Saturday, October 27. 2007
Well, I'm not sure that attending a wedding in Belgium last weekend is truly being on holiday but we had such a nice weekend that it felt like it and one of the Greece jokes sort of continued.
Kurt the Dude guy and Els were kind enough to invite Mads and I to their wedding. (I first heard a whisper of this at about the same time last year, so he's a fast mover!) He suggested that the best place to stay might be the nearby city of Leuven (well known to drinkers as the home of Stella Artois!). What a lovely city. Not unlike Edinburgh in some ways, but much nicer in others. It was clean, the buildings were beautiful and the food, coffee and beers were top-notch! From choosing to stay on Friday night for convenience, it turned out to be a great move and we had an extremely enjoyable Saturday milling around the shops and cafes. Of many welcome things we noticed about Belgian life, our favourite was probably that older people packed the street cafes, eating, drinking, smoking and watching the world go by. It occurred to us both that old people in Britain are more likely to stay at home and lead quite sheltered lives. In Leuven, we saw many families out with their older parents. My impression was that Belgians might treat their elders with a little more respect than I'm used to. Leuven looks like a pretty good place to grow old.
On to the wedding reception ...
Having cheated death narrowly alongside the craziest cab driver I've ever witnessed and getting lost on the way (despite the map that Kurt had supplied) we arrived just in time. We were probably one of the last couples to walk in, but as there was still a small queue to greet Kurt and Els and their family, we got away with it Just in front of us in the queue were some recognisable Miracle faces who were still in a state of shock having lost their rather large wedding gift on the way. In Belgium, the modern custom is to give cards with money tucked inside, which seems like a pretty sensible option when so many couples have set up home together long before. Well, the Miracle card contained a very generous gift indeed, but after placing the envelope on top of their car, they drove off with it still on the roof! I know this is true, because Kurt tracked down the CCTV footage later and you can see the envelope on the roof as they drove out of the hotel car park! Mogens retraced their steps in vain (that's why his seat is free in this photo), so someone in Belgium had a very happy week last week. At first, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take the mickey out of Mogens about it. (In fact, no-one believed him at first and just assumed it was another funny story.) Then I did the conversion from Euros to Sterling, gulped and decided I'd better stop
The venue and food were terrific (and I'm not just being polite) and Kurt was gracious enough to inject a couple of lines of English in his speech in Flemish. They were so welcome, I'll repeat them here from memory.
'For those of you who didn't understand any of that, this is a Belgian wedding.
The bar is over there.
When the dancing begins, the toilets are over there!'
As the night went on, more wine and beer was consumed, strange dances were danced (Do The Hucklebuck, anyone?) I think Mogens decided that we should have a mini stag night and that would involve cutting up some of Kurt's clothes.
Oh, and the ongoing joke? Mads pointed out to me that one of the songs during the reception was Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, or rather a rather bizarre cover version. Not only is that the most incredible song to hear at a wedding (Sample lyrics : And we're changing our ways,Taking different roads,Then love, love will tear us apart again) but I'd never heard a bossa nova version! My well-rehearsed Curtis dance routine seemed strangely out of time. Later there was a Depeche Mode cover version as well (they're Mads' favourite band) which capped it off nicely.
In the end, we were probably one of the first couples to leave, to make sure we got a taxi and because we simply don't have the stamina these days! I promise, it was *nothing* to do with the impending Salsa dancing. (Gulp)
All in all, a fantastic event and I can't wait to catch up with both Kurt and Els in San Francisco in a couple of weeks to say proper thanks over a quiet beer.
Congratulations to them both - they make a great couple.
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