Jan 102012
The New Year conundrum

I keep hearing people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. “I’m going to eat less chocolate.” “I’m going to stop drinking caffeine.” “I’ll drink less”. All of these (and others) speak in some way of guilt, of not being the people we want to be. But “giving things up” seems to imply that we are relinquishing something we enjoy. It’s not a very positive approach to change. The other thing I have heard is self-deprecating comments from someone giving in to a proffered chocolate: “there goes the new me”, was one. This got a good laugh, but I think there’s more to it. People make resolutions because they want to Read full post >>

Apr 232011
Sleepy towns and the warping of time

Bus, Minehead promenade. 2011, probably. One of the things I like about coming to Minehead, beside the obvious one of seeing my Grandma, is the way that time warps here.  It’s like taking a step back in time, to a world of tacky bucket-and-spade, penny-arcade seaside holidays, where Butlin’s rules the town and all the food has been boiled.  But it’s also about the torpor that sets in when you come here.  It’s quite exciting the first few times, but once you have been here a lot, as I have, there is almost literally nothing to do.  It’s not a lack of attractions or countryside; there are the many joys, Read full post >>

Nov 272010
Where the hell have I been?

Looking back at the Blogger dashboard, I realise that it’s nearly a month since my last blog post.  What to write about in a week that does not provide anything as worthy of humour (and downright praise) as Colruyt?  I was pretty pleased to find another Belgian expat blogger was as impressed as me – so impressed, in fact, that she wrote about it, hilariously, not once but twice. So, no time to blog in a month?  I must have been pretty busy, right?  Not necessarily.  Work’s been OK; a bit samey, what with sitting behind the same computer going over the same research to write different chapters of the same Read full post >>

Oct 182010

It’s starting to feel like I have my feet on the ground in Brussels now, though there are still one or two irritating practicalities to sort out before life becomes something like normal.  First among these is my mobile phone.  The details are too tedious to relate, but suffice it to say that I recommend no one moving to another country should ever rely on o2 to make life any easier for them.  By the time I come back to the UK in a year’s time they might have unlocked my phone for use in another country as promised, but I’m not holding out too much hope. But after last Read full post >>

Oct 102010

One of the things that is really different about Brussels compared to Britain is the fact that Sunday still has a different feel here.  The big factor here is that all the shops are closed.  I don’t know if this is down to the influence of the Church,  which is apparently on the decline, or the fact that there is a big culture of days off and not working here: just look at the number of public holidays (almost as good as working in a Jewish school, but without the marking!) Whatever the reason, there are very few shops open at all.  Only the odd convenience store, and the chocolate and Read full post >>