Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belgium. Show all posts

Monday

What are Good Friends? + Free Friends Rhyme - Coffee & Conversation









What are Friends?

What are GOOD Friends?

Are you blessed with Good Friends?

I know I am.







And I know that in the different places I have lived in the world God has always provided good friends.


One example from America was the person who invited my three kids and myself for a meal after our first Sunday in the church when we had only been in the country for 2 weeks & Fred was in Germany with work.  She had just met me and did this for us even though she already had another couple and another family of four coming for dinner.
Throughout our 3 years there this friend was always looking out for us and willing to have our kids stay over to let us go on a special weekend.


One example from Belgium was the person who called me up after her husband had met my husband Fred at church and arranged to take me for coffee and show me around the area, then they also took us to a homegroup and many more friendships grew from that.


Then there are the friends from our younger years who we may not see too often but they are still good friends and we can pick up on the friendship even after a long break between seeing them.


Some years ago I started to make Name Rhymes and sell them at craft fairs along with some other items so today I thought I would include one to help to describe what Good Friends are.






So again I ask

Are you blessed with Good Friends?

Are you thankful to them?

Are you thankful to God for providing good friends?

Some say that to have good friends, you yourself, need to be a good friend.

I believe that we shouldn't be a good friend to have a good friend in return but we should simply do as God would want us to do and


just be that good friend regardless of any benefits to ourselves.


Let's do it!
Come on we can do it!


Don't Forget to download your Free Printable HERE















Thursday

Monschau - A to Z of Places I have Visited


I am writing about some places I have visited in alphabetical order.

So far we have got through 12 letters of the alphabet so nearly halfway through the series.





From August 2004 to December 2010 we lived in Belgium and because of that we have had extra opportunities to visit places we would not have heard of before or particularly thought of visiting previously.  Like The Durbuy Maze etc.

One of these places was the small town of Monshau in Germany.






Belgium and Germany share a border and just across that border from Belgium into Germany took us to that lovely picturesque location.


By Karte: NordNordWest, Lizenz: Creative Commons by-sa-3.0 de,
CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35392837



It was a lovely day for a Fred and I to take a trip to show my sister and brother-in-law (yes the one who is the subject of a previous blog post 10 Gift Ideas for Your Brother-in-law )  another place while they were on one of their annual visits to us.

We also had our son Jonathan with us and as he spoke German he definitely was not going to be left out for two reasons.  Firstly he loves to visit any new place especially anywhere that may have some old buildings and secondly I knew from experience that when visiting large towns & cities in European countries there will not be too many language problems as many of the people will speak a decent amount of English but in the smaller tons and villages there can be communication problems.


We arrived on that sunny morning and as we parked our car our first view of the town was gorgeous.





A beautiful house in a picturesque setting of a small bridge and stream - just like you might see on a jigsaw box.

While stopping here to take some photos we ended up with a very different photo of a visitor to my arm.

I tried to look it up in google later and it seems to be some form of beetle but isn't is so small & colourful.  I did not mind having this beetle walking up my arm.





Walking on into the town we spied a fun type of transport and of course we couldn't resist taking the little train ride around the town and the surrounding area which involved up and down the hilly location.  This ended up being a good move because we were able to walk around the higher area without having to walk up the hill or down the hill because of this perfect means of transport.





We took this photo of the two hubbies in front of our transport because all men love trains but in fact all 5 of us had a fun time on our train ride.


As I said Jonathan loves old buildings and we certainly had some of them to visit on this day trip.




Up the hill was the Castle of the Dukes of Julich and we enjoyed exploring around it with it's beautiful archway and so much still intact.   The walls around the castle are clearly seen from the town sitting well below it.


After spending quite some time here we took the train down again to the town to do some more sightseeing.


Something I love to see is a clock tower and I loved this view I had through the trees of a very clear to read clock.





Then I scanned on up and saw the Swan at the top and thought how pretty this was






This turned out to the be the top of the Reformed Church in Monschau.




the clock face here was blue and there was another clock at the market square which had a white face  but I must have forgotten to take a photo of it.



We had a look around inside the church and then Fred took a photo of the rest of us at the entrance.




There is a very ornate bridge leading across from the front of the church to the opposite street, just another thing to make this a very memorable town.



It was such a bright, sunny day that we stayed outside most of the time so did not go in to investigate the museum that was beside the Reformed church.  It was called the Foundation Scheibler Museum and is highly recommended as one of the places to visit in Monschau.


We are often more interested in finding somewhere to have a good coffee and sit and people watch in beautiful surroundings which is what we did here with plenty of places to choose from for our cuppa in the centre of the town.


There are also lots of old, pretty wooden houses along the riverbank in Monschau.  See how they hang out over the edge of the river because they are built right to the edge




and some even sit out precariously over the edge which makes me wonder about the architecture of these houses.

This white and black one to the left in the picture below really caught my attention because it seemed to have just been thrown together with it's walls ready to fall over because they were missing their support.  Plus the fact that most of it was not straight - one of the more unusual houses I have ever seen.  

I think it is so noticeable because it is close to the other white one which is so straight and upright.





I thought we would end now with a picture which encompasses the style of this village




the different types of buildings the lovely clock tower, the museum, the wooded hillside and the view of the castle walls.

I would definitely recommend a visit to this quaint town especially on a sunny day like we had.









If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe
D for Durbuy
E for Ennis
F for Florida
G for Gran Canaria
H for HongKong
I for Islandmagee
J for Jersey
K for Killyleagh
L for Leeds





Durbuy (The Labrynth) - A to Z of Places I have visited


For the next few months I am going to write about some places I have visited and do them in alphabetical order.
Still wondering what I will do for the more unusual letters like Q and X etc. but maybe I will have a brilliant idea later.





My D for the series is Durbuy, a small town in the Luxemburg region of Belgium.

We lived in Belgium for over 6 years and loved our time there especially seeing so many new places.

One day trip we made from our home in Tervuren (on the outskirts of Brussels) took us to the Labrynth (Maze) at Durbuy and being a Mathematical person I am also a logical person so I love to have a puzzle of some sort to work out.




The Maze Was Very Large 




and it was also very tall.  No seeing over the top of those hedges but if you managed to get up higher somehow (you'll find out later) you would have seen that






there was something at the centre of the Maze.

Fortunately we did get a map of a kind to help us find our way to the activity at the centre.




So Off We Went 





and to start with I had the map.

Fred was looking at it along with me and our son Jonathan was coming behind taking some photos.
It was a lovely day with the sun out and we were very comfortable in our short sleeves but because the hedges forming the maze were so tall parts of the trail were in the shadow and that meant a lot of dark patches for the photos.

Fred is 6 foot tall so looking at these photos now I'm presuming the hedges were between 7 and 8 feet high.






At one stage Fred ended up with the map on his own - I was probably lagging behind talking to Jonathan.






Then Fred was off and I had to






run to catch up with him before we would get lost.

Fred had decided that he knew exactly where we were and where we were going and so he took the lead and we just followed.

Of course he was right (as always) and a little while later we had arrived at the centre.   



Walking In There





we saw some other people were sitting waiting and there were a few people dressed as soldiers. 

 One of them had a map of the regions of Belgium so that everyone could see where we were. 

Soon some other people arrived and the soldiers took charge and gave some commands for us to stand and then they picked out some from the crowd to come to the middle of the clearing and the rest of us had to sit down on benches around the perimeter of this area.



Well Guess Who Got Picked




Fred!


My husband is always full of fun and always willing to enter in at times like this and Jonathan and I were happy to sit and watch and laugh and laugh.






The soldiers tried to teach them all to hold a gun (really a large stick) making them look and act in a very funny manner and then





they had to be able to do something with their hands held up - I don't remember what that was because we were just laughing so much at them all.






Each one of the "volunteers" got picked on for a part of the training 







and then they had to practice marching.








After our bit of entertainment we had to find our way towards the exit of the Maze and Jonathan found himself a great place for a view over it all.







Now you know how we have those first two pics looking over the maze.

We took some photos of him up there as well as him climbing up and down it and he got some photos from that height too. 



Then He Took a Nice Pic




of his old mum and dad sitting below.


Before we left he took another nice one of us on a wooden seat under a trellis.






It is a lovely place and we had a relaxing time there even though we had to navigate a maze.



An entertaining day in the middle of a puzzle in Belgium



If you are ever in that area of Belgium do make the effort to go and I hope you get a nice sunny warm day as we did.








If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe





Wednesday

Stop & Let The Ducks Cross - A Dose of Encouragement


Thinking back to some years ago there was a Saturday that was just too busy a day.

Had to have a lie-in because it was Saturday and on Saturdays we have a lie-in followed by breakfast in bed unless we absolutely have to travel somewhere early.






Then preparation for packing for the drive back to our hometown for a family event only staying overnight but outfit for the event needed and then clothes to wear travelling, pyjamas, coat and of course all the things we will not leave without like the iPad, phones, etc.

Next came the Skype call with our daughter to talk about the notes I had made while proof reading her latest script. That was a long call well 3 calls actually because there was bathroom break and another break to check up on my husband Fred to make sure he was getting ready to go away and sure enough no, he was reading instead.
His punishment was to make the very late lunch but it was a very easy lunch to make.

Then the packing and the gathering up of the Sunday School materials & other things which had to go with us to be dropped off at church on the way.

A few other texts and phone calls fill in the gaps and we are finally ready to leave at 3.30pm to be at our first destination by 5.30pm and the journey will take us almost 2 hours. We actually needed to arrive before 5.30pm to get parked and walk to the location where our younger son Daniel's band was playing at a culture event in Londonderry.

Then over to my sister's house for a light meal and chat and introduce Daniel's girlfriend Suzie to my side of the family. Change of clothes and on to the restaurant for the Surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary Dinner for Fred's brother and his wife. Time to introduce Daniel's girlfriend to the other side of the family.

Back to my sister's around 1am and flop into bed.

At least we weren't driving up the road to Belfast like Daniel and Suzie.


There have been many days when it has been just one thing after another and I feel like I'm going through one stage just as the preamble to the next and so on, never really savouring each part of the day.

One such day was when we were on a trip to Belgium in 2004 to find a school for our daughter and find our way around before finding a house and moving there to live for over 6 years.

We were driving in an area near the airport and not sure of the road at all when we came to a lake. The road ran alongside this lake and it was the approach to a small town.


          Suddenly we had to stop at a zebra crossing.



                    What was unique about that then?



Crossing the road on the zebra crossing were a duck and 3 little ducklings.



We laughed hard at the fact that the duck was taking her ducklings across the road via the crossing, was she a very clever duck or was it just by chance?

Whichever it was it caused us to stop, be amused and it brightened our hectic day. I just wish we had had a camera ready for that moment but regardless of the lack of a picture the memory hasn't faded.
I often think of it fondly and remember how we enjoyed that simple action.


That is actually the thing I remember most about that short trip to Belgium.


We need to remember to stop and wait in the busyness.

When we are very busy we just go through the motions of everything but when we are forced to stop and wait at times we can find so many other things we didn't expect.

We can find amusement in a little snippet of life.

          We can find a source of peace and contentment.

                    We can find gratitude to God for the unique times in our lives that are so special.

                              We can find joy.







We need to remember to stop and wait a while with God in the middle of our busy days as well as in the not so busy days.

Not thinking about always sitting still and not doing anything else but thinking of always being ready to think of Him in all the busyness of our lives while we are in the midst of each of those busy days.

You know we don't need to let the busyness take over and swamp out our thoughts and prayers because we can still pray as we go, as we make the decisions that we face each day as we do all the practical, usual or sometimes unusual things we have to do.

In stead of having our minds dwell all the time on what is next on the list to be done we can be more aware of how God has said He will always be with us and that means even when we are busy, not just when we are sitting down saying "Ok God my to-do list is complete, I have time for you now."


He always has time for us.




Saturday

Everyone's Irish on March 17th

Disclaimer:
There is an affiliate link on this blogpost.


Who can forget St. Patrick's Day?



I was brought up in Northern Ireland and I wouldn't forget it.


Of course I knew all about St. Patrick!


He was the guy who drove all the snakes out of Ireland so I was happy about that as I absolutely hate snakes.








He was the Patron Saint of Ireland and the missionary responsible for bringing the Gospel to the country so I was also very happy about that.

He was ....., 
                      He was .....,  
                                            He was .............


                  Well to be honest I actually wasn't too well versed on St. Patrick himself.



     I had always heard of him and knew that the shamrock was somehow associated with him, there were cathedrals named after him, and people outside Ireland thought that everyone was called Paddy because of him.


The Shamrock


     I didn't really need to know too much about him when I was young, or maybe I just didn't pay enough attention.


     When I went to University in Belfast in the late 70's I realised that St. Patrick's Day was used by a lot of people as an excuse to go and have a "Good Drink" but that didn't interest me either.


In 1992 we moved to The US to live in the state of Delaware for 3 years due to my husband's work.
All I had known about Delaware before that was the song "What did Del-a-ware Boy" that I had often heard my older sister play when I was a child.  But because we were going to live there we soon learned some other things about the lovely second smallest state in America and its great location between places like Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington DC. so people would have places to go when they came to visit us.

We loved all the new things we could experience in America, the snowy winters, the hotter summers, and the American accent.  In America our children were always being referred to as the Irish kids but after our return to NI our daughter was referred to as the American girl because she had picked up an American accent.

While we were in America we just couldn't believe the reaction of everyone to us - even strangers in the supermarket who would come up to us and say


"Oh I just love your accent, say something"

what were we supposed to say?


"Hello" ?

                                                                                                           and then what?









People would make all sorts of statements about loving Ireland and wanting to go there,
  
             or tell us they were half or a quarter or even a sixteenth Irish themselves

                            or ask us if we had been to various Irish pubs yet



                                   
While we lived in America we heard about the St. Patrick's Day parades in New York and Boston.
They seemed to be very elaborate and of course our children were hearing all about St. Patrick's Day from the kids at school.  It was rather surprising to us that Americans would be so excited about the day of the Saint of another country.  We also realised that it was much more commercialised than back in Northern Ireland.

There was so much talk about the St. Patrick's Day parades and events in America yet we had never been to a St. Patrick's Day parade but that wasn't surprising as there was not a lot of information or advertising of any parades in Belfast or Dublin before we went to live in America.

When I did some research recently I discovered that there have been parades in 
Boston and New York for many, many years. 

It is believed that the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston was as early as 1737
and the first in New York was is 1762.


St. Patrick's Day Parades old and new in New York


Click HERE & HERE for more info on St. Patrick's Day


However as far as I have been able to find out St. Patrick's Day Parades have only been held in Belfast since 1998


In Dublin they started in 1931 but they were simple parades 
and the First St. Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin was in 1996.


Please let me know if you have any other information that would indicate earlier parades - I feel that there may have been some smaller ones perhaps not nearly as elaborate as the ones they have now


Belfast (left)     and     Dublin (right)


Since our years in Delaware we lived back home in Northern Ireland for 9 years and then went to live outside Brussels in Belgium for over 6 years.

In Belgium it was almost like being back in the US when it came round to March each year.  Suddenly everyone was telling us about any connections they might have with Ireland and there was lots of talk about St. Patrick's Day, the Irish, and "GREEN BEER"



After Belgium we returned to Northern Ireland but moved to the town of Banbridge in County Down this time.  
Also in County Down is the town of Downpatrick which contains the burial site of St. Patrick.


 Banbridge is not too far from Downpatrick and it is also not far from the city of Armagh where I remember many years ago when I was a child spending a lovely summer's day seeing the two beautiful Cathedrals there named after St. Patrick.  

A few years ago Fred & I finally went to our first  St. Patrick's Day Parade and where better to go than to the one in Downpatrick, although I did not have the opportunity to see his resting place at that time my husband, son and I did drive back one day last year to do just that. 


Downpatrick Parade



So no matter where we go in the world we meet someone who claims to be Irish, 
                   
                   or that their great great great grandmother was Irish 
                                      
                                     and also appear to know more about the Irish than the Irish people do themselves.







We always hear others talking a lot about St. Patrick's Day and now everywhere I go on the internet, especially at the moment on Pinterest and hosts of US blogs there are recipes and greeting cards and crafts and printables and clipart all with more than a "Hint" of GREEN  


But there seems to be so much confusion between St. Patrick's Day and some myths about Ireland with lots of rainbows, pots of Gold, and leprechauns appearing in the parades and crafts and printables. 

These things make it more commercially appealing; but at the same time a lot of the St. Patrick's Day things are now omitting the man himself and the reason he is our Patron Saint, he brought the Good News of God's Salvation to the country of Ireland.

See more info on St. Patrick here


 But how can anyone forget 17th March?

Banner Thanks to Free Downloads from InstantDisplay.co.uk

Well not even Commander Chris Hadfield could forget it while up in space taking and tweeting all his great pictures of the world.  He took a great shot of my home town of Londonderry and of course he had the "Touch" of GREEN as well.



Commander Chris Hadfield & Londonderry

I had never seen a greeting card for St. Patrick's Day or buns (cupcakes) with green colouring added to the icing etc. specifically for St. Patrick's Day until I became a blogger and now it is hard to miss them with such a variety of ideas for crafts and recipes.

My husband suggested I add my own St. Patrick's day recipe but really he was just thinking of his favourite "wee green things" which is his name for the Peppermint Chocolate Tray Bakes I make for him.
I have to admit they are so yummy that they are quite addictive even for me and I am not usually keen on mint. 

If you are interested in St. Patrick and would want to learn more you may find some interesting books Here on Amazon

And even some books for kids about St Patrick  Here on Amazon



Oh, and just in case you still don't believe me that everyone is Irish on March 17th then what about this



Caption found in A Guinness Storehouse


Disclaimer:
If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.