She was talking about our twin boys. I looked at them and V was right, they looked worried. I had just finished telling them all about how Santa comes down the chimney with their gifts and places them under the tree. Only our chimney had a roaring fire in it.
Siavash (aged 5): “But he will catch fire!”
Kourosh (aged 5): “Put the fire out daddy!”
Siavash: “Do it!”
Me: “Relax boys. Santa wears asbestos shorts.”
Kourosh: “What’s asbestos?”
When V eventually put them to bed on Christmas Eve they were still not convinced that Pere Noel (their French name for Santa) would survive his encounter with our chimney.
Christmas day itself was wonderful. We had a family (German Iranian friends) come for the day. Soheila and Robert, my sister and brother in law were also staying with us. We played Takhteh, we ate goose, lamb, Thai curry and Persian rice with tah dig. We drank my favourite Rioja and Champagne. And we relaxed in front of another roaring fire while the twins played with their new toys.
All in all it was a perfect rest in advance of what will be a chaotic few months. V is heavily pregnant with a baby. I say ‘baby’ because she refuses to be told the gender of the baby. As with the twins she wants a surprise. And that surprise will come around the end of April.
In the meantime we are looking to move closer to the boy’s school. At the moment we have to drive for 20-30 minutes each way, twice a day, to get them to school and home again. This means an average of 2-3 hours a day in the car. It has been tolerable so far… for the last three years. But with V being pregnant and my travelling for around 10 days a week every month, being within a ten minute drive would be pure luxury.
And what a great time to look for places to live in central Brussels. There are many, many empty houses which no one wants to rent. Many, many owners who are desperate to rent. And house and rental values are in what seems to be free fall. Yes, even Belgium is feeling the pinch.
We spent a few days looking at numerous 4 bedroom town houses in places like Woluwe St Lambert and Woluve St Pierre (quite OK areas) with rental prices averaging €2300 ($3200). But the more we looked the more we realised we should be buying a place. Prices are dropping so fast that by mid 2009 we could get ourselves a bargain. The only limitation is that we already have some land that we bought last year to build a house on, very close to where we live now. So we are stuck. What to do with the land? Sell it to free up money to buy a bigger house? Keep it and buy a more modest house? Or simply rent as originally planned.
Any thoughts anyone?