Chicory, chips and chocolate spread

DSCF1070.JPGWe’ve been at the batiment for almost a fortnight now.  Routines have developed.  We do some work, some cleaning, some shopping, some exercising, we go for walks along the river. This was more than usually exciting last week as it burst its banks – we observed that a few kilometres downriver in Flanders there seemed to be rather more in the way of flood management going on, which is not surprising (not just Dutch-speaking but also more Dutch-thinking).

We’ve just had a bit of a quiet week on account of feeling a bit seedy. At one point the house was full of coughing and sneezing and spluttering and shivering people – we just kept a surreptitious bottle of hand sanitiser in our pockets and took lots of hot drinks.

DSCF1082.JPGAs I write, Gélise has gone to her tapdancing class in Brussels, Nic is on his way back from working in Brussels all week, Binam has gone to visit his parents in Dinan, Ferry is nervously waiting to go into hospital tomorrow to have a pacemaker fitted. I’ve been washing, cleaning and catching up on phone calls. Dee and Wilf are up on the roof fixing a leaking door sill which caused a minor flood in the bathroom this week (meteorologically not unconnected to the swollen river of course). There’s a comforting fraternal banging and muttering emanating from the attic and a distinct look of George about the pair of them. In fact I can just see him sitting watching, twinkling, offering advice, telling stories about times he fixed the roof….

DSCF1074.JPGBelgium continues to intrigue us. The food’s great, especially when Dee and Wilf get together in the kitchen. How would you like your chicory today? We’ve had every variation on chicon salad, we’ve had it braised with maple syrup, and the standard Belgian dish chicon au gratin (without ham for us). We’ve had potatoes every which way, mussels and chips (which caused Mum some consternation, and I can see her point – just because moules frites is the Belgian national dish doesn’t necessarily mean the combination makes culinary sense). We’ve had days when only a large dollop of dark chocolate spread on toast could possibly restore equilibrium.

DSCF1083.JPGWe’ve only been to Brussels once so far, it poured with rain, we were both feeling a bit off colour, trains were running late and we missed our connection at Geraardsbergen – need to go back soon and make better friends with the capital again. There are lots of other places to go, people to see, options to explore. I’m making a concerted effort to learn Dutch, but am having some difficulty mastering the accent. I keep asking ‘how are you?’ sounding (to myself at any rate) like a cross between a demented Glaswegian and that Polish character learning English with Juliet Stevenson in Truly Madly Deeply. Wilf tries not to giggle but is helping me a lot. Life is good.

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