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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?

LTWRL – Week 23 – Bastogne

Bastogne is a small town in the South East of Belgium and the location of one of the deadliest battles of the Second World War, the Battle of the Bulge. It is notorious in particular for the number of American soldiers that fell there. It seems baffling to me now – baffling and sickening – how much human life was sacrificed: nearly 20.000 American soldiers were killed in that one battle, with a further 48.000 injured and 23.000 captured or missing. And you can add another 100.000 lives lost or injured if you include the other Allied soldiers, civilians, and German soldiers that were caught up in that one battle (the German soldiers may have been on the wrong side but the majority were probably still just innocent young men who had very little choice about where they found themselves). It’s frightening. 
As you can see from these pictures, taken at the Bastogne memorial, Charlie was carrying a flag. The flag is the Belgian flag and he was carrying it out of support for the Belgian football team (even though they were already out of the World Cup at this point – the enthusiasm of nearly 4 year olds is hard to dilute). Have you noticed anything about the Belgian flag? Do the colours look familiar? Yep: identical to those of the German flag. I should probably also mention that most of the other people at this memorial were American. Also, Belgium is a tiny country and not many people are familiar with its flag. I spent our entire visit talking really loudly about Charlie’s BELGIAN flag, petrified that someone would think it was German and attack us for being insensitive enough to be waving a German flag at a Second World War memorial. Yes, these are the kinds of thing I worry about.

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