Oh My Gourd!

Trust me when I tell you that it’s not often that a Fleming – that is, someone from Flanders, Belgium – breaks a world record. Yet, as the Flemish newspaper De Standaard reported today, 24-year-old Matthias Willemijns from the small village of Deurle in East-Flanders, has done just that. Not by running or swimming or lifting, nor any other feat of endurance. Rather, his accolade comes from growing the world’s biggest pumpkin!

This story really cheered me up. It seems as if every newspaper is talking about it. In fact, it’s almost as though nothing else happens in Belgium (actually, that would be about right!) Honestly, a few months ago my husband and I were at a loose end and so decided to look online and see what places of interest or things to do might be found in our vicinity of Antwerp. Having already seen much of what was on offer – think museums, breweries and more churches than you could shake a censer at – we were left with two, uniquely exciting options. A walk through a pedestrian tunnel, or a visit to a reptile garden where we might be able to see some tortoises sunning themselves on a rock. Faced with such hedonistic delights, someone growing a pumpkin that weighs as much as a small car, sounds too good to be true.

De Standaard gushed with enthusiasm, telling its readers that “Matthias has broken the world record by almost 150 kilos”, with his Herculean gourd weighing in at an amazing 1, 190.5 kilograms. They even provide a perspective, telling us that this means that the pumpkin “weighs almost as much as a Volkwagen Golf…or a little bit heavier than a black rhino.”

Gewinner Matthias Willemijns ist stolz auf sein Prachtexemplar

Matthias Willemijns and his world record pumpkin!

“Never has anyone grown a bigger pumpkin anywhere on the planet” De Standaard breathlessly reported. They even gave away a secret to growing impressive pumpkins: injecting useful bacteria into the underground roots.

Matthias’ hard work and effort has brought unexpected glory to a small town in East-Flanders. Previously, giant pumpkins have always been grown in the US, but two years ago, a Swiss grower set a world record of 1,045 kilos. Matthias said that he thought that “if it can be done in Switzerland, it can be done in Deurle.” 

Reading the story, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Matthias might be interested in creating something of a political pumpkin, and, perhaps, setting another world record. Why not grab people by the pussy and scare the bejeezus out of them this Halloween, by carving the world’s biggest Trumpkin!


Scare the hell out ’em this Halloween, with a Trumpkin!




Waiting For Godot (I mean, Amazon UK)


Hey folks! Here I am again! I bet you thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth, or that the earth had swallowed me whole. Too bad. You can’t get rid of me that easily, although there have been times over the past few weeks when either of those occurrences may have seemed desirable.

As some of you may know, I’ve been attempting to start a new business. Called “The Crafty Belgian”, my aim is to sell luxury artisan gift baskets and boxes. I had sourced some potential suppliers, had samples of products ready to be photographed ahead of being placed online, business cards made…all I needed was to get accepted to list on Amazon UK. I first applied to sell in their “Grocery” section over two months ago, and still I am waiting for their “ungating (that’s not even a word!) team” to, well, ungate whatever it is that needs to be ungated. (As a writer, never have I been forced to use a non-word with such frequency. I feel dirty now!) I have mailed them frequently, trying – lord knows how I’ve tried! – to get them to speed things up, only to have my efforts rewarded with “Thank you for contacting us. Firstly, we would like to apology (sic) for the lengthy registration process which you have experienced. We appreciate your patience and understanding so far.”  It seems that the use of non-words and bad grammar are customary at Amazon UK, stretching my already paper thin patience and understanding still further. At times I feel as if I am starring in my own, one woman production of Waiting for Godot!

Not to be outdone, I did some research and discovered that I would be able to list my products in the Amazon UK “Home and Garden” section. While not having the same retail pull as the “Grocery” section, at least I would have a chance of selling my wares. I managed to list one of my gift baskets, a delightful, chef-made creation called Gin & Cherry and was ready to list more when personal disaster struck.

My Dad had a stroke.

Fortunately, it was only a minor stroke, and he has come out of it with all his movement and faculties intact, but it was frightening nonetheless, more so given the fact that my Mum had several strokes around 18 months ago, and is only just now getting back to fitness. Quite rightly, the concern over my Dad took all my focus away from business (actually, it took all my focus away from everything), and for a good while I felt myself to be living in a kind of daze, unable to concentrate on anything, a lack of energy for everything.

Now, with my Dad back home and doing well, I feel like I can finally get back to business. I have more product photos to take, more Amazon listings to complete, and, hopefully, plenty of sales to make between now and Christmas! It is to be hoped that things are now looking up, but nevertheless, some things remain unchanged. I have still yet to hear anything definitive from Amazon UK. I guess I am still Waiting for Godot.