Boxes, boxes, boxes!

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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.

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This is more accurately what it probably looked like!




The next adventure

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!



Bond’s Birthday week!

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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!

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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!

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Oh my Ommegang!

The historical re-enactment of the gala fête on 2 June 1549, organised by the Magistrate of Brussels, and given in honour of the Emperor Charles V “Quint”, his son Phillipe, Infant of Spain and Duke of Brabant, and his sisters, Maria, Queen of Hungary and Eleanore, Queen Dowager of France (widow of Francis I) at the Grand Place of Brussels. Departure of the procession of the Guilds and Serments of the Sablon.

I am sorry I am long overdue an update, work has been really hectic so by the weekend I can’t find it inside myself to sit in front of a laptop.  However I am braving the machine because it is time for a post.

A few weeks ago we went to see a spectacular show, something that even a few weeks later I still remember vividly because it was so special.  Ommegang celebrates the visit of Emperor Charles V and his family to Brussels in 1549.

This visit was marked by a parade through the streets of Brussels which culminated in a show in The Grand Place.  The Ommegang recreates the whole parade and show and we were lucky enough to witness this spectacle.

Image result for le grand placeThe Grand Place itself is stunning and is a Unesco site, all the buildings are beautiful with perfect gold gilt detailing.  We were lucky enough to be invited to watch the festival from the balcony of The Town Hall.  The view we had was amazing as we could really see everything and be comfortable. We were also fortunate to be seated with people who were kind enough to explain everything that was happening.

Image result for ommegang beerThere were stilt walkers who fought each other which I had never seen before and which was an incredible display.  HUGE floats and all sorts of people in the costumes that were worn at the original parade.  The flag display was also incredible, a group of people who were walking with flags and then were able to throw them around and catch them and pass them to each other, these flags were a metre long at least and were on heavy poles.  I was mightily impressed!

Ommegang is so popular and renowned in Belgium they even have their own beer.  This is VITAL of course, since we moved to Belgium I have really learned the importance of beer as part of the cultural identity.  They have matching glasses for each beer and I have even discovered my favourite fruit beers, a new find for sure.


The same evening as Ommegang Belgium won the football, the crowd went wild and we had fireworks to celebrate.

Truly it was a magical evening that we loved!

Tunnel Traumas!

Before I tell this tale I must first say that I really love Brussels and that it is a great city for the most part.  That being said it is not perfect and it’s biggest pitfall in my eyes is the Metro…

When I first started to take it I heaped praises on it compared to the Tube in London; less crowded, plenty of seats, polite staff and cheaper too!  However this was all before our heat wave…the trains are HOT…ridiculously hot, stick to the chair you’re in hot.  Punctuality is somewhat hit or miss AND on occassion they decide to kick you off the train!  This has all contributed to rubbing the shine off my commute.  The one remaining saving grace is my lovely colleague who I at least travel back with.

However the love is officially lost for the Brussels Metro after an incident a couple of days ago…I got on the metro as normal where it was already a sauna.  Then off we went until three stops along where we stopped indefinitely.  There were no announcements and people were getting increasingly anxious.  Eventually people started to force open the doors to let air in but we were in a tunnel and so we couldn’t leave the train.  Near us was a baby getting more and more distressed.  The whole thing was horrendous and at no point did ANYONE say what was happening.

An HOUR later they eventually allowed us to walk through the tunnel which was a surreal experience.  The staff were rude and off hand and almost seemed put out by having to help us – which was a bit much given they were literally standing around.  The whole thing was utterly weird and at no point did anyone apologise for any of it!  It transpired that it was an electrical fault that caused all this…a fault that happened two hours before we even went to the station so it could all have been avoided with some better communication!

Suffice to say I won’t be getting on a metro without water and a fan ever again!!

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Brilliant Birthday Bonanza!

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Photo by Dan Prado on

Last week I celebrated my 32nd Birthday in quite some style!  I felt completely spoiled rotten by everyone and had the best time!

The first day of the week my colleagues and I had a lunch together to celebrate both mine and my bosses birthday.  It was lovely to spend time all together as we are still all quite new and getting to know each other more and more.  They spoiled me with a lovely box of goodies from Yves Rocher which was a wonderful surprise as I didn’t expect anything, least of all something so generous!  A great kick off to my birthday week for sure!

My dad flew in from Berlin as he had some meetings here in Brussels and so he planned a dinner the first night of his visit (my birthday eve) which was FAB.  We went to a brilliant place called JB’s which serves Belgian Food but with great style.  Haute Belgian Cuisine is fantastic and I heartily recommend it.  The restaurant is also beautiful and the people who own it are fanatical about what they do so the food is to die for!  To mark my birthday they had a firework sparkler thing which was great fun and made me really happy.  I love a firework!

The next morning I woke up and got ready for work and Bond and Dad had cake and tea and presents waiting for me.  I was thoroughly spoiled by them!  I got a fabulous jumper from my favourite store and a great new book from Bond – one to add to my ever expanding reading list!  He had also iced my cake which was most impressive!  He got it from the same place that we had our wedding cake made so that was really special.  Mummy and Daddy got me a load of make up, face masks, bath salts, a new frock and a cardigan as well as an expandable handbag which is very clever indeed.  All in all a perfect birthday morning!

I had a nice day at work and lunch with some colleagues which was a nice way to spend some time before a hectic afternoon trying to get things done.  In the evening Bond had booked dinner at La Quincaillerie which was awesome.  It’s a converted ironmongers store and it has a lot of the original fittings and fixtures which for a design nut like me is great.  I also loved the giant clock that they have on their stair way.  The whole look of the place is very well done.   The food also proved to be fantastic, Brussels is really spoiled with wonderful restaurants!

All in all it was a completely perfect Birthday and I felt very lucky!

Conference Chaos

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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!