27 Oct 2010

Farewell to Paul, our football-loving octopod.

I don't know if you saw this on the news yesterday... but football-loving-octopus-lovers are in mourning:

I'm not usually into football-related topics outside of the World Cup... but I had so much fun with the Paul stories this summer that I can't help but feeling a bit sad. :o(  Spaniards wanted to adopt him (to save him from ending up on a German bbq after Spain's semi-final victory against the Germans), they even put him on their flag:

And I managed to get my English students interested in a news report when I did a listening exercise based on a YouTube video showing Paul's prediction in favour of Spain! 

He was so much a part of my World Cup fun last summer that I adopted my own little Pol the Octopod at the Mallorca Aquarium. He won't be making football predictions, but he has been named the mascot of my new travelling blog! After all, you'd thing eight legs are better than two for travelling around the world! ;o)

Apparently Paul will be cremated, and the Aquarium in Germany has a "new Paul" ready to take up residence in the tank (octopi are always very popular in aquaria). Even here in Liège they've been talking about dipping into the football prediction game since we received our very own octopus from the Antwerp aquarium last month!

Farewell Paul, may you enjoy an endless supply of mussels from here on out!

More info (and videos) on this BBC page.

25 Oct 2010

Hiking through Wallonia: a gorgeous day between La Roche and Marcourt!

I had forgotten the difference the sun makes in this country... It's like there's a Jekyll and Hyde switch between rainy days and sunny ones. And the latter are so few and far between... (it's actually more grey than rainy most of the time)... that when you find yourself in the midst of a truly glorious sunny day it's like rediscovering sunshine and warmth all over again!

On such a day (Oct 3rd... I'm running behind on these posts, argh!) I got to do my 3rd 1/2 day hike exploring the rural areas of Wallonia (the French-speaking part of Belgium). A fabulous hike through some gorgeous forests (with sadly fewer mushrooms, they're on their way out now) and fields, under radiant sunshine (that had me wondering why I hadn't thought of bringing sunscreen!) and going up and down and UP and DOWN some very, very, STEEP hills! Once again, this may be a flat country (highest point is 694m above sea level), but when a hill is steep, it's steep!

15 Oct 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water!

I just learnt about this... apparently there's a Blog Action Day (every year on Oct 15th) where the purpose is to unite bloggers around the world by posting on the same topic in the hopes of sparking discussion and action.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Unfortuately it's too late for me to participate significantly in this, which is a pity because this topic is right up my alley! I've often wondered why our blue planet is called Earth instead of Ocean, but that might just be the oceanographer inside of me popping her scientific ideas into my head... Sadly it's almost midnight and my brain is turning to zombie mush (has been a long hard week, finally noticing the season  changing due to waking up in the dark several days in a row and a significant decrease in temperatures,;have yet to get used to it) and I don't have the energy to put in the effort to produce something worthwhile.

But I did want to mention it here in case some of you do have time to participate in this (here are some ideas), and in any case so you can check out the website I linked to above and go read what people around the world are writing on the subject!

I could also remind you about our annual Oceanic Blog-A-Thon (click here for 2009, and here for 2010 editions) which is after all about water, from a certain point of view! ;o)


Finally, for those of you living in "developed" countries, take a few moments to appreciate the simple miracle of opening your water faucet, filling a glass of the transparent liquid, and being able to drink it without worrying about possible health problems. And then ditch the bottled water 'cause you don't really need it!

11 Oct 2010

Hiking through Wallonia: Creppe with the FFBMP

I think I mentioned last week that some of the hikes organised by the University Hiking Group don't allow for meet-ups at noon and so you're either in for the long haul (25km) or you don't go... Well turns out my second weekend in Liège was going to be one those, and quite frankly after the aches of the previous week and worried about my ankle I wasn't up to trying a 25k hike on my second trip out! Fortunately for me some other people in the group felt more like a half day hike as well, so a friend (the one who got me mixed up with this group in the first place!) and I joined them on Saturday Sept 25th for a hike organised by the Fédération Francophone Belge des Marches Populaires (FFBMP for short). I hadn't heard about this organisation before, but I think it's fabulous! Each Saturday and Sunday they choose a couple of spots where they programme circular hikes of varying distances (usually 5-10-15-25-50 km) and mark the paths with colourful bowties or arrows so that they're easy to spot and follow (and you don't need to be an expert with maps and following complicated GR trails). You go alone, with friends, in a group... at your own rythm! There's a rallying point where you start and finish in a local school where they serve food (grilled sausages) and drink, and there are a couple other "rest stops" along the way where they also have drinks available.

So Isa, a University hiker with two dogs, e-mailed several people telling them she was going on one of those hikes in Creppe (région de Spa) instead of the big Sunday hike and who wanted to join her? Well 4 of us did and we had a lovely afternoon of it! Not as challenging as the University hike for sure, but was nice to get some km under my feet (we went a bit too leisurely and ended up doing the 10km circuit instead of the 15km as planned 'cause we were running out of time). Had a bit of rain (not too bad for Belgium) and mostly had to deal with a lot of MUD! :p

So ready to join me on another hike? Here we go! ;o)

7 Oct 2010


Random thoughts from today...
  • I remembered today how much I HATE laundromats! And this one (2 blocks from my kot, only good thing about it) is particularly crappy... only 4 working washing machines and 1 working drier. And I had a load of light and dark to do (I've got enough clothes to get me through 2 weeks, and with sheets and towels can complete enough for 2 machines). Talk about wasting time... Thank heavens I've got free time in my class schedule during the day 'cause this place has to be impossible on weekends! :s
  • I am so behind on my blog it's not even funny anymore! Even with free hours here and there in the day, it's hard to sit down and write when I have to prepare classes, or when I'm tired (or recuperating from the extremely nasty cold that hit me last week) and just want to veg out watching a TV show, or catch up with family and friends on Facebook or Skype...
  • When was the last time I talked about movies? Or the books I was reading? I have to bring myself up to speed on those 'cause I've got access to some really good ones here! We've got a great independant movie theatre (I saw a couple of lovely French movies in Sept!) here, all in VOS (no dubbing, YAY!!!), and I've managed to renew my suscription to the local library... Add to that the books friends have been kind enough to loan me, and as you can see: 

4 Oct 2010

Hiking through Wallonia: Nonceveux-Lorcé

Time sure flies when you're busy as a bee! So much to write, so little time!

One of the reasons I'm glad to be back in Belgium this fall is that I've joined the University of Liège's hiking group! Starting up hiking again was one of my plans for getting back in shape last winter and spring... until a certain tumble knocked me out of circulation for a couple of months and then limited me to aquatic action. Well, taking it slow but surely (being careful of my ankle and how it reacts) I'm done with standing still, I'm on the move! And I'd like to share these tales of trees and hills (they don't really have mountains here... but the hills can have some very steep climbs!) and mushrooms with you! Hope you're interested. ;o)