Boxes, boxes, boxes!

sunset ship boat sea

This is how long it felt for our boat to turn up! 

So on Tuesday 58 of our boxes arrived in Belgium.  It took a visit from the police, a crane a Belgian, four Brits (the two movers and us) a couple of cups of tea and some serious focus and within 3.5 hours we had ALL of our stuff in the right rooms, the boxes unpacked and all empty boxes taken away.  We were quite awe struck by the whole thing!

Despite the international travel only 2 things broke, Bond’s cafetiere and an ugly bowl I didn’t like.  So he gets a new toy and I got rid of a vile item.  A win I think!

Now we just need to organise our many things and put them away and tidy the flat so that it doesn’t look like a storage facility any more!  Should be a somewhat busy weekend!

It was so fun to come across all our things and relive some memories.  We are excited to do that this weekend again and finally get everything completely reorganised and sorted.

If you are ever moving then I recommend both our international Shippers ISS and our UK movers Greens.  Keith and Ed were hard working, polite and friendly.  They got so much done and NEVER once complained.

business cargo cargo container city

This is more accurately what it probably looked like!

 

 

Advertisements

The next adventure

abstract antique architectural design architecture

Photo by Cosmin Paduraru on Pexels.com

After I finish at work next week I will rejoin Bond to work on our new Business which I can’t wait for.  Working on something I am really passionate about is a new experience for me.  After many years working just to have money coming in but not really getting any fulfillment it is wonderful to be working on something that I am proud of and that excites me.  I consider myself extremely privileged to be in this position and I am grateful to Bond for coming up with an idea that I could participate in and for his support of all I do.  He has allowed me to learn on the job as it were and it’s been fantastic.

high angle view of cityscape against cloudy sky

Photo by Quintin Gellar on Pexels.com

As part of our next step we have some amazing business travel plans that we have also managed to add some fun to.  First off New York for a huge conference.  Second to Washington for meetings with potential partners and then Ohio for some Rest and Relaxation in our happy place.

I already can’t wait for this trip – it can not come soon enough for us! New York is a city I have only been to a handful of times but I really enjoy it.  To me it’s like London but more intense and sparklier in an odd way.  Being from London it’s not that exciting to me but New York is new and thrilling, I feel a bit like I am cheating on my home city by enjoying it so much! This time we are going to stay at the Algonquin Hotel which has it’s own hotel cat, I can not wait to meet this feline, Hamlet! I am also looking forward to seeing old friends who live there and to meeting some new ones too.

architecture bright building capitol

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In Washington we are going to stay at the Mayflower hotel which looks great and is historic, it opened in 1925 and has been the site of many great events.  It’s down the road from the White House too so we should be able to see all the major sites on foot – always a plus for me as I love to walk to experience as much as possible. I am so looking forward to seeing all these places I see constantly in TV Shows, especially the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial.

three people playing billiards

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

In Ohio we will stay with my family and play lots of games of pool while having cocktails and sharing stories.  For me this is always a fun way to spend time and see people I have a great time with! We always have a great time there!

city view at london

Photo by Dominika Gregušová on Pexels.com

Then from the States a quick stop in Brussels before a week in London for another conference.  I am hoping to see my godson also and to see some other good friends.  Much as New York is a great love, London will always be home!

Reflecting on year one…

On the 19th August Bond and I had been married a YEAR!  We couldn’t believe it because it has gone so fast and we have done rather a lot!

  1. Bond quit a job to focus on building our business.
  2. We left Dubai.
  3. We travelled to India, Jordan and across the states and the UK
    • Side note – we saw the Taj Mahal, Petra, Jaipur, The gateway to India and so much more.  We met wonderful people and fell in love with gorgeous places.
    • We finally got to visit my adopted American Family and Bond fell in love with my happy place there which was terrific.
    • I spent time with my friends and met my gorgeous new godson who is completely perfect!
  4. We moved to Brussels to my parents place.
  5. We launched a Business.
  6. I got a job.
  7. We did all this living out of two suitcases while EVERYTHING else we owned is still in a shipping container. (and yes I miss my shoes a LOT!!)

It has been a pretty exciting time full of adventures and new experiences!  We both consider ourselves very lucky that at 32 we were able to have a year to do a lot of stuff we really wanted and to learn huge amounts about ourselves as individuals and as a couple.  It was a great privilige afforded to us by the hard work Bond did in Dubai and the knowledge we had our families support.

The first thing I learned as we took off for three months of travel and living out of suitcases is that Bond is NOT a fan of airports or living out of suitcases or dealing with his wife’s mess.  Some travel rules were imposed and things massively improved, on a recent trip to Belfast I even told Bond he was quite a pleasure to travel with – a huge improvement from when I made him stand in a separate queue!! We both over pack for every trip, for some reason both of us remain convinced that at any moment we might need to be dressed for a gala dinner?!  Still despite luggage restrictions and having to repack at airports we managed to remain friends by the end, not dignified friends though, it’s impossible to be dignified when you open your suitcase and everything explodes out it turns out.

We both learned many new skills in setting up our business, turns out I can design a nifty web site, do brand design and create content if required.  Bond proved that all that hard work studying and being in business had paid off and managed to create business models and presentations that are tremendously impressive. He also seems to be a surprising whizz at social media! It also turns out we can work anywhere if we have noise cancelling headphones – the best business purchase we have made.

I learned that not all new jobs are forever and sadly will be leaving this position after a few months due to a rather challenging work environment and my desire to get back to our business!  Bond learned that working from home is EXCELLENT but that his wife will never have food for lunch in…apparently cup a soups don’t count?!

We also learned that as long as we have each other we don’t need that much ‘stuff’ which was a fantastic lesson for two hoarders.  I wish we had learned this BEFORE we packed 58 boxes with possessions!

The discovery of the joy of separate bathrooms – thank you again to my parents for the loan of their AMAZING Brussels flat – has been a game changer.   I don’t think we will ever be able to share a bathroom again!

Most lessons have been fun/easy to learn and others have been harder.  Blind support from friends didn’t come in the way we had expected and this has been a rather hard pill to swallow.  On the flipside the ones who have supported us have an even more special place in our hearts and the old adage my grandmother always said has been proven true ‘if you have five true friends you are truly blessed’ – thank you to my handful for being wonderful and making me smile whatever happens.

All in all, as I reflect on our first year of marriage, which we were fortunate enough to celebrate at a wonderful hotel at our friends gorgeous wedding in Belfast and again at home when Bond cooked for me while I was ill, I realise how lucky we are.  We have had a wild year but we came out of it with a stronger marriage, closer friendships, a greater respect for hard work and the value of money and a business we are both proud of.  Next week all of our things arrive in Brussels and the best lesson of all according to Bond…I don’t need ALL those shoes…but that’s a lesson only he learned, I can’t wait to have them back!

Fabulous Flower Carpet

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-29 at 13.50.07

Every two years in Belgium they have a fantastic flower carpet, I have heard about it for years and so I couldn’t wait to see it.

The idea of the flower carpet is to have Belgium collaborate with another country to come up with the concept and implementation.  Everyone looks forward to it and it takes place in the Grand Place in Brussels.  The Grand Place itself is stunning and is a unesco site.  If ever you come to Brussels this is an absolute MUST see!

This year is the 21st edition of the Flower Carpet. Just like Brussels, Guanajuato is a colourful state in Central Mexico with a rich tradition in tapestry. The annual highlight is “La Octava Noche” in the southern city of Uriangato, where the locals decorate kilometres of streets with carpets of coloured sawdust. It is the most important event for ephemeral art in the centre of Mexico.  This collobaration between two countries that are so far apart was awesome to see as it was a sign of how globalisation can be so positive.

This carpet was STUNNING and the light show that we also got to enjoy was incredible.  It felt like the flowers were moving!  So impressive and amazing to watch and experience.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the VIP party and so we watched the show and were able to have margheritas and enjoy a mariachi band.  Just a fantastic evening all in all!

If you ever get the chance to come to go to the flower carpet take it with both hands!!

Shopping Bonanza!

man wearing pink polo shirt with text overlay

Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

At the moment we have the sales in Brussels and they really commit to BIG discounts!  With our shipment taking it’s sweet time to arrive we are rather in need of a few things, especially a suit for Bond to wear to a wedding next weekend!

First stop is always Hackett, this is a brand that really fits Bond well and that he loves because it is good quality.  We had decided a suit would be the best way forward but struggled to find one that wasn’t pure wool and thus extremely hot.  The hunt was on for a different idea.

The lovely salesman went out of his way to hunt down the perfect ensemble and now Bond will be very dapper at the wedding.  I would thoroughly recommend Hackett to all, the Brussels branch proved that wherever in the world you shop Hackett have ensured that the service will be great, the stores will be beautiful and the collection will have everything you’re looking for, and in this case even things you didn’t know you were looking for!

Having succeded at Hackett we rewarded ourselves with a calippo and a nice dinner at home.  Sometimes it’s the small pleasures!

The next day it was my time for some more shopping, I have a new favourite store here in Brussels and they sent an email saying they had a sale, well it would have been rude not to check it out!  Akaso is fabulous.  The brand is all based on a tribe in Africa, they use prints based on the body painting that they use as part of their tribal identity.  It means that each piece is really unique.  The way they apply the print also has a 3D effect which makes it feel a lot like paint.  The attention to detail is fantastic and the clothes are easy to wear while being stylish.  PLUS Akaso give the tribe money for all their prints and so the community is being helped, fashion and doing good are a great combo in my opinion!

Another favourite spot for Bond and I is Waterstones.  I suspect all expats have something that make them feel they are at home, and for us a good English book store is the way to go.  They even sell favourite English food and all important tea bags.  Nothing says home like a good cup of tea.  Bond bought a couple of books but I resisted temptation as I have a pile by the bed already to get through.

The next stop was Zara where I picked up a few summer clothes, this heat is insane and my work wardrobe was severely lacking.  Now I have a few pieces I can mix and match and not swelter on the Brussels Metro the whole time.  The sale was incredible and I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I saved!

My best find in Belgium is Veritas.  They sell all kinds of craft goods and for someone who LOVES to knit this is a must visit.  The ability to go in and actually be able to look at the wool and get inspired is so great.  The staff are also really friendly and helpful.  the danger is there are a LOT of branches and I can never resist going in…now I have four new projects on the go!

Next we went to Cliff Tailor for their liquidation sale.  Bond was rather upset that this store is closing down as it’s an old fashioned tailors with gorgeous stock and the store itself is so lovely, all wood pannelling with a stunning spiral staircase.  We were really pleased to at least find out that the owner is closing out of choice so he can enjoy his retirement.  Bond picked up some lovely belts which he needed so he was happy.  Hopefully the new owners will maintain the look and feel of the store and also the great staff.

We finished our day off by going to the pharmacy for plasters and managed to meet a nice couple too!  We hope to meet up with them again in the future so that we can have some new friends in Brussels!

All in all a great weekend full of treats!

 

 

Parental Visit!

adult beautiful elegant eyewear

This is how I WISH I looked while shopping…the reality is far different!

My parents came to stay last weekend while Bond was away and it was lovely to see them.  It’s been ages since I saw my mother and a few weeks since I saw my dad so it was great to be reunited.  It’s also the first time in forever that it’s been just us three.  We had a really good time shooting the breeze as well as running some vital errands…well they thought they were vital, for me I thought they deserved more of a break!

On Saturday my mother took a train and I met her at the station for a shopping bonanza.  We headed to an area of Bailli that i hadn’t been to before, this became clear when I confidently led my mother to the metro…only to go in the wrong direction!  Oops! Luckily she saw the funny side and eventually we got to Bailli.  There were lots of fab shops to potter about in, I love a good concept store and Belgium does them so well.  Even a clothes store will have lovely gift ideas and candles so there is something for everyone.

gray round floor fan

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

My top two shops of the trip were Hopono and Bocacci.  Hopono is a fab store for things for the home, gifts, kids stuff and of course things you may like to gift yourself!  Mummy bought sunglasses and a wallet for dad and Bond got a USB fan from me – vital in this hot weather.  We loved the staff who were kind and helpful and who even beautifully giftwrapped our presents.  Bocacci is a GREAT shoe shop with a fantastic sale, we loved it and I walked away with two new pairs of shoes, one for a wedding we are going to and another for smart evenings where I don’t want to wear massive heels.  With the sale I paid less for both pairs than one was originally worth, I do love a bargain!!

After we had hit the stores we headed home to relax and I made some dinner in advance of Dad arriving.  Once he came having driven over we had spaghetti bolognaise, talked and drank good wine and just had a lot of fun catching up!

pen calendar to do checklist

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

The next day was a day full of errands, we went first to the rubbish dump to get rid of stuff we no longer needed.  I was impressed by the efficiency of the Belgian dump, we were in and out in five minutes!  From there we went to Brico (a homewares store like Homebase) where we bought large fans, paint for tiles and some storage boxes.  Then we we went to Carrefour where my parents kindly helped me stock up on the vital things that are heavy – all the cleaning stuff, canned goods and of course beverages!  We are stocked up for a good long time!

On the way home we stopped at St Katherine to have lunch out which was great!  We had whelks and shrimp and a chocolate mousse to die for.  St.Katherine is a lovely spot as well and we enjoyed sitting in the garden enjoying some much needed shade.

From lunch we went home where we chilled out and watched TV before all agreeing an early night was the way forward.

On Monday we drove over to Stone Manor which is an English store here that stocks the food and drinks that we all miss when living abroad.  Got major points from Bond for finding Branston Pickle!   Having all stocked up on our food needs and for my mother magazines that she loves we headed off for a great lunch again.  My dad being Belgian knows lots of great spots!

The next day they headed off and I felt rather sad to say goodbye to them! Luckily Bond returned in the evening so I wasn’t alone for too long.  Still I can’t wait for the next time we are reunited!!

Bond’s Birthday week!

lighted candles on cupcakes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When Bond and I met I was a major birthday diva and he found this a comical thing that he didn’t really understand.  My family go HUGE for birthdays, they love to celebrate and make a big fuss.  His family are more laid back about the whole thing.  6 years on and I have been usurped, the birthday diva of the family now is most certainly BOND!

black calendar close up composition

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This year he announced he would have a birthday week, this was so important we had to stay up till midnight to say ‘Happy Birthday week’. The morning of his big day he had a croissant in bed with candles and icing, in the afternoon he had another cake and then in the evening I cooked lamb chops at his request.  Then he made the foolish mistake of travelling which robbed him of two days of his birthday ‘week’.  On his return we had more cake and candles and yet more of my culinary prowess – again at his request…since he discovered that I can cook even though I hate it he has been finding ways to get me back at the oven!!

Image result for mont des arts sunsetFor the real celebration I booked dinner out at a great restaurant with a fab view so we could enjoy sunset while we ate.  KWINT has a fabulous view over Mont des Arts which is meant to be the site of the best sunsets in Brussels. On arriving at the restaurant they told us they had no gas and thus no food!!  Anyway we rallied, had a cocktail and watched sunset and then headed to another spot for dinner which worked out really well in the end. I am lucky that Bond is a good sport and didn’t get upset that the original plan didn’t work!

Au Vieux Saint Martin was fantastic, great and well made proper Belgian food with fabulous service and in a great location.  We had a lovely time and enjoyed eating good hearty food before walking home.  I would thoroughly recommend it, their Flamant stew was especially good!

For the rest of the weekend every meal had candles and then on Sunday negotiations were attempted for an extra two days to make up for the one he missed out on!  These failed I am sorry to say…we were out of cake and candles!

happiness is a piece of cake close up photography

Photo by Antonio Quagliata on Pexels.com