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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?

Diary

For my birthday, Hanno bought me a red Moleskine 2014 diary. It is beautiful. I love red. I love all things Moleskine. And I love diaries. Really. I usually buy at least two diaries every year because I love them so much. The reality is, however, that I never use them anymore because my real diary that actually tracks where I have to be and when is on my work computer. And no amount of hard work keeps a paper version up-to-date. I didn’t even want to try with this one. It would have been a waste. And so I decided to turn to Facebook (the modern Oracle of Delphi) for advice on what to do with it instead. Several delightfully optimistic contributors suggested I do a drawing a day for a year to fill its pages. Hahahahahaha! No but really: hahahahaha! Even if I had the time, I certainly don’t have the imagination or talent to create a different picture every day for 365 days. So I decided to skip that idea and settled on a combination of other ones whereby, for each day, I would record something that made me happy or that was interesting or that I was grateful for. Just something I might want to remember later. Three days in and things are going well. I’m on holiday so it’s easy to fill the pages with funny things my chimps have said, exciting things we’ve done together or just sweet moments I want to remember. It might be a bit tougher once I’m back at work and my days are filled with budgets and performance reviews (not that I don’t love my job. I do. It just doesn’t make for very exciting journal entries).

Anyway, here’s something I’m grateful for but that I haven’t written about yet (see that subtle transition there? I’m so good at this.): we’ve been living in Brussels for nearly 11 years now and in this flat for 7 and a half years. We have two children who go to the local school. Amélie’s been there for nearly 6 years, Charlie for 6 months. And they have lots of friends. And that means that nearly every time we go out, we bump into someone they know.  Whether it’s a friend or a friend of a friend they’ve played with in the park before, or Madame la Concièrge or Monsieur Boubacar, or a mum or big sister. And I love it. It makes me feel happy. It makes me feel like we belong. And it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, in this big bad world full of meanies, there are lots of friendly, caring eyes looking out for my monkeys.

(Amélie’s best friend wearing Amélie’s fake specs and Charlie’s top hat – she and her sisters all have the most beautiful smiles ever. We often meet her in the park on the way to school and it’s the only way Charlie will agree to actually walk: if he can hold her hand. Otherwise, Han must carry him. Our hands are not good enough.)

3 January 2014 - 6:46 PM amanda - Makes me happy to read this and finally meet Amelie's best friend :)

3 January 2014 - 8:16 PM Ingrid - I love the idea you chose for your diary and I'd say this is the perfect picture to post with it. Amelie's best friend is lovely. I have a book (diary of sorts) and I too struggled with what to do with it. (Not a Moleskin..oh how I love Moleskin books)..I digress. I used the book to write to Isabella and then she could write back to me when she felt like it. I then write back..etc..It's fun and I hope to have a collection of these we could share when she is older. xxoo

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