'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more'.

We're just in from a weekend spent in Wallonia, where the temperature dropped to below zero celsius and snow fell.  And we gathered around a huge fire in a big old house and spent our time talking with good friends.

Actually, my heart has been warmed as friends have welcomed us back to Belgium after weeks spent wandering in that New Zealand summer.

Wednesday found me out with Jurjana, my truly delicious Croatian friend here in Antwerp.  She drove me to her favourite restaurant and we enjoyed a lovely lunch and catch-up session at Patrasche, in Hoboken

Thursday and Stephanie, an English friend, came over for dinner with her daughter.  Another few hours spent talking and listening.

Friday and it was Lucy, Fiona, and Ruth.  My lovely Irish and Belgian friends.  We began as an informal Nederlands class but they have become such good friends that there was something of a 'coming home' feeling as I arrived at Fiona's house.  Actually, we don't really speak in Nederlands anymore .... but, by crikey, we always have a most excellent time when we get together.

And this weekend was the icing on the cake.  We wandered over to the New Zealand/Belgian/American household, over there on the other side of Belgium, and the snow fell and our wandering souls were surely warmed.

We're back in Belgium where its winter.

The Belgian Summer ...

It's not happening this year ...the rain keeps returning, the grey skies reappear again and again.

We've had glimpses of a glorious summer but no, it disappears and is replaced by weather so foul that you forget that you had those warm and promising days.

On the bright side, the garden continues to thrive. The rhubarb, back home, has been prolific.  Here in Wallonia, the zucchinis are going crazy too.  We fight our way through a reasonably abundant supply of fresh tomatoes and beans.  The hens are all laying, so we 4 are dreaming up things to cook with those eggs. 

Peach clafoutis and pavlova are at the top of the list, quiche too.

I  have set up a work station at the dining room table, here in the light-filled kitchen, keeping company/kept company by the lovely Rwandan woman studying for her examinations.  I think we have given up on summer.  She mistook this morning's drizzle for snow. That it didn't seem impossible probably tells you how we feel about summer these days.

Anyway, here's a glimpse of the house where I'm staying ... just a corner for now.  I have to work out how to photograph it, in all its hugeness, and I need to learn the story of it more precisely.  There is a Nobel prize winner involved in its history ...

View from the MAS Museum, Antwerp

I went out into the city searching for beauty today.  It had started well this morning ... there was blue sky and sunshine but I moved too slowly and voila, by the time I left the house, it was grey.

A few weeks ago, I had made one fast family visit to Antwerp's relatively new MAS museum and had found myself wondering whether the top floor might not feed my need for a view.  It's not bad but, by crikey, it's flat here.