Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elephant Fans Tune Into Belgian On-line Birth

Surfers logging on to can already watch the baby's kicks.

Thousands of elephant fans have registered on an on-line site promising live footage of the first birth of an elephant in Belgium. Surfers logging on can already watch the baby's kicks inside the belly of its mother, Phyo Phyo, an Asian elephant at the Antwerp zoo.

Zoo caretakers are also offering daily updates on Phyo Phyo's pregnancy to the site's 18,000 subscribers - who will receive an SMS message 48 hours ahead of the expected delivery.

Those interested in elephant trivia can also learn about the animal's legendary memory, the weight of a newborn (between 80 to 120 kilos or 176 to 265 pounds) or the time it takes for an elephant to learn how to use its trunk (six months).

Antwerp's mayor has promised to inscribe the calf's name on the city's official birth registrar.

Source: AFP/Expatica

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dikke Truien Dag 2009 Photos

Today is Friday the 13th but more importantly, DikkeTruienDag, when we are encouraged to turn down the heating and put on thick jumpers as an energy saving measure.

Here are some photos I took in Hasselt of warm scarves wrapped around the necks of statues:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Can a UK National Vote in the UK Whilst Living Abroad?

I was always told that UK nationals lose their right to vote in Britain when living abroad but the rules must have changed.

Am I eligible to vote?
"If you are a British citizen living abroad,you can apply to be an overseas voter. As long as you were registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years, you can egister to vote from overseas. If you were too young to register when you left the UK, your parent or guardian must have been registered.

As an overseas voter, you are eligible to vote in elections for the UK Parliament and the European Parliament. You cannot vote in UK local or mayoral elections, or elections to the Scottish Parliament,the National Assembly for Wales or the London Assembly.

If you live in a country which is a member of the European Union, you can vote in that country’s own local and European parliamentary elections. But, you cannot vote in European elections in more than one country.

Leaflet on how to register for voting in the UK at:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Wind Turbines in Belgium

In 2011 there will be 29 wind turbines along the E40, the largest windpower park in the country providing energy for 40,000 families.

The total project will cost €125 million with €8 million from Sint Truiden, €4 million from Landen and contributions from Gingelom and the Wallon communes Hélécine, Lincent, Orp-Jauche and Hannuit. However, Electrabel and Infrabel are the largest investors.

Full info in Dutch on Het Belang Van Limburg site

Dikke-Truien Dag or Thick Jumpers Day 2009

This year, Friday 13 February will not be an unlucky day but rather a good day for the environment because of the 5th Dikke-Truiendag or Thick Jumpers Day in Vlaanderen. The idea is that we put on a thick jumper, lower the central heating temperature and look for ways that we can save energy. The campaign talks about 'Energriezels' eg TVs, computers and other equipment left on standby rather than being turned off, fridges & freezers which are not working efficiently or the door is slightly open, cellars, crawl cellars and attics without insulation, lights left on unnecessarily, thinking about using energy-saving lightbulbs, etc.

Schools will also take part in this worthwhile initiative.

"De Vlaamse overheid roept iedereen op om op vrijdag 13 februari 2009 deel te nemen aan de vijfde editie van de Dikke-truiendag. Uiteraard vermijden we die dag beter ladders en zwarte katten, maar ook met onnodig energieverbruik rekenen we dan genadeloos af! Dat levert winst op voor het milieu én je portemonnee, en kan vaak zonder aan comfort in te boeten. Bovendien maken deelnemers aan de Dikke-truiendag kans op mooie prijzen.

Wat zijn energriezels?
Energriezels zijn stiekeme energieverspillers die zich thuis, op school of op het werk in de donkere hoekjes verborgen houden. Zonder dat je het beseft, verbruiken ze nodeloos energie. Energriezels zorgen zo voor meer CO2 en hogere energiefacturen. Voorbeelden van energriezels: niet-gebruikte elektrische apparaten die blijven aanstaan, niet-geïsoleerde warmwaterleidingen in de kelder of op zolder, gloeilampen, slechtsluitende koelkasten of diepvriezers, verwarmingstoestellen die best een graadje lager kunnen gezet worden..."
Source: Department Leefmilieu, Natuur en Energie

Household energy consumption accounts for 30% of Flemish greenhouse gas output so, much as industry has to play its part, every little that we can do will also help.

More information: or freephone 1700
Ways to save energy at