Thursday, December 28, 2023

This was 2023

2023 has almost ended, and it was a year of ups and downs. This is how it was:

Healthwise

The year started with my chemo pills (Cabometyx) not working properly and the methastases growing again. So it was decided that it would be best to undergo a series of radiography sessions. These took place early in March. All went well until early June, when I had heavy cramps in my stomach and was sick all the time. One morning, I was taken to the ER and there it was decided that I needed urgent surgery. Afterwards I was told it was touch and go and even the surgeon didn't rate my chances very high. I had a stomach perforation, most likely a side effect of the radiation. But I woke up after surgery and only had to spend one night at the intensive care unit. By now the scar has healed well. This surgery had a couple of positive effects. Instead of taking chemo pills I had to start up immuno therapy. I seem to have no problems with that. By now I've had 4 courses already. And another thing: I can eat well again and even can enjoy a glass of wine of champagne! Last Sunday we went dining for my sister's birthday, and I finished the entire 6-course menu with suiting wines.

Weather

2023 has been a year of big heat (June and September) and for lots of rain and wind. Most of the time it looks like autumn. It doesn't freeze or snow.

Finances

Last year in December we could sell our flat at the North Sea coast (Knokke-Heist). Thanks to the nice price we received (an offer from somebody who really wanted the flat) we could start renovations in our house and we also could travel a lot.

We had the electricity in the house completely revised and also we placed new windows and doors in the entire house. Ceilings have been lowered and isolated. Old furniture has gone and has been replaced by custom made new one.

And in the course of the year, we have gone to Antwerp, Brussels, Manchester, London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Dresden, Iceland, Spain, Qatar, Montenegro, Morocco.

Conclusion: the year has ended a lot better for me than the one before!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Weekend Antwerp

Last weekend we spent in Antwerp, the town where our grandmother was born. We love coming here, as there is always something going on.

This time we went to see a theatre play. The company uses an old, cosy theatre near the Keyserlei. And oif course, Antwerp is also great for shopping! We couldn't resist buying some stuff, of course.

We came home on Sunday evening. The next day I had to take my second course of immuno therapy. Uop to now I don't suffer any odd side-effects. Since I stopped taking the chemo pills, my life has changed. I can now eat normally once more (already gained some weight) and drink a glass of wine when I like. My feet don't hurt anymore.

Let's hope this can continue!

Later this month we'll return to Antwerp and we'll also make a city trip to Bournemouth in Great-Britain.


Monday, November 13, 2023

Unexpected visit of an old friend

Saturday last, the day after we returned from our trip to Qatar - which is, btw, a wonderful destination and very safe for women (more about this trip in my travelblog) - someone rang our front door bell. It was our former neighbors's daughter. 

Emile and his wife Mariette came to live next to us early in the 1960's. A year or so later their daughter Christel was born. My sister Christine was only a few years older and the two girls became close friends. When Emile's father passed away, he inherited his house and the family moved. By then Christel was married to  Erwin and they got two daughters.

She always kept contact. We met in town for a coffee or a meal, we emailed or spoke on the phone. 

Right now, Christel and Erwin have emigrated to Kenya and have started a business there. They have a luxurious camp of tents for glamping. Around this time the took a short break and so we got a visit.

It's always nice to meet people if you haven't seen them in a while. We talked about our youth and all the fun things we did together.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Back at home

The recent months, our life has been quite busy. I had surgery in June, and needed the following month to recover. Then in August we did trips to Montenegro and Spain. Early September we travelled to Morocco, and now we have just returned from a trip to Latvia and Lithuania - followed by a weekend Antwerp.



We try to see as many places as possible because with my health problems you can never tell when it will stop.

The trip to the Baltic states was interesting. Pnly thing, it was quite cold there. Just as well we brought some warm clothing! Personally, I liked Vilnius (capital of Lithuania) better than Riga (capital of Latvia). But more about that in my travel blog.

A weekend Antwerp is always nice. Our grandmother was born there and as kids we always went to this town if we needed anything, next to seeing grandma's cousin Swas (abbreviaion from Francoise). This time we went to see a play. Theatres close around 11 pm, and by that time there aren't any trains to get home and therefore we always take a hotel.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Exceptional September

We have been having the most wonderful September month since ages! From the beginning of the month, the temperatures rose to the twenties Celsius, which is quite unusual for the time of year. Yesterday, the weather guy told us that September has been warmer than July and August. This year, we had two beautiful months, June and September.

I love nice warm weather, Because I don't have any fat left on my body, I get cold easily, and high temperatures help a lot. 

The nice weather is going to continue to at least the beginning of October. Hopefully it won't become very cold too soon, so we can save up on heating for a while longer. 

Apart from quirks in the weather, here in Belgium we don't suffer any other calamities in general. Earth quakes can happen, but are seldom felt. And fires we don't have a lot either. Sometimes a bit of heather goes into flames, but the latest years people have been more careful and nothing happened.

Friday, September 15, 2023

In travel modus

We're back home, after a trip to Morocco. We were there when the earthquake happened, but as we were staying in Tangiers, we didn't even wake up.

Morocco is a great country to visit. The people are very friendly and helpful and the food is good (good news for those who watch their weight: you won't get fat by eating the local food). I love couscous and tajine's. 

Tangiers is in the north of Morocco. From our hotel's roof terrace you could see Spain and the Rock of Gibraltar. The town itself is worth a visit, and in the area you have other town like Tetouan, Chefchaouen and Assilah. Enough to see to spend a week there.

We came home with things we bought, as usual. The last places we visited were all cheaper than Belgium and so you buy things which would cost some otherwise. In Montenegro I bought mostly t-shirts in my XS size, in Spain I got a beautiful leather jacket and now from Morocco we brought back a painting (actually, just the canvas, rolled up and it just fitted in one of our suitcases) of Berber warriors.

We had a great holiday and now we're enjoying the last beautiful days at home. The weather is supposed to change next week. In October we go to Lithuania and Letland and then the next trip is to Qatar. Now that my sister is retired as well we can travel whenever we like (and as long as there's money for it). Quite a nice feeling! 

For next year we have plans to visit Finland, Brazil, Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, Estland, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and Albania, Israel and Cyprus. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Eviva Espagna!

Normally, we should have taken a trip to Albania early in July. Regretfully, due to my surgery, we had to cancel this trip because I was still not strong enough to travel. To console ourselves, we booked a trip to Spain for the middle of August.

Our destination was Malaga at the Costa del Sol. There are direct flights from Brussels airport, which makes it easy. From Malaga airport it was only a quarter of an hour by taxi to our hotel in Fuengirola. The Higuron Hilton is really something. A big complex with hotel, villa's and flats. We had a suite in the Leiro tower. The hospitality was superb! We were warmly welcomed, found lots of welcomin surprises in our suite, like champagne and chocolate sweets.

Our main goal was to relax, but of course we didn't spend all our time at the infinity pool. We took a trip to see Malaga and environs, and also went to Granada to visit the Alhambra. It was a very relaxing time. When we returned home, it was a big change from the sunny and warm weather at the Costa del Sol. Here it a lot colder, and it rains regularly. Luckily for us, we are looking forward to a trip to Morocco.