Our Short Stay in Belgium

One advantage of having a husband who does business travels as part of his work is to have a chance to tag along with him. Last Thursday morning, I suddenly received a call from him informing me that he has to drive to Belgium the afternoon of that same day. I asked if we could come since Friday will be the last day of the kids before they go for Christmas break. Soon I was packing clothes for our supposed to be an overnight stay.

The trip to Belgium was a bit tiring for me. We traveled for 5 and a half hours before we reached Leuven, where hubby chose to book a hotel. We passed through Netherlands which is just an hour or so away from Belgium. Funny, during this travel I thought of a very nice domain name for a travel blog. But upon checking in GoDaddy, it’s not available anymore. Anyway, back to our trip… I was just glad I get the chance again to cross another border. Really nice to have an opportunity to go to other countries just by car. No hassles in the imigration and everything. Unfortunately I didn’t get to have a photo of me standing beside the sign just like what I did when I crossed Austria. It was already late at night when we arrived in Leuven and the planned overnight stay became a two-nights as we decided to stay longer so we can still explore the place a little more.

belgium, leuvenIt seemed Friday is a market day for the city of Leuven. As I went out with the kids that morning while hubby was already in the office of their client, the streets were full of stalls selling almost all kinds of food, clothes, leather goods, home items, etc. I looked through some clothes and leather items but I found them expensive considering they were sold on the streets.

While strolling, a tall structure with a very unique architectural design caught my eyes. While taking picture of the top of it, a stranger talked to me and informed me that it is the Town Hall.

Leuven, Leuven Ton Hall

Leuven Town hall, Leuven Belgium
A closer look…

The Twon Hall is of late-Gothic style architcture. Looking at it closely, you will see around it statues of different people representing prominent scholar, artist or noble from the city’s rich history.

Opposite of the Town Hall is the St. Peter’s Church (Sint-Pieterskerk), which is the oldest Catholic Church in Leuven. When I first tried to enter I was wondering how could I open the door. I was surprised when it suddenly went ajar only to find out it has motion sensors. Hehe… A church door with motion sensors, so modern. 🙂 A big art work caught my eyes as I came in.

This puplit was made by Jacques Berger in 1742 for the Premonstratensian abbey in Ninove. It was bought by the board of St. Peter’s Church in 1807. Its front shows the fall of St. Norbert who founded the Premonstratensian order. The back originally represented St. Augustine but when the pulpit arrived, a cock and a key were added, thus converting the figure into St. Peter.

Since Leuven is the home of the oldest Catholic Univeristy in the world, most of its citizens are students. Main mode of transporation is bicycle and you will see most if not all the students use it to go to their classes.

You will find a parking lot for bicycles under the bus station and parking is for free.

Late in the afternoon, the kids opted to stay in the hotel so hubby and I took the chance to wander around the center to see the city at night.

Leuven City at night.The lights that surrounded the Town Hall made it more attractive and the giant christmas tree in front added beauty to the night.

We also went to the city’s Christmas night market and checked if we could buy some stuff. Sroes feautre some nice products but we find them expensive. Hehe…

I found these decors really cute. You can place candles inside for the ones on the right. Honestly, I can’t remember what they are made of. Some also represent actual buildings and houses there. 😛

Our night ended trying out what Belgium is famous for, the Belgian waffle. It was really good but my daughter, who loves waffles by the way, didn’t like it. I wonder why…

And of course, who would miss buying authentic Belgian chocolates when you’re in Belgium?

I would have wanted to go to other places the following day but we needed to go back since hubby must return the car the office rented for him by 3pm.

5 Christmas Gift Ideas your Son will Love

Is your son seriously into sport? Does he love Aussie rules, rugby league, rugby union, soccer or all of the above! Or maybe he’s is into cricket, particularly with the Ashes on at the moment. If this sounds like your son and you’re stumped for what to buy him this Christmas, check out Mick Simmons Sports Store . They stock official replica team gear so your son can take his love and support for his team to the next level. Here are my top five picks for Christmas gift ideas for that special little man in your life.

team clothing, offical clothing, replica clothing,Official NRL team clothing

Oh the sensational Storm, the brave Bulldogs, the courageous Cowboys… you get the idea. Your son will love wearing his official rugby league gear while his beloved team are playing. Or if he’s like my son, he’ll want to wear it to school, the supermarket and of course, bed! You can buy training singlets, t-shirts and shorts as well as official hoodies, jackets, caps and jerseys.

Official AFL team clothing

Is your son practically glued to the TV when his beloved team are playing? Does he jump and down when his team win a game or his bottom lip quiver is they lose? That kind of dedication deserves to be rewarded with an official replica team Guernsey. That’ll have him singing “Up there Cazaly” with even more gusto than you thought possible!

Official Wallabies clothing

With the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship coming up in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, your son will be over the moon with an official replica Wallabies outfit. Our fellas have had a tough 2013, so help your son get behind the squad with an official Wallabies jersey or t-shirt.

Official Cricket Australia clothing

For Aussie blokes (big or little), summer = cricket. Right now, the cricket world is abuzz as the Ashes Test Series is on, and it’s a very special one. Since the Ashes began 131 years ago in bonny Britain, it has been played every four years, alternating between here and England. This year however, the series began in England and a second round of tests is currently being played here to decide the winner. With domestic matches and one day internationals (ODI) about to start, help your son get behind Michael Clarke and the boys with an official replica Cricket Australia 2013/14 kids ODI home shirt.

Official football (soccer) clothing

The 2006 soccer World Cup had a profound impact on the sport in Australia. Even I was roaring (but eventually sobbing) at the Socceroos unprecedented success at the penultimate football championship. Mick Simmons has a great selection of official replica kids clothing not only for the Socceroos, but our domestic league, the English Premier League and European teams like Real Madrid.

Whether your son is a footie fanatic or cricket nut (or both), make his Christmas this year with official replica clothing for his favourite sports team.

Image credit: backgroundwallpaper.com

5 Reasons to Join a Cycling Club

cycling, cycling clubJoining a cycling club brings many benefits. Club membership will give you access to retailer discounts, organised social events and training rides. If you are a newbie to cycling or getting back on a bike after a long break, joining a club will set you on the correct path to improve your skills and gain confidence. Cycling clubs provide for every style of rider.

Connect with other cyclists

This is a great way for solo or group cyclists to become part of a club of like-minded cyclists. You will feel part of a community and form a social circle and be able to refine your cycling skills through training rides and organised club events. You will also have access to a club’s website and newletters. There are cycle clubs catering for all types of interests which can become a great social network of recreational cyclists, historical bike cyclists, over 55 clubs or touring cyclists who enjoy coffee breaks along particular routes.

Discover new places

Belonging to a club will take you on organised rides through new routes and pit stops. Cycling is a great way to see the countryside. The scenery is close up and you can take advantage of this by having a break at a picturesque location. There is also safety in numbers when cycling with a group.

Motivation

Being physically active is important for good health. It is human nature that we are filled with good intentions, but sometime lack the motivation to actually see our intentions through. A cycle club will provide the encouragement and motivation needed to start pedalling! Cycling can make you feel more energetic, help manage weight, improve blood pressure and can also reduce stress levels.

Energy efficient

Everyone knows cycling is good for the environment. However, there is also a reduction in energy through the use of slipstreaming. Always cycle with someone who has a similar fitness level to you. On group rides, try and use the same gear ratio that the group is using. Each member of the cycling group will have a trained eye for loose gravel or potholes. Scan a few riders ahead of the group to try and anticipate anything unpredictable. Being aware of these obstacles will help avoid damage to rims or punctures.

Progress to racing

If you wish to take part in cycling race events, you have to be a member of a club. If your goal is to become a professional bike racer, you will need to be super fit. Riding on grades or circuits suitable for your level of ability is a great way to get started. A cycling club will give you valuable advice on what path to take and will have a calendar of organised practice race days.

Before commencing cycling, it is important to have the correct type of bike and the correct equipment. For professional advice, head to 99 Bikes Australia who can guide you in the direction of suitable protective clothing, the appropriate bike and bike rider’s nutritional needs.

Kim Blair

Image credit: wyreforestdc.gov.uk

Respecting the Rules and the People on the Road

german traffic, german traffic rules

I’ve been an admirer of German discipline particularly on following traffic rules, at least in our area. Coming from a country with a very high rate of vehicular accidents because of undisciplined drivers and even pedestrians, it’s really a spectacle for me to see some remarkable display of discipline on the road. I guess patience is the main ingredient here (which I guess many of us in the Philippines don’t have). People here seem are not always in a hurry. They wait until the driver in front shifted to first gear, until a pedestrian crossed the street, slow down when the 30kph sign is seen and many more. Unnecessary honking is prohibited and deemed nuisance so silent and stress-free driving is experienced here.

Pedestrians are always given the priority here. Drivers should stop and give way upon seeing a pedestrian about to cross although I can say there are still some bad tomatoes, as they say. I still remember just a few days ago, I was with the kids and about to cross the street. When we reached the sidewalk, the car on my right stopped to give way but the one on my left still went on. The car on my right honked as if showing his disgust over the other car. I thanked the driver by waving my hand with a smile. A simple wave to the other driver is also what I have noticed here as a nice gesture. It’s an act of thanking the person for giving way. Just like in our country which is a short blow of horn.

Before having that stress-free driving experience, of course everyone has to have that golden ticket (as what an American classmate said). I’m talking about the driver’s license. Passing the driving test is a bit hard here as many people say. So one must always abide with the traffic rules because if not, heavy penalties await violators and could even cost one’s license.

I don’t see enforcers on the road so often. Yes, there are cameras monitoring a car’s speed but not everywhere. It’s human nature to follow a rule when there’s someone looking but it takes discipline to abide by it when there’s none. I don’t just see drivers here as law-abiding but respectful. They give respect to the rules and the people as part of the road.

The Importance of Keeping Your Car Clean

car wash, importance of car wash, car cleaning, car clean

Most people spend as much time in their cars as they do almost anywhere else. Being able to travel wherever and however you want is great. However with that freedom comes the responsibilities of keeping the car gassed up, changing the oil, fixing any damage and keeping the car clean. That last one usually gets ignored but its just as important as an other aspect. Here’s why.

Damage to the Paint Job

Dirt being on the outside of the car will chip, push against and scratch your paint job and if you leave the dirt there the scratches get filled and everything gets worse. As things like rain and salt stay in these cracks it can oxidise and rust the paint as well. The excess dirt can also clog the wheels and any other part of the car that has gaps in it. If you don’t wash the car every so often the accumulated dirt can make the vehicle ugly or worse.

Internal Rust

This is a more serious version of the paint job problem. Accumulated salt and dirt on the bonnet, the chassis and the hubcaps can actually compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle. It can make it less resistant to shock and more likely to break and crush in a crash scenario. In addition as the hubcaps rust and pit you will need to replace them. A full set of hubcaps is incredibly expensive and having them attached to the car can be even worse. Damage to the bonnet can even effect the engine.

Illness

If you leave the interior of your car with food, trash and drink containers things will inevitably leak rot and gather bacteria. As things get too far tainted there’s a danger of bacteria and even mould to grow on the cars interior. As you breathe in these things it does more than fill your nose with something awful. It can make you really sick, many diseases grow on mould and can infect human beings. All of this trouble just for picking up some AMC car cleaning supplies and getting the job done yourself.

Mental and Social Issues

Having an ugly filth filled and dirt coated car will get you judged. It will be seen as a basic inability to get yourself together. Prospective employers and partners will refuse to see you as an option and eventually this will begin to make you think badly of yourself as well. Its a physical indicator of how much care you’re willing to take of your posessions and in the world we live in that’s a status issue.

Having a clean car is not hard, its not particularly disgusting and all it takes is a little extra maintenance to get it done. For not doing this the punishment is a ruined car, illness and judgement. That’s not even a question.

Advent Wreath: A Symbol of Preparation for His Coming

It’s the first week of Advent season in the Liturgical year. Advent symbolizes the preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus. This season is marked by the Advent Wreath or Adventskranz. For those who don’t know what Advent wreath is, it basically a garland of evergreens with four candles on top of it. Candles symbolizes the four Sundays before the Christmas day.

Here in Germany, many household have wreaths in their homes. Since mid-November, garlands were already sold in markets. They were picked and bound fresh in different sizes and you wouldn’t believe how pricey they can be. Some opt to do their own Advent wreath. Evergreens can be found and picked even in nearby parks or playground. For me, I opted to buy from a store. Even though it’s easy to make one (I think), I just don’t have that artistic touch. My Filipina friend shared to me her wreath which she made on her own.

adventskranz, advent wreath
Fresh Advent Wreath

Yeah, I know it’s easy. Maybe next year I will try to make one. This is the one I bought from the store. Advantage of this… it will not wither. 😛

advetn wreath, adventskranz

How to Install Cedar Sidings for the Home

cedar sidings, installing cedar sidings

Custom cedar sidings are becoming very popular these days, especially to do-it-yourself and home improvement enthusiasts. Here are a few home improvement tips in installing unique cedar impressions sidings:

Be sure to make a line (Home owners can use chalk or pencil.) to draw a level outline around the perimeter of the home. The first thing to install is the starter strip of the siding or the J-panel in order to receive the initial panel. Make a straight edge on this panel’s right side. The owner can do this by cutting the parts that are hanging over.

The sections that need to be cut vary from case to case, usually ranging from 2 to 4 inches in width. The correct measurement is mentioned in the instructions and is indicated on the siding. Hang the initial panel ¼ inch from the corner. This is the standard installation method. Lock the siding panel into the J-channel or starter strip, whichever of the two has been used, from the right side progressing to the left. Fasten this panel to the substrate using nails at the hole found at the panel’s center. At least five nails will be used, making sure the ends are nailed. Usually, cedar siding pieces are marked by the manufacturer to indicate where nails should be put.

Place the second panel up the wall so that the bottom is just below the starter strip. Next, push up and in to lock it into the first panel. There are temperature indicator lines. Refer to these in order to make the adequate spacing in between panels. Again, nail the next cedar impressions panel starting from the center hole. The same process should be followed for all panels of the first course. Upon reaching the corner, cut the final piece to make its edge a quarter of an inch from the corner.

Next, cut a measured 23 ½ and 30 inches off the second course’s panel number one off the right side making sure it lines up with the initial course. Indicators will guide where to cut off the cedar impressions panel. Drill a hole at the panel’s center measured at about 3/16 of an inch. This must be where the nailing starts. Also, just put in two nails at the pre-fabricated slots at the panel’s center.

Five more nails should be nailed in, making sure there is one at each end. As in the first cedar sidings panel, place the next panel right below the first, lock it into the tabs by referring to the indicators for correct placement, and start nailing from the center. Keep on adding the courses using the instruction guide and siding indicators.

Finally, connect the top course using a cornice receiver at the wall’s topmost part. These can be trimmed on the panels to within a quarter inch of the cornice receiver. With a nail punch, punch in holes a quarter of an inch away from the edge of the panel with 16-inch space intervals. Drive nails into the holes.

 

Image credit: ask.com

The Advantages of Having a Two Storey Home

two-storey home, two storey, Many people ask whether it is more advantageous to purchase a one-storey or two-storey home. Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer. There are, however, positives in each choice, and you can make up your mind about which advantages are worth the most to you. If you’re considering buying a two-storey home, or still looking around at the options available, here are the advantages of a two-storey home that may help you make up your mind.

There is More Yard Space

In suburban areas, houses have a limited amount of backyard space. The ‘acreage’ is the amount of land that each home is allowed to have. A one storey home takes up far more ground space, meaning that there is not as much land available for a yard. A two story home, however, doesn’t take up anywhere near as much ground space, so you have more room available for your yard. For those who are particularly interested in having a garden or recreational space, this can make a large difference in their decision. Consider how much having a large yard means to you before making your decision.

Separation

One of the lovely aesthetic qualities about a two storey home, is that your sleeping areas and living areas can be separated. However, this is advantageous for many more reasons than just aesthetics. It does feel and look much nicer to have your different spaces removed from each other, but there are other reasons why it may be of interest. If you have guests over, it’s nice to be able to take advantage of your space downstairs. Having your living area on one storey and your private area on another makes things much easier when it comes to entertaining. You don’t need to worry about the state of your bedroom or anybody going in to rooms that they shouldn’t.

It Just Feels Bigger

A lot of the time, two storey homes a larger than one storey homes. But even if they’re not, they do feel bigger. Something about having your rooms separated over two different stories gives the illusion of spaciousness. Keep this in mid if you’re one who doesn’t enjoy cramped spaces. The light, airiness of a seemingly larger two storey home can help you to feel far more relaxed.

Again, there are so many advantages to whichever decision you make. It simply depends on your personal priorities and preferences. Consider all of the factors when deciding between a one storey and two storey home. You’re sure to come to the right decision after you have taken all things into account. If you’re still unsure, have a look into Coral Homes and Coral Homes on True Local for more information on finding and creating your perfect home.