Saturday, 15 March 2008

It's in the air tonight.

The Georges Henri carnival is in town!
It's a tiny thing with one or two kiddy rides, arcades and food stalls, but it has brought a nice atmosphere to the street.
I'm sat here tonight, with all the windows open (uhuh, it's 15 ° outside) and I can here the occasional scream, not from the landlord this time, but from the rides.
(god, I really miss the Waltzers - although I didn't realise they were so perilous!!)
We are very lucky this year, Easter falls early and so do the holidays. This means we get an extra couple of weeks of rollercoaster season. :)

It's that time of year again. The season is almost upon us!

(I know most of you will have lost interest by now)

Now the last year couple of years have been crackers with a good few little outings. I got to go back to Disneyland resort Paris (or whatever) for an exhausting 2 days. I managed to detour slightly to Alton for one of the best coasters yet for me. And then; there was Goliath.

But there has always been Walibi (- finally an updated website!).
I know we are in Belgium, and it's a shitty little place, but out of all the parks I've visited, the best mix is there.
It's a manageable sized park, and it has some great rides. However, last season, it was starting to be more about queuing than anything else.
I'm all for a bit of queue. I'm usually fine with a good ten minutes. I think it's necessary to let the adrenaline levels lower inbetween rides. But when you spend your day out standing in queues surrounded by idiots, and at the end of it, you realise you only managed three or four rides, it leaves behind a bitter after taste.

Anyway, start of season should be ok.
By the time we get there, the machines (coaster, tills or otherwise) should be well oiled.

Must check if there are any parks on the way down to spain!

Monday, 3 March 2008

My slice of Paradise.

I am extremely lucky to have a couple of places all around the world where I can go and take a time out and relax. With my mum in Brazil, by the beach to my brother in Guatemala by the lake, I'm totally spoiled for choice. *jammy smile*

I don't have to go far if i don't want to either. Last weekend, well Wednesday eve to be precise, I headed out to the Ardennes with boyfriend for 6 days of R&R.

About 50 years ago, my grandparents had a small chalet built, right at the end of a track in a tiny village near Florenville. This place has a lot of history for me and I have amazing memories. Memories that come flooding back as soon as I open the front door and the all too familiar and recognizable smell of the chalet reaches my nostrils.

It has been the only constant thing in my life. I have moved homes a lot and I guess this place has always just been there.
I used to spend summers here as a kid when we would to visit from the UK. Later, It provided a fantastic place to study for exams during college.

I was thinking about the things I had learnt here, this is what I came up with:
fishing (the whole process - right through until cooking),
horse riding,
Black Jack (then known as Banque 21),
fire making (although this, until recently, only by observation),
some linguistics,
a little history,
a whole load of marketing and advertising crap;

and more recently:
emergency first aid,
mouse catching, and
exhilarating cycling.

(Haha, how fun has changed ...)

I absolutely love this place and once you have mastered the art of looking past the dust and occasional spider, it is a truly perfect place to relax and recharge.

Last November, and right in the middle of hunting season, we had our first attempt at cycling in the Ardennes, ... err... moving on.
This time around, we planned better and found a short but challenging route to ride. With a bit of everything including a the hellish slope to climb, before you've even had a chance to settle your bum into the saddle! We had a couple of mud puddles to contend with too, which made mud guards essential.
Three-quarters of the way into the ride, as suspected, my old front tire gave out and I ended up pushing the bike home.

This gave us a chance to visit the local bike shop to buy some supplies and add another little dent in my car's body work on the way. :( - it turns out heavy rain loosens the asphalt on the road and huge pieces come away right into the path of oncoming cars - in this instance, mine! I was totally unable to avoid the boulder and I smashed the thing to pieces when I rode over it.
As a result, I will be paying another visit to my car mechanic to see if the alignment isn't slightly off. Where is my company car when I need it!

Until recently, there had been no heating in the chalet, except for a gorgeous wood burner. Suffice to say, this is not enough to keep you from freezing during the night when there is noone awake to throw another log onto the fire.

But we have been steadily bringing the chalet into the present by replacing the lethal sit down bath with the best shower I've ever had, demolishing and redoing the kitchen (seen here - soo much fun), and adding radiators. With these improvements, the chalet can now be used in the winter and I get to experience this place in a different season.

Anyway, we woke up on our last morning to a stunning blanket of fresh snow.
I had never seen this place in the snow and it took my breath away.

(I've have been VERY good about the number of photos i posted - could have had you sat here for hours.
But I'm a bit disappointed with the pics, they really don't do the scene justice.)

These are better!

This delayed our return to Brussels for a couple of hours, as we had to wait until the snow was melting but not melted, as to leave the dirt track drivable. And watching out for temp change in case it started icing over.

The end of the story involves a tractor, a very nervous pizza stop and a whole lot of "soft hail".