A Travellerspoint blog

Your Invited!

22 °C
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I must say I am quite pleased to be turning 42 in Antwerp. In fact I am so pleased that I am inviting all my friends and anyone else who feels so inclined to come and help me celebrate. Come on, come and help me refill my Sangria. We can shoot the breeze, play some chess and maybe even show the kids how to celebrate responsibly...yeh right!

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When: Friday 4 July, 9pm
The Venue: The Zomerbar, Ledegenckkaai, Antwerp, Belgium. See location 6 on the map on the following link:

http://www.zva.be/index.php/Stadsplan

Its easy to spot as you drive down the Kaai, just look for the green flags and lights. This evenings reconnaissance mission showed the venue to be laid back, full of candles and piping good vibes. If you desire, food can be purchased at the venue.

Kisses welcome but presents will be burnt at the altar....

Posted by Estebaan 12:22 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Salt crystals and rabies

25 °C
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"Why doesn't everybody have a salt crystal stick deodorant?"

Yep, that's the question I asked myself as I stared at my new stick this morning. Sure, they are fragile! As I learned the other week when I dropped my previous one on our tiled bathroom floor, but with careful use a single salt crystal will last years...so, they are "green". The natural antibacterial approach really works and, as any of my camping buddies will testify, I can be a sweaty smelly bastard. Of course you still have to choose if you want to enhance your natural pheromones with a perfume, but that's really optional.

Enough rambling. Yesterday we got the first of our 3 rabies injections. The first of the last immunisations. Lute and I procrastinated quite a while over the decision to get these but in the end risk aversion prevailed. The chance of one of us getting bitten by a rabid dog or monkey in the back blocks of Nepal or India is unlikely but if it did happen it would cause some serious stress...something we can do without!

Phew, its steamy here today....

Posted by Estebaan 23:15 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

52GB Lighter and Wonging

17 °C
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Yep, a digital spring clean was well overdue. It was not until I really started getting into it until I realised how atrocious my computer housekeeping has been. 2 days later and 52GB lighter the Mac is starting to move a little faster again. In addition to this little achievement I discovered a website called Mr Wong http://www.mister-wong.com/. This website has allowed me to bookmark all my favourite websites online, so I don't need to remember them whilst we are on the road. Bloody handy! All I have to do is log on to my Mr Wong page to find all my favourites, EASY! I can see that social bookmarking tools like this are going to become a key tool for travellers.

Outside of such boring domestics, the Syrian embassy in Brussels is not responding to our clarification requests....they need to know where we will staying before they will issue a visa. Obviously its time for some creative story telling.

I must admit to being inspired by this website http://www.seat61.com/ which provides an excellent resource for international train travel. It has also inspired Lute and it now looks like we are largely planning to take trains from Belgrade thru Istanbul to Amman.

I bought my second anvil this weekend....a 200kg sucker! I can already see the sweat of fellow Wildmen falling on its face as they follow forging courses at Dante's Hearth. Unfortunately, we are now probably going to need a reinforced shipping pallet to get all our gear back.

Posted by Estebaan 12:24 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Starting to howl

sunny 18 °C
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The winds of departure are starting to howl. Today is the last day ever for Max and Victor at Primary School. Thats big! They aren't boys anymore - they are young men and growing strong. Here they are with their Nepalese friend Kiran and his younger brother:

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I have been busy trying to get everything organised well so that I can spend some quality time with them over the next six weeks. Some of this weeks highlights included:

[*] We visited our local doc and we all had blood taken to check our types. Both the boys broke out in nervous giggles during the act. The first aid kit is now almost complete and it is packed with exotic goodies that I hope we don't have to use too much. I drew greatly upon the recommendations provided by the Institute of Tropical Medicine here in Antwerp http://www.itg.be/itg/GeneralSite/Generalpage.asp and also from Stephen Bezruchkas book on trekking in Nepal http://www.amazon.com/Trekking-Nepal-Travelers-Guide/dp/0898865352. The latest edition of this book is only more inspiring and invaluable as it was twenty years ago.

[*] I dropped in and had a last dance and roar with Stef Miquel, who gives body movement and voice classes at the restored Stadsmagazijn http://www.politiquedesgrandesvilles.be/en/cities/antwerp/city-contract/ontmoetingcentrum-stadsmagazijn.aspx

[*] I bought a great 175kg anvil from Seerp, my blacksmith teacher http://users.telenet.be/smid/. My goodness its a heavy sucker and I now have to organise a plastic pallet to ship it back on. I am looking forward to entering the phase of life where this apparent unending accumulation of goods and materials reverses.

[*] Peter (our funky hairdresser neighbour) turned 39yrs old and to celebrate I forged him a spiral pendant in mild steel. He loves it.....

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Posted by Estebaan 00:14 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Into the deep end...schooling in Antwerp?


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"We don't think this is the right school for your children! Their learning delays are too great and we don't have the resources to teach them!".

There was no talk of alternatives, our boys were essentially being shown the door just six weeks after their arrival.
Lute and I were in shock, where was the caring Steiner community and system we had rejoiced in for the last six years in Australia. A system which we thought was internationally constant and based on a philosophy that allowed children to learn at there own pace, accommodating learning delays and rejoicing in diversity. It clearly wasn't here in this school and "disgusting" were the words Lute spat out as we left our last meeting. We weren't upset at the situation, it was really just the way it was handled.

Of course, as they nearly always do, things have turned out fine. We found the Wereldreiziger (World Traveller) http://www.sbq.be/, a school dedicated to educating children from wherever they come. The boys were placed in a Grade 5 class containing kids from Nepal, Morocco, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, Phillipines. (see below);

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It wasn't easy in the beginning as the boys didn't speak any Flemish and the concrete playground was a big change. Sometimes I felt real bad when I left them in the mornings however, they settled in within 3 months. Yesterday, we received their end of year reports which show that they both have made enormous advances in their mathematics and they are now speaking conversational “Flemglish” that, gulp, will soon overtake mine! Victor was noted for his compassion and Max for his signs of leadership. I am really proud of them.

Posted by Estebaan 00:07 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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