Tag Archives: dyke

Europe, 2006

When he was in high school, my husband-to-be (HTB) did a rotary exchange where he spent a year in Belgium. He lived with 3 host families over the course of the year, spending the majority of the time with the Renson family in the French speaking town of Dolembreux.

It was to this small town that we travelled next to visit the families and catch up with my HTB’s other friends while we were there. We stayed with the Renson family who lived in an old converted farmhouse. The children- Bill, Ben and Isabelle- had long since moved out and started their own families, but the dog (who only understood African dialect and French commands as she was an import from the Congo) remained.

We went to the closest city, Liege, where my HTB had attended school. The city monument was an unusual water fountain of sorts and the main square was awash with blooming flowers. I was introduced to the world of “real” chocolate at the Galler chocolate factory and the eating of much Cote’ D ‘Or, readily available in supermarkets here, but not in Australia.

One night, we went to a soccer game at Liege stadium. It was very cold, but the yummy thrice fried frites and waffles with added sugar lumps sure warmed us up!

Another night, we went to the pub where my HTB had spent many hours with other rotary exchange students and a restaurant owned by a well-known local friend of his, who took us to a night club where he had to knock on a door with a peephole for us to be let in.

I also discovered the convenience of Belgium, in that being such a small land locked country, it was close to many other European countries.

We went on a day trip to Luxembourg City and marvelled at the Grand Palace. The Grund (old city) was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen before. From the top it looked like a little fairy tale village that you could walk down into and explore. We also had a nice lunch in a restaurant in the main square with the added company of Flo, one of my HTB’s friends who now worked in the city.

Another day trip took us to Aachen in Germany. We took in the gothic style cathedral, amusing fountains and quirky shops. We also had a nice lunch in a restaurant in the main square with added German steins.

We went on an overnight trip to The Netherlands to visit one of my HTB’s friends Jacqui and her husband. They picked us up in a BMW which had self-park and took us to Williamsted fishing village for dinner. The next day, we all went to Zeeland to see the dyke at Neeltje Jan (Waterland) where we enjoyed being kids for the day. There were seals, a fabulous water playground, sand sculptures and a windy hurricane tunnel.

Related posts: England, 2006

Canada, 1997

When my parents gave me a round the world ticket instead of a uni application after school- my first stop was Canada to visit my uncle, aunt and cousins. My cousin Jay had just spent the summer in Australia surfing around the country with his best friend Geoff. We were the same age so it was very easy to mix into each other’s social groups.

I flew in from 35 degree weather in Australia and was driven straight to Big White, Kelowna for a family skiing trip. Why not Whistler? Because Big White’s better, I was told. Having never seen snow before, I was overwhelmed by huge snow banks taller than cars on the side of the road and snow on the fir trees just like I had seen in the movies. I learnt about snow angels and drinking hot toddies.

As I had never skied before it was my cousin Jay’s task to teach me. I was dressed in my aunt’s old and unfashionable full body aqua ski suit, clutching onto Jay’s ski poles as he dragged me down the green run whilst I snow ploughed. It must have been a very amusing site for the toddlers whizzing by who could all ski before they could walk, as most Canadians can.

Back in Richmond, I was sleeping under the pool table this time. Holly the Dalmatian had been replaced by Rover the vicious tabby cat who brought me birds and mice for breakfast. The pool room also doubled as the band practice room for “Public House”. Jay played drums, Geoff played violin, Wayne was on vocals and Chris on guitar.

I became friends with some of the girls, Jeanette, Kim and Dana. We went drinking at “The Keg” and had a bonfire party at the dyke. One day, we went to the beach and a field full of sunflowers.

Revisiting the killer whales at Vancouver Aquarium and the totem poles in Stanley Park was a hi light. I went to Prospect Point with its iconic view over the green Lions Gate Bridge to West Vancouver.

I went driving around town with my cousin Kate who had just gotten her driver’s license. We cruised to Dairy Queen or Tim Horton’s with pop music blaring and a couple of her friends in the back seat. We drove to the family’s holiday land at White Rock and visited the pier.

My cousin Glen introduced me to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I didn’t like; and Maple Walnut ice cream, which I loved. We flew kites in Stevenson and went to Granville Island.

Glen was training to be a pilot and was getting his flying hours up with small plane trips from Boundary Bay Airport. He took me on a flight to the Gulf Islands. We flew over Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island and saw the point where the Fraser River meets the Strait of Georgia. We had a bird’s eye view of Madeira Park Peninsula at Pender Harbour, Capilano River and the house in Richmond.

Related posts: Canada, 1990, Travel rememberings, The Seven Year Itch, TV replays and Movie marathons, Friendship: Great Expectations?