Winter Blue ...

I posted, over on Facebook, that some friends in Genova will no longer believe me when I tell them I go there to escape the grey skies of Belgium.  Roberto and Doris flew in from Liguria on Monday, just as a high pressure weather system stalled over us.  They have enjoyed deep blue skies these last 3 days ...

We have had our first frosts here but a lot can be lived with if deep blue skies are involved.  I mentioned the fact that I had laundry drying on the clothes-line outside ... not completely drying but still, it was out and it was drying some, and she asked if I had photographed my lovely December clothes-line.

The thing is, once I pick up my camera, the difficulty is in putting it down again.  So rather than simply photograph sheets and duvet covers drying on my clothes-line outside, I wandered round our little pocket-sized garden.  I noticed the honeysuckle has been fooled into flowering again and that the raspberry leaves look rather divine in their autumn state. 

And so, a collage ...

Autumn Scenes in Antwerp, Belgium

It's a grey and miserable autumn day here in the city and that was me, out the door and on the tram, on school run by 7.30am.  To complicate things, Wednesdays and Thursdays Miss 9 's school closes at midday so I get an hour or two at home before I'm back out and across the city to pick her up. 

Who knows why I imagined I could handle my red umbrella and my camera but I did.  I created a couple of montages - photographs taken as I wandered across Antwerp city.  A tram from the suburbs to the city centre, then a walk that wends its way through cobble-stoned backstreets and ancient buildings ...

4.30pm, it's still raining and we're losing the light fast.  It's not even winter yet.  But anyway, my adopted city ...

There's the tree-lined street ... that I don't live in.  The tram tracks curving off into the distance.  And the beautiful park I live near.  The one that often has a 'beautiful mist' softening the scenes there.  'Beautiful mist' because, pretty as it is, it is actually the horrendous pollution created by one of Europe's busiest highways just next-door there.

The next montage was made up of images I found in the city.  Antwerp is a city of painters.  Rubens also lived here and there are statues all over the place. 

Reflections, taken on the street I call the street of the antique shops.  I loved the soldiers and the wine glasses... I tried to capture them while including the street scene too.  It made what might have been a miserable day almost fun.


It's been on odd going away on adventures not of my own making ... to places I hadn't dreamed of but it's been grand.  Absolutely excellent, in fact.

I've spent most of these last two months traveling, oftentimes feeling like Alison in Wonderland.  So ... if I haven't been exploring beautiful new locations and meeting most excellent people, I've been unpacking and preparing for the next big adventure.

Nicaragua was mentioned today but I have heard stories of wildlife I don't care to meet there and so now it is that I must prepare to face a Belgian winter ... it's here.  Oh how Belgium embraces that rotten season, wringing every last drop of greyness and misery out and dumping it over us here in the flatlands.  Our previous winter lasted into July, more or less, if I'm telling the story. 

I feel gloomy today, as darkness began descending much earlier than I recall it descending way back in August when my travels began.

Belgians have already told me of yesterday, that sunny day I spent in Paris ... was pure misery over here in Antwerp.  I feel like I should stockpile some vitamin D, and buy up all new material that slightly superb Australian, Tim Minchin, produces during this new season that I do not, in any way, enjoy.

You know those mornings when ...

When you race out after breakfast to photograph the rubbish bags in an area not your own ... for that blogpost you wrote elsewhere.

And on the way home, after rubbish bag photography where you bluffed that yes, I'm meant to be doing this, you are picked up by a Jehovah's Witness doing her work.  (I mistook her for a friendly Belgian out there on the suburban streets, between the supermarket and home.)

And unable to be rude, you obediently give her your home address, so she can come check whether you read that religious tract she just gave you.

Then you have that hour long appointment with a woman so wise that she makes you smile ... work on photographs, put the laundry through and vacuum.

You open the stunningly excellent carrot and cardamom bio soup you picked up from the supermarket because a truly generous yoga instructor is calling by, just to show you that you can do yoga without your injured neck popping out and all over the place.

And you talk photography with her because she wants to learn the how of it and you love sharing what you know.

Well ... it's been a day like that so far.  The photograph ... the street I wandered home along earlier this morning.



Autumn means Easter to Me ...

I’m not sure my unconscious will ever adjust to this upside-down life in the northern-hemisphere.

The leaves are changing colour and we’re waiting for our first frost which means ... it’s almost Easter.  But no, that was a New Zealand thing.  Here it’s already mid-October. although Belgium had been enjoying high temperatures as late as last week. 

I took the bike out this afternoon, needing to stretch. I took myself and my camera into the park on our beautiful day.  We’re blessed with this city park, and mostly I love it even while struggling to forget the massively busy European motorway right next door, the motorway that, if I wake in the night, sounds like a Spring tide at Tautuku, on the lower East Coast of New Zealand.

Anyway, today it was pretty.  There was a blue heron down at one of the many ponds, hanging out with the big white geese and the ducks.  The moles hills were there mocking mans efforts to tame nature too.  I love those moles ... there to remind us, surely, that we’re not quite able to tame and maintain everything out there in the natural world.