• Coasting along

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    If you've ever walked through a Flemish town on a sunny weekend morning, you have seen the crowds of cyclists out on their weekly ritual - all ages, all levels of fitness, all wearing colourful Lycra uniforms, the hum of Dutch conversation set to the melody of gliding packs of racing bikes. It can be like waking up along the route of the Tour de France. And then of course there are the bike parking lots at the train stations; the bike shops in every town; the bike paths linking villages; and the huts for long-distance cyclists... Add to this two new initiatives, the Trap & Tram (Pedal & Tram) programme along the coast and the Villo! programme in Brussels, and the question that always comes to mind is: What is it with Flanders and cycling?Full story
  • Baby Michael (c) Belga

    Face of Flanders — Michael De Kleine

    29 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    In the normal way of things, they're delivered by storks who deposit them under a gooseberry bush. Not in Burgerhout in Antwerp. There, the arrival of a new baby is signalled by an alarm from the vondelingenschuif (foundling slide) that's been installed in the offices of the charity Moeders voor Moeders (Mothers for Mothers) since 2000.    Full story
  • fruit en groenten

    29 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    The silly season is upon us. With everyone from builders to politicians heading off on holiday, the newspapers have to find something to fill their columns. So, today I read that the city of Bruges is to investigate whether it should introduce little bags, similar to poo bags for dogs, where people could put their chewed gum or cigarette butts. A fag end in a plastic bag sounds dangerous, but the plan involves airtight bags. I can still smell burning, though.Full story
  • Fashionista

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    It's always difficult, smack in the middle of a warm summer, to look at the autumn collections and know which trends will take over the fashion world by then. But it's especially difficult when the predictions are as foreign and mysterious as the one trend that will prevail this winter: Goth.Full story
  • Borderlines

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    Last week we looked at Baarle-Hertog, which consists of a number of Belgian enclaves located across the border in the Netherlands. If it seemed that no other Flemish municipality could be more complicated, think again. This week we look at Voeren, a Flemish municipality that belongs to the province of Limburg. However, geographically it is completely isolated from the rest of Limburg. It's actually surrounded by the Netherlands and Wallonia. Full story
  • Alfred Stevens' De dame in het roze (The lady in Pink), 1866

    Melancholy and elegance

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    Alfred Stevens was a 19th century Belgian painter who became famous for his vivid and graceful portraits of upper-class Parisian women who appear to have spent their days doing nothing in particular besides simply being beautiful. These elaborate and intricately-detailed portraits of society women in their boudoirs may have become his trademark but there is more to Alfred Stevens than meets the eye. The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels has decided to bring a different view of his oeuvre focusing mainly on his contribution to 19th century European genre painting.Full story
  • High stakes and pink flamingos

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    "I'm risking everything with this show," says Jan De Cock, referring to Repromotion, the complex sculptural installation he had been preparing for Bozar for the past 18 months and which opened on 10 July. The Brussels-born (in 1976) artist switches from Dutch to French and back again as he addresses a group of journalists who have been invited to his studio, which occupies the entirety of a 19th-century former factory in Anderlecht. Full story
  • Flemish company in Panama Canal bid

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    It will need 5,000 workers and a $50m (€35.2 million) bonus will be paid just for meeting the completion date of 2014. The project to build new locks on the Panama Canal is one of the biggest and most lucrative construction projects in the world - and Jan De Nul, a Flemish-based dredging company with a fast-growing global reputation, is part of a three-company consortium which has bid for the scheme.Full story
  • Turkish ambassador carpeted over terrorism remarks

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    New foreign affairs minister Yves Leterme has demanded a full explanation from the Turkish ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Fuat Tanlay, over remarks he made to the Ankara newspaper Hürriyet about the possibility of a terrorist attack in Belgium.  Full story
  • Not too cultured

    28 Jul 2009 by Alan Hope
    Maps that show the holiday destinations of our politicians - a traditional newspaper filler for lack of real news during the summer - show that Joke Schauvliege (CD&V) is heading out to France. What will the new Flemish minister for Planning and Culture be doing there? Our guess: reading. Full story