31 December 2012

New Belgian neighbors

This weekend we enjoyed a get-together with a Belgian couple who we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time in 2010. That year, they came to the Loire Valley for a vacation with our blogger friend Martine "Ladybird." JL and B are from Brussels and are French-speaking. They've bought a holiday home in a neighboring village, not far from Saint-Aignan.

You know how they used to say the moon was made out of green cheese?

JL and B said they've been making monthly trips from Brussels to Saint-Aignan for a while now, staying just a few days each time. Martine had told us last summer that they'd bought a house here. They're gradually bringing down furniture and other furnishings. The house is in the middle of a  village, but with a big back yard where they can have a vegetable garden one day.

This was last Friday at about 8:30 a.m. Callie was glad to be outside —
she loves to bark at the morning moon.

The way they got in touch was by coming over and ringing our front bell on Saturday. We were busy in the kitchen. I looked out the window and was two people I didn't recognize standing outside the gate. It's unusual to have two people — a man and a woman — arrive unannounced like that. Usually when somebody you don't know comes to the gate it's a contractor of some kind selling services like tree-trimming or painting or window replacement.

 Sunrise behind poplars last Friday morning

My first thought, when I saw JL and B — I didn't immediately recognize them — was that they too must be selling something. I didn't bother to go downstairs — I just went out on the front deck, from where I could speak to them down below. It dawned on me that they might be Jehovah's Witnesses, because we've had couples ring the bell in the past and want to talk to us about religion. I was too busy for that kind of discussion.

Looking across the vines toward our hamlet at sunrise

JL asked in French if we remembered them, and I was sort of confused. Then he said the magic word — Martine — and I knew immediately who they were. I remembered their names. We talked for just a minute. I told them we were busy in the kitchen. They said they didn't want to bother us but asked if we could come over the next day to see their house and share a glass of sparkling wine.

 Sunrise doesn't come very early in this season

So that's what we did yesterday at noon. I'm glad JL and B got in touch. They'll be good neighbors (about 5 miles down the road). We spent a couple of hours looking around their French house and getting better acquainted. Thanks, Martine...


  1. You will enjoy Belgian neigbours, Ken... a Belgian friend of ours... the landlady of an alehouse [or brown café] in Brugges gave Pauline and I a marvellous book as a wedding present... the book was written for the American and English market and uses pounds weight and sticks of butter and cups and the suchlike... rather than metric. The fact that it give tablespoon equivalents for things unknown to us like "sticks of butter" doubles the books value... it acts as a dictionary for your recipies and books like "Greene on Greens".

    The book's title...
    "Everybody Eats Well In Belgium Cookbook".

  2. Some lovely atmospheric and interesting photos today.

    It's nice that JL and B got in touch -- we met and liked them too when they came over in 2010 with Martine.

  3. Ken, I'm glad you got together and that you had a good time. I'm sorry they showed up out of the blue, though. But then, I don't think they have your phone number. Otherwise, they would have rung first; I'm sure.

    I must admit that I'm slightly (and that's a serious understatement, believe me) jealous ... I would have liked sharing a glass of bubbly with the four of you. I'm spending my 'holiday' working (at home - at least I don't have to get up at 6 a.m. and take the car into Brussels) preparing the launch of a new product. It's rather stressful as I have no back-up and need to cope on my own, while everybody is having two weeks off.

    I can only dream of the Loire Valley right now, but hope to be back in 2013. Enjoy your 'réveillon' and warmest wishes for 2013! Martine xxx

  4. It's nice to have new neighbours, especially nice Belgian ones who invite you round for a drink !!

  5. What? Depardieu taking up too much space, so they had to come to France? I'm sure you will all enjoy one another.

  6. LOL, Ellen. Belgium is a small country, so Gérard just barely fits.

  7. Happy Mew Year to Callie and Bertie from Baron and RonRon...
    Happy New Year to you two, from us too!
    May this year be 'Appy, 'Ealthy, and Prosperous.

  8. Very nice Callie cushion on your living room chair.

    1. Our friend Lorraine in Albany made that pillow for us and gave it to us last May when we were over there. Happy New Year, K.

  9. "share a glass of sparkling wine." They're my kind of neighbors.


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