Monday, 27 February 2012

Waves of homesickness.

As I sat having my hair cut last Saturday I reached to unwrap the biscuit given to me with my coffee. It was a speculoos. Just a silly biscuit made me think of the days when I bought the very same biscuits for my children for their packed lunches - not a touch on the ones bought from Dandoy, but then, you wouldn't buy biscuits from that shop for your child's lunch box. And as I sat there with my hair wrapped in tin foil I started to think about home.

I miss américain, frites, salade, buckets of mussels, patisseries, all those beers, the shops, the culture, the diversity of Brussels with its ethnic markets, hidden parks, multi-cultural population and numerous attractions that take place in the summer - many of which are free.

I miss my old home with the large garden and pond. My newts will be out and playing now but I have a feeling that the new owners of the house may have filled the pond in. I never want to find out. I miss playing Swingball in the garden against one of the children. That can easily be remedied, obviously. I carefully brought over the four Swingball bats that I have accumulated over the years and the spare tennis ball attached to the rope....but forgot the pole.

I miss my hairdresser who I have known ever since I was pregnant with Todd. We became good friends and I trusted her to do whatever she wanted to my hair. 99% of the time I was extremely pleased. The hairdresser that I have found in Crewe is pretty good too, but it costs more to have my hair cut and coloured here than in Belgium. I need to find somewhere else, but as most women will tell you, finding a good hairdresser whom you trust completely is no easy feat, and once you find that person, you don't like leaving them. Trial and gross error.

It is at this time of year that I used to watch the changes to my garden: snowdrops, wild daffodils, anemones, crocuses all popping up underneath the hedge while some yellow flower would start to blossom around the pond. Little things like that often catch me off-guard and my mind starts wondering back to the years spent in that house.

And of course, above all, I miss my children. Coralie hasn't had much luck lately - in December, a hoodie smashed her car window when she was at a set of red lights and stole her handbag. Last week, as she was looking for a parking spot, somebody smashed into her car, moving it so far that she smashed into another car. Both she and her boyfriend only suffered minor shock and slight whiplash. The idiot driver who caused the accident wasn't insured and so it has all been settled without involving insurance companies and much in Coralie's favour.

Tatiana had problems with the first job that she took on and was fairly relieved when she didn't pass her trial period, but she missed having me around to talk to for advice. We managed via emails and phone calls and she is much happier in her new job, although whenever something crops up, I am the first person she contacts. She is a big worrier. I can't think where she gets that from.

Apparently Todd is going to study law. I can't get in touch with him - he doesn't read his emails and if he reads his Facebook messages, he never replies - and his phone is always switched off. I think he is angry that I left Belgium as he once said that "I have it easy", but I have no idea what he meant by that as not only is it far from the truth, but he did decide to live with his dad. I'm going to let him grow up and see what he wants then. No point in pressuring the boy.

When in Belgium, I used to crave fish and chips. Why? The chips are vile and the fish is so greasy. But that was that I used to miss. I left England before shops stayed open late or were open on Sundays, but even so, that never really affected me. I remember that pubs used to be better than they are now - or maybe I saw everything so much more differently then than I do now. Most likely.

It's only normal to miss things that I took for granted for 28 years, and I expect these pangs will happen every now and then. But I'm going to make a damn good attempt at enjoying living here.

You only live once.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

It came, it went and a new year started.

Now that Christmas is out of the way despite the odd decoration still hanging up - I mean, how lazy do you have to be not to have taken down your Christmas kitsch by 7 February, I can report on the weird goings on in this corner of the world.

We spent Christmas at Richard's parents, down in Ashford, Kent. I missed the children enormously but was able to speak to all but one whose phone was turned off. Some things simply don't change. I was very well looked after and spoilt with presents from Richard and his family, and my daughters sent me a present too which was lovely. Richard took me to look at my old school but I didn't recognise a thing - I have obviously blotted out that part of my life as I hated it so much. It was rather unnerving not to be able to remember a place that housed me for seven years of my life and I was glad to leave the spot.

We celebrated the new year in Crewe at home and went to the front door at midnight expecting to see people wishing each other a happy new year but the road was empty. Plenty of fireworks, but not a soul in sight. This is really bizarre as I am used to people - and not necessarily friends, but people at the end of the road where I used to live, yet had never met before - getting together passing a bottle of champagne around and wishing one another all the best.

Mmmmm. The Christmas decorations were incredibly tacky and so kitsch that Crewe gets 10/10 for that, but the new year was a quiet and lonely affair spent with Richard and too much TV. I don't think that we went to bed until 4am. God knows what we were watching.

Then January happened. I started an Assertiveness Course which basically teaches us how to get around difficult situations without killing anyone. I think I must be doing something wrong as each time I try to avoid an argument, Richard asks me why I'm talking to him so strangely. At least it gets me out of the house for a couple of hours a week.

Last week I started doing voluntary work ("That won't bring in any money," said my Dad, "Well, no, that's why it's called voluntary work - and apparently it looks good on your CV," I replied. I don't seem to be able to do any good in his eyes - it's a good job I'm so far away from him) at Eagle Bridge, working with the Wishing Well Project. I'm helping in the IT Suite (stop laughing, this is serious), meeting and greeting people who use the computers and helping out when I can. Richard has started too, although on a different day.

Jobs aren't pouring in, but the hunt goes on. I gave in to my damp problem and bought a dehumidifier - thanks to everyone who gave advice. It does help enormously. The dining room still remains to be painted which will be a task as there is quite a bit of furniture in there as well as plenty of full boxes. And book shelves - where on earth am I going to put all my books? There really isn't the space in this house.

The girls are already talking about visiting again but I have said to wait until the weather gets warmer as it's nicer to visit the surrounding villages then. I can't believe that I have been living here for almost a year now. Much as I like Crewe and it's surroundings, I'm still finding it hard to adjust to the culture. If they have Christmas markets here, they don't sell gluhwein as it is against the law to drink on the streets. Most holidays are held on Mondays and are called Bank Holidays. If you have savings and no job, then this is definitely NOT the country to move to. You will be expected to live off those savings and that really and truly upsets me. And I'm leaving it at that.

Hopefully something of interest will happen before I next post because even I am getting bored. Perhaps I'll find a job!