Chillies

When Chili, (the cat) died last year, the boys wanted to bury the cat and to plant a chili plant to mark the spot.

With the Covid-19 lockdown in full swing this spring, getting to a garden centre became rather problematic. We did, however, manage to eventually acquire a couple of plants, albeit a little later than I would have liked. The plants did pretty well though, providing us with a reasonably decent harvest of mild and spicy peppers.

They were rather tasty, too, and ended up in pretty much everything.

It turns out though that we’re not yet done with them. Over the weekend, I noticed that the plants are flowering again.

I know I recently whined a bit about the prospect of yet another heatwave, but if the autumn stays mild enough for another batch of chillies to survive, I shall stop complaining immediately.

We also held on to quite a lot of seeds and, next year, I shall see if I can germinate them. Here’s hoping for an endless supply of the glorious fruit.

Ten plus Ten

Alexandre and William both hit ten years old today and, since they are at school, we have the best part of the day to make sure everything is ready for this evening.

There’s no party this year because of the coronavirus, and the outdoor play area we would normally unleash the kids onto is still closed. But we will be having a barbecue tomorrow (which is promising to be the hottest day of the year so far) and plans are afoot for a proper (if small) celebration either this weekend or next.

Hitting double figures is not something that can go unacknowledged and, today, there will be cake.

That was the long weekend that was

Garden furniture is weird. At least, the way it’s priced is weird.

We have a table and set of chairs for eating outside and, while the table is still perfectly good, the chairs are starting to show their age somewhat. They are generally okay if you don’t sit on them but chairs that can’t be sat on is a tad suboptimal so we started looking around for more outdoor chairs.

Garden chairs are quite expensive, but much cheaper if you buy them as part of a set. This is why we now have eight new chairs and yet another table.

It all came from Ikea and was delivered on Friday. The boys all did a remarkably good job of putting the chairs together — the oldest, completely on his own and the twins with minimal help from me.

Since we have a table, we must also have drinks and it was off to the drink shop that I went. Here I discovered, much to my delight, that they are stocking Bass pale ale again which means that summer has definitely started.

You can fit a lot of board games around a big table and with the weather this weekend being absolutely glorious we have spent most of the time outside. This all culminated on Monday — a public holiday in Belgium — with a suitably large barbecue and a couple of drinks.

And now, having looked at the state of our barbecue, I think we’re going to have to start looking for another one.

How was your weekend?

We have a teenager in the house

Macsen turned 13 today.

Obviously, with the current situation his planned celebration has been postponed but we did manage a rather nice breakfast brunch at home. Outside, even, as the weather was nice and we have a fair bit of space.

Of course, nice weather is relative and, while it’s nice enough outside when moving around, once we sat down we realised that the wind was a quite a bit coder than we’d initially thought. So, after a lengthy discussion between Macsen and his mum as to who had thought of eating outside in the first place, we picked everything up and finished the food indoors

There will be cake later. And a film night.

Celebrating curiosity

Today is International Darwin Day, which aims to inspire people to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. There are events taking place around the world, none of which we attending — it is a school night, after all.

We will not, however be ignoring the day entirely.

For Christmas, Alex received a box of Frightful First Experiments which we have been working through ever since. We are intending, tonight, to harness the power of static electricity. But given that Darwin was a biologist, here’s an experiment we did earlier.

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Double Bronze

I mentioned, briefly, that Macsen had another karate tournament yesterday. He did well, coming third in both the kata (knowing the moves) and the kumite (the actual fighting) sections.

He even managed to join the rest of us in time for the pancake frenzy.

So Sunday proved to be a rather successful day all around.

How was your weekend?

Of beer and beavers

Sunday saw Macsen competing in the Flemish karate championship, which left me at home with William and Alexandre. After a morning playing board games, we decided to take advantage of the bright, dry (but cold) weather and head out to the Totterpad, a nearby nature walk.

Bernard the beaver lives in his beaver castle next to the visitor center. When he wakes up one morning, he notices unknown footprints around his castle. He decides to look for the maker of those strange traces. Along the way he has to walk over a tree bridge, crawl into a bird’s nest, do a totter trail and much more.

It’s a nice walk, and one we have followed a fair few times. It’s not too long, but there is plenty of opportunity for exploration and several activities along the way.

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I am also rather fond of the fact that the walk ends (or starts) at the recently refurbished visitor centre and bar, De Watermolen.

The pub was a lot busier than I’d expected so, after having ordered a drink each for all of us, we had a bit of a trek to find an available seat. While looking for a seat, I kept hold of the hot chocolates in order to minimise the risk of hot drink spillage in a crowded bar. This left the twins to handle everything else.

I think the sight of a nine-year-old wandering around a bar, beer in hand, may have raised a few eyebrows.

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The walk home was shorter and more relaxed, the boys having finally burnt off some of their energy, until we reached the point at which we exited the path. Here there is a dry ditch surrounding a picnic table and the twins thought it would be a good idea to roll down the hill.

It’s been dry all weekend, so I thought nothing of it. Until they stood up. Covered, from head to foot, in mud.

This is why we have a washing machine.

Macsen came fourth in the championship. A good result that only just missed his being on the podium.

Chili

We lost a cat at the weekend.

On Saturday morning Eve let both cats out, as usual. We were out for most of the day and when we returned on Saturday evening, only Pepper came back.

A neighbour found Chili’s body yesterday. There were no wounds or obvious causes of death — he appears to have just dropped dead which, according to the vet, is a lot more common than people (or me, at least) realise.

The boys want to bury the cat — which we shall be doing tonight. To mark the spot, they are keen on planting a chili plant, which is suitably appropriate but something that will need to wait until spring.

That was the summer that was

Bloggage has been a bit light recently because this is August and I’ve been on holiday. Two weeks involving a few days away with the extended outlaws (like in-laws, but without a marriage contract) and then a week at home.

I have to admit that I enjoyed the time at home much more than the time away. It’s not that I have anything against my partner’s family, but I do find having to be constantly upbeat and endlessly sociable to be very tiring. It doesn’t help that we have such a divergent view of what constitutes a pleasant excursion.

Even though it started to rain pretty much as soon as we were back in Belgium, it wasn’t bad enough to keep us from going outside and enjoying a bit of time together. And when it did rain, we managed to play plenty of board games and even managed a trip to the cinema to see The Lion King, which was impressively animated although I don’t really see the point of a shot for shot remake of the original.

I was also able to really appreciate the fact that, once we’d had enough of each other, the boys were more than happy to spend some time with their tablets while I quietly filled the bin and reorganised some of our endlessly cluttered living space.

I have spent a lot less time online that I expected to — which is probably a good thing — and have also failed to catch up on my reading backlog. Still, with my holiday being over, I suspect that I will fall into my usual rhythm quite quickly.

The boys are still on holiday of course, and from Monday they will be attending the week long and slightly misleadingly named Sport Camp. There is no camping involved but they do get to try a variety of sporting activities and to find out what the various local clubs have on offer. And after this, they will start ramping up for the new school year.

For now, however, it’s barbecue time, after which I shall fire Newsblur andf try to catch up on what I’ve missed over the past couple of weeks.

Class of 2019

Congratulations are in order to Macsen for having graduated from primary school. The ceremony was yesterday and, although he still has two more days of school, none of the planned activities can be described as being in any way academic.

This is going to be quite a big change, for all of us. Until now all of the pre- and primary schools the kids have gone to have been in the same town (I call it a town, but large village would probably be a more accurate description) and all of these schools have been within walking distance of home. For secondary school, however, he is going to have to travel to the next town, so September will see him navigating bus passes, cycle routes and a whole new social milieu.

The twins are going to see a fair bit of change as well. Although they’re still at the same school for another three years, the school is due to be renovated, remodelled and largely rebuilt over the summer.

September is going to be interesting.