An eventful week

DSCF1474.JPG I’m not quite sure where the time has gone since we’ve been back at the batiment in Deux-Acren. We’ve done the usual domestic and business things, shopping for food and other stuff, writing up a couple of case studies, doing phone interviews and skype meetings. We’ve gone for walks in the wind, and had two good cycles of around 50 km each. One of these was the so-called ‘M’ route around Geraardsbergen, M being for Muur (the famous steep cobbled hill, purgatory for cycle racers), Mattentaart, (local cheesecake speciality), and Manneken Pis. The other was a doe-het-zelf (DIY) route Dee worked out on wee country roads to the south returning along the Blaton-Ath canal and the Dender.

It’s strawberry and asparagus season so we have been indulging in both of these. Even jam has been made with local strawberries from Bois de Lessines. Sadly chicon is currently out of season but you can’t have everything all of the time.

DSCF1476.JPG We had a lovely day in Ghent with Wilf and Gélise, walking for miles through the streets and along the canals, browsing the market stalls and the brocante, visiting favourite shops (the mustard shop for that hot runny mustard you only get in Ghent, Dille & Kamille for great little things for the kitchen…). We had lunch on the market square and dinner in a Turkish restaurant on Sleepstraat (outside in the garden, the first al fresco meal of the year).

DSCF2149.JPG But the big event of the week has been a truly awful accident to Reynols the cat. He appeared in the living room on Thursday lunchtime looking very dazed and with some horrific injuries to the lower part of his face. Dee calmed him and held him for over three quarters of an hour until the vet arrived. Without going into too much detail, the amazing vet here has stuck his gum back on and wired his jaw, and is reasonably hopeful that he will make a good recovery. We are all trying to stay calm around him and one another. It’s difficult to cope with an animal in pain, so completely dependent, so vulnerable and so uncomprehending. Reynols is a really sweet-natured cat, very affectionate, all long legs and big ears, and we’re terribly fond of him. We were here when Bini brought him back from France in the band tour bus. The following day some people left a box outside the batiment with five really tiny kittens which we all helped to hand rear. Reynols at eight weeks was already the big brother and having to learn to cope with creatures smaller than himself needing a lot of care. He’s always been really attentive and kind to Mini/Lewiston, the one of the five kittens who was chosen to stay here. Unfortunately Mini has not been returning the kindness, hissing and spitting at the poor wee fellow who is just sitting rather pathetically, even if he is on the chaise longue.

DSCF0782.JPG There’s been virtually no rain at all here for weeks now, which makes for pleasant cycling and evening meals on the terrace watching the Mongolfières in the sunset, but also means that quite a lot of time has to be spent watering the garden (using watering cans filled with rainwater from a large butt).

But have we been on holiday? Mum seems to think so, possibly because she is spending much of her time attending to Bob and Aggie’s every whim and need while we are away. I suppose it depends on your definition of holiday. We’re in a different country, the weather’s been pretty good (certainly better than they are having in Glasgow at the moment), the food and drink have been excellent and different, we’ve had some days out here and there and some grand cycles – these are indeed elements of a decent holiday. We’ve also had to spend time doing the work for which we get paid, and sort Lotte inside and out, and reorganise our various piles of stuff into boxes and crates, all of which are not normal holiday behaviours. A change may well be as good as a rest, but we do not tend to equate holidays with rest and relaxation anyway.

DSCF0770.JPG Tomorrow we will hitch Lotte to the car and drive her to Kortrijk for her annual water ingress test (they call it a damp test here, much less pompously). We’ll pick her up again on Tuesday, return to the UK via the tunnel, and rendezvous with a dealer who is hopefully going to buy her from us. The wheel has gone full circle, the adventure continues.

 

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