Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 Streak Day 216 (Aug 4th): The governance of Belgium

2011 Streak Day 216 (Aug 4th): Run - 2.4 miles, Time 26min 56sec, Weather - a little overcast, with a mackerel sky. During the day there periods when the clouds cleared and it was hot.
It might be just a wild guess but I don’t think “the governance of Belgium” is a common title on a running blog. In fact unless anyone can prove otherwise I will claim it as a first. I may only be a mediocre runner but I can sure as hell make up for it by inventing uniquely boring headings. I don’t believe very many people will be lured in but nevermind.  I learnt something about Belgium government today and would like to report it.
But first some background:
The great thing about having a house in rural France is that you become part of a community. It maybe mainly the community of other outsiders who have renovated or are renovating the old properties but nevertheless that is a fair proportion of the village. One of these people is a senior Belgium civil servant who spends most of his summer here. He is free to do this because of a rather wonderful employment arrangement: if you have worked sufficient years and are approaching retirement and have an understudy who you are training-up as a replacement, you can have three months holiday a year. A very civilised arrangement.
Today he came round for chat and topics did include the government of his country, or rather the lack of one. It is a sign of the narrow interest in foreign stories in our news outlets that little has been written about the way Belgium has fractured and been unable to reach a political consensus and sustain a government. Nevertheless it is still a democratic country as it has an elected parliament and it still has a functioning civil service. So life goes on and the state still functions
Not only did I find this interesting in itself, I found it interesting that we could have this conversation in a remote village as part of the randomness of a holiday.
Today’s photo comes from a walk around a nearby village, which had a stream with a mechanical weir that could be set at varying degrees. The photo shows how it has acted as a barrier and collected the plant life upstream, whilst below the water is clear. What interests me is why this stream needs controlling in this way. There seems no obvious reason and even now I have no answers.
It is one of the great things about walking around, trying to pay attention - sometimes you are left with nothing but questions.

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