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.

Chickens

Way back in 2014, we acquired a trio of chickens. Chickens don’t live that long and when the first one died, Eve decided to go out and buy three more, and so we had five. Of those five, three grew old and died and two decided to up sticks and move in with the rooster next door.

This left us with no chickens at all. Until Friday.

And now we have three again and, I’m promised, these are a bit tamer than the last lot and less inclined to climb over, under or bite through the fence that should keep them safely in their chicken run.

We shall see.

Avicii: The Nights

Wednesday was a fun day. I turned up at the station at the usual time, only discover that all trains were cancelled due to a defective train further up the line.

Since I can work from home, and the station was giving no information about when the problem would be resolved, I went home.

Coincidentally, Alexandre was feeling a bit ill on Wednesday and we had already decided he could miss karate this week. As I was already home, it made sense for him to stay at home with me rather than go to the sports centre to watch his brothers for an hour.

This, of course, meant that it was Alexandre and I that went to collect the pizzas.

The TV in the pizza takeaway happened to be tuned to a music channel this week. One of the songs that happened to come up was The Nights by Avicii. This is now Alexandre’s favourite song.

I think he was mainly inspired by the footage of people jumping off things. Whatever the appeal, though, I can’t fault his taste.

William’s cardboard candy dispenser

During the summer, William showed me a video on YouTube and said: “I want to make one of these. Will you help me?”

And with that, Project Candy was launched.

It has taken a while as we had to acquire plenty of cardboard boxes as well as a glue gun that an eight-year old can manage as well as assorted other building materials. But, this weekend, we completed the the candy machine, loaded it up, and it worked.

Or it did until the cat kicked it off a shelf today.

Given that he’s eight, I am both surprised and impressed at how well he has stuck with this. The process has been a bit piecemeal — we do a bit, leave it for a week, and then come back and do a bit more. But the project was never abandoned and, especially when we started seeing things coming together he became increasingly keen to complete the machine.

I have been surprised to learn that there is quite a variety of cardboard constructions being built on YouTube and, now that William is happy handling both a Stanley knife and a glue gun, he wants to build a safe.

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.