for the Benedictine sisters who still live here now. The entrance gate bears the date 1776. A lot of houses, however, are much older than that. Most date from the 17th and 18th century. Some houses were built in the 19th century in neo-gothic style. In the southern part is a little dead end street where still some houses of the 15th-16th century can be found. The largest and most impressive house is situated in the left corner behind the garden. It was here that the 'grootjuffrouw', or 'grand-dame' lived. It was she who ruled over the beguinage". 
Elizabeht T. Knuth researched the subject :

( http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/xpxx/beguines.html): 
"In the late twelfth century, women began to experiment with the possibility of a way of life outside of the socially endorsed alternatives of wife or cloistered nun. Social conditions were ripe for this new idea, and the Beguine movement flourished, reaching its peak in the latter half of the following century. My interest in the Beguines was piqued when I learned that "they were not bound by vows, were not subject to papal enclosure, and did not totally renounce the possibility of marriage; [and that] their piety seems to have centered on the eucharist and the humanity of Jesus."I also vaguely recalled that the Beguines had been charged with heresy. In my research, I have become convinced that the Beguine movement is very important indeed".

October 07, 2011

Exotic sun

Advertising a "Promo Special Halloween" or offering a subscription to artificial sun rays, these girls chose, I am afraid, the wrong day for their stunt. It was the last lovely warm sunny day... I had the impression that there was no interested public around as everyone was intensely enjoying the natural available sun, with friends on a terrace or on escapades in the forest or just plainly being outside.  

October 04, 2011

Adorable girls

And fianally, to close the Walhain festival chapter - talking about exhausting a subject- a picture of two girls who had all the trouble in the world managing their hamburger because of its many vegetables. I watched them trying to figure out how to handle it .... they had a big smile when they discovered the red table in the midst of the festival stands. This would make it work for them.
I could not leave Walhain without getting a portrait of these two adorable girls. 

October 01, 2011

Jyva'Zik in Walhain

The Jyva'Zik festival, with a red pepper as its symbol, took place at the foot of the castle of Walhain,  an interesting ruin and the perfect decor. There was live entertainment, stands with advertisements, fun and music for families with young children, teenagers and older folks. Organizations were represented such as  MusicFund which supports young musicians and music schools in developing countries and conflict areas by collecting musical instruments in Europe, repairing them and sending them on to partner schools in the Middle East and Africa.

"The castle was built at the end of the 12th century. The duke of the old duchy of Brabant; Henry I, ordered its construction on his borders to face the territorial claims of the county of Namur. The duke installed the family of Walhain at the castle. This was a family of small local lords.
The castle stayed property of the Walhain family until the death of Arnould V in 1304. The following period, from 1304 till 1430 was owned by several lords who didn't care for its upkeep.

This slow decline of the castle was stopped by Antoine de Glimes who bought the castle in 1430. This started a golden period for the castle. This period had its apogee in 1532 when the castle was the center of a powerful seigniory. After that the glory didn't last although the county remained until the French revolution.

After the death of Jean IV de Berghes in 1567 the castle fell into disrepair, suffering from the disinterest of its successive owners; in spite of some specific restorations".