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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This is Belgian summer

This year, we're having what is called a 'typical Belgian summer'. To make it more clear, that means:

* Three days of hot and sunny weather....

The hotels, restaurants, caf├ęs and other businesses at the coast don't complain. Because there are enough sunny and warm days, they have a lot of customers. The previous months were also fine and sunny, so they look forward to a very good season.

What is better than having an icecream while walking on the promenade, or sitting down at a terrace to have a fine Belgian beer (I think of Leffe, Grimbergen, Brugse Zot,  ....)? Or having a barbecue in the garden or on the beach?

* Four days of heavy rain

On the other hand, when you are not at the coast, you will have experienced extreme heat, followed by explosive thunderstorms and lightning. In one or two days, more rain has come down than the whole of the previous months before. A lot of villages got their feet into the water.

The problem of the floodings is man-made, of course. Belgium has 11 million inhabitants, and all of them want a place to live. So the councils have to make more grounds available for building. And which ground do they pick? Those which were not suitable at all. In the old days, every village and town near a river or brook had pastures ready to take on the overflow. In the 1950s and 1960s, I remember, we could go skating on those pastures flooded by the winter storms. Nobody in a right mind would build a house on a site that was used for overflow. But nowadays these pastures are replaced with new (high priced) housing. And then they wonder why the water comes into the garage or the living room...

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