December 2004

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3 December - A Sinterklaas rhyme about our visit here

This last month has been really fun
lots of Warhammer and riding “shotgun”
We've been taking lots of walks
mostly while looking like Ewoks.
It's winter here, so it's really cold,
which puts most other outdoor activities on hold.
There are, however, lots of spots to swim,
and none of them are grim,
these swimming paradise -s are all really cool,
even if there wouldn't be a pool.

The Sint is in town
so don't be a clown,
if you are mean,
he'll surely make you sweat and clean.

Opa and oma are really nice,
it's like living in sweet rice.
Their house is really pretty,
so of course it isn't gritty.

We went to a house in a medieval town,
and I never even saw a frown.
We also went to the beach while we were there,
and we never even brought a chair.
Now this is the end of the rhyme,
so stop reading, or you'll waste your time.

4 December - Gravensteen

Yesterday we went to Gent, where momma went to college for 5 years, to see a medieval castle. The castle started out as a fortified house in 918, and was made into a true castle in the 12-13th century by Count Phillip of Alsac. Count Phillip as impressed by the castles of the East, while on crusade, so he modeled his castle after them. The Gravensteen was built for two reasons: to protect the county from invaders, and to consolidate the hereditary power. In the 13th century, the castle became hard to control because of the feudal-free zone that was developing around the castle. It became an important landing place, for barges with goods, and a substantial market. In the 14th century the castle did not appear to be a suitable residence, as it was often surrounded by hostilities from the city, and as such it could not be defended sufficiently. From that time on, the Gravensteen was used for the gathering of “the Council of Flanders”, the highest Court in the County. In the 19th century, the castle housed a cotton spinning mill (can you imagine?!). The current castle is basically a museum. They have a large collection of genuine weapons from the Middle Ages, along with a bigger collection of torture devices, including a real guillotine. Nikki almost got sick when she imagined what the devices can do to a body. All of the torture devices are real, and were donated to the museum by the son of the last executioner in Gent around 1900.