Waffles in Bruges and then some

Life is settling into a routine, which, after months of uncertainties, is a good thing. Here is what has been happening:

Tristan:

We got very lucky. He was placed in a London school that has an Ofsted rating of “Outstanding”. He has to dress up every day.img_4921

I thought there might be a rebellion of sorts from the young man whose middle name is “Comfortable”. Alas, he is dealing with it very well. He even ties his own tie in the morning! One day, early on in the school year the headmaster stopped him and said “Young man, your top button is not buttoned!!” Needless to say, that has not happened again. The school is strict, or perhaps disciplined might be a better word, but also incredibly efficient in terms of education. No doubt, many Vashon parents would run screaming from this school. Tristan on the other hand totally thrives in his new environment. He is more organised and works harder than on Vashon. I guess its all about setting expectations. Also, the teachers, although strict, reward the students with achievement points. Again, this really works for the lad. Every other day he comes in the door after school “Hey Papa, got another achievement point!”…. Finding a school that works for Tristan was one of my biggest concerns when we moved. I am happy to say that he is in good hands.

Kathleen:

Kathleen is working for the NHS. She gets to visit patients “in the field” a lot, gets to walk a lot during her work day. She likes that. Kath doesn’t have to get up wicked early anymore to catch a boat. The dress code seems more relaxed than what she was used to, and having almost 30 days of vacation time plus national holidays to start with doesn’t hurt either. Her team consists of nice people and gets along with them great. I’ll leave it up to Kath to write in greater detail to all of you how she feels about her new work. Don’t want to put words in her mouth ;)…

Hannah:

Hannah started college. She doesn’t say too much about it. I do get the sense that college is just about what she expected. She’s already making plans to spend a term abroad at another university…I think Greece was mentioned…why am I not surprised?….

AND, something that DID take me TOTALLY by surprise: There is a boyfriend in Spain!! What do you mean my little girl has a boyfriend???!!!….in Spain???!!!!

The lad came to visit for Hannah’s birthday. Everybody was concerned that I’d greet him with an axe in hand or grill him over his intentions. Kathleen had a long talk with me and I tried to do none of the things that would come so naturally to me. And…. we had a really nice time. Nice young man! Good hand shake and great character!…. thinking about it, Kath and I weren’t much older when we met….and suddenly I am feeling really, really old….sigh.

Myself:

I’m doing the same work I did in the States. Nothing has changed. The time difference actually works for me in most cases. I get the work done before my client even wakes up and can send the finished work to the client at the start of their day.

After returning from Paris a few months back I finally made good on my promise to myself to learn French. I enrolled in a night beginners course. My teacher is a great native speaker from Burgundy. The course is now almost over and I realize that learning a new language happens much slower in your 50ies than it did in my teens. Nonetheless, I am persistent. Repeat things often enough and something will and does stick. Je voudrais un steak s’il vous plaît….its coming along. I’ll enroll in another beginner class in January, this time an intensive course to cement my language skills.

Travel:

Did I mention Tristan’s school is strict? In England, if you take your kid out of school to, lets say, go on a trip, you get a fine. Seriously. So, we took advantage of Tristan’s half term break and did a quick trip to…oh, I don’t know, whatever was close and cheap to get to….ah, why not Bruges. Never been to Belgium. How bad could it be? Plus I just saw the film “In Bruges” again, and the town seemed positively charming on screen.

We got cheap bus tickets ( after the experience I can say that bus travel is doable but whenever possible and affordable, I prefer the train). The bus was loaded on the Euro Tunnel Train… a cool experience. Another first for me.

Bruges was great. We went almost everywhere on bikes, which the AirBnB hostess kindly availed to us. Since I am not used to riding bikes, my bottom felt like it was on fire after the first day. The people in Bruges take their biking SERIOUSLY. I’ve never seen such a huge percentage of the public getting around on two wheels. Refreshing.

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The people were extremely friendly. Everybody speaks 4 or 5 languages …Dutch, English, French, German….impressive. If you are in the market for frilly underwear or other items that are usually kept in the nightstand drawer, Bruges seems the place to be. Every other shop sold frilly this and vibrating that. Cool and curious at the same time.

We encountered what I consider to be the world’s largest vending machine… there is probably bigger out there, but this sure was the biggest machine I have ever come across…everything from Cognac to toilet paper… I guess, what else do you really need…

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The architecture was beautiful. Bruges escaped getting bombed in both World Wars. We took in an exhibit of Salvador Dali…some of his lesser known works (the man was totally full of himself, by the way). We touched a vial that contained the Blood of Jesus Christ (really!) and had some chocolates and authentic Belgian Waffles.

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dsc00452Yes, we also did the obligatory boat ride on the canals.

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In other News:

I helped Bruce stare down some villains

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and Kathleen had a bit of a chinwag with Judi Dench…nice woman…great personality.

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Up next:

While Kathleen is getting her passport renewed we will be doing our exploring in the UK. We are heading to Bristol next weekend for two nights. Let’s see what it feels like to be ‘Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion’.

9 thoughts on “Waffles in Bruges and then some”

    1. Absolutely! The flat….we got used to it (although still looking forward to another place, in time). Everything else…I can’t complain 😉

  1. Thanks for delightful post, Marcus — great writing, wonderful photos. I’m curious: What can Tristan actually do with his achievement points? He looks super in his formal school attire.

    1. The achievement points help him to earn certain rewards….”student of the week” (which he won for this week) and the like. Surprisingly, there are no grades being sent home. (I see corrected homework, but that’s about it). It is all geared towards the major test at the end of year 11 (he is in year 10 now), called the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level. If he passes that he can go on to the next/last 2 years of his schooling experience and pass the “A” level exam (=Advanced), which will then allow him to get into Universities. Thanks Mom!!!!

    1. Yes! Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. I last was there in 1984. It was a very different experience then. You were walking along a corridor with models of the rich and famous on your left and right. You couldn’t touch anything or do selfies. Now you can get right next to your favourite celebrity and take the shot. Now its also owned by Merlin Entertainment, a corporate giant that also does the London Eye, Aquarium, etc etc, which means now the “Museum” feels more like a Disney ride. I liked it better in 1984. I’m sure, if given the choice, the kids would choose the nowadays version. 😉

  2. Very interesting. I have never been to a wax museum. The selfies were great–even if the Disney entertainment does not appeal!
    Take care of yourself and your family. 🙂

  3. A welcome update!

    This whole plan had so many moving parts, it’s good to see all those moving parts going smoothly and in a good direction!

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