DDM Express


Frankly, I'm too tired at the moment to cook dinner. My lack of cooking appetite is expounded by the fact that the munchkin is doing her best to get on my nerves at dinner time.

So tonight I decided to try a different tack: dinner out of a bag. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. We had wild and white rice, with stir-fried asparagus (I added those for extra veg) and assorted oriental vegetables (no chopping, yeah!) and vegetable nuggets which I slapped on the griddle.
All done in a manner of 8 mins and doused in teriyaki sauce (heated in the 'wave).

And how did the munchkin react to my Express efforts? By plucking rice kernel after rice kernel off her plate and putting it on her spoon... ten kernels at a time to her mouth. It resulted in an immediate rescinding of all dessert privileges for tonight.

I'm not sure she liked it either in other words.

Yeah but no but yeah but...

Hello, let me introduce myself: I am the queen of indecision.
Case in point: the damn fridge. Remember we bought one, oh, I don't know, about three days ago.

Today my sister innocently made a remark about how much lighter the kitchen seemed without the silver moloch in the corner. Which unfortunately set the ball rolling in my overworked head and, lo and behold, I had second thoughts.

Why did we buy that fridge in particular? And what were we thinking?

And so, for the first time in my life and in the course of the ever-continuing fridge saga, I relied on my consumer rights (yeah!) and I called the supplier and said I would like to waive my purchase. This is possible under the 7 day clause. Cash back, cue my indecision.

SO and I had been dreaming of a certain other fridge for some years. A must-have that matched our design ethic and kitchen style. Yes, I did the unthinkable. I went to the store and hemmed and hawed for half an hour, confused by the option of so many models and colours.

But at the end of the day, I managed to bring myself to make a decision. And I won't be using my 7-day waiver clause for this particular appliance.

So what do you think of our cool, new cream-coloured 50s Smeg fridge? Fit for a domestic demi-goddess, no?

PS - the pic doesn't quite do it justice. It's most definitely not that shiny. The cream matches the paint we used on the mouldings in our kitchen. Pathetic, I know...

Yanaika and Stephanie *again*


Tonight sees the thrilling finale to a season of my restaurant rules à la flamande.
Over the past two weeks I have noticed a surge every time I posted something about the two Limburgers, Yanaika and Stephanie, who also happen to be lesbians (*gasp*).

Now what I would like to know is whether every person that clicked my blog in search of the P Magazine pics is also a lesbian. Because all I can say is, where have they been hiding all these years?

As far as the programme is concerned, it would seem that the congenial duo do not have the financial clout to keep their restaurant going (unless they rotate with double shifts) and that the other contestants will have to close shop and move elsewhere, because some Irish businessman has other plans for the location. All this gleaned from a few issues of Dag Allemaal, while I was waiting at the chips shop last night.

Whatever, I wish them all the best of success tonight.

And for all you drive-by shooters, here is some more eye candy for your eyes only:

Oh she was gorgeous: the Hôtel Max Hallet

Technically speaking this post does not belong in a list of gorgeous women. But I think of a house as being a feminine entity, nurturing and tending to the people inside, keeping them warm or cool, depending on the seasons, and embracing them as they come home every night.

I am excessively fond of old houses, and our house is no exception. Built in 1900, it has its quirks, but it also comes with a mosaic floor, a gorgeous stairwell, wood floors, a neo-classic façade and the original doors and glass windows.

When it comes to period architecture, however, I profess to being wholeheartedly smitten with the houses of Victor Horta. The Hôtel Max Hallet, recently reopened to the public as an events venue, is a perfect example of the Brussels' architect's art. Carefully and lovingly restored, the symphonic swirls of the banisters, the winter garden and the detailing in the stained glass windows make for a visual extravaganza. Likewise, the Hôtel Armand Solvay is a gem, and of course, the architect's own house, which is now a museum. My former boss is fortunate enough to live in one of his houses.

So, if you ever find yourself in Brussels, do try and make some time to visit these delightful exponents of Art Nouveau. In the meantime, click here to enjoy the Hôtel Hallet. And if you're in Antwerp, don't forget to take a stroll down Cogels Osylei, for a stunning row of period houses.

New shoes.


Five weeks ago, we, or rather, she got herself some new shoes.
Now take a good look at the toes.

I miss the munchkin; she's staying over at my sister's tonight and has an ear infection. I'll miss her little snores even more.

A new fridge


Remember my post on the Meneghini? After I left the fridge door open this past Saturday (for, oh, about twelve hours or so) while watching the Eurovision Campfest, and temperatures hit the roof and most of the food had to be chucked out (HACCP and cold chain, n'est-ce pas), SO and I sat down for a Skype chat.

The outcome: no wedding in the cards, but we bought ourselves a new fridge. It took us 2 hours to decide, the main argument being about whether it should have a water dispenser or not. I argued that it would make us drink more water, SO pointed out that with all the pharmaceutical crap (hormones, cocaine residue, alzheimer and other meds) in our drinking water that this was probably not such a good idea in the long run. After all, if we have Evian, why should we bother drinking anything else? I kid, of course, but you get my point.

So sometime this week, the gleaming extra-wide stainless steel beauty will hit our kitchen. Design-wise, it is rather simple, but given its position, i.e., hidden in the back corner of our kitchen, I couldn't really be bothered.

And it comes with an alarm on the door!

Life will never be the same in the beating heart of our house again.

Nights are short


After a crap night, with a munchkin who hacked and sniffled her way through most of it, rolling around my bed for the rest of it, I have a whopper of a headache. Yesterday's libations probably also have something to do with it.

We know that her ears are fragile, that she attracts cold viruses like a magnet, that when she has a cold, it tends to affect her sensitive intestines. I just wish she would sleep better at a time when I need my time the most. I wish she would be less of a clingon, at a time when I need her to be independent. There must be children out there, who are perfect little children, sleeping at all the right times, waking up at all the right times, eating what they should (and not Spanish tapas and bread instead of healthy vegetable lasagna) etc.

But would I trade my munchkin in for such a wunderkind, I ask myself? Not bloody likely. She's mine and I love her to death.


I have to admit that I had a pleasant night last night watching the Eurovision, abetted by my SO who is in Paris for the next fortnight and Suburban Mum, both of whom kept me entertained for a few hours. As for Eurovision itself: I have nothing to say about it except that the drivel factor rose to new levels this year.

Entries worthwhile mentioning: Ukraine's Shania Twain lookalike, who stole some pages from Madonna's book, Iceland's Euroband (made for the treadmill), the UK entry for receiving little to no points in spite of it being a good song, France with its bearded women, ARMENIA! (howling wolves across the steppes... and a qele qele rhythm section. By the way, my hair also moves like that when I shake my assets ROFL), Greece because it stuck in my head after hearing SO sing "my secret combination" over Skype approx. 900 times, the Chiki chiki song (uno, el brikindans, dos, el cruisalito, tres el michaeljackson, cuatro, el robocop!) and that's about it. I don't really remember much of the rest.

Oh well, Moscow next year... King Vlad will be happy.

Just for the heck of it, here are Fridrik and Regina again. Impressive pipes around 2'25'' and some neat pink shoes:

The picaresque El Chiki CHiki

And France with its catchy parapdoowap...in ENGLISH (gasp!)



The Whit carnival is upon us. It's an old tradition (that dates back to the 1920s, I think).

In the past, I used to be a fan of this particular ride.
That was before I had back problems and became an old fart.

This year's fun attraction is below. Not for the faint of heart, and thus not for me.

These days, I'm more into this...

Ah, how times have changed...

For a video impression, check here and click videos. Some great people watching to be done during this funfair, by the way. The chav factor is something else.

And of course no visit to the Sinksenfoor would be complete without laquemants (two warm waffles with syrup in between) or a portion of smoutebollen (fritters) from Désiré de Lille. I scoured the net for a pic of the former, but ended up having to take one myself.

Oh what a night!


Where do I start? Interesting mix of events in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday evening, news reached us that Ted Kennedy had a malignant brain tumour with approx. 1-5 years to live. As he is widely considered the patriarch of the Democratic party, and is of course a 'Cape Coddah', my SO was a little downcast at the news. Then this was followed by Barack Obama cinching Oregon, making him the surefire candidate for the Democratic nomination. I am unsure whether he is the best candidate overall (a lot of hot air, and good speechwriters, if you ask me, but can he deliver the goods?) and whether he can take on 'Ken' McCain and 'Barbie'.
Time will tell.

After drooling over Kate Hepburn ànd Cary Grant (C.K. Dexter Haaaaaven!) in the 'Philadelphia Story', we geared up for the first semi-final of the Eurovision songfestival, coming to us from Belgrade, Serbia this year. They might just as well have named this the Eurovision campfest. Some impressions: a bunch of vampire angels, an ice skater and a barefoot singer on ice, an Armenian cha-cha girl, lots of back-up dancers (not singers, mind you) in varying states of undress, a woman clutching a teddy bear, a turkey puppet, Gritney Spears, a Donatella Versace clone with teeth so white you could have probably spotted them from the back of the arena, etc.

Needless to say that the Belgian entry, with its Amélie Poulain simplicity, was doomed to fail. Next year, they should just select five or ten of the gayest guys possible, add a few pink feathers and make them sing a Kylie Minogue song like Wow or 'It's raining men'. Oh well, we had some seriously good giggles and a lot of text messages flew up and down.

In other news, you may remember the two girls, Yanaika and Stephanie, from the Flemish take on 'My Restaurant Rules', featured last week on this blog. Well, the Flemish public overwhelmingly voted these young ladies to the finale, over the entrants from my city, Antwerp. Of course, I was rooting for the Limburghettes although I forgot to vote.

One hangover and a lot of popcorn later, "this is one of those days that the pages of history teach us are best spent lying in bed"...

Must-have: Meneghini fridge


I'm a sucker for anything related to the kitchen and since we're pondering the acquisition of a new fridge, I've been looking around. Of course, my eye had to fall on the one, most expensive fridge in the marketplace. You'd think it was cast in gold. For a mere 5,000 pounds, it can grace our kitchen in all its custom-made glory.

I think we need to get married soon, and get the embossed invites with the little insert card, which reads, please sponsor our beautiful new fridge, account no. so and so.

Splendiferous... Of course, we'd require a blue one.

Seven Songs Meme

Tagged once again, by Suburban Mum this time.

The rules:-
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

Tagging seven other people is hard (especially when they're lacksadaisical about blogging; I'm eyeballing you, Frau Genau), so if you're interested to pick up the thread, feel free.

Anyhow, here is my selection of the moment.

1. Armand van Helden: You don't know me. There's just something so upbeat to the melody of this song, that it makes me want to dance.

2. Yazoo: Situation. We watched an interesting movie last week, based on The Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis. The movie was so-so, but at least it reminded me of this fantastic song by Yazoo. By the way, they were on tv on Saturday evening during Wossy's show.

3. Mick Hucknall: Farther on up the road. I heard this played live on Later with Jools Holland last Saturday and I simply loved it. For those in the UK, catch it on bbc's iplayer.

4. The Human League: see below for Love Action, which has to be the top song on my list at the moment.

5. The Blue Nile: Tinseltown in the Rain. My all-time favourite. It won't ever go away.

6. Devendra Banhart: Samba Vexillographica. In my defense, what can I say. It just stuck in my head. The video is someone's own creation (not mine, I hasten to add), with a certain old school charm to it.

7. And last but not least, la belle Kylie: Wow! The insistent wow-wow-wow-wow in this song is so catchy and the song generally so summery, that it has me hopping through the house and swinging on my bike.

You might have guessed from my selection that a lot of it has to do with the gym and keeping a certain rhythm under the glare of Gerda, the torture meister...

The meme also said that I had to stick with the seven songs that I'm into RIGHT NOW, so I had to whittle it down a little and couldn't include Bjork's Aeroplane, Offenbach's Les Oiseaux dans la Charmille, Madonna's Don't Tell me, Caetano Veloso's Cucurrucu Paloma, Cheba Djenet's C'est fini, j'en ai marre, Schubert's Gesang uber den Wassern, and many others. But I digress. There you have my seven. Feel free to post your own selection and linkback.

One cyclone + one earthquake =


Wiping out*

La Rochelle, France
Charleston, South Carolina, US
Forli, Italy
Rockhampton, Australia
Ulm, Germany
Santa Fe, New Mexico, US
Uzghorod, Ukraine
Saint Vincent & Grenadines
Dili, East Timor
Chandannagar, India
Oxford, the United Kingdom
Jabaliya, the largest Palestine refugee camp, Gaza Strip
Leiden, the Netherlands
Tarragona, Spain
Lusaka, Zambia
Cherkessk, Russia
Bam, Iran (45000 killed during the 2003 earthquake)
Lhasa, Tibet
Potosi, Bolivia
Guzman, Mexico
Riobamba, Ecuador
Peoria, Arizona, US
The entire Parsi population in India today

* towns/countries with a population of 120,000

It's time to start DONATING people! No time to waste... Children and adults alike need clean water, food, tents, etc. to survive and start rebuilding what's left of their lives.

Photo AP.

So get out there and find your local Red Cross or Unicef affiliate.

A voice from my past - The Human League

I'm so into this song lately. My flashback to the Eighties! Shoulder pads, khol around the eyes, the slim ties...

And of course George Michael rehashed it for his "Shoot the Dog"....

A prayer for the dead: Myanmar and China


Isn't it odd to think that in the past week approx. 75,000 people died as a result of natural forces?
That in one fell swoop so many souls left the organised chaos known as earth? Heart-rending: the many children.

My thoughts are with them.

Jodie Foster leaves partner of 14 years?

Just months after Jodie Foster gave a shout-out to her partner of 14 years as she accepted the Lansing Award, there is a rumour flying around the Interweb that they have broken up...

Since the source is the Daily Mail by way of the National Enquirer, I tend to be somewhat sceptical. Still, how sad, if it is indeed the case. What prompts a couple to call it quits after being together for such a long time? Especially when there are children involved?

I am kind of antiquated, a dodo if you will, that thinks that you mate for life, much like swans.
Experience, people around me, have obviously taught me that this is not the case for everyone.

The same newspaper, by the way, has a rather pleasant article about Mrs Fantastic, aka Christine Marinoni, Cynthia Nixon's better half.

UPDATED TO ADD: (More) rumour has it that Ms. Foster is dating a 27-yr old agent. Name and photo are already on the net, but since it is unsubstantiated and - I think - an invasion of that person's privacy, I will just leave it at that.

Yanaika & Stephanie


The lesbian couple from the Flemish equivalent of Aussie hit show "My restaurant rules", Mijn Restaurant, do P-Magazine (our Flemish girly magazine).

The cover shot looks pretty OK, if you ask me. People all over the place must be adjusting their concept of lesbians these days.


current mood: uninspired

This weather is getting on my nerves. Not only does it mean that I have to think of an outfit that doesn't emphasise my milky white legs every morning (even though I have been diligently applying body milk with self-tanner), but I am sooooo uninspired.

I can barely think of eating, have been contemplating dragging myself to the gym, hardly do anything at all, come to think of it, except the bare necessities.

Spring fatigue is here, ladies and gentlemen, and as inertia sets in, I find myself thinking of a long spring shower. A good old-fashioned storm followed by cool raindrops on my face. Scandinavian temperatures. A light breeze on my skin during the day and not only at night.

Proof of my complete inertia: I was able to spend the best part of 2 hours on a café terrace watching the munchkin bounce around the square with her little prince and I didn't even regret not bringing a book or a paper.

I am a sloth.

"Happy Mother's Day"


I was surprised and flattered that both my in-laws called us to wish us a happy mother's day. I guess that means that we're really in the club as far as motherhood is concerned.

In Antwerp, for some strange reason, Mother's Day is traditionally celebrated on 15 August. The Virgin Mary is Antwerp's patron saint (hence the Cathedral of Our Lady, which is rather pretty).

Since my father died in 1997, my relationship with my mother has oscillated between distant and close. In recent months, she has kept her distance, which somewhat pains me, because I would like our child to have at least one grandparent with an active presence (distance prevents the other two from being able to do so).

I remember my childhood as a happy one, but I was always closer to my father, while my sister was the apple of my mother's eye. I don't think my mother has ever forgiven me for announcing that I was gay (I don't see how else I could have made her aware of this fact). Needless to say not much has changed, and this pattern is perpetuated in the fact that my mother pays a lot of attention to my sister's daughter.

And yet there are good moments too: my mother laughs, but sometimes we can tease her so mercilessly that she literally whoops with laughter, tears running down her cheeks, holding her sides for the stitches. Or the day she stepped out of the glider (her birthday gift was a ride in one: she's obsessed with airborne stuff, hot air balloons, helicopters, etc.), giving a great thumbs up, smiling like a Cheshire cat, even though she managed to break her breastbone due to the weight of the parachute. Or even the day we picked her up from the airport after her holiday in Cuba, which had done her a world of good. Or, more poignantly, the day I visited her in hospital 24 hours after her brain haemorrhage, and she still managed to smile encouragingly in spite of the fact that she was half paralysed.

Mother-daughter relationships are a complex but interesting matter: imperfections colour our characters. They are what make us human at the end of the day. And in spite of all the deep waters that we have swam through and that we will undoubtedly have to cover in the future, we have always made it to the other side safe and sound. And I know that the same will apply over time, as my daughter and I explore and define our relationship.

So here's to motherhood. I wouldn't have it any other way.

--The white lilacs are in honour of my mum: her favourite flower.

Madonna mia!


You have to wonder what the adoption authorities in Malawi, who are completing the adoption process for Madonna's third child, David Banda, make of this.

I hate to gripe on Madonna, but seriously, we've been there, you've done it, Madge, and some of us even bought the t-shirt. The tsunami following her deep throat kisses with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera rippled through the world press at the time and I remember thinking that I couldn't understand why she was pitching la Spears to us, when Christina Aguilera had so much more to offer, including a voice for example. We all know what happened since: Britney Spears imploded on herself and her career (remember that disastrous performance at the MTV music awards), while Christina Aguilera reinvented the forties with some good music and had a stable family.

This... well, this is so passé. She's made some great music, I have diligently bought her cds, but now I have to ask myself: Am I getting too old for Madonna, or is she simply getting too old for me?

Oh she was gorgeous - the girl in Rineke Dijkstra's pic

It's been a while since the last dose of gorgeousness. Eventually, this photo cropped up from somewhere deep inside.

Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra took this photo one evening on a Polish beach. The teen in this photo just ran up and struck a pose. The pic is reminiscent of this famous Botticelli painting of Venus rising from the sea:

I would hasard a guess that I am somewhat pre-disposed to liking the photo as Botticelli happens to be one of my favourite artists. And this painting, although reproduced to death, still holds a certain sense of magic for me.

But the coincidence is there and I just wanted to share it with you.


I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to post a photo of myself on this blog. Given that so many other bloggers do effectively document their lives photographically, the temptation is there.

But it isn't strong enough to actually suit the action to the word. The illustration in the header of this blog is a more or less apt representation of my humble self (I do have a cleavage). I wonder if it would make a difference. Would it make this blog more humane? Would people find it easier to engage?

I don't have the answer, but in the meantime you'll have to make do with my cartoon alter ego.

The DDM has a new frock


and it's all thanks to Suburban Mum, who was kind enough to put her webdesign skills to work, in order to create me this fab new frock.

And yes, she does bespoke templates for anyone who asks nicely.

Summer in the city

This coming weekend Belgium for once will hold that most enviable label of hottest place to be in Europe.

People have started driving like nutters, speeding with their car windows open, although we have yet to be subjected to insistent rap music or Rai stuff (which sometimes can be very good.) I always say that the accident rate rises in line with the degrees on the thermometer and the hemlines: the more skin women start to exhibit, the higher the chances of the hormonal young males in this city crashing into something. So far, only two buses down the road. Everyone escaped in pristine condition.

At the gym, there is currently an influx of weedy, tight-bodied women, who spend hours on the stairmaster or any other of the torture instruments that are so popular with women with a bikini itch, that needs scratching. I have never felt the need to make such a spectacle of myself clothes-wise. As you might have guessed, I have biked past the entrance of the gym, but I did not make it inside (too much work this week).

The good news is that now the terrace is open again, I can work outside. No noise whatsoever except the odd airplane.


PS - Pic to follow, but the harsh sunlight is impeding my creative and photographic juices.

Tagged: 4x4


So Bun tagged me, and I thought that this was a rather interesting one, so I will bite this bullet.

1. Imilchil festival near Tinerhir in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains: The year that I graduated I travelled through Morocco as a backpacker. One of the more memorable destinations was Imilchil near Tinerhir in Morrocco’s Atlas Mountains, where the Berbers flock each year to find a husband or wife. I ended up washing in mountain streams and sleeping in between carpets to keep warm at night. A really memorable experience.
2. Linderhof castle: I profess – very un-PC—to liking Wagner’s music. I always have. My father hated it for all the obvious reasons. But Wagner’s patron King Ludwig had several castles of which the Linderhof near the Austrian border in German Bavaria is probably the most charming. The mirrors reflect forever in his study and it comes with a table that rises through the floor so nobody could watch him while he was eating.
3. New York: I travelled to the Big Apple for the very first time, a few years after I discovered that I was gay. Unfortunately I was still too wary to explore the city’s fleshpots, but I must have visited every museum in NYC.
4. Cape Cod: My second home. Nauset Beach.


1. Selling newspaper subscriptions to students: a student job. I lasted about a month.
2. Editorial assistant – working for an editorial staff mainly consisting of men. Boring, but it was my first real job.
3. Journalist for one of Belgium’s leading newspapers. The job of my life.
4. PR flunky. I thought that I would love this job, but in retrospect I wasn't cut out for it. I simply am incapable of schmoozing but I really liked the research and writing work. 5 years.

1. Rhubarb fool: Double cream, rhubarb, sugar. What more can a girl want.
2. Fish: Like Bun, I am a fish and chips fanatic. Always choose haddock. But I also love swordfish steaks, marinaded gently, or black cod, or tuna sashimi, etc.
3. Risotto made with Vialone Nano rice: I adore risotto. Can't live without it and it is a staple of our weekly menu. It has so much potential. But beware, you need good rice, good stock. And you need to know when to stop adding the stock.
4. Maids of Honour pastries: Hot out of the oven. So hot that you can’t even eat them yet. A secret recipe.

1. The confrontation between Jack Nicholson & Nurse Ratchett in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
2. The last scene of Dangerous Liaisons
3. Any scene in The Hours
4. The confrontation between Tracy Lord and her dad by the swimming pool in The Philadelphia Story

So now I'm told that it behooves me to find four new Chinese volunteers:
The elusive Frau Genau
And anybody that wishes to partake in this tagging fun.

Feel free to ping-back.

I <3 Waitrose


Yet another trip to England has sadly flown by and yet another hour of frustration as we swept ourselves through the local super-Waitrose.

My aunt looked at me incredulously and said: "Surely, the supermarkets in Belgium stock all that wonderful food; I don't understand the problem?".

How can I explain that the local Delhaize does not have Cape Cod cranberries dusted with cinnamon, a Monsooned Malabar Coffee, Sage Derby cheese, Cornish clotted cream, nice pucey stalks of rhubarb, Gü chocolate banoffee pies, etc.

I herewith hang my head and confess to being a food junkie. So handcuff me and take me back to Belgium, where foodgasms are hard to be had and few and far between.

Waitrose, I am thy humble worshiper. Now when will you answer my prayers and open a branch in Antwerp?

Three languages, no barriers

Or how children can reach across language barriers and still become friends.

French, English and Dutch mixed and intertwined; 2, 3 and 4 played and shared in two gardens outside London.

The marvels of being a child.

Spread my ashes here

And I will be the happiest soul in the world.

This is my private sanctuary, where I always return and where my life will end.

The expanse of rapeseed flowers, the rolling Sussex downs, the chime of the bells at Berwick Church, where Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant created murals and decorations for the altar, the fig tree gently growing along the wall and the foxgloves preparing their sunny burst of colour along the path to the church.

Maybe the participants in the wake will sit down on the stone benches that dot the simple graveyard, or maybe they will take a stroll along the path between the fields, breathing in the good air.

As long as they feel the happiness that I feel there.

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