Brussels mon amour

 photo from fab site

Have just had a day working in Brussels for the first time since February 2007. 

The sun was shining, it was warm, I even managed to squeeze in a swift coffee in a street cafe (cheers Jon!) before dashing to the Eurostar that takes me practically door to door and just about got me back in time not to be fined by the nursery.

There are many things that annoyed me about Brussels when I lived there – from the randomness of the cobblestones which procluded heels on all but the most important occasions, to not being able to buy stamps anywhere but the post office which was never open when I was free to go, to the need to return to the UK to go “proper clothes shopping”,  the water supply being so cleaned with chlorine to meet water quality standards that it upset my skin (and my husband’s), to the weeks of delay to get cable TV fitted…

But I loved the restaurants, the people I met including some of my truest and best friends, the real sense of community in being an expat, the sort of apartments available on a reasonable budget when compared to London, the way that TVBrussel kind of made sense after midnight even though it broadcasts in a language I don’t speak, the sort of jobs I did when I lived there – which I’d find nigh on impossible to do these days when I work part-time.

Oh Brussels I’ve missed you. 
Even though your metro system got so messed up earlier that I almost missed my train.

I really enjoyed the meeting I was at too – a combination of Brussels residents and interlopers like me, but conducted in a proper Brussels Eurocrat manner, recognition of each other’s expertise, positivity, genuine seeking of a conciliation and compromise helping each as much as possible to get what they were looking for. 
It can be hard to explain sometimes why that is a good thing when to many people here in the UK compromise is a dirty word, and the word Brussels is itself anathema.

Life in the UK is good, familiar, I know (roughly) how to handle local bureaucracy (probles here tend to be less with public authorities, more with the private companies that – oh, I’ll post about Northern Rock another day…). 
But life in Brussels was fun, oddly exotic and dipping my toes in the EU politics pool again today just reminded me why I enjoyed it so much before.  Perhaps more so now, having had a break from it all.

A recurring theme of my personal reflection blog posts is that I have a life with a husband and a son and a house and a job and that these things are good and I would not have it otherwise.  Life in Brussels now would not be the same as it was for us before as we’re parents and the hard bits of life (which to be honest are mainly logistical!) would still be with us. 
And -as the second earner- the idea of upping sticks to Brussels because I might want to is just not realistic.

But today, just for a minute, I felt properly like EU me again. And I liked it.

I wonder whether our toddler would be good at Flemish?        

PS apologies for the stream of consciousness style, but the title should’ve been a warning 🙂

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