A heron hiding A cycling selfie
After spending the whole day inside yesterday, working on speculative CVs, nationality paperwork and flat buying stuff, I was absolutely determined to get out on the bike this morning. Luckily, the sleety rain had stopped overnight and the sun was almost shining so, once I had dressed myself in the warmest (and weirdest) selection of cycling clothing I possessed, I was ready for the off. I had initially planned a 50 km cycle to Mechelen, via the National Endive Museum but, on seeing the temperature, I decided to do something a bit shorter. Cycling in temperatures of 1°C is never a warm experience and, within 10 minutes of setting off, I knew a shorter ride had been a good decision. I hurtled around the forest with increasingly frozen thighs and feet and made it back just in time to jump into a hot bath with a large mug of tea and a good book.
The forest was looking lovely but was definitely suffering from the effects of the two serious storms we’ve had in January. Debris from Thursday’s storm was still scattered all over the paths and a number of trees had clearly not made it through the winter. I counted about fifteen in total that had been newly felled, either by the wind or in anticipation of the storm. One of the impressive things about my forest, and my local woodlands, is that the trees are never removed. The paths are cleared but, as much as possible, the tree is left where it fell and becomes a home for the local wildlife. In the first storm, a tree fell down on top of my local orchard, bringing down the orchard fencing and blocking the footpath. The next day, despite the weather conditions still being horrible, 6 men in hi-viz jackets and helmets spent the whole day clearing the path, sorting out the tree and re-fencing the orchard. Considering how long other things take to do in Belgium, this lumber-jacking is very impressive!
In other news (as I realise it is some time since I blogged), I have made a firm decision to stay in Belgium when my contract ends in August. As my landlady has decided to sell my flat, this means that I need to find a new flat before the end of July, a new job before the end of August and a new nationality at some time too. It’s quite a challenge I’ve set myself for 2018 but, if 2017 taught me anything, it was to expect the unexpected. Whilst the unexpected in 2017 was pretty bad, I’m optimistic that the unexpected in 2018 will be good. And, if it all goes belly up, I’ll just set off around the world on Tricky in September!
Just to finish, here are some photos to cover the last few months of no blogging:
Christmas involved a trip to Austria where we met Father Frost (he’s Russian), walked in the snow and ate cake. Mum and I met a camel in Germany on our way to Austria.
Trips to Abu Dhabi and Masdar City in the UAE (something that the geeky Geographer in me loved!) and to Copenhagen.
Hiring electric bikes and visiting the new Green Bridge (Ecoduct) over the Brussels ring and…
…the annual field trip to France.