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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

A portrait of my father

I want to make a postcard of this picture. Or have it printed for one of our walls. I don’t usually love my pictures, but I do love this one. I love the muted colours and all of the little details. I love the labels on each of the old tobacco tins and the handwriting they are written in. My father doesn’t like public displays of emotion and I know he’ll already be squirming uncomfortably as he reads this so I’ll get it over and done with quickly: I love my father and this picture is such a perfect representation of so many of the things I love about him. His clear, confident and reassuring handwriting. His innate sense of order and aesthetics. His almost obsessive compulsive need to keep stuff, to hoard just about any thingamabob or oojamaflip that might one day come in handy. His love of making and mending. His workshop (just looking at this picture, I can smell that unique smell of old oil and wood-shavings and metal and dust that only my dad’s workshop has). How he knows the names of things no-one else alive today knows the names of (“small hyatts” anyone?). How he never ever lets anything go to waste. How he cares for things (he really does care for things – not for having lots of them, but for them being looked after properly)… I don’t know. I can’t really explain it. He’s not perfect, my father, but I still feel pretty lucky to have him around. Most of the time. <- that last bit there to take the edge of all the uncomfortable emotional stuff. Sorry father!

12 June 2013 - 9:45 PM Angie - You can tell so much from this! It would look amazing as a print on a wall, so that everything is life-size.

12 June 2013 - 9:49 PM ingrid - I think this may be my favorite of your posts. I love that you noticed and listed the qualities of your dad (I'm sure you're saving some so as not to make him squirm anymore than necessary) I love that your father can find a use for something another might discard. That one piece of hitchimamboob does come in handy. I love that you've photographed his orderly space, that I can see the handwriting that I almost smell the smell of his work area. I love that you've shared this, I love that you show your love for him in this post..I know that's silly but it's true. This one hits a really personal note as my father was the same way. He passed away but I can guarantee that if something needs to be fixed I can find it in one of his boxes. THANK YOU. This was such a lovely lovely post and insight to a part of your dad. xxoo

12 June 2013 - 10:02 PM Amelie - Ohhh I love this picture and your text! I can relate so much to the smell of the workshop, as I remember loving that of my grandfather. This foreign, oily, woody, metally, dusty, mysterious smell. Oddly enough that might be one of the things I will miss most now that the house was sold.

13 June 2013 - 1:24 AM cvh - Last visit, I made to see my Dad in Florida, he turned 90! I slipped into his storage garage to discover a world of treasure. His rusty old supplies and tools each have a role to play or just might come in handy for some other need, someday. It is great to hear the stories that go along with all of these treasures. Three cheers for the dads and granddads, and the tales of craftsmanship, they have developed over a lifetime in their workrooms. Happy Father's Day to them all! Your story is one of tenderness and warmth! Love the picture of dedicated work on behalf of your father. You have honored him well!

13 June 2013 - 1:31 AM Amanda - I so love this too. Would be such a gorgeous image on your wall. Am sure you could make a fortune off it in stock or hallmark too!!

13 June 2013 - 9:44 PM WSM` - There's another one being built in France ... this time they are old take-away containers and yes, he's fixing up stuff there too!

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