Changing scenery

It has already been a while, since this happened, but I just haven’t had the inspiration to write about it. But anyways, we have a new home! We moved in May this year.

Nothing spectacular, we are still in Belgium and in Flanders, but Rupelmonde, charming and lovely Rupelmonde was left behind. We had been searching for a new place to live in for the whole spring. The main goal was to get closer to work. The 3 hours that disappeared every day while going to and coming from work was finally getting too much.

We selected the approximate areas where we would like to see ourselves living in. Not in Brussels but somewhere along an easyish railway connection to there. Simple, in theory. Many of you probably know that theory is often far from reality.

First of all we (Waffle) had to get our heads around the fact that an apartment might be a viable option (lower heating costs and maintenance etc.), then we started to create more requirements, like garage, preferably for two cars. Waffle wasn’t even turning his ear to any living space, smaller than 80m2. I was tearing my hair out, since almost none of the rental ads displayed the layout of the home advertised, which to me is more or less the most important piece of information when choosing a home!

Anyhow, we slowly began to find homes which more or less matched the criteria, and got on with visiting some of them. At times the lack of service-mindedness from the real estate agents was striking. They offered no help to us, nor the land lords. Frustrating! But anyhow, one day the moment came, Waffle called me to work, telling me he had found what we were looking for. I received a video of the visit, and approved. A week later we signed the rental contract and became happy inhabitants to be of the jolly town of Merchtem!

A few weeks passed, with packing boxes, sorting out stuff and so on. Waffle had been living in the same house for close to 10 years, accumulating surprisingly lot of things that you easily forget about. Also the fact, that we were moving from a 3 storey house into an apartment, forced us to get rid of quite some belongings. Including a hole pile of guitars, Waffle had collected… That was eventually a refreshing experience! Plus we hardly needed to buy anything new!

The move itself was a hassle, as they always are. But thanks to all our friends who lend their helping hands our stuff switched addresses quickly and we got to enjoy our pizzas and beers.

So that was done, our belongings were moved and we got to settle in. The building of new routines could commence.  I myself was very happy to find out that my walk to train station is only 3 minutes. And my travel time to work was cut to half (provided the trains bother driving)! Waffle has it even better, traveling to work in less than half an hour at best. Both of us are secretly nurturing the idea of eventually cycling to work, although for me crossing the Brussels center in morning traffic by bike is a somewhat terrifying thought.

But the main thing is, that we now have at least an extra hour to every day, and I am more independent in my mobility. Which is great, I’m sure you can imagine! Merchtem is not a bad place to live either. Although the population seems to be somewhat politically active (the local elections are approaching and the amount of propa… advertisements is overwhelming) the neighborhood is tidy, calm, fresh and green.

As we have been exploring the neighborhood, we have found a local kiwi grower and wine maker, a very jolly fellow. And as every self respecting Belgian, we have mapped the best places to get fries from (unfortunately the best has since burned down, forcing us to buy our fatty potatoes from the second best joint). We also found out that Merchtem is the proud town of stilt walkers! Apparently the area used to flood frequently, so the dwellers needed to figure out a way to keep their toes dry. Stilts were the answer!

Still, we are missing the beautiful nature area we had in Rupelmonde and the Skelt -river. Merchtem is mainly surrounded by endless fields of corn and paddocks for cows. No Beavers or otters here. We do have two big forests relatively close by, which is great, and there are trails to run on, when ever one of us lazies gets off of the sofa.  Also our caravan is sitting in our own garage, so our weekend trips got just a little bit easier to depart onto! So everything all fine and dandy.

Schelde, Rupelmonde, Belgium

The added time has enabled me to revive my old hobby, which is great, on that I will write a completely separate blogety blog!

 

 

 

 

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Just passing, but for how long….

I think many expats go through thoughts like these every once in a while. How permanent is the situation of living abroad? How permanent is the current location? Should I return home or not, if yes, when? I know I have posted something similar to this before, but it seems to pop up every now and then in my thoughts.

I have a small existential crisis – again, so I have been pondering and chewing on these questions quite a bit in my own head.  There never was a plan laid out for the future after moving abroad. I did not seem to need it back then. You know, I was moving into the center of Europe, with the best traveling possibilities imaginable. To live with a Waffle so close to perfection I could cry. Not much consideration or deep thoughts were involved in this process.

So far, it has been fabulous. We are traveling around Europe as I always was dreaming of doing. And there is still plenty to explore. But there are other life goals too, some of which require settling down, to somewhere, for some time. So it would be kind of nice to have a vision of where we would like to settle down to.

Belgium has some pros and cons. The ease of travel being one of the best points, as well as high living standard and delicious beer! But for a person who loves nature and mountains, peace and quiet, it is not exactly a heaven. Flanders is the most densely populated area in Europe which makes nature, peace or quietness pretty difficult things to find. Belgium has never been seen as the forever home for us.

But for now, we are building our lives in here. We both have a stable job, a nice circle of mostly lunatic friends and so forth. Despite these things I find myself hesitant to get committed into anything that would force us to stay put for a long time in this country. One of the main things bugging me is studying. Although I have a comfortable position in working life now, I don’t see myself having it as my life career. I want to jump onto another field of profession completely. But that would mean jumping out of a paid job – and sticking to this country for 5 – 6 years, cutting quite q big junk out of the travel budget, not to mention a putting a huge strain on Waffle. Then again, Belgium does have some of the top ranking Uni’s and I am not getting any younger…

This desire of studying would of course hinder some other dreams from coming true. I have been planning to buy a horse now for a while. But owning a horse, going to school and traveling every month to somewhere might be a difficult combo to pull off.

Seems like I have a dilemma here.

And then there is the whole Finland question. I think both me and Waffle want to go live there at some point. That wonderful, evasive point of time called “some”. Now that we have a piece of property there that point became less urgent, I have he possibility to get to my roots even if my parents needed to let go of the farm. It does make hunting down the right “some point” more difficult though. At least we have some traveling to do before going to Finland more permanently.

If there needs to be a conclusion to all this, I think it is that we are  going to live just like we have done so far; in the moment. I am not big on making lists or going through a problem logically, figuring out all the pros and cons of each alternative. I prefer just jumping after any interesting enough opportunity that presents itself. Not really too mature way of looking at life, I know, but it seems to be working, as long as there are not many too strict goals in sight.

I just hope I don’t have to do any job interviews where I need to answer the threaded question: “Where do you see yourself within 5 years?” Because I have absolutely no clue, could be in Belgium or Mars as a nurse or a circus director, who knows? I just have to learn to love this randomness of our life a bit better.

Baltic sea, archipelago, sunset

 

 

 

Wrapping up the year 2016

Wales, Beach, Nature

It is December again, the end of the year, time of celebrations, traditions and the beginning of winter. It is a good moment to count your fortunes, check if you have offended the Karma, and how much more, or less, kilos there are on the waistline. After that we can all consider whether the year was a good or a bad one, and what to do in 2017 to make it better, or worse, in case someone happens to be a masochist.

Well, I started this year with my Waffle in Barcelona. Making wishes as people around us swallowed grapes on every beat of the clock. Since then there has been some new pins appearing to our map. Somehow we orientated a lot to the Eastern Europe this year. Some great mountains and wild nature there. I think both of us fell in love with Montenegro in its endless greenery. Not that Romania is left too far behind.

I think we have gotten a bit used to this traveling. It felt like a quiet year until we lay our eyes on the photo album. We have been to places with quite a hectic pace.

Beside the traveling we do, there is the normal, everyday life we are having. Our relationship is only getting stronger I think. And forming sometimes even a little spooky, symbiotic features. But I love my Waffle and he loves me back, so I don’t really mind even if we transform into one of those disgusting couples who do everything together and the same way.

We have also gained some amazing friends this year. They make me realize the fact, that you should surround yourself with people you feel good to be around and that support you and offer a healthy amount of critique at times, when you are going wild on a stupid idea. Thank you, my new people. And thank you my old people, who are still there and haven’t forgotten me, no matter the distance in between!

And personal growth? Someone told me it is sometimes important to consider that as well, sometimes. Pfft, says I, but lets give it a try. I have always been, and still am, very bad at self reflection. I go with a flow, see where I end up and embrace the opportunities that rise along the way, out of coincidences and accidents. Sometimes it is liberating, at times it is stressful but it works for me. And Waffle seems to be able to tag along nicely, so I am happy.

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Somehow this passed year did force me to look a bit deeper too. Taking a jump off of work was something I had to consider a bit. I wasn’t sure if I was giving up too soon and whether it was fair towards Waffle. But since quitting I have gained a new language (somewhat) and a new job! So no new lessons learned about being spontaneous and reckless.

What about the coming 2017? It is getting closer and closer and somehow we all need to survive it. I usually do not make any resolutions. Now I am making an exception, since I think I came up with a good one that might make me a better person. Or a more irritating one, who knows.

You know, there are those moments when you end up saying “We definitely should do that!” I think most people have that habit. But what happens after saying those words? Sometimes something, often absolutely nothing. Now, I promise that after I blurt out a thing like that, something will happen.

My dear friends. I love you, please don’t make me regret this…

What about you, people out there; How was your 2016 and what is the survival plan for 2017? In any case, Happy New Year!

Couple, Sailing, DFDS
On actual normal picture of the two of us together. Nobody making faces!