My first 13 years in Belgium
I was born in the UK, in London, Paddington on the 2nd Janurary 1976. Gosh that makes me feel emotional… There is a strange sensation you get when you right certain things down…
When I was a few months old i moved to Belgium with my parents and sister Lucy to a village called Wonck in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium. Alors c’est super ça!
My dad was Belgian probably originating from the north of France at some point, his parents where from the Ardennes in the south of Belgium bordering France. My dad Jose Titeux was an Ecologist, Herbalist, Environmentalist, Inventor, he understood nature and how the world works. He spoke on the national radio for years every sunday about wild plants and their virtues as well aswritting his own Fiche Verte about wild plants which where like loose cards you can refer to. He used the media that was available at the time to create ripples of change for the respect of nature. I seem to have inherited his passion…
My mother was half German and half Irish and loved plants, she introduced my dad to them, and he never looked back.
We lived in a bery basic beautiful house made of Flint and Chalk, we just had one cold tap in the whole place, it lived in the kitchen, the bathroom was bolted on the outside and the toilet further away. We had no TV, no fridge, no central heating, just a coal/wood fire in the kithcen and wood fire in the living room. It sounds like I lived in a cave and you might pitty me for missing out on all those cartoons and films (well don’t worry i caught up with that when I reached 13, more about that in the next 13 years), well no apart from people would say did you see this and did you see that, and i used to always say no and feel like I was missing out. And now at the age of 36, the same happens, but now I dont feel like I am missing out! I don’t watch films, deffinatelly no news anymore, not for over 2 years now, but when i have time I love comedi, cooking and real documentaries about life and people.
Living in that house so close to nature helpted me feel closer to her and understand her better, I saw the trees that where cut down, the logs that where chopped up, then carried in, dried then burned in the open fire that was our TV, I spend many hours watching the wispers and crackle, I never saw two flames the same, when my dad was out I would experiment and melt my cars, they melted and looked like mercury, that was fun, my dad never knew. I wish i could have told him.
I used to talk with my dad in front of the fire and he always used to say, “One day you will understand”, that used to anoy me, I don’t want to wait for one day, I want to understand now! He should have takent he time to explain more to me. But he was right about one thing, I know understand the things he used to tell me about. He tought me in other ways through being close to nature, understanding where heat comes from, to appreciate a tree that has grown for years, the hard work involved in nuturing it, cutting, chopping drying it then to learn how to season the wood, make a fire, use the right wood and not waste it. I felt the heat directly, appreciated it, watched an dlistened to it having followed the whole sustainable and renewable process from beggining to end.
Compare that to the electric pillons that carry electricity that is made god knows how and where, wired straight into our homes hidden behind walls and magically creating heat with only a unit of energy on yoru bill to give you an idea of what it is costing you. But you have no idea what it is costing the earth, seeing something from beggining to end helps you appreciate it.
We didn’t have a fridge but we never ate rotten food, we didn’t need a fridge, all our food was fresh picked as close to the source as possible, from the garden, in the pan or salad bowl and in our mouths. We did not eat ready meals, only when when mum had our meals ready!
One of the best things ever I enjoyed was going mushroom picking, I don’t really eat mushrooms much, i hate them really, well one reason is because my didgestion doesn’t really like them, but believe me fresh wild mushrooms picked by you and cooked nicelly with a bitt of salt and pepper, a bit of cream maybe and a little lemon, you cannot get better in my mind, i really really miss that, my dad knew where to get mushrooms, but I would not know now. If I lived in the country I would probably learn when and where to pick them again. But it was easy with my dad, I just followed him, it was like a treasure hunt, you searched and searched and looked for clues then the exitement and rush you got when you came accross a mushroom was umbelievable, there was nothing quite like it!
We didn’t have modern luxuries, gadgets in our house, but my dad loved food, he bought the best he could. We would go to the market in Maastricht in Holland just accross the border from Belgium and buy fresh fish and smoked Mackerel and we would go to the health food shop. We ate organic and whole foods, just the way nature intended. Mixed with the fresh vegetables from our garden, the fruit from our trees, the eggs from our chickens running free in the field, eating worms, grass, and self medicating themselves with herbs.
We had fresh milk and the nicest cheese from our goats, I would never own a goat again, they are a pain, they used to escape all the time and get their heads stuch in the fences, impossible to get them out, they had long horns and face that would slip into the square holes in the mesh fence, and like an imprella or spear it was a nightmare trying to get them back through the way they came! I would really love a pig, some sheep, maybe a cow, and I still have (well the fox got the last batch, so I am taking a break this year and growing veg instead) chickens, I love feeding them scraps and getting eggs in return, that satisfies me lots. Plus who doens’t love eggs, if you could only squeeze one egge out a chicken a year people would see eggs like caviar, fillet or smoked salmon, the soft satisfying taste would be revered, that is how I see eggs, rarety and fashion plays a big part.
For part two of my first thirteen years click on this link. See you later.
Here is a video about my first 13 years:
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