I am back …


… from my travel in de regions of Granada and Malaga (Andalucia, Spain) and I am still very impressed.

Photo : Jerez de Marquesado (in the Sierra Nevada, south of Guadix)

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And tomorrow off to Andalucia, Spain …


… for a week : following the traces of the Moorish and Catholic history...


Picture : statue in the Mezquita in Cordoba.

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... and of course : lots of nature.


Picture : coastline in Mazagón, near the Parque Nacional de Donana.

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Als de lente komt, zend ik jou tulpen uit Amsterdam.


“When spring comes, I send you tulips from Amsterdam” (Dutch song)

But Antwerp discovered this flower 30 years earlier than the Netherlands (of course : everything in Antwerp is better, bigger, earlier, newer - the chauvinists, but I love them).

In 1562 a trader from Antwerp discovered some unknown bulbs in a load of fabrics from Turkey.  He tried to eat them (of course : as a man), didn’t like it and put the other bulbs in the ground.  Next spring : Antwerp discovered the tulip.  And Flanders became the center of the European cultivation of tulip bulbs ( these days the Netherlands are the biggest cultivator : 3 milliard of bulbs each year !!)

In the century of the tulip (17 th century) especially tulips with a print (flames, stripes, …) were a hype. 

Info : Tulip walk in Antwerp till may 31, ticket gives you access to 13 locations (museums) during 3 days ( www.dewereldinantwerpen.be )

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Happy Easter !


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Well, if you only go outside …


… when the sun is shining for one precious moment and you look at the light through a daffodil, you MIGHT actually believe that it is spring in Flanders.

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On the attic of the church of Melsele (scanned pictures jan. 2001)


Here we (volunteers of the nature conservation organization) placed a nest box for the Barn owl (Kerkuil) in jan. 2000.  The little square in the red door is the entrance.  So far, no success.  In 2000 Barn owl was still observed in the center of the town, but later on not any more.  That’s not surprising, although disappointing,  since Melsele lost and looses a lot of his open areas for new houses and of course the quality of the remaining open spots is low.

When I was a kid I often went up the church tower with my father, who had to wind up the mechanics of the church clock every day (for free too, he is a clock maker and as a good catholic …). 

Anyway, it was one of the wonders of my childhood to watch the Barn owls glide above the upper side of the church domes in the dark galleries. 

It was one of my childhood traumas to see four Barn owls lying down dead on the wooden attic floor one day.  The bell-ringer of the church kept pigeons there and thought Barn owls ate pigeons.  In those days shooting a Barn owl could be done unpunished.

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Evening in "het Groot Rietveld", Melsele (the Big Reed Field, nature reserve)


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Birds (scanned picture, dec. 2000)


This flower basket construction at the train station of Bruges could be art, if you ask me.  In winter they make me think of birds.

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Portraits 1 : Shoemaker Van der Meiren, Melsele

Making portraits that is a challenge : the light and the colors must be perfect, the person must be captured in his essence and character, the surroundings are important.  There is so much to learn and to try here for me, it’s like a whole new world to discover.


There are not many shoemakers anymore in Flanders, it is a fading profession.  It is more like a handicraft and very useful (a longer life for shoes means less waste, good for the environment too). 

Shoemakers are  snowed under with work.  It is a very good thing to learn if you want a good and regular job, but strangely enough not many youngsters seem to get this idea. 

The shoemaker Van der Meiren is one of the rare craftsman who has also the skill to repair saddles.  Since horse riding as a hobby is booming, people come from far and near to get their saddle repaired. 

If you enter the workshop of F. Van der Meiren, it is a bit as if you go back in time : saddles hang on the wall, a mass of shoes in all forms and measures is waiting for repair, other rows are ready to be collected again, there is the smell of leather and all kind of tools and machines are around him.

With thanks to F. Van der Meiren.


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I linger some longer in the magic world of nature and fantasy


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While experimenting with the theme ‘colorful’ ….


  I got lost in fairyland.


 The flowers = Corydalis solida (Voorjaarshelmbloem = Vingerhelmbloem)

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Recipe for hypo-allergenic bread - recept voor hypo-allergeen en glutenvrij brood

It cost me a lot of trials to succeed in making such bread (rice -  sorghum bread, no eggs, no gluten, no milk, no butter), so I might as well share it.  If you need the recipe in English, just mail me and I start translating.

Recept voor hypo-allergeen brood (rijst-gierstbrood zonder eieren, zonder melk, zonder boter en zonder gluten)

375 g. rijstmeel (rijstceme Anco)

150 g. gierstvlokjes (De Halm)

een klontje Wedena (natuurvoedingswinkel)

event. een koffielepeltje suiker (maakt het brood minder wit)

een pakje Bruggeman gedroogde gist

400 ml. water met 13 maatjes Nutramigen II


Alles mengen tot je een niet-korrelig deeg hebt (eventeel nog iets meer water toevoegen om een glad deeg te bekomen).  Goed en lang mengen met een vork totdat je deeg genoeg lucht bevat.

Laten rijzen.

Het deeg dooreenroeren en de gewenste smaak toevoegen zoals appelstukjes of geraspte wortels of zonnebloempitten of gepelde sesamzaadjes of rozijnen (naargelang waar je niet allergisch voor bent)

Het deeg in bakvormpjes scheppen.  De bakvormen insmeren met Wedena.  Ik gebruik kleine lage bakvormen van 500 ml.  In hogere of grotere vormen krijg ik het niet gebakken J

Tweede maal laten rijzen.

De oven voorverwarmen op 200 ° C  (hetelucht)

Het brood 34 min. laten bakken op de rooster op de middelste positie.

Na het bakken, het brood direct uit de vorm halen en laten afkoelen op een rooster.


Veel succes !

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The Brussels butterfly


The average American has never heard of Gent ( that ain’t surprising ), but Brussels is better known then Belgium or Flanders since it is the capitol of the European Union and the headquarter of the NATO. 

So, you better present Flemish cities as parts of the Brussels butterfly, according to Sas Van Rouverij, alderman of Gent. 

The body is Brussels and Antwerp, the juncture of the wings is Gent in the west and Leuven in the east, the left wing is Brugge (Bruges) and Oostende, the other wing Hasselt and Genk.  That is also because you have to think a bit larger then we are used to in Flanders.  It is very well possible for an American to say about Oostende “Oh, I didn’t know Brussels had a beach”, while for us Flemings this is hilarious because we think in very small units.

(based on an article in De Standaard, 16/02/2006, De gemiddelde Amerikaan heeft nog nooit van Gent gehoord, Schepen Sas van Rouverij heeft boek uit over stadsmodel voor Gent, interview)


Flanders is like this : I once went to a local tavern in the polders (there where our nature organization has several nature reserves ) to make an appointment to come and eat soup after a guided visit with a group.  “Not possible”, the old lady told me, “because you are not from around here”.  I was astonished.  Indeed I did not live in the same settlement, but I live in a town of the same municipality (the distance is 15 km = 9.3 miles) and I spent all my free time in the polders and I am pretty well known as nature conservationist.  So her son had to act as a mediator to finally get “a permission” to come and consume in this tavern.  Big sigh.


Photo : Horse Parade 2005, Brussels ( 185  decorated horses for the celebration of 175 years Belgium were exhibited in Brussels, Luik, Knokke, Waregem, Antwerp and Brussels again )

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Two daffodils chatting about ... ?

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