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Favourite Matchbox Car

Our new car has arrived!

It looks something like this, but it's army green. When we told Wolf the name of the colour, he was a bit disappointed when it arrived because it has wheels instead of tracks and no gun turret. I can't say I don't agree, but sadly we had no money for these useful options.

Crash Test Mummy

I was at work last Monday morning, when Mrs.B called me. The moment I heard her voice, I realised something was wrong. 'Bart, I had an accident with the car. I'm fine, but the car is a total wreck!'

It took a moment for that message to sink in.

She had been to the horse riding club that morning, and on the road home the car started to act funny in a curve of the road. Things got much worse however at the next bend: the car drifted to the right, but when Mrs.B tried to correct it suddenly swerved to the left - which is in this part of the world the wrong side of the road. With oncoming traffic approaching fast, she tried to turn to the right again, at which point the car veered off the road, down a slope and sliding into a ditch. During that slide, the roof made contact with a wrongly parked tree that gave no right of way.

When I saw the pictures of the car later that day, I could feel cold sweat seeping down my spine:

Granted, from the back it doesn't look that bad. But then the tow truck came along and pulled it out of the ditch:

That tree had made a mess of the back of the car, and the roof, which meant that it is beyond repair. Notice that little red children's seat? That's were Wolf is normally strapped in. Luckily, he was at school that day.

The tree in question had taken a beating, but was otherwise fine. Well, at least it was in a better condition than our poor old car.

Well, the most important thing was that Mrs.B was ok - shaken and stirred, but otherwise unhurt. As a matter of fact, the moment she arrived in the garage with the tow truck, she inquired about buying a new car. We're going to France in six weeks time, you see. So on Wednessday she looked around for a car loan - while I was enjoying a nice old gastric flue - and on Friday we went to the bank to sign for the car loan and today the car was delivered to the garage and tomorrow we'll get the plates and on Wednessday we can go get the new car. That's how Mrs.B deals with car crashes!

We opted for the new version of the Peugeot Partner. We were quite pleased with our previous car, apart from that minor tendency to violently swerve all over the road at random moments. The garage made us an offer we couldn't refuse on a car they had in stock. It's army green, so the next time we have a collision with a tree we can just let it there because it will blend right in with the scenery. Saves us the cost of a tow truck.

Homing Signal

I walked through the tunnel that links Brussels Central Station to the nearby metro station, when I saw a blind woman in front of me navigating her way through the busy crowd. She was tapping with her white stick to find her way, and to frighten away other commuters that jumped aside to avoid a whack on the shins.

Then, coming from the other end of the tunnel, I saw a blind man coming. He also had a white cane in his hands and sought his way through the humdrum. Now this tunnel is quite wide, must be ten meters across or something. But those two blind people were storming directly at each other. I don't know what happened, I guess they were homing in on each other's taps. And before I could warn them, they bumped right into each other.

I can imagine both of them saying: 'Can't you look where you're going!', and then 'No, I'm blind!' simultanuously.

Of course this is not funny, it is very impolity to laugh with blind people, especially when they bump into something or someone. Only bad people would snigger when they'd witness such a scene.

And I'm a very, very, very bad person...

Emmericher Maschinenfabrik

 

Dreamliner

First up, a confession: in my youth I was a bit of an aircraft fan. Well, fan... more of a fanatic really. I used to be able to distinguish 500+ different aircraft types, plus for many of them different sub-types, with design details, history, usage around the world, different capabilities and payloads, weapons types (of military aircraft)... You get the gist.

It's a hobby that I've put to rest, because as a young dad with two kids, a wife and a giant DIY project on your hand, you really don't have the time for hobbies. But because I have to travel a lot, I do have the occasional interesting encounter.

A couple of weeks ago for instance, I was in between flights at Frankfurt airport having a meal, when I spotted this beauty.

My first face-to-face encounter with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. And then I noticed something special was going on. Ground personnel was gathering on the tarmac, right in front of the airport terminal.

Notice those two fire truck standing on either side on the access to the runway? This is how they baptise new airplanes.

Congratulations ANA 787, many happy landings!

Look at her go!

Meanwhile, I got a glimpse of another airplane I hadn't spotted in real life before: the Airbus A-380.

On the right you can see the tail fin of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, for more than four decades the biggest passenger jet in the world until this European upstart took her place. Humph, she'll have nothing to do with that snotty A-380 and she turned her back on him.

I'm doing regular long-haul flights now, but on the routes to and from Africa, the Airbus A-330 and its four-engined brother the A-340 rule the skies. I've flown in a 747 before, when I went to Central America, but the A-380 is still on my wish list.

And now I'll put the aircraft geek in me to rest once more...

Mytho Logique

C'est génial quoi

Sleepless in South Antwerp

in

Been at home today all day, with a sore throat. I've been sleeping much of the day, so now I'm wide awake at 11.30 PM.

I've been to the doctor's, he said I have to stay home for the rest of the week as I'm a hazard to public health.

Shipping Lane

Driver

Walking Without Training Wheels

'There's a sale in the bike shop', Mrs.B anounced during lunch. 'We should go and look for a new bike for Wolf.'

She was right of course, the boy's current vehicle is a patched up second hand fixer upper his grandmother got him from the flea market. He's outgrown it, and since a couple of weeks it's also clear that he's ready to ditch the training wheels.

So we went to the bike store, and upon seeing the very first children's bike he saw - a bright yellow and red one with teddy bears on it, Wolf exlaimed 'I want this one'.

'Yes well, let's have a look at the other bikes first', I responded. We found another one he liked, but when he tried it we were still in doubt. It was ok, but it was a 16 inch (whatever that means) and it looked asif Wolf would outgrow it rather fast. However, the other bikes were 20 inches (tall? wide? wheel size?) and they were definitely too big. But then my eye fell on the yellow-and-read-teddy-bear-bike again, which seemed bigger than the one we'd selected, but then again not too big.

So we took it for a test drive. It had no training wheels, but that didn't stop Wolf. Within seconds, he was riding on his own, without daddy's assistance. Just like that, a milestone in my son's life.

Sold! We want this bike, and nothing else! The bike shop man took it away to set it up properly (fine tune the breaks and everything), which gave us the time to eat fries (yes, in Belgium you get complimentary fries when you go to a bike sales) and to try out the inflatable jumping castle (they sure know how to woe their future customers). Tyl liked the fries, but was a bit afraid of that inflatable monstrosity with the giant clowns head towering over it. So he stood in front of hit, looking at his big brother go and bounce from one side to the other. And then he let go of the bouncing castle, and stood on his own for a while. And then he took a step, and another one. Without training wheels!

I tell you, this bike shop is a place of miracles and wonder. Next time a kid of mine needs to get potty trained, I'm going there to buy something.

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