I was at the European School of Brussels (Uccle I) from 1974 until 1986, the so called “Vert Chasseur” (green hunter) school from the name of the street where it was located. The school was in a little wood on its own. When I think of it, we were really lucky to be in such a beautiful site.
The primary school was organised in small pavillon classes all around the Castle and then were only woods. It was a real Castle which was probably owned in the past by a rich belgian family. We firmly believed that Mr Smith, the Director , was cooking, sleeping and living in there and that we were just unexpected guests sent to him when something was going wrong.
Of course, Mr Smith was actually working in there with Mr Van Eyck (our eternal Saint Nicolas disguised) and Mrs Voets, a very elegant lady with a very scarry voice. This was our world. We were conscious that there were secondary classes as well, but it was a complete different world so far away ! (Two courtyards much far...). Anyway, we Minimoys would not dared go in there.
Our tribe preferred the wood. To be honest during fall and winter , it was a bit scarry. Usually we were arriving at school at night and we were leaving at night as well. Besides that, a fantastic olfactory sensation was in our school throughout the year, changing at every season.
During the lunch time, instead of going to the school restaurant (unless you wanted to be poisoned) we used to go in the woods. We were addicted to chesnuts in fall, to mandarins in winter and to cherry in spring. The place was so big that we were currently back late to class after a huge hide and seek play behind the trees.
At that time, Halloween was not introduced in Belgium yet, I suppose the place would have been an ideal scenery to celebrate it. Nevertheless, we celebrated with the danish section the festival of lights, which was rather fun for everyone because the lights were turned off and the danish children circulated around the classes with white dresses and crowns of candles on their head. I never knew why they were singing in danish a very popular napolitanian song called “Sul mare luccica” which they dedicated to Saint Lucia.
Then came the visit of Saint Nicolas, alias Mr Van Eyck, coming from the wood as well, very early in the morning with the assistance of Bogeyman who I deeply suspected to be Mr Vendredi, our monitoring.
In spring time, the trees were absoluty magnificent. So big that we could climb on it in four or five children. This was absolutely forbidden but how could they be behind every tree ? And just before the summer holidays, we had time to eat so many cherries offered by the nature that our parents never understood why we did not apparently like those fruits.
Finally, we said goodbye for the holiday convinced that we could still climb the trees the next year.
Monica Gariazzo (Uccle 1986)