Europe 08.07.2016

Friday the 8th

It was about time I had a waffle. I waited patiently for the Smallest Waffle Shop in the World to open at 10:00 am but I was so eager for a freshly pressed purely Belgian delicacy that I arrived a few minutes early as the iron was still warming up. For what might have been the longest four minutes of my life, I made smalltalk with the shopkeeper who explained this location was a counterpart of a larger premise around the corner where they had ice cream and toppings too. Throughout my stay both this and last year, I repeatedly passed the Smallest Waffle Shop in the World and was made to do a double-take by the sweet lingering scent that wafted from the alcove. Altered to the ding of the timer, the gentleman forked the warm pastry from the iron and drizzled it wish molten chocolate. I was entirely satisfied.

I was very close to walking back to Sebastien this morning to resume my favourite window seat in full view of the cathedral but was distracted by Maurice Coffee and Knits which I had ignored on my walk past so many times before. Whilst the discoloured desks and potted plants in the window attracted my attention so many times before, it does not do justice the quirky interior and cozy ambience inside the venue. The walls are tattooed with quotations from the Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass children’s books. The menu too stems inspiration from these classic tales hence I ordered an Alice Latte which is made with honey and rose petals. A breakfast buffet down the aisle of the store entices the customers before they can order their speciality coffee at the counter. The counter advertises artesian breads and a selection of handmade teas. To the left a selection of knits are displayed in a rainbow of colours and of the softest wool I have ever encountered! The settee and coffee table I currently occupy is set up for a tea party, and soon will be so when my parents join me for coffee. This is a pleasant alternative and proof of the value in trying new things.

We gathered ourselves and departed the cafe in the direction of the Northern Terrace on the quay. It seemed as though every week a different attraction was organised in the derelict shipping warehouses on the port of Antwerp. The area in which the flamenco dancing festival took place last week had been rearranged into a dining area reserved for the many marines and cadets whom were working on the Antwerp Tall Ships Races. The navy sailing ships were docked at the drop off, separated from the concrete with buoys the size of small cars. The tall masts sported flags communicating maritime signals but the close detail was only observable from onboard the polished decks. The ships had travelled from Poland, Russia, Mexico, England, Croatia and various other navies to take part in the race and were on course to other ports to showcase the majestic vessels. The dock was also laden with personnel, many of which were aiding the awe-stricken attendees of the festival and others who were also experiencing the ships on display. They dressed very smartly. A young range of skippers were present, clearly many of whom were cadets participating in training exercises or holiday maritime programs. It was an impressive sight to see! I was surprised by the stability of the boats, I felt as though I had not left solid ground taking in regard we still were in very calm waters.

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This evening, we were the guests of honour at a barbecue hosted by my mothers best friend and the group of childhood friends they had known for a surplus of forty years. Lots of old faces familiar to my parents had to be reintroduced to me for it had been years since I had met this group at the last “GOJOS” gathering. Fixed gazes memorised the sentimental expression across my mothers countenance as she made a speech emoting her appreciation for the old comrades who still knew her fifteen years on. Amongst catching up on the past year of separation and reminiscing on playground shenanigans, the talk was of bikes and the countryside and all the empty topics you discuss in the good company of your best friends. Tonight was mum’s night. She was glowing from the attention and animated with joy from reengaging with her best friends from youth. When the daughters had departed for home, long before their parents had finished drinking or even began at dessert, my primary companion became the labrador Bo whom was house-guest for the week also. The well behaved dog craved the affection of the party, sometimes sitting on their feet or begging for food with puppy-dog eyes like you’ve never seen. She finally got her way into some greek salad when the alcohol and exhaustion distracted the friends enough to leave the pantry door open. Squeals of laughter erupted from the patio at the hilarity of Bo slobbering into the olives and tomato that had been meant for dinner but she resumed her position on the cold tiles in utter contempt.

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