Brocante de Wasseiges et un Fête locale.

Today I was up in time for breakfast. That hasn’t happened on a Sunday (or Saturday) for a while. I was awake around 7:30 and already people were outside setting up for the big garage sale/town party that was going on all day (see title ;)). Later in the morning we went out garage sale-ing. They bought the movie Robots (with the voice talents of Robin Williams, Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, and Amanda Bynes to name a few) and we watched it tonight. I forgot how funny that movie is. We watched it in French for Bastien so I had to read the subtitles, but all I kept thinking about was how funny Robin Williams is and his voice.

I can’t believe the change in weather from yesterday to today. Yesterday it was hot and sunny. In the 30°s at least. Today, well, today was overcast and cooler with rain on and off, but it was still humid. The problem was that it was chilly enough to wear a sweater, but then you felt almost too hot with one on.

We met a couple of girls who are interested in babysitting and they live super close. Adeline told them that they probably wouldn’t be needed until January because I’m here, but who knows. Super handy though, they (or at least the one) live just a couple of houses away. Well, on the other side of the Pharmacy. Everybody kept asking if Bastien had the chicken pocks. We all thought it was rather obvious with all the red dots (really red because of the stuff Adeline puts on them) all over his face….

Then we came back for lunch and the boys went down for their naps. Adeline had one as well and Greg was working up in the attic before he left to take his tux back (the one he wore last night). So last night. I guess it was sort of a party/show. There were people/groups that showcased different dances and then there were also times when everyone could get up and dance. I guess it was basically eating, dancing, eating, dancing, etc. At the beginning Dominique got up to say a few words and a song and then the party really began. It sounds like it was quite the party!

I basically spent the afternoon going through old blog posts. I’ve got Dec.-Mar. tagged and categorized, as well as most of the ‘special’ things put in their place. I have to back through part of Jan. and Feb. to check for some stuff I missed, as well as through Dec.-Feb. for any food I missed. I’m going to be cleaning up some of my pictures eventually as well. Now that I’ve got a page set up on Facebook it will be the easiest to share photos with everyone (even those who don’t have me on FB). Those will be the one’s that I would put up here anyway, but don’t have room for. I feel like it took me such a long time today to only get through one month because of our Switzerland trip. I had a lot of stuff to do for that! While it’s taking a lot of time to separate things and re-post them (well, the links anyway)  I think I’m going to be really very happy with the end result. I still might change my theme again in the next couple of weeks, but that’s okay.


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Do you live in Huy? Oui!

Well guess what? Rain. Lots of it. About as much as when I went to Villers-la-Ville on Tuesday. Why is it that when I plan on going out and doing something it rains? I do check the weather forecast, but when there’s always a ‘chance of showers’ you just have to decide to do things anyway. It actually wasn’t too bad and stopped sometime after I was inside.

Adeline pointed something out to me today. I’ve gone to a lot of World War memorials/museums. Part of this is because it’s a part of history I find interesting (if extremely depressing) and partly it’s an accident. When I went to Huy today I’m not even sure if I knew or not that inside the Fort there is a WWII museum. The town is only about half an hour from Wasseiges and is quite beautiful nestled along the River Meuse. It reminded me a lot of Dinant and Namur, mostly the bridges. I didn’t actually see much of the city itself because it was raining and I spent quite a bit of time (about 2.5-2.75 hours) at the Fort. To explain the title: Huy sounds a little bit like oui, but more like oo-y. I had to ask Greg this morning how to say it because I wasn’t sure.

This next bit is thanks to a handy pamphlet I got there today. The Fort was constructed between 1818-1823 on the site of an old castle that had been demolished in 1717. There is something that remains of the castle though; an old 16th well, 90 meters (295 feet) deep. It’s quite the space. In May 1940 to September 1944, the Germany army turned the Fort into a detention centre guarded and controlled by the army and the secret police. There were more than 7000 prisoners of many nationalities imprisoned there during that time. Hence the memorial museum. Now, the only thing in English was the pamphlet I picked up and some snippets of British newspapers. The rest was French, Dutch, or German. There was a lot to read and thankfully I know enough to at least try to understand. I actually kind of surprised myself today. Normally I would have just skipped by a lot of the articles and things without even trying to read them, but today I took my time and was able to glean some information. Some of the stuff I read about I was familiar with because of history class and my previous visits to other memorials (like the Dachau Concentration Camp), but some was new. It was quite sobering with all the pictures and accounts. It also talked a lot about the Belgian resistance to the Germans.

I passed a couple of people leaving as I was coming into the Fort and I didn’t see anyone else (besides the person in the ticket booth) until I left. I think I was literally the only person in the Fort during that time. It was a self guided tour, at your own pace, no audio guide, just looking at stuff and reading things. There were a lot of mannequins around and every time I would see one when I hadn’t in a while I thought it was a real person and it freaked me out! It was, I think, more sobering because I was the only one there, I had no other distractions. I could literally take as much time as I wanted/needed. The Fort itself is quite large. By the time I went outside up to very top to see the panoramic view of Huy it had stopped raining. It was windy and overcast, but I could actually see my pictures because the sun was hiding so in a way that was really nice. The view was spectacular. Similar to the views I saw in Dinant and Namur (in Namur just Dad and Jean went all the way up and I haven’t seen the pictures yet), but because it was flat at the top I could see an unobstructed view in every direction. Well, almost unobstructed. The towers for the cable car kind of took away the feel of the place. As did the bright orange fencing in some areas.  Also, while I was top side I heard a very sickly version of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (I think I got that right), you know, ‘Ode to Joy’. It made me sad because it sounded like the instruments were dying. I’m not exactly sure where it was coming from, but it wasn’t the church (which is very close to the Fort and started playing something else after). I couldn’t help but cringe.

I had a late lunch at this Italian/French restaurant. I’m not a very adventurous person when it comes to culinary delights. I tend to stick with what I know, especially when I’m hungry. And besides, pasta is just tasty. It was quite a tiny place, room for about 30 or so. There were two other patrons when I got there. It was also almost 2 in the afternoon. The whole front was a big window (or 2 and a door) and one part as well as the door on the other side were open and I was able to hear the jazzy stylings of a trombone player next door. I think he was just playing a mixed CD with soulful songs and accompanying them with his ‘bone. It created quite the comfy atmosphere and was better than the music they had in the restaurant (I think it was just the radio). It was just the right volume too. Loud enough to drown out the radio in the restaurant, but not too overpowering.

When I got back I hopped on to check the blog of a Canadian girl living/working in Liverpool. I read a few posts and did some other things before leaving to pick up the boys. It wasn’t until after supper when I came back on to read the rest of her posts that I realized I actually know her! Not only do I know her, but we went to university together and she was my accompanist for my vocal recital. I only figured this out because she included a Facebook link to an album with Liverpool pictures  and I clicked on it. Imagine my surprise! It’s really interesting reading her point of view on living in another part of the world. We have different jobs and different challenges, but some things are the same. Hey Becky!

I think Huy is a place I’d like to go back to on a nice day when I can wander around a bit, especially since it’s so close. But, as there is still a lot to do and see we’ll see how that goes. I have to start adding in some other stuff! Like a mine and a brewery. There are plenty to choose from.

One thing I thought of just now that I forgot last night; some of the movie (Rien à Déclarer) was filmed in Chimay. I’m pretty sure. Remember when I spent that one afternoon/evening in Momignies with Christel? Well, Momignies is really close to Chimay. Just thought that would be interesting to point out. A little ‘geography’ lesson. Pfft. Lesson, yeah right.

Fort de Huy

Freddy, me, and the River Meuse. Top-side on the Fort de Huy.

L’Abbaye de Villers-la-Ville

I feel like a drowned rat. Well, not so much anymore, but earlier today I did. I had plans to go the Villers-la-Ville Abbey, the place we went to for that circus, but I wanted to actually go and learn about the history of the place. According to the weather report online today was supposed to be sunny with clouds, 27°, with a chance of rain. Oh it rained alright, we had more than just the amount you would expect when it’s a ‘chance’ of rain. Well, not here in Wasseiges, it was dry all day. Last night though, woah! What a storm. There wasn’t as much rain as that storm a month or so ago, but there was more thunder and lightning. I was just falling asleep when this HUGE clap of thunder woke me up. It sounded like it was right above the house. Then it started raining harder so I closed my window. I would have loved to stay up and watching the lightning show, but it was late and I was so tired. Also, the street lights got in the way.

I left around 10:15 or so and it was sunny. As I got closer (it’s about 40 minutes away) the sky started to get darker and darker. So dark that I and others around me, turned out lights on. I think when I was about 20 minutes or so away it started to rain. Buckets. Cats and Dogs. Downpour. Whatever you like to call it it rained a lot and it rained hard. There was some wannabe hail in there to. By the time I actually got there and got parked, the rain had stopped and it looked like it was clearing up. I put my jacket on just in case though because you never really know with the weather. The first stop you make after paying and getting your audio guide is the prison. It has 4 cells, but I was only able to see two of them because the other two were flooded. I had to take pictures with the flash just to see inside it was so dark. I managed to find that half of it was actually dry I just had to take a giant step to get to it. In the end my feet got a little wet. By the end of my time at the Abbey my feet were soaking wet, but my shoes were fine with that. One interesting tidbit about the prison cells was that they all had their own personal latrine. And on the audio guide they read off a section from something Victor Hugo had written after visiting the Abbey.

After the prison I went towards the Abbot’s palace and out into the garden. This was your nice walking garden not one for veggies :P. It has two fountains, one on either end so the sound of running water is prevalent, especially today because water was dripping from everything. Another sound I heard a lot while in the garden was thunder. So much thunder. At this point I had already taken my jacket off because it was hot. After walking up as far as I could go (up the ‘monumental’ 125 steps) to the chapel I put my jacket back on because I was afraid it would rain again. I guess I didn’t climb up all 125 steps because the last section of the staircase was blocked off. But after walking up the 408 steps to the Dinant Citadel, 125 is not very ‘monumental’. Fortunately for me there is a train track that runs on one side of the garden (above it) so there are arches to take cover under if it rains. And rain it did, again. So I took cover. But not before I was already pretty wet. I had checked out all the arches and found one that led into the woods. There was a sign saying ‘way is dangerous’ and another underneath saying the close at 6, the bell will warn you, etc. It didn’t say you couldn’t walk up there. In fact, there was a bench a ways up and everything. Being by myself and being curious I decided to go along the path to see where it would take me. In fact it took me to the chapel! So they didn’t do a very good job of block it off. Maybe it was just the staircase they didn’t want people using. I couldn’t get a picture of the chapel because it started raining too hard and I had to get back under cover.

Being as the site is ruins there aren’t many areas with roofs. I guess, there is actually, but from where I was at the edge under the train track to where the next available ‘cover’ was, was too far for me to be able to continue on. So I had to wait until it stopped. They had some extra tracks on the guide so I listened to those while I waited. It was interesting seeing the place practically empty (there was only one other couple that I saw there, minus the guys who were setting up for the show) and without all the circus stuff and food/drink booths. They do hold shows there often throughout the summer and there is one coming up so they had stands and a stage set up in one area.

Finally it stopped raining and I was able to move on. It cleared up and got warm again, but I left my jacket on because I didn’t trust the sky. It actually didn’t rain again, but what can you do. Of course when you’re on any kind of tour whether it’s guided with a person or audio guide, there’s so much information thrown at you that you can hardly remember it all.

I passed through the infirmary and learned about how the sick and dying were treated. Interestingly, when a monk died, for 30 days after his death his meals were given to the poor. I don’t think they ate that much so I’m not sure how it was distributed (mostly vegetarian, bread, eggs and fish at special times during the year, meat from 4-legged beasts for the sick…), but I thought that was kind of cool. Also, before the Abbey had fireplaces throughout they had what was called a ‘warming room’. It was the one room in the whole place that you could go to warm yourself. And there was something about coming to this room 3 times a year to get bled (to help prevent sickness) and the monks used to really like this because it meant they got white bread and didn’t have to go to the night offices. The monks who lived and worked in this Abbey were of the Cistercian order which meant that they shunned the ways of the rich Abbey’s and lived with poverty and hard work. They worked and they prayed. Even studying wasn’t considered as important as hard physical labour.

One thing that really sticks out in my mind is that Abbots there worked with or had dealings with (or something) the most renowned Abbess of the time: Hildegard von Bingen. ‘The time’ would be in the 10th century (1100’s, is that right?). The reason this caught my ear was because I learned all about Hildegard in 1st year university in history class in which we studied Medieval (Gregorian chant mostly) and Renaissance music. Hildegard was an…interesting character. Wikipedia touches on some of the more risqué subjects she wrote about, but I don’t remember everything from my history classes, I just know that we always wondered how she could write about certain things a nun really has no business knowing anything about… Plus my professor, the illustrious Dr. Santosuosso, (Dr. Alma Santosuosso, her husband was also Dr. Santosuosso) wrote a book or two on Hildegard von Bingen. That was the main reason most people shied away from her as a topic when writing our history paper in that year. That first music history paper is daunting worrying about all your research plus trying to make sure you don’t forget any bibliographical information so you can’t be charged with plagiarism without having to worry about the author of some of your sources being the one reading your paper! Also, she would always tell us that friends of hers wrote some of the books most of us would be looking at so she would know first hand if we didn’t cite something properly. I don’t know how I managed to pass. A D- that’s how. I remember contacting my Don to make sure that still meant a pass, I was totally freaking out.

Enough on university, I just thought it was interesting that someone I learned about years ago sort of ‘came back to haunt me’ as it were when I wasn’t expecting it. I’m really bad with relating music history to regular history. I know it was all happening at the same time as everything else, but for the most part I always viewed it as rather separate. Of course current events influenced composers, but I still never really connected all of that with the rest of what was going on. Like it was a whole other world.

I was gone for most of the day. I took about 3 hours there and then I took time looking for somewhere to eat a late lunch before finally returning home. Greg’s friend Nico came for supper and now they’re playing one of Greg’s Medieval type games. It might be a role-playing one I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m sure it would be way to complicated for me, especially in French!

St. Valentin

What a lovely day for love. It rained. Almost all day…

Not that I really take much notice of Valentine’s Day per se, but in class today we talked about it, the history, how to say ‘I love you’ ‘j’ai taime’ in a bunch of different languages and got some chocolate. So that was a plus. I guess I really only spent any time thinking about it when I was in school. You know how in elementary school you have to make those heart-shaped pouches and valentine’s for everyone in your class and you fill up the pouches. That was fun. One year at Laurier I bought some candy grams for some friends (unless my brain is short circuiting and I dreamed that I did this) for either Valentine’s Day or Christmas. That’s about as much as I’ve ever done for Valentine’s Day.

I hope everyone had a great day, and not just because you could’ve received flowers and/or chocolate or maybe a stuffed bear.  ❤

King’s Cake


Today, so far, has been a great day. I got up to help get breakfast and Bastien ready (although I slept in a little >_<), and then after I went back to bed for a nap….that took the next three and a bit hours. I didn’t realize I was THAT tired. Then again, yesterday was a very full day. Let me explain…

January 6, 2011

After sending Greg and Bastien off, I went to get ready for the very full day ahead of me. Adeline picked up the Gâteau des Rois (or King’s Cake) and then we were off to Louvain-la-Neuve. She had a doctor’s appointment so I stayed with her Mom and Sylvain. When she returned we were off to Namur to see Jean-Go and to get my tour of the city (the old part of the city). It was raining (while it’s not England, it still rains a lot!) and I was very grateful for my Mountain Equipment Co-op rain jacket! 

You may be asking; ‘why did Holly go on a walking tour of Namur in the pouring rain?’ Well, it wasn’t quite pouring….all the time, and you can’t control the weather, so if possible, just go ahead with your plans! We went to the old part of the city that is all paved with cobblestones and there are certain places cars can’t go, so it’s really nice to walk around. We went to the old market square and went inside this old church (which was beautiful in a lonely kind of way). Before doing much though, we went for lunch at this restaurant called ‘Le Royal’. It was….decorated with a lot of pink.

They even had Canadian lobster on the menu! I had this really great dish called Bouchée à la reine. It was chicken with mushrooms in a cream sauce inside this pastry bowl, with fries on the side.  There are always fries! With mayonnaise! So tasty. Did you know that fries were invented in Belgium? The art of double frying them for extra crispy-ness originated in France, but the story goes that fishermen were in the habit of deep-frying their fish right on the boat. One day someone said ‘hey, why don’t we do that with our potatoes?!’ So they did. They realized that what they really like about this process was the crispy-ness of the outside so they thought that if they cut the potato into strips there would be more crispy-ness!  And fries were born. (That is the story as best I can remember from Jean-Go telling me yesterday) After lunch is when we did our tour. I think we spent a little more than 3 hours walking in the rain. We did make lots of stops to take a look at things and we even went into a toy shop to warm up (this was Jean’s idea, I always knew he was just a big kid! ^_^). We saw a basilica that has a wine brewery in the basement and they have tours in October and November (which Jean put his name down for), so that will be neat to see. Jean took us by his university and we ran into this brand new building that looked very out-of-place amongst all the others. Jean was surprised by it because he had never seen it before and it looked quite ugly surrounded by the older buildings. We saw the ‘Arsenal’ which until just after WWII, I believe, was the arsenal for the army and it’s right along the river. Now it’s conference rooms and a university restaurant. We couldn’t go inside because it was closed, but Jean tells me that while it looks old and historical on the outside, on the inside it’s new (like a lot of buildings). Let’s see, what else. Now I’m not sure how correctly I remember all this, but Namur used to be a really fortified city (we didn’t get to go to the citadel, but we will some other time) and it’s on one of the main rivers in Belgium. This river goes all through Belgium, and out to the sea. Where the citadel is, is also where two smaller rivers meet as one, so it was a very important center back in the day.

We also went to a coffee shop and saw the coffee roaster outside. Did you know that before being roasted, coffee beans are green? Neither did I. They pointed out a liquor store (which is unusual, normally you can just by beer and other things in the grocery stores), which specializes in rare alcohol. There was a lot to see, that I don’t even remember all of it! I will definitely go back when my family comes later in the year, so they can see it. Hopefully it won’t be raining and I can get pictures without my camera getting wet!

Now I bet you’re all wondering what a Gâteau des Rois is? It is a very tasty cake that’s what! In Belgium on January 6, they celebrate the Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the three Kings to the Baby Jesus. For more information you can check out this link We were invited to Adeline and Jean-Go’s mother’s house for dinner and cake, but before we that Adeline had already ordered her own from the local bakery (boulangerie). So now we have extra cake! (Which we actually had for breakfast…..yummm). It is cake on the inside and pastry (like pie crust) on the outside. Somewhere in the cake is baked an item (ranging from a bean to a plastic king! *except that plastic would melt, so of course it’s not plastic*) and whoever  gets the piece with the surprise wears a paper crown and is King for the day (or at least of the rest of the night). In Belgium, to make sure that the distribution of cake pieces and possibility of getting the special one is fair, they have a tradition of having the youngest member in attendance go underneath the table and calls out the names of the people around the table. At first Bastien wouldn’t come over so Jean-Go said that I would have to do it! (although they weren’t going to make me climb under the table) But, Bastien came over eventually. He wouldn’t go under the table though, so he just stood next to Adeline and said who should get each piece. Alas, I did not receive the special piece, it was Adeline’s Grandma who did. I would like to get a recipe for making this cake. It was very good! And you don’t even need icing.

January 7, 2011

I hope you all have enjoyed this post and maybe next January when I’m home I can make my own King’s Cake!

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