Essential purchases

As the lockdown restrictions continue to be eased in Belgium, cross border shopping is now permitted again, and has been since Saturday. A ministerial order went into effect allowing cross-border family visits and this also allows for cross-border trips to go shopping.

People still shouldn’t be taking day trips and should only cross border shopping should be restricted to essential items.

HP Sauce is available in The Netherlands, but hard to find in Belgium. It is most certainly an essential purchase.

Happy Palindrome Day

Today’s date — 02/02/2020 — is a palindrome. What’s more, it’s a Palindrome in both European and American date formats, which makes it doubly special. We shall, of course, be celebrating with beer and pancakes.

That’s not entirely true. The local youth group organises a pancake day every year on the first Sunday in February, and every year we go along to support it — and eat unlimited pancakes. The fun starts at 3:00 this afternoon. Well, for the twins and I anyway.

Macsen has another karate tournament — something else that also always takes place on the first Sunday in February — so he and his mum will be joining us just as soon as they can.

We will probably be skipping dinner tonight.

Pizza update

Wednesday evenings are becoming a struggle.

Last week the pizzeria was unexpectedly closed with no indication of why. We kept glancing at the site over the next few days and, although the opening times kept shifting around, by Tuesday it was looking like things were back to normal. So I took orders from the boys intending to pick up the pizzas on Wednesday evening while the boys were at karate.

Of course, with the moving opening times, I wanted to be sure so I checked the website while at work (at about 3:30pm) and it told me that they were going to open in half an hour. Things were looking good.

Things were looking better when I reached the station and found that, the first time this week, the train was both on time and not crowded. Things were looking so positive that I almost texted my partner to say everything was wonderful. Almost.

It was a good thing that I didn’t because she called me about five minutes after the train left the station to say that she had just checked the same site and the pizzeria was now closed.

I hadn’t realised just how loud my howl of existential despair could be until someone pulled the emergency brake and the conductor came running to seen who had died. (A slight exaggeration, I admit)

So plan B it was.

I don’t know what is going on. My guess is that they have some sort of staffing problem. It’s a small business with only two people working on any given day — one to take orders and make pizzas and the other to handle deliveries — so if one is off for any reason, they won’t be able to open.

We haven’t given up hope yet. While there are other pizzerias in the area, this one is the best by a long way. And they do a Wednesday discount which makes them very affordable as a regular event. But if this situation continues, plan B is going to end up being plan A.

Happy Dance

I was talking to one of the twins this evening about why our Wednesday night pizzas have been cancelled and, while doing so, I opened up the pizzeria’s website to show him the opening days.

I was stunned to discover that they’ve changed their opening dates again. They are now closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays but, much more importantly, open on Wednesdays.

So I now have the boys orders and, tomorrow, I shall be making my usual trek and will find out if Wednesday night is still cheap pizza night.

We still have a stack of emergency pizzas in the freezer, just in case it all goes pear-shaped but I’m feeling optimistic and will be spending the rest of the evening doing my (potentially incredibly annoying) happy dance 🙂

Disaster!

I think I’ve mentioned before that Wednesday night is pizza night. I come home to an empty house on Wednesday evening because the boys are all at karate, and go straight out to the local pizzeria. By the time I return, freshly cooked pizzas in hand, the boys are changed, hungry and ready for the evening meal.

So, to yesterday and, as I was walking up the main street I was struck by the lack of a welcoming neon glow ahead of me. It wasn’t long before my worst fears were realised: They were closed!

After an emergency phone call to my partner and a quick detour past a supermarket (handily open until 7:30pm) we had a stack of frozen pizzas and the immediate crisis was averted.

It’s not unusual for restaurants locally to take a couple of weeks off during quieter times. I was a little surprised, though, that they didn’t have a notice up to let customers know when they would be back. So I looked up their website when I got home and it was here that the next bombshell fell.

They have changed their opening days.

They are no longer open on Wednesdays.

Not ever.

We are going to have go somewhere else for our Wednesday pizzas.

After the festival, the feast

Halloween has been and gone and we have started thinking about maybe clearing up some of the decorations. First on the list was the pumpkins — three of them, all of them carved and left to sit on the wall at the front of the house so their flashing red eyes could scare the neighbours.

Eve did ask me to bring these inside so she could see if any of the pumpkin flesh was still edible enough to make yet more pumpkin soup. Given the size of the snail population that has moved in, however, this is not going to happen.

The chickens will eat well tonight.

Five Things Four

How to walk a human being. A guide for dogs from The Oatmeal.

Staying with dogs for a moment, Wes Siler has some thoughts on how to pick the right dog for you. This is a subject that we keep returning to.

Hotter European summers and more frequent and recurrent heat waves have spawned a proliferation of wildfires around Europe. Portugal has a simple, low-cost and environmentally sustainable solution: goats. Now they just need more goatherds.

Allison Kinney remembers working at a roadside produce stand, selling “local” food to arrogantly ignorant foodies from nearby cities.

And finally, Oliver Franklin-Wallis looks into what really happens to all that plastic you carefully sort into separate bins.

Camp

This week has been a bit different as all three boys have been away at camp. They are members of a youth group and the week long (ten days for the oldest) summer camp is how they end the season.

So Eve and I delivered the twins to a field last Sunday (Macsen, being older, was part of the group that cycled there the previous Thursday).

Duvel at the Kamp

This left us wondering what to do with ourselves now that we were suddenly kids-free for a week. On Monday, we stayed in but on Tuesday we went out for sushi.

Leffe at Koji Sushi

We have been here before with the boys and, while they enjoyed the presentation they struggled a bit with the food and we haven’t taken them back. So this week seemed a good time for another visit.

I like sushi and the Koji sushi restaurant does a fantastic meal for two delivered, spectacularly, on a boat.

On Wednesday we went out again, this time to Volt, a restaurant we have been to multiple times.

Tripel Karmeliet at Volt

Volt is a reliably good restaurant and probably the only place locally that has a range of international foods on the menu.

The thing about Belgium is that, while the local food is very good, there isn’t much interest in anything beyond the borders. Which is odd given the extent to which Belgian food is a result of the country being stuck between France and Germany.

And so to Thursday when we decided to try something different and went to Het Atrium.

St. Bernadus at Het Atrium

The outdoor seating here is really nice and, while the menu is largely the usual Belgian fare they did have one addition — the Atrium Burger. I would never have believed that I could rave about a burger, but this was absolutely fantastic. It’s a sizable chunk of meat, along with a generous serving of bacon, an egg, and other stuff and it really was exceptional.

I will definitely go back for this again.

On Friday it rained and we went back to Volt.

Chimay Blauw at Volt

Today is the last day of camp and we are about to go and collect the twins. And then I shall have to make peace with my credit card.

Pizza and Karate

Wednesday night is karate night. Not for me, but all three of the boys spend an hour improving their martial arts. It’s an interesting sport and one from which (I hope) all three are benefiting. This is certainly the case for the eldest who has already competed in several tournaments and who is in training for his next.

Since I am home before the karate lesson finishes, organising dinner often falls to me, which is handy because Wednesday night is also cheap pizza night — any pizza for €6.50. They’re good pizzas, too.

Over the years, several pizzerias have come and gone locally, but this one has always remained. It’s been through a couple of changes of ownership while we’ve been in Belgium, but the restaurant itself has remained pretty much unchanged — cheap, friendly and reliable. Clearly, a winning formula is not to be messed with.

So here I sit, enjoying a glass of Duvel and finding myself being pleasantly surprised by the WordPress app.

I installed this app some time ago, back when this blog was still self-hosted, and… it wasn’t very good. The app had a rather annoying habit of freezing — generally when I wanted to upload a draft — which led to me removing the app out of frustration.

Now that I have WordPress hosting the blog for, I thought I’d give the app another go. It’s not always as intuitive as I would like but it does seem to be a lot more reliable now and I have been able to successfully use it to follow conversations where possible.

The acid test, of course, will be to see what happens when I press the Publish button.