Belgium

I’ve lived in Belgium for nearly 15 years of my life now, so thought I would do a gallery retrospective of all my paintings and watercolour postcards of Belgium:

Acrylic paintings:

Brussels watercolour and ink postcards 10x15cm:

Before we had kids my husband and I lived in Ixelles near the Flagey ponds, so I did a series of Ixelles water colour and ink postcards 10x15cm:

Bruges watercolour and ink postcards 10x15cm:

Antwerp watercolour and ink postcards 10x15cm:

Belgian countryside watercolour and ink postcards 10x15cm

Isabel’s 3rd birthday

We celebrated Isabel’s third birthday at our friends house in the Hague last weekend. They have a nearly three year old too and the girls got on very well, which was so sweet to see. Also the Hague is lovely (although way more cars than I was expecting for a place which has such great cycling facilities) and walking on the very windy beach helped clear out all the cobwebs!

This will probably be my last post for a while, as today is my final day with both girls in childcare before 6 weeks of summer holidays begin….I wish that fact did not fill me with quite so much dread, but it is going to be quite intense I think, especially with this heat wave/heat dome thing coming up. Good luck getting through it, and I’ll be back in September!

It’s not the lights, it’s the flights..

I don’t know how much of it is wilful ignorance and how much is actual ignorance, but many people I know are in complete denial about how bad flying is. They are the kind of people who would say they ‘believe’ in climate change and want to do their bit for the environment, but will happily brag about how many flights they’ve been on.

We actually had this conversation with one of my husbands friends who came to visit us from the UK recently and it was just incredible. Obviously the UK is an island and yes that makes it harder to get anywhere else without flying (thankfully he did take the Eurostar to visit us) but the sheer gratuitousness of the number of flights was shocking, and left me speechless. Travelling seems to have become this game of one up man-ship totally disconnected from the reality in which we are living and the harms that it causes.

We’re at the point where we can’t just do the small things like turn off the lights when we are not using them and recycle, we need to do big, actual lifestyle change type things like changing the way we travel.

It’s not the lights, it’s the flights

The Stay Grounded organisation has loads of great facts on the climate impact of aviation, and this image from them sums up why flying is incompatible with meeting climate targets in any kind of equitable way:

Source: Stay Grounded Network Twitter

If you are rich enough to fly frequently, luckily you are also rich enough to choose where you live and organise your life in such a way that you don’t have to (i.e. it’s not necessary for your job, or to see your family or to escape grimy living conditions). And not flying doesn’t mean not travelling! The Man in Seat 61 has great tips on how to travel by train to just about anywhere!

Heatwave

On June 18th 2022 there was a heatwave in Brussels and temperatures reached 34 degrees Celsius (they over 40 degrees in parts of France and Spain).

This is our families version of the typical fun in the sun* front page news photograph VS the unphotographable night time heat stress made worse by plane noise:

*Fun in the sun lasted approximately 30 minutes before the girls had had enough in the paddling pool and we had to spend the afternoon inside hiding from the sun.

Change our relationship to TIME

In my last blog post I wrote about how I always feel like I don’t have enough time to act on the climate crisis because of the daily grind of our parenting routine. I think our whole relationship with time needs to change to tackle the problems we are facing, which in turn requires an over haul of all our routines.

We need to SLOW down and move to a four day working week so people have more time to take care of themselves and others, and can travel more slowly and reduce the amount they consume and waste by instead repairing and mending and maintaining and repurposing the things they already have:

We need to switch to an energy system powered almost entirely by renewables and instead of that energy system trying to match supply to demand, have our demand match the supply as it fluctuates with the weather:

We need to adapt to the changes that have already happened (more extreme weather fluctuations, increased heat waves during summer, a global pandemic etc) and change school timetables and daylight savings time and adopt more flexible schedules depending on the weather:

How do we get from the time we have now that is hurtling us to disaster to a time which is slower but also less repetitive, less able to be pinned down to fixed routines? Unless we do it deliberately we’re going to be forced into it as fewer and fewer people are healthy enough to work and more and more areas and populations are hit by extreme weather events and everything grinds to a halt.