Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Grouse Season!

Have you ever thought how life is here?
Waves of Expats make it clear
That every day and every hour
We're building our own Babel tower!

Statistics tell us one in three
In Brussels foreign-born may be
All red tape's in French and Dutch
And German's spoken – but not much.

For such a tiny little Nation
We've prestige well above our station
Roman once, then part of Gaul
Now HQ of urban sprawl.

By tourists - sadly underrated
By frustrated drivers – hated
Weather iffy – excess rain
Tax rates far too high – a pain!

So why, I wonder, do they come?
Is Brussels really that much fun?
Rich culture and good food – that's true
Expats dine out … then toodle-loo!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

What's in a Name? John Waterloo Wilson

If your name is Waterloo
Then a link with Belgium isn't new
That famous battle left a mark
A high point on our history chart!

The date? 1815 of course
Victory for the Allied force
Led by the Duke of Wellington:
Napoleon was on the run!

The Wilsons had a son that year
Born in Belgium* it was clear
They had to mark this great event;
Baptised John Waterloo, this meant

A destiny which matched the name
This Patron of the Arts became
With business acumen and flair
A cotton mill entrepreneur.

With Belgian and French expertise
His art collection grew with ease
150 oeuvres put on display -
King Leopold came Vaux-Hall way!

27 works from different schools
He offered Brussels – but with rules
To be arranged for public view:
French, Dutch, German, English too.

In gratitude for such largesse
And at his death Gold Franc bequest
His proud family can claim
A Brussels street now bears his name!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

John Waterloo Wilson 1815-1883
* Born May 16th

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Enough is Enough!

Too many choices – where to turn?
My diary's full; sometimes I yearn
For a little time to call my own
Should I disconnect my 'phone?

I contemplate our generation
Unable to resist temptation
Wired for sound on Internet
And only happy when they get

A “ping” or “buzz” straight in their ear;
Oblivious of others near
They chatter in a hundred tongues
Brussels' Tower of Babel hums!

Business eats up our free time
Fellow workers stay on line
And fire off emails late at night
Relentless pressure – is this right?

What's happened? Why this frantic pace
Where peace of mind has lost its place?
No turning back - we've reached the edge
The treacherous thin end of the wedge ...

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 18 October 2015

After the Migration Summit

European Summit, demonstration
City gridlock, deep frustration
A chilly, spotting-rain type day
Blaring police cars on their way.

Such an impasse is not news;
Blocked metro, people form bus queues
We hear there's been a suicide
Someone's taken their last ride...

An ambulance screams to the scene
Road blocks, the traffic stops at green.
Rare are the buses that arrive -
With crushed humanity inside.

Angry cacophony of phones
Late arrivals in commuter homes
Appointments which cannot be kept
I missed one too, I could have wept!

But chaos has a lighter side
Chance meetings, waiting for a ride
A lady all in purple clad
And I - got talking; she was glad

To make new links – the time sped fast
We delved into each other's past
Brief sharing of two women's lives
A sense of warmth in our goodbyes...

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Brussels Summit: 15th October

Friday, 16 October 2015

October: Cancer Awareness Month

It's Cancer Month, so I've been told;
On Facebook, messages unfold:
“Think of those who've lost the fight”
And “Pray survivors hold on tight”.

So I stop awhile and let my mind
Dwell on my husband's fate – unkind
The day we heard the fateful news
A slight malaise, he had no clues

That late October rendezvous
Would make our worst fears all come true.
A diagnosis reached too late -
Such harsh words to assimilate.

Now modern medicine is fine
And getting better all the time
But Destiny's roll of the dice
Thwarts all plans – it isn't nice.

Many years have flown since then
Grief recedes – I feel more Zen
Most days I'm fine; but Facebook's post
Recalls I've lost what I loved most...

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Pirate

He scanned the soft waves while aloft
The rigging creaked in pigeon croft
Beyond the ship a peerless blue
Becalmed, the Pirate and his crew.

Telescope to his eye, he spied
A tiny speck on ocean wide
An island beckoned, out of reach
A haze of palm trees, sandy beach.

The thought of water fresh and sweet
Of ripened fruits to pick and eat
Filled his mind; his hands gripped taut
As the winds picked up and caught

The flapping sails which swelled with pride
The lull gave way to choppy ride.
Land ahoy through splashing waves
Around them – many shallow graves...

Rough necked, sun-burnt, sharp yet gaunt
Girded with cutlasses to taunt
Any natives who might come their way,
They stepped ashore - bejewelled with spray!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Monday, 12 October 2015

A Tribute to Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

On 4th December born, this nurse
A vicar's daughter, childhood tough
Ice skating was her love at first
Of his sermons she'd soon had enough.

She loved animals and the open air
And imbued with zeal to help mankind
In the Belgian Red Cross she gave care
Leaving England and Mama behind.

She helped to found a Nurses school
With Antoine Depage - a pioneer
Soon matron with an iron rule
She toiled in wartime – without fear.

Soon prevailed upon to aid
In those dark days the underground
200 allied aircrew made
Their escape - to neutral country bound.

But this was war – she was betrayed
A double-agent sealed her fate
A martyr, malgré elle, she made;
The Germans soon rued their mistake.

Though shot for treason on this day*
Just one hundred years ago
Mass volunteers soon joined the fray;
Edith's star a rosy glow.

A 10-week wait then firing squad
A single death – eternal fame
Unswerving trust in her own God;
A hospital now bears her name.**

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

* Shot in Brussels on 12th October 1915
** Hôpital Edith Cavell - in Uccle

Friday, 9 October 2015

Striking - the Right Note?

Belgian rush hours – traffic spikes
But this week chaos – two main strikes
Austerity measures are a curse
On Wednesday bus and trams were scarce

On Friday the trains stayed at home
Pandemonium reigned – the masses groan
How can we our commitments meet
When cars clog every single street?

Brussels on foot may be a thrill
But it takes a canny cabby's skill
To find his way without delay
As demonstrators block his way.

The Government's caught on the hop
To its belt-tightening schemes, say “Stop!”
The people's voices will be heard
A standstill metropolis is absurd!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

At the Red Star Line Museum - Antwerp

Bus 17 will set you down
Quite a long way to the north of town
By Willem and Napoleon Dock
Near an old brick building with a shop.

A nostalgic look at The Red Star line
Where two million people over time
Left Antwerp for the U.S.A.
Hoping there was a better way

To live – but it would seem
Elusive - that American dream!
Health regulations were severe
And families separated were.

From pogroms and famine many fled
In overcrowded trains they sped
To the Port of Antwerp, poorly clad
Carrying such treasures as they had.

The displays and photos tell their tale
Emigration on a massive scale
1873 - 1934
A way of life that is no more...

And yet, observe the news today
More immigrants now come our way
Despair and hunger on their faces
One memory another chases …

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

It opened on 28th September, 2015

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Step Change

Floods in France – cars washed away
The Riviera mourns today
Freak weather strikes we know not when
Catching out our weathermen!

This Indian summer: quite amazing
Shorts on trams are eyebrow-raising
Lunch in the park upon the grass
Blue skies untrammelled – no clouds pass.

There's still heat in the cobblestones
It's been too warm so no one moans
The October Marathon was run
On Sunday in the brilliant sun!

Today, however, all is grey
A change of mood is on the way
A low pressure front rolls in at last
Summer, fleeting, now is past!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Still picnic weather in Schaerbeek!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Opening of "Train World"

In imposing red brick and white stone
Schaerbeek station looms in sight
Its option "car-on-train" well known;
Greet South of France in morning light!

With a “diving bell” atop its spire
And ticket office train display
Rail enthusiasts won't tire
Of whiling a few hours away.

“Train World” beckons through its doors
Track history it is hard to beat
Huge exhibition on three floors
King Philip opened it last week!

In 1835 they came
Steam engines billowed clouds of smoke
Travel would never be the same
In fifty years – no town remote!

Royal carriages decked out
With rare wood seats, electric light
Emblazoned features seen throughout
All mod cons - impressive sight.

Mobile hospital with bed
A parcel service next to none
Memorabilia – railway workmen's shed
Take the audio guide – it's fun!

From “Pays de Waes” Thirty-Nine
To TEE and Eurostar
Now wired for laptops, saving time ...
Farewell the Age of Steam, Papa!

(c) Poet in the woods 2015

Opened on 24th September, 2015 in Schaerbeek Station, Brussels.