Tag Archives: Belgium

Winter in Belgium…

A rare sunny day in Brugge....

With all the snow that has been falling in Turkey, and in Canada, I am really missing my white winters.

Our first winter in Belgium was a weird one, there was actually snow, and not just a little bit, but a lot of snow, it was wonderful.  It also happened over the Christmas break, so we had a white Christmas.

It is also the first Christmas that Alara really remembers, so now, she finds it so strange when there is no snow at Christmas (poor kid…)

Our landlord told us that it wasn’t normal, that in the past fifty years he could only remember one other winter like that one.

And for the past two years the winters we have been living the ‘real’ Belgian winter.

It’s cold, not freezing, but cold.

It’s damp, and often there is rain, and the rain is cold.

Worst of all, it is grey.  There is a real lack of sun.

Now sometimes, like this weekend, the call for snow.

And sometimes, that snow comes!

And then within a few hours it quickly turns to rain, and we are back to our typical Belgian winter.

Now, I’m not complaining about living here in Belgium, I actually really love it, but one does get tired of the rain.

So, while you are sitting in our house, with the snow falling outside, thinking about having to shovel your drive way, or dreaming of a snow day…

Think of me, getting out my rain boots and umbrella to walk to Alara’s school to pick her up.

She never has a snow day!

A grey day in Ghent....

A grey day in Ghent….

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Expat Living- Friends


“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”

One of the most difficult things about being an expat is making and keeping friends. Expat living can be a very transient lifestyle, people are always coming and going. It can be very rare that you are in the same place, with the same people for very long.

Here is how it starts, when you first move to a country, you try to be friends with any one who speaks the same language as you. Maybe they work with you, maybe you meet them in a classroom, or maybe you over hear them speaking English in a Starbucks and you start up a conversation with them. Whatever the reason, the commonality of language is the key factor.

You realize that you are only friends with that person because of the language. That they are a person who, in your normal life, you never would have been friends with. Sometimes that is a good thing, and you’ve opened yourself to a whole new kind of person and friendship, and sometimes it isn’t.

Then, you start to become more picky, just speaking the same language is no longer enough, you start to look for friends who you actually have something in common with, or dare in say, like.

And then once you’ve settled into a routine with this friend, coffees, shopping, even play dates with the kids you both have, it is time for one of you to move on.

What do you do? How do you deal with this revolving door of friendships?

Keep in touch! You never lose a real friend. They are always with you, and these days it is even easier to keep them with you. Facebook, Skype, text, keeping in touch is not as difficult as it once was.

Keep making friends. You can never have too many friends. You don’t need to replace them, just make room for everyone.

Keep your options open, yes you are no longer going to be friends based solely on English, but give someone who you wouldn’t normally be friends with a chance, maybe she is ten years older than you, or not married, but perhaps there is something else that that you two have in common.

Since I started my life as an expat I have had some of the most amazing friends, people who have been through all of the major and minor moments in my life with me. I am truly lucky.

In the last few years I have had to say goodbye to so many of these amazing friends, and looking towards the summer, I am dreading saying goodbye to two more amazing people.

This is the life of an expat.

You can’t close yourself off, as my grandmother used to say, every stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Baked Camembert


Cheese.

Is there anything better?

I love living in this part of Europe, if for nothing than the variety of cheeses.

Hard, soft, stinky, sweet, white, yellow, orange and blue, old, young, every kind of cheese you could ever imagine.

I have fallen in love with Camembert. A soft cheese, stinky cheese. It tastes so good on a piece of crusty baquette with some grapes on the side… Heavenly.

I do like my Camembert the traditional way. However, sometimes I buy a Camembert, and it ends up sitting in my fridge for a bit too long, and it is no longer as soft as I would like.

So I bake it.

It becomes so ooey-gooey, and the herbs give it a lovely new flavour layer.


Here’s my recipe for baked Camembert…

Baked Camembert

1 Camembert cheese in it’s wooden box.
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
A small handful of fresh oregano, torn
Fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C

Remove the cheese from the plastic wrapping and place it back in it’s wooden box.

Score a circle into the top of the cheese and pull of the circle of rind.

Put the garlic, oregano. Pepper and oil in the cut out circle.

Put in the oven for about ten minutes.

Remove and eat. If it is too runny, let it sit for a few minutes to firm up.

Chickens


One of the sad things about Seyfi’s job is that people are constantly in and out of our lives, either we are moving or they are moving.

It is even sadder when people are told they have to move earlier than expected.

This is how we got chickens this weekend.

Our really great friends have been told that they have to move on to their next position, a whole year earlier than expected. We are so sad to be seeing them go. They are a wonderful family, and great people to be friends with.

After talking to them, and seeing their chickens, we had decided that we would like to raise chickens as well for our last year in Belgium. We were just about to get started on the process of getting chicks, when they offered us their chickens.

It’s like getting a dog that is already trained, these chickens are already laying eggs!

So on Saturday afternoon, they came over, we built up the chicken coop, and moved the ladies in.

We thought that the stress of moving to a new place might make the girls a bit nervous about laying eggs so we weren’t expecting anything for a few days.

But, the on Sunday morning…


Our first egg!

Our first egg, which Alara promptly, took to the kitchen,


Scrambled…


Cooked…


And ate. All by her self!

I can say that we are an egg family, and these chickens couldn’t be a better gift, it’s just too bad we gained them by losing our good friends.