photos

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Holiday Snaps

Good morning followers, here is the obligatory photographic report of our family trip to Charente-Maritime. You really didn't think you would escape, did you?

The port of La Tremblade, the town where we stayedThe port of La Tremblade, the town where we stayed

Queen for a day, crowned by WolfQueen for a day, crowned by Wolf

Tyl taking a nap. We all slept a lot, we were in dire need for some rest.Tyl taking a nap. We all slept a lot, we were in dire need for some rest.

Naughty toddler!Naughty toddler!

The beach of Royan. The old sailing ship on the horizon was a visitor of the Tour de France for sailing boats. How they get over the Alps is a mystery to me. (For Daphne: beach with blue-white striped tents)The beach of Royan. The old sailing ship on the horizon was a visitor of the Tour de France for sailing boats. How they get over the Alps is a mystery to me. (For Daphne: beach with blue-white striped tents)

Gunner Wolf at battle stations. This picture was taken in Brouage, a fortified town not far from our camping. The whole region is littered with forts that were meant to protect the French navy from those English bastards.Gunner Wolf at battle stations. This picture was taken in Brouage, a fortified town not far from our camping. The whole region is littered with forts that were meant to protect the French navy from those English bastards.

Going to the loo was a communal affair for the 18th century French soldier.Going to the loo was a communal affair for the 18th century French soldier.

View towards the sea, which used to be much closer in the olden days. But this whole bay region is sanding up.View towards the sea, which used to be much closer in the olden days. But this whole bay region is sanding up.

A face ravished by cookies and mosquito bitesA face ravished by cookies and mosquito bites

So, that's all for the good weather pictures. The next day it started raining until the morning of the very last day of our summer holidays...

Light My Fire

Light My Fire

Ooooh Champs Elysées

Obligatory picture n°1Obligatory picture n°1

It was freezing cold in Paris, mammoths and woolly rhinoceros were making a come-back and a glacier was growing on Montparnasse. But my wife HAD to have a milk-shake. Pregnant women - sigh!It was freezing cold in Paris, mammoths and woolly rhinoceros were making a come-back and a glacier was growing on Montparnasse. But my wife HAD to have a milk-shake. Pregnant women - sigh!

We visited Père Lachaise cemetery, because when you visit a beautiful city, cemeteries are of course high on your list of things to see.We visited Père Lachaise cemetery, because when you visit a beautiful city, cemeteries are of course high on your list of things to see.

...and of course you can't visit Père Lachaise without saying hi to old Jim (obligatory picture n°3758)...and of course you can't visit Père Lachaise without saying hi to old Jim (obligatory picture n°3758)

If I had a name like that, I'd seek an early grave tooIf I had a name like that, I'd seek an early grave too

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Poor old wifey, doing hundreds of steps while being pregnant is hard.View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Poor old wifey, doing hundreds of steps while being pregnant is hard.

The Quartier LatinThe Quartier Latin

See how cold it was? The water in the base of this fountain is frozen solid.See how cold it was? The water in the base of this fountain is frozen solid.

Winter Fun

The Efteling in winter

My little niece Hebe in the arms of Pardijn, one of the theme park's mascots.My little niece Hebe in the arms of Pardijn, one of the theme park's mascots.

The Efteling has a wonderful collection of antique merry-go-rounds. Some of them are still powered by steam engines.The Efteling has a wonderful collection of antique merry-go-rounds. Some of them are still powered by steam engines.

The entrance to the magical forest...The entrance to the magical forest...

Emsterdem

A couple of weeks ago on a rainy day, we crossed the border to visit Amsterdam. It must have been almost twenty years since I've been there the last time, but not that much had changed: the canals were still there.

Tulip, anyone?Tulip, anyone?

Amsterdam is a very Bart-friendly city.Amsterdam is a very Bart-friendly city.

The Kalverstraat - Amsterdam's main shopping street (for non-hallucinogenic items).The Kalverstraat - Amsterdam's main shopping street (for non-hallucinogenic items).

Wolf with his cool Siberian winter hat.Wolf with his cool Siberian winter hat.

Guess who had hot cocoa?Guess who had hot cocoa?

Taxi!Taxi!

Somewhere underneath this pile of bikes lies the famous Damplein.Somewhere underneath this pile of bikes lies the famous Damplein.

I'm seeing pink elephants!I'm seeing pink elephants!

I first saw these elephant statues on Invader Stu's blog and I was so pleased to see them for real. Wolf loved them too. They are scattered trough the city and painted in all sorts of colours and themes. This is clearly an Indian elephant.

Mrs.B was feeling peckish and wanted a little something. Yes, it's the 'Walletjes', Amsterdam's famous red light district. Wolf liked it too, because there were a lot of shops with 'balloons'. That's when we decided to set another course.

The local cuisine is simple but delicious, if you like raw herring with bits of onions that is.The local cuisine is simple but delicious, if you like raw herring with bits of onions that is.

Canals, more canals, with boats, and more boats. And many, many more boats.Canals, more canals, with boats, and more boats. And many, many more boats.

You have 'champignon de Paris' and you have 'champignon d'Amsterdam'. Do not serve the latter in a cream sauce with your steak.You have 'champignon de Paris' and you have 'champignon d'Amsterdam'. Do not serve the latter in a cream sauce with your steak.

Time for a snack, after such a long walk. Do they have hot cocoa here?Time for a snack, after such a long walk. Do they have hot cocoa here?

Ok, the VERY last picture of a canal.Ok, the VERY last picture of a canal.

Choo Choo

On the second day of our holiday, we tooka historical train ride around part of the Bay of the Somme. There are two main lines, from Saint-Valéry sur Somme to Cayeux (to the south at the coast) and back and the other one from Saint-Valéry (on the South side of the bay) to Le Crotoy (on the North side), with a stop at Noyelles-sur-Mer. We opted for that second tour, because it's with a real steam train whereas the trip to Cayeux is with an old Diesel locomotive.

However, when we'd bought our tickets we only found the Diesel train. So thinking that it replaced the normal steam train ride, we boarded. It was only when we left the train station that we say the steam train leave from another station, just 500 meters from where we hopped on our Diesel train.

I blame the French for being absolutely incapable of giving clear indications. They put one arrow in the general direction, then another and then you're left to your own devises, until you see an arrow pointing completely in the opposite direction (so at least you know you're too far).

My wife blames me, of course.

So it was with red cheeks that I handed over the tickets to the train conductor, who claimed again that their directions were perfectly clear. Luckily, he didn't kick us off the train. And besides, that old diesel locomotive was at least as charming as the steam train, wasn't it?

You can't take pictures like these on a steam train, you knowYou can't take pictures like these on a steam train, you know

Arrival at Cayeux. Forty-five minutes later the train returned to Saint-Valéry sur Somme.

And we're off again!And we're off again!

We smuggled Booh, Wolf's favourite cuddle, into the passenger compartment. She really didn't want to travel with the cargo because there were no windows.

It was very hot that day (28°C!), so Wolf made sure that Booh drank regularly.

That's what you get for trying to scare me and my cuddly cow!That's what you get for trying to scare me and my cuddly cow!

When we got back to Saint-Valéry, we heard a steam whistle. This is the train to Crotoy and Noyelles (where we were supposed to go). See, it's not half as nice as our little diesel train!

Although I admit that the cars do look more comfortable than the ones we travelled in. But then again, we could see the tracks through the cracks between the floor boards.

Ok, it IS a nice train.

Beach Holiday

Wolf playing with Lobster Man (aka dad)Wolf playing with Lobster Man (aka dad)

How's The View Up There?

I'm leaving for Africa again next Sunday, to the increasingly Democratic Republic of Congo. So let's have some more photos of my last trip...

Kids waiting in the hospital of MushengeKids waiting in the hospital of Mushenge

Landlines are few and far between, and generally useless. But with the advent of mobile phones, things are improving fast. Here you see how those pylons are built: completely by hand and without any gimmicks such as tower cranes or trucks. A team of labourers (the guys in front) hoist the individual pieces up with those cables you see hanging down.

Another team builds the pylon. Note that they are not secured or anything. If they fall they're dead. Should they somehow survive their fall, they have to be carried on a bike to the nearest hospital. But with lack of just about anything, from medicines to anaesthetics or even skilled staff, their chances are very slim at best.

Newborn baby twin girls, who clearly know how to keep their mother busy. Look how tired she is!

Apart from medical institutions, we also visited an agricultural project. This is a field in the middle of the rain forest, where manioc seedlings are produced. Maniok is a staple food here. I tasted it on several occasions, but I can't say I like it. Generally, you get these bowls of manioc paste, or 'foufou' with your fish or chicken (if you're rich enough to pay for meat of fish). You can also eat the leaves, they taste much like spinach.

Cultivating here is no easy feat: it's an endless battle against the rain forest, that sends legions of ferns that have to be removed by hand. The man clear the forest away, the women are then responsible for the fields. It's back-breaking work, and it doesn't pay well.

Once the forest is cleared, the men mainly 'supervise'.

Bon Au Beau

At the moment, my life is utterly boring. Apart from going to work, working, coming back from work and thinking about work, nothing much is happening. So why not reflect on happier times when I roamed freely through the Congolese Jungle and discovered this tribe of apemen. Allright, they weren't ape-men and they weren't living freely in the jungle either - not yet. So here are the promised pictures of our distant cousins, the Bonobos, in the Bonobo political asylum of Lola Ya Bonobo west of Kinshasa.

Moving Up

It seems just a blink of an eye ago that we held this little fragile mini-baby in our hands. Our Wolfy is growing fast and learning new tricks, such as:

  • Sitting up on his own (and licking cows).

Baby Wolf and his favourity (toy) cowBaby Wolf and his favourity (toy) cow

  • Eating bread - or rather, turning it into a mushy ball of slime that he can spit out if he has enough. On the other hand, he'd eat the whole bread if you would let him.
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