I actually left the UK last week, for the first time in about five years, and the first time ever I’ve been abroad for a holiday, rather than work. As I hang around with lots of people who jet off to exotic locations at the drop of a hat, I feel a little sheepish admitting that, but I’ve never had the desire to travel the world, and on the whole I’m much happier with more local adventures.
Still, I have a friend who lives in Brussels, and has done for the last three years, and I thought it was about time I hopped over to see her. It was quite straightforward, even for a novice traveller like me – 2 hours on the train to London (so lovely to read on a train with the sun streaming through the window!), a nice sit in a cafe, and then another 2 hours on the Eurostar. That’s it!
My friend is lovely, and speaks both French and Dutch fluently, so there was none of the bewildering misunderstandings that usually befall me when I head off to distant lands. Everything felt kind of familiar, but not quite the same. (and yes, that is a giant brussel sprout being delivered by a stork)
On Sunday, we headed for an enormous second hand market.The sun was shining, and it was quite overwhelming seeing piles and piles of shoelaces, spectacles, buttons (oh, the buttons!), shoes, coats, bags, ornaments, books, cuckoo clocks, and assorted other stuff.I do love a good nosy round a flea market, and it was so lovely to see people sitting outside cafes in what I imagine is a continental style (even if they were all bundled up in woolly hats and scarves). Next stop was the organic market, just around the corner. On Monday we stayed a little closer to my friend’s flat, and wandered through the woods to visit her little community garden.The sign says something along the lines of ‘please don’t build flats on our cheery garden!’Look on the right there. That little square of multi coloured stalks is my friend’s entire plot – it’s tiny! You might wonder why she’s grown nothing but stalks… … well, that’s why. You wouldn’t be thinking he was so cute if it was your veg he’d eaten… (although I confess he was extremely cute, but then he didn’t eat my veg either).
We ended the weekend with hot chocolate and cakes (of course) at a little local cafe. Well, more accurately, we sat outside, in the freezing cold and the rain, because the cafe didn’t have any indoor seats. ‘You can stay inside’ said the lovely cafe man, ‘but you’ll have to do the washing up’. Er, no thanks, I’ll take my chances in the rain…