Monday, February 19, 2007

Time and Place in Another Place

I was interviewed by a lovely journalist tonight and her questions made me realise that I really don't do 'time and place'. Maybe I never have really but all sense of seasonal time has surely been destroyed here in the northern hemisphere.

Christmas in winter is wrong beyond words ... I understand cherries, strawberries, new potatoes and a long summer holiday as Christmastime. The first frost often sets during Easter, hinting at the winter ahead ... June and July are very cold months, snow sometimes surprises in August, just as the new lambs are arriving.

As for place ... back home in New Zealand there are landmarks in the shape of hills, mountains, rivers or coastline; there are definate landmarks.

Belgium lacks anything resembing a useful landmark once I leave the old city centre. The ring road leaves me disorientated beyond words and I'm still not sure which way the Netherlands or Brussels is ...

The sun rises 'over there' ... I had a laughing Matthew assure me it still rose in the east, even here in the northern hemisphere today and it sets behind the nuclear power plant which must be west...

As for place ... BBC was beamed into Istanbul and it's here in Belgium too. I follow an Australian series and have a few of my favourite New Zealand dvds here with me. Gert's English is fluent and talking with him is like talking to someone from home.

Although, while considering things, it comes back to me suddenly ... Belgian drivers regularly provide me with reality checks, those wrong-side-of-the-road rather-fast-drivers who work on a system of voorrang van rechts that truly terrifies me into a sense of living in 'some other place'.

It was a delight to chat with Roxana, to consciously work through her questions and to 'realise' things I've never quite pulled into consciousness. I'm grateful for that.

And the result?
New Zealand Christmas party at our place ... June 2007!


screamish said...

yes, for me Christmas is hot, lying on the floor after the pool, under a fan, perhaps watching some biblical film on TV or the cricket highlights. The barbarians in France just dont understand!!

screamish said...

um I'm really sorry I dont know how to undo this but I just flagged you as bad content, simply because i saw "flag blog" and for a moment of pure ignorance thought it was "bookmark"...I'm really sorry please let me know if this causes you any probs

je parle francais, doc si vous voulez je peux envoyer un message au "blogger" francais, pour m'en expliquer...ah merde!



Lever said...

Time: 12:40 Place: rainy Farnborough

Belgium is one of those countries that we don't ever think of having nuclear energy unless it's imported from France... but hey, you learn something new everyday and at least you won't have warships just off your coast incase you decide to use the technology for more than just power ;)

Peter said...


You know Di, I'm not into gate-crashing, but a Christmas party in June sure sounds like fun. But to be honest, I went through the same experiences during my time in Singapore. Christmas equals chilly, rain-swept stormy weather, not tropical heat.

And when it came to driving on the "wrong" (left-hand) side of the road from Shangi to Flamingo Valley or Orchard Road downtown: no problems, until the first intersections showed up ;)

I won't comment on your sense of direction (although occasionally mentioning "GPS" might do the trick) but I agree that traffic in, and especially around Antwerp is "problematic".

Anyway, for the time being Antwerp, Belgium sure must be "Time and Place in Another Place", but it often can be exciting and fun. But not always ;-)

margaret said...

Cold does not equal Christmas in my world either! Not until these last few years, that is.

Manic said...

Christmas in summer, it sounds weird. There's supposed to be snow and ice and snow ball fights and cold and frost and did I mention cold yet?

Belgium has landmarks to orientate oneself upon. You use towers of churches. The exact system of orientation went lost during the secularisation but it used to be used for that. An easy way to my place would be, follow the smelly river :D.

The voorrang van rechts is indeed ludicrous. Especially in a country where street corners are invisible because of overcrowding. We should start driving on the left like back in the old days of the Roman Empire, those were the good old days.

woman wandering said...

Hi screamish ... in keeping with a truly New Zealand tradition I would have to call you a 'plonker' re: flagging my blog :)

And yes to your description of Christmas, although down south in Dunedin I should confess, sunshine wasn't always a given.

et en ce qui concerne le "flag", je préfère un blog sans ;-)
donc, merci pour tout effort chez blogger.

Rainy Farnborough ... I hope you're not planning on sending that rain our way.

I was stunned by the nuclear power plants ... New Zealand is not only the land of the long white cloud but it's also nuclear free.

And as Belgium doesn't have oil, I suspect we'll continue to remain safe from those warships eh wot.

Hi Peter. I'll let you know about the party closer to the time and perhaps we could slip a Raffels theme into the selection of drinks.

I do believe a GPS is my only hope here in Europe. Surely it has something to do with me relocating my direction instincts to the opposite side of the world ... then again, if you talked to friends in NZ, they might tell you I was always kind of 'challenged' with regard to direction.

Margaret ... the cold surely changes a Christmas, doesn't it. There is something so delicious about lying around in summer heat as opposed to tucked up in doors on a cold winter's day.

woman wandering said...

Manic, you don't need to mention the cold ... I know the terrible cold. Although we were in Spain this Christmas and somehow the frost with BLUE skies was heavenly.

The church towers ... that's what I meant about the old centre of Antwerpen, you have the kathedraal and the first skyscraper in Europe ... :) I guess Damme has a good landmark and then yes, there's the smelly old river ;)

Voorrang van rechts is the most terrifying road rule I've ever heard of ... I was less scared in traffic in Istanbul; a fact friends don't believe until they experience their first 'near miss voorrang van rechts'.

That Roman Empire surely knew what it was doing.