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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?

Go Green!

Blog every day in May, day 12: Talk about being green, eco-friendly or ethical. What do you do to make a difference?

Oh, so this is going to be *that* post is it? The one where I go: “look at me, I’m so virtuous” as I prance through a field full of dew-covered grass. The truth is, I’m far from virtuous (and from any fields), but when you’re asked to list “what you do to make a difference” you can only end up sounding like you think you actually do make a difference. Well, so be it. That shall just have to be the challenge that this post presents. A challenge that I will completely ignore because Charlie is ill and hasn’t slept for the last two nights. Meaning that I haven’t slept for the last two nights either and am in no mood to contort myself into appearing both virtuous and modest. I’ll just have to seem smug. And you’ll just have to believe me that I’m not. Neither smug nor virtuous. Just me.

And with that being said, here’s some of the stuff I do in my attempts to leave less of a mark on this planet of ours:

– I get public transport and cycle to work every day, come rain, snow or frickin’ hail stones (it was a loooong winter).

– I collect colorful paper scraps (from presents or art projects) and put them all in a big box to be used again for future craftiness.

– I make my children draw on both sides of a piece of paper before being allowed more. And I try to bring paper home from work that has only been printed on one side (provided of course that it doesn’t contain confidential information – just in case anyone from work should be reading this!). Sometimes, I even cut open old cereal packets so that Charlie can paint on the inside of them (normal paper doesn’t easily survive his… hmm… “bold” brush strokes).

– I make everyone turn off the tap while doing their teeth. If you come to stay and leave the tap running, I will be standing outside the bathroom contemplating shouting at you. Yep.

– I walk around the flat turning lights off. Again. And again. And AGAIN. I think I may have two little pixies that follow me around turning them on again as soon as I’m out of sight.

– I try to read recipes before I start making them and then only turn the oven on to warm up when it’s really necessary (most recipe books would have you warming up the oven as step 1, regardless of how long preparation is going to take).

– I don’t throw clothes away but pass them on, instead, to family members (cousins get Amélie and Charlie’s clothes, my step-mum and sister get my clothes and my dad gets Hanno’s clothes – and he squeezes into them against all odds! [Love you, father!] My step-mum is a veritable jumble and recycling queen and will either adapt or find a new home for just about anything I can throw at her. I’ve had old, felted jumpers come back as hot water bottle covers or cardigans. She’ll unravel wool and re-use it, possibly even to make patches to cover holes in the elbows of another sorry looking jumper. I’ve seen shoes being re-shaped, stained tops being died, trousers being lengthened, necks being widened, dresses being created from old t-shirts and t-shirts being created from old dresses. She’s a whizzard. Really, she should be writing this post. Not me).

– we don’t buy ready meals or eat junk food, with all the processing and packaging they entail (although, I’ll  admit that we might not do so well if we didn’t have a willing cook at home).

– the only plastic toys that are allowed in our house are Lego bricks and Playmobile. Again though, I’m being slightly disingenuous as my motivation for this is more of an aesthetic preference than it is a statement about the ecological impact of petro-chemicals.

– we drive as little as possible. In fact, we only bought a car when Charlie came along and Hanno realised that going to the supermarket by public transport was going to get a little tricky. But we still prefer our feet over other modes of transport. Plus, getting Charlie and Amélie to walk across Brussels to their favorite park (and back again) tends to wear them out more thoroughly. Or at least, that’s the theory. Where do they get all their energy from again??!

Err… And other stuff too I’m sure. Does teaching my children not to throw litter count? There is a lot more I could be doing though. I still think we are far too wasteful, especially with food. We are horribly wasteful with food. I know it and I have no excuse. That and the amount of electricity we waste by having four hundred and twenty seven electrical devices constantly on standby. I swear, when I turn all the lights out at night, our sitting room looks like bloody NASA Mission Control, illuminated by hundreds of little green, blue and red flashing LEDs. It’s embarrassing.

What?! It’s a green picture! Produced by flipping the canvass in Photoshop, copying it, then pasting it back on to the original as a screen layer. It was a picture of a river verge. Now it’s a crazy psychedelic picture of a gangsta teddy bear in his jungle throne. What’s not to love? Also, I did mention I was sleep-deprived, right?


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