A while ago, I signed up for the ‘Show me your neighbourhood – around the world‘ series of the piri-piri lexicon.
I was so excited, and wanted to build my contribution right away.
Because the first available spot was months and months ahead, I had to be patient though.
So patient, I completely forgot.
I felt awful about it, but kind as she is, Annabelle told me to post it anyway. There’s this thing about bloggers and deadlines that just doesn’t match, she understood that.
I kinda promised to post it on Wednesday, but whenever I was free, the weather was hideous and I really really wanted to show off my neighbourhood in nice pictures. So I postponed.
It’s Friday now, I’m free and it’s raining again. No use in keeping postponing, so off we went.
Turns out umbrellas are very convenient attributes to hide private faces.
And the rain made sure nobody was there to give me strange looks for taking pictures of a bus stop and all.
We had to look for a typical
… a playground / play area
… a local mode of transport
… a typical house/building
… a street nearby
… a school, nursery or other education facility
… a market, supermarket or other shopping outlet
I took ‘neighbourhood’ very literally, so we only went looking for the required items at walking distance. Well, hiking distance. You should know, when my husband, the Bear, describes how to find our house, he likes to end his directions with ‘You keep driving straight ahead, and when you think you’re about to fall off the face of the earth, just drive a little further and you will end up at our house.’ We don’t really live thàt remote, but together with the name of our neighbourhood, Stal, which translates into Stable, it explains I had to be quite creative to find all the required items listed above.
First, I took a picture that included our own house. It’s a very typical non-descriptive red brick house as you will see many in Belgium. If you look very closely, you can see the street art the Penguin made on the facing wall. Apparently, coloured chalk does not come off from brick walls with heavy rain.
A little down our street, we have a lot of fields where harvesting has begun. Interesting enough to stand still for what seems hours, as if the rain was not pouring down on us.
Two streets further, we have a small school, a kindergarten. In Belgium, most kids start school at age 2.5 or 3. It seems very young, but it really is just like kindergarten, or pre-school, or whatever you name it. All focused on clay, paint and naps. In the old days, this school must have been something special in Stal, because the street is actually called Kleuterstraat, with ‘kleuter‘ meaning ‘pre-schooler‘ (and ‘straat‘, well, you should be able to guess that one). The Penguin and the Panther didn’t go to this school, although it is very conveniently at walking distance. Instead, we chose a school that follows Freinet pedagogy, which is nowhere near our neighbourhood.
A little further, there is this empty field which is mostly used for horse riding practice. Every once in a while, we will see it occupied with sheep and a shepherd that sticks out his tongue each time we wave at him. The announcement says there will be a tent for a local fair in a few weeks, called ‘Stal Zingt‘. The Singing Stable. No sheep involved.
To ensure accessibility of such rural areas as hours, it is stated by law that a certain, high, percentage of the population has to have access to public transport within a given, short, distance. So when we went a little further, there were bus stops, marked by the yellow poles, one on each side of the road. However, to avoid empty busses driving through those quiet streets every hour, you have to make a reservation to use it, which happens about once every few weeks. Obviously, we decided not to stay put hoping for a bus to pass by. We stayed long enough to try and make a nice picture out of it, but I failed miserably.
As for supermarkets, it would have taken us over an hour at the Panther’s walking speed to get there, so I would not consider that ‘neighbourhood’ any more. So we walked to what came closest to a shop: the one and only home-made bread-and-soup vending machine. Never used it before, but it gives me peace of mind to know I can go there in time of tomato-soup-need.
Finally, a play area. We have this beautiful lake which we frequently visit. When the wheather is fine, it’s filled with splashing kids. At days like today, it will be only the Penguin and the Panther that like to take chilly, lonely dives in the water, some accidental, some not. There is a large playground associated with it, with cave slides, dragon swings, climbing ropes, a pirate boat and even midget golf and a look-out tower. All at serious biking distance however. But, to be honest, I believe our entire neighbourhood is a play area. Who needs a swing and a slide when you have an illegal bramble bush ruin literally across the street from your house?