New Years In Belgium

I flew to Belgium on the 27th on an uneventful flight. We ate garlic bread and a slice of pizza at the Brussels Airport PizzaHut since we both were hungry, and then we headed home so I could take over Jan’s rooms again and make them our rooms. Later that evening we went to our favourite chinese, China Garden, to have a quiet dinner.

On the 28th, we had a quiet day. We did some grocery shopping for the weekend that we would spend at a rental house in Ghent. We also baked Letter Cookies in vanilla and cocoa flavours as a present for An.

On the 29th we packet our suitcase (and forgot some things!) and headed to Ghent to install ourselves in the Galerie Appartement where Etienne Dewulf showed us our lodgings and welcomed us heartily. We also visited his Art Gallery and saw his pottery. We had our first go at the gas oven and made some veggie lasagna, and maccaroni in cheese sauce with ham for dinner. It was hard to find how it worked, and so we had to go in search for help to light the oven. We also let the place a bit smoky. Afterwards we just idled about.

On the 30th, we woke up very late, and had brunch with toasts (made in a pan, with butter), and espresso coffee. We also managed to get the fire alarm to go off while making toast, which scared us to no point, since we didn’t know we actually had a fire alarm on the kitchen’s ceiling. Then we went to do the groceries for the rest of the weekend, and buy all the ingredients for our New Years Eve dinner. Afterwards, we went in search of a cookie tin for those cookies we baked the 28th, and decided to have some snack in one of the cafes in Ghent. We ordered pancakes with sugar, a capuccino and a banana milkshake. When it arrived to our table, we got struck by how huge the portions were, and so, we skipped dinner altogether. Then we picked up the couple of things we forgot at our place, like the cookies, and checked online the news, since we heard about the bombings in Madrid Airport on the radio. Finally, around 8 pm, we headed to An’s place, tin full of cookies in hand, for a session of board games. Apart from us, there were An, Patrick and Joost, and we played Killer Bunnies and Vegas Showdown, where you have to build your casino and hotel. We left around 1.30 am, trying to find a fry shop open, since we had a craving for fries. We drove all around Aalst, finding all the frituurs already closed, and ended in the only open one in Ghent (for those that are fry-inclined, it’s near St. Jacobs church). We got back to our temporary home around 3 am and headed to sleep.

The 31st was bound to be a quiet day, with everything closed, and us in our cozy house. We had late brunch again: Toasted croissants, butter, jams, steamy coffee… We idled most of the afternoon until it was time to make our New Years dinner and set a nice table with candles. We made Mint and Cottage Cheese Samosas (substituted ricotta cheese since we couldn’t find cottage cheese, and used puff pastry) served with Mango Chutney and Red Lentil Dal (where I used green lentils that I had in hand) and served it with Jasmine Sticky Rice. We downed it with a couple of glasses of white wine from Yecla. For dessert we had assorted chocolates and clementines. We exchanged pressents and watched the fireworks and some tv (Varekai – a Cirque du Soleil show and a Madonna concert) before heading to bed.

The 1st of January was a very quiet day, woke up very late, had brunch and idled about again, watching movies and series and tv. For dinner we baked some french bread, that we ate with butter, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, and made pasta with mixed mushroom sauce and parmesan cheese. We finished the bottle of wine and watched some more tv. Loooove the idling on vacation, don’t you?

The 2nd was the day to leave, so we packed everything in the car and said our goodbies to the owner. We also left some writing on their visitors book. Headed home and put a whole load of laundry while Jan went to work, poor him. I did some work on an uni paper and helped around the house. We had a dinner with the family, and watched some Fawlty Towers.

The 3rd Jan had to work as well, and left early and left me sleeping. And I overslept, badly. When I got up, I did some more work on the paper for uni, and then prepared lunch: cheese filled pasta with tomato sauce. We went to Ikea to buy some stuff we needed (some individual mantelpieces, and a bit more fabric for covering the back of a closet) and back home I sewed a cover for my spinning wheel out of Ikea cotton fabric (Ditte in beige) while Jan updated his Cisco C827 router. Then we cooked miso soup with yellow noodles, mushroom balls (from Quorn), onion and red bell pepper for dinner. We continued watching Fawlty Towers before going to sleep.

Thursday the 4th we cleaned our little critters cage. We got tired of their attic floor stinking and went to the DIY shop, Brico, to buy them a new floor, stairs and walls made out of PVC glass. We got the floor and stairs, 5mm thick, cut at the shop, and we had fun cutting the walls (0.8mm thick) with scissors and drilling holes with a Dremel.

When our critters were all set in their new attic, we found out they actually couldn’t see it, because it was transparent, and decided to paint it the next day. We made pizza (including the dough) for dinner. Toppings? Four cheese mix, tuna, and feta stuffed olives over mjummy tomato sauce. After dinner, we watched even more Fawlty towers.

Friday, we painted the new floor and stairs for the critters cage in a fancy white shade and let it dry till saturday. We went to the movies, to watch The Holiday. What a fun great movie. We laughed a lot, and I’m still amazed at how Belgians don’t laugh at the movies(!). We then went to have a fancy dinner at Faim de Toi. What a lovely dinner, good music, fancy place, nice waiters. However the barwoman couldn’t make a Caipirinha to save her life (she used white sugar, crushed ice, and lemon instead of lime and shaked in instead of stirring it… and, worst of all, she added aliens to it, there were redcurrants floating about), that was the only disappointment of the night. We finished the night by watching even more Fawly Towers.

Saturday we got up lateish, and installed the now dry painted floor in the critters’ cage. In the afternoon, we went to visit Godmum and give her a way late Christmas present. We had a fun time talking a bit and then we left for more Ikea shopping. We got two dish warmers, a couple of ceramic pots, a new rolling pin, and a Happy Hippo. We had to visit two Ikeas to find all, but we got it in the end.

We had chinese take-away for dinner from a new place in town, and watched even more Fawlty Towers.

Sunday the 7th my flight was leaving at 14:35. I packed my suitcase again, and we headed off to the airport. Somehow, Virgin failed to give my details to SN, and so my check-in took 20 minutes instead of the 3 it usually takes. We had a last coffee together, before I crossed the police check to board the plane that took me back to reality.

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