Making my Home at Home

23 Jul
It's in the little things you notice that someone else is living in your appartment

It's in the little things you notice that someone else is living in your appartment (indeed, the pink shoes are NOT mine ;-)

When I arrived back to Brussels after a month in laid-back Portugal, I got a city-shock. I had forgotten there were so many people, traffic, pollution, noise, etc. I think I’m ready to move out of the city – but where to? As a test I’m setting up camp at my mum’s place in the countryside, because I rented out my apartment in Brussels for the duration of my sabbatical year. And then we’ll have a look in which quaint village there’ houses for sale.

Bored of Brussels

Lidl - very lidl service

Lidl - very lidl service

The city sucks: it is simply too much and nobody seems to have control over anything anymore, or they just don’t care. You can hardly walk through the streets without bumping into people (it’s tourist season). Most only grunt instead of saying sorry (or stepping aside – they just keep on blocking the streets in big tour group herds).

Shopping in Lidl (in Brussels) is an horrendous experience. Broken bottles of smelly sauce are left on the floor. Women with poor education skills scream louder than their screaming kids. Some local guys take a can of deodorant and spray some under their arms and then put it back on the shelves. The cashiers are doing a competition for being most rude and inefficient, but still give you angry looks if you take time to put your groceries in your bag. And the working language seems to be Arabic.

It must be art...

It must be art...

I’m sick and tired of living in an apartment. Since I moved in in 2000 the landlord still hasn’t put a doormat in the space between the floor tiles at the front door. The stairs are still just as dirty as when the workers renovating the building left them. There’s still blood on the wall where a stabbed neighbour (by a ‘slightly’ aggressive date) fainted and hit the wall. The letter boxes are overflowing and nobody if the addressees are actually still living there. The doorbells and intercom system broke down and no repair in sight…

  • It’s nice to have shops, bars, hospitals nearby, but I can come into town when I need them.

Countryside here I come

View from my countryside room

View from my countryside room

So I’m happy that I can move out of the city to the village (and living with my mum for a couple of months – she can use some company). However living in the countryside also has its challenges (as was the case in Portugal).

The first thing I tried to figure out is how to get online (or download my emails). Seems I’m quite dependent (addicted?) to internet. It would be exaggerated to get broadband, as all those providers only do minimum one year contracts. So I could have gotten a USB data stick to use internet via the mobile phone network, but in the end I found a good old ‘dial-up’ provider. Remember the days of the clogged phone-lines and screeching sound when calling in to your provider? It’s slow, but just enough to download my emails and send some.

My new old office - with slow internet - huray

My new old office - with slow internet - huray

I did restructure my old boy’s room (with yellow ceiling, boyband posters on the wall, etc) and turned it into an office. I re-used the old dining-room table (as my mum turned our dining room into a sitting room), imported an office chair from my apartment in Brussels and re-connected a phone in my upstairs room (fixed phone is cheaper – hehe). The old shelves and bulletin board were still there.

My (ahum) gym

My (ahum) gym

I appropriated the old girls’ room (where my sisters used to sleep) and am quite happy with the huge (horribly antiquated and squeaking) wardrobe and the new mattress on what used to be the visitors’ bed (now it’s mine). And my parents’ old room (my mum is sleeping downstairs nowadays because she can’t do stairs anymore) now functions as a gym: a big carpet on the floor which is perfect for my sit-ups, push-ups, leg-ups etc.

The only problem is that we don’t have a toilet upstairs – and it is a pain to get up, leave the warm sheets, go all the way down, tiptoe past my mum’s new downstairs room, unlock the screeching door and go pee outside (yep, in old houses, WCs are outside). But the issue is conveniently solved with a wash-softener bottle ;-) Bonus: the bottle still smells of detergent – mmm.

The world upside down in the village

The world upside down in the village

Mobility is an issue, just like in Portugal. One the one hand locally (in the village), but also to go back to Brussels (for my evening classes and sports). For getting around town, I managed to extort an old (almost antique) bike from my sister (on the condition I clean and fix it…). For the weekly trips to Brussels, I have put the bus and train-timetables together in an excel sheet – because there are different times in the weekends, some buses only go when school’s out (so not in summer or other holidays), on some days there’s a direct connection to Brussels, on other days you have to go via Antwerp, sometimes there are late trains but no more busses to the village, or the other way around.

  • Anyway, a good thing I studied at university for 8 years, otherwise I would have never understood any of it…
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One Response to “Making my Home at Home”

  1. mushin 1 August 2009 at 10:33 #

    nice … living in Brussels…
    but you should not shop at Lidl heh, try Delhaize :-)

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