Sunday, 8 July 2018

Guest Post - Thérésa Hedges talking about Belgium - Bookish World Cup - Belguim

I love football, don’t you?
Okay, I’m exaggerating. It’s… okay. I watch it with the same fascination a cat watches one of those laser things. Not that I’m a cat person. I’m not. Ah. I’ve immediately alienated two huge chunks of the population right there. Oops.
I’ve probably piqued someone’s curiosity. Do vampires watch football? This one does. The hubby is a big fan so… And one of my two home nations is still in the World Cup. Belgique/België.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I tend to do a disappearing act in the summer months. It’s for the obvious reasons – sun! Or rather, the avoiding of it. Now I’m not saying that Belgium is where I disappear to, but it’s often on the itinerary. One half of my family is Belgian. The other half is Welsh, but they’re out of the World Cup, so dry the eyes and move on, I say.
It’s still a sore point, though - thank you very much - football fan or not. We was robbed, as they say (who is this ‘they’? I still haven’t worked that one out, but ‘they’ have a lot to take the rap for).
Where was I?
Oh yes.
Well, not literally. Wouldn’t mind it if I was, though. There, I mean. Ever been? You should. Seriously. Ignore the naysayers and mick-takers.
(On a side-note – just my luck to be the product of possibly the two most mocked countries in Europe)
What do most people associate with Belgium?
Beer, chocolate, sprouts and politics.
It always slightly peeves me when folks ‘blame Brussels’ for the latest bit of bureaucratic dipstickery. Don’t worry – my ‘don’t bite the humans’ rule is still in force.
A geographical location isn’t sentient. Or are they in fact blaming the vegetable? Actually, that makes way more sense.
As I was saying… Belgium.
You should go there. Bruges… Ah, Bruges… Just don’t go up the clock tower at midday. You don’t need my superhuman hearing to feel like your head’s going to explode when the bells get tolling. The town also has the most amazing little museums. And when I say little, I’m not joking. I recall when I was a child (many, many years ago) that it was quite normal to turn your living room into a museum. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but the unusual continues there. Museum of chips, anyone? Oh yes, there’s a Frietmuseum.
Mind you, Brussels does have a Museum Of Underpants. Insert your own jokes here…
When you go, you must try the friets. Smothered in any one of the several sauces available.
And waffles.
And… I’m back in the room.
That’s one of the sensory delights of Belgium. The waffle stands. In Brussels, as you come up the escalators from the metro, you’re hit by the droolable scents of burnt sugar and vanilla. Oh, and talking metro – be prepared to be wowed by the cleanest, prettiest underground stations ever. My favourite is Stockel, which has the most amazing Tin Tin murals.
Vampires just love bright colours. Plus, I just love Tin Tin.
There’s one word that you’ll hopefully need when you watch Belgium play. It’s not French. You’d be surprised how much of the country doesn’t have French as its first language. It’s pretty much just one small bit in the middle, in and around Brussels that speak French. My family, for instance are French speakers.
Everyone else speaks Flemish (speak Dutch? You will be understood). And probably German, English, Spanish, Arabic… Take your pick. Mind you, as soon as you open your mouth, chances are you’re talking to someone who speaks your language and believe me, they will want to practice on you!  You will never meet such a friendly bunch of polyglots.
Now, back to the football…
That word?
It’s a word I grew up with. The first syllable rhymes with good, but the ‘g’ sounds like the ‘ch’ in ‘loch’’ That ‘clearing the throat’ sound. Know the one? (Flemish is such an appropriate name) And the second syllable is just… so. Like in English. Simple, eh?
What does it mean?
‘Well done!’
So, keeping the fingers crossed…
Difficult with a hot waffle in one hand, and a cassis petillante (look it up – it’s delicious) in the other.
But oh, so worth it.

Thank you so much Thérésa for this wonderfully entertaining post about Belgium. 
My only real memory of being in Belgium, other than as a place to travel through to get to Holland, was on a school trip, passing through on the way to Calis from Germany and we got to stop at a Chocolate Factory..  I had been given the family's remnants of 5 different European currencies, since the trip was a few weeks before the Euro was introduced and well I ended up buying the most chocolate of everyone and driving those poor wonderful owners of the shop mad when I paid in 4 currencies! (The fifth turned out to be an obsolete Dutch note).  Must say the knee-high Chocolate santa I bought amongst other things was delicious, and also had to carefully fitted into the luggage section of the coach! 
Author: Thérésa Hedges

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Book: Diary Of An Everyday Vampire

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