Conference Chaos

train station

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So last week I had my first conference with my new job where we headed to Frankfurt.  My first experience of Belgian trains was extremely positive, I had a yummy eclair and beverage at the platform with my colleague, the train was comfortable and clean and arrived bang on time.   From then on though the trip descended somewhat into chaos as I realised that German efficiency was not going to be deployed.

First we had huge boxes to cart around (thanks to my valiant colleague I mostly stood and guarded them while he hefted them until he managed to force someone to give us a trolley).  Then we finally dropped all this off and tried to check our emails and do some work that was urgent for our event the next day.  Naturally the WiFi did not want to work and so we had to work from our phones, less than ideal for sure!  By the end of the day we were absolutely exhausted!

Thankfully we had the most enjoyable evening with the rest of the team and felt somewhat refreshed after our ordeal of a day.  We got to bed late but happy we had survived!

Up early the next morning our spirits were instantly deflated when we realised our conference room had not been set up!  Soon we were moving tables and chairs and cleaning the floor.  Not ideal!  Then we realised all our attendees were lost all over the vast conference centre.  Cue me running around in my Ferragamos trying to find them – btw those are the WRONG shoes for such a job!!  Eventually everyone had arrived and we started the event which thankfully proved to be a HUGE success and almost made up for my sore feet!

In the evening we had another team dinner, sadly neither my Belgian or Romanian colleague were overly wowed by German cuisine – the fries left much to be desired I was informed.  British boarding school obviously made me less fussy!  In any case we had a good time together and it was good to get to know each other all a bit better.

The last day of the conference was certainly the best as I got to actually go to the stand and meet the people that we help support in their projects.  It was great to learn more about their work and see the difference that our work can make.  I really enjoyed the feeling that in some small way I make a difference to them.

We took a late train home armed with donuts and chatted all the way back.  I got home to Bond who earned major husband points by greeting me with a bloody Mary ready made and a hot bath with bubbles!  As he had also been away on a business trip I was really touched and it instantly made me feel better – exhausted but happy.  Not a bad end to a hectic week really!

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Books brilliant books!!

landmark cloudy building brussels

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Now that we live in Brussels in my parents place I have access to my dads library which is amazing.  He has a great range of books and I am trying a few things I might otherwise never have read which is great.

I have started with ‘Londoners’ from my dads shelf.  As a born and raised Londoner who left home a few years back and still can’t face the idea of going back I was intrigued by this book.  The cover says it all really

‘The Days and Nights of London as Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Long for It, Have Left It and Everything Inbetween.

As someone who left but falls bang slap in the middle of love and hate with my home city this book was a great read.   I think if I had never left I would have been annoyed by some of the views people hold on my fellow Londoners.  There are a great deal of stereotypes that I previously resented but now have had to accept are true.  Why don’t we speak to each other?  What’s the fear of smiling at a stranger?  Also must we speak so fast?  My poor colleagues for whom English is a second language said ‘luckily you annunciate which helps’.  Five years away and still I speak like I just drank a litre of coffee, ironic as I don’t touch the stuff!  It’s also true that we think we come from the best place in the UK and are a tad dismissive of the rest of the country.  The parts I loved most of these books were the hidden parts of London that showed the good of the city, especailly the tale of the lost and found at the train station – it will restore your faith in humanity.

big ben bridge castle city

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For me I love London for the people, nothing will ever take the place of those old friendships that I slip back into like a favourite pair of shoes.  The city itself may be the footwear equivalent of having to run a marathon in stilettos but the friends make it feel like there will always be a sofa and slippers ready to recover with.  For those friends who have always dropped everything to see me – you’re my London and I love you far more than I could ever love a place.

My move to Brussels pushed me to read ‘Merde in Europe’ by Stephen Clarke.  Hilariously written and easy to read I finished it in two days (the commute on the metro has massively increased my ability to finish books!)  It was great realising how many of the places I know and recognise – my local metro station even gets a mention.  Having only been here a few weeks it’s great to realise how at home I feel here.  I even felt defensive when one of the characters was rude about the food…Belgian cuisine is in fact brilliant and the produce in their supermarkets is unbelievable.  Our little local carrefour is full of great stuff that doesn’t cost the earth!  Straciatella yoghurt is a game changer btw!  I now want to read the rest of his books as I find his style amusing and engaging.

Having finished that I just started ‘Back Story’ by David Mitchell (the comedian, not the author of Cloud Atlas as he is quick to point out!)  It’s very funny so far and enjoyable to read (the chapters are the perfect length for my commute which shouldn’t be a criteria but does mean I can really enjoy it without having to stop mid paragraph.  There is something charmingly endearing about David Mitchell, and as Bond will tell you – being endearing is a huge character plus in my book.  That endearing and charming self deprecating way he has comes across brilliantly in this memoir.  I am only a couple of chapters in and already I can’t wait to eat some more…and on that note, back to my book  I go.

 

 

Well it’s been a while…

I am sorry that I have been missing in action for an extremely long time!  A lot has happened in the past year but now that we are settled I feel it’s time to start blogging again!

So First things first – Bond and I got married!  We had the best day ever (though I imagine everyone thinks that about their wedding!)   It was extremely special to share this momentous occasion with so many people we love and care about.  Everyone made a big effort to make it the perfect day and we felt so extremely lucky and happy!  We danced till very late in the morning and just had the best time celebrating.

Post wedding we went to Mauritius for our honeymoon which was BLISS.   It is such a beautiful Island with so much to see and do.  We were lucky enough to stay at the Four Seasons where we were treated like royalty.  We were able to really  enjoy some quality time together looking at the gorgeous beach and we also got out and about.  We went to the races and to a rum tasting as well as a tea plantation.  We were so lucky to see so many amazing things!

After Mauritius it was back to a stint of ‘real life’ in Dubai where Bond had to work and I was able to enjoy a bit of a break from working life and wedding planning!  We had decided that this was to be our last few months in Dubai so we made the most of what we still wanted to do and saw friends to say our goodbyes.

In March we packed up our bags and headed off on our next adventure!  We went to India to explore around and then on to Jordan.  Both countries were incredible and special in their own unique ways.

From Jordan we went back to the UK for some time with Bond’s family which was lovely.  His new niece is cute as can be so it was fun playing with her!

Then a stint in London to see my friends which was great fun – it had been too long!

From there a jaunt to the US of A. California, Ohio and Atlanta!

We then had some time back in the UK before heading to our final destination…Brussels, Belgium.

We have now been living in Belgium for a few weeks.  Bond is working on his new business and I have a job which so far I am really enjoying!

It has been a very hectic and full on year full of fun and new experiences! Now though time to get back into blogging and sharing the fun that Belgium has to offer.  Oh and now I work a four day week I am finally finding time to read – book reviews to follow!!