540 days of plague

So, the good news is that the Belgian numbers are pretty stable, with today showing hospitalisations, ICU cases and reported infections down since yesterday, and infections also down from last week. Of course, kids have gone back to school in the last few days, which will cause an uptick; but it feels like it’s all under control.

The Brussels rentrée is under way, with the Liberals hosting a reception a week ago at the Grand Central – you can see me talking to a Bulgarian MEP at a couple of points in this video.

And there’s another reception this evening, hosted by POLITICO; setting this entry to post just before I arrive at it.

Also very glad to say that last weekend our village held its annual zomerfeest, cancelled last year, but arranged at short notice last week. All the traditional elements were there, the nature walk on Saturday:

With some wildlife as well:

And on Sunday there was an exhibition of local artists, including in the church:


While in the beer garden behind the parochial hall, a trio sang Yves Montand’s La Bicyclette and other chansons:

Quand on partait de bon matin
Quand on partait sur les chemins
À bicyclette


Nous étions quelques bons copains
Y avait Fernand, y avait Firmin
Y avait Francis et Sébastien
Et puis Paulette

On était tous amoureux d’elle
On se sentait pousser des ailes
À bicyclette

Sur les petits chemins de terre
On a souvent vécu l’enfer
Pour ne pas mettre pied à terre
Devant Paulette

Faut dire qu’elle y mettait du cœur
C’était la fille du facteur
À bicyclette

Et depuis qu’elle avait huit ans
Elle avait fait en le suivant
Tous les chemins environnants
À bicyclette

Quand on approchait la rivière
On déposait dans les fougères
Nos bicyclettes

Puis on se roulait dans les champs
Faisant naître un bouquet changeant
De sauterelles, de papillons
Et de rainettes

Quand le soleil à l’horizon
Profilait sur tous les buissons
Nos silhouettes

On revenait fourbus, contents
Le cœur un peu vague pourtant
De n’être pas seul un instant
Avec Paulette

Prendre furtivement sa main
Oublier un peu les copains
La bicyclette

On se disait c’est pour demain
J’oserai, j’oserai demain
Quand on ira sur les chemins
À bicyclette

If you leave early in the morning
If you go on these roads
By bicycle


We were a bunch of good friends
There were Fernand and Firmin
There were Francis and Sébastian
And then there was Paulette

We were all in love with her
We were all growing wings
On our bicycle

On these small dirt roads
We often went through hell
To not make our feet touch the ground
In front of Paulette

One has to say that she really put her heart into it
She was the daughter of the postman
On a bicycle

And ever since she turned eight
She followed him around
On all the ways in the neighbourhood
By bicycle

When we came close to the river
We threw into the bracken
Our bikes

Then we rolled around in the fields
Making a changing bouquet come to life
Of grasshoppers, butterflies and
Tree frogs

When the sun at the horizon
Began to cast our shadows
Over the shrubs

We returned exhausted and content
Yet the heart a bit vague
Because I never had a moment all alone
With Paulette

To take her hand all furtively
To forget a few of the friends
The bicycle

I told myself I’d leave that for tomorrow
I will dare to, I will dare to tomorrow
When we will be on the roads
By bicycle

We’re not back to normal yet, but the trajectory is clear, and the weekend celebrations of the turn of the seasons in our village helped to reinforce that feeling.

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