Monday, 16 April 2012


"Sharon's taking me to hospital - I really don't feel well."

"OK, Richard - good luck. Let me know what they say."


"Hi Zoe - they think it's appendicitis and I have to stay in."

"Oh dear. What about next week? I'm moving over to England."

"I'll get back to you - the doctor's here."

This time last year I had packed all my belongings into a van with the help of Coralie, several of her friends, Todd, a friend and Richard's brother-in-law, Mark. Although Richard was out of hospital now, he was in no fit state to drive all the way to Belgium and so his family got together and Mark, a professional lorry driver, was designated to get me.

When the van was packed I told Coralie what to do with any mail sent to the house, what to do with what was left in the house as there was still a lot of furniture in it which I thought Tatiana, who was doing her stage in a hotel in Madrid at the time, would like. We hugged and as I handed over my house keys to Coralie I gave my last few instructions in a broken voice, gently wiping the tears off Coralie's cheeks.

I climbed into the van with Hermie in a box and as we drove out of the clos I didn't dare look back - I decided to try and concentrate on talking to Mark and try and discover what on earth the vibrating noise was coming from one of my boxes. Coralie and friends passed us by just before we joined the Ring and honked loudly before we headed for Calais.

It was a lovely warm day and we arrived early but couldn't get on an earlier ferry so we sat in the van and people-watched, making jokes about who they were and what they did. The talking helped me from thinking about what I was doing and the wonderfully warm and unusually hot weather kept my spirits up. When we finally boarded the ferry, Mark bought me a coffee and we sat by a window, chatting and watching what had to be the flatted crossing that I had ever been on. As the English coastline came into view I felt vaguely excited and calmer than earlier in the day.

Hermie had stayed in his shoe box in the van during the crossing and appeared fine as we drove off and headed towards Richard's parents, arriving dead on 7pm. I was made to feel very welcome and was fed an excellent meal of cold ham and vegetables before being sent to bed as I was obviously fading rapidly.

I think I was still in shock, because apart from driving on the left, I hadn't really realised that I had left Belgium, everything seemed to be happening in a dream.

And that was a year ago exactly.

After an excellent night's sleep I woke up and burst into tears. I knew where I was, and that I was to be driven up to be with Richard that day, but my heart wasn't ready. I was already missing my children and my house, not to mention Belgium.

But my house had been sold already, I was just waiting for my share of the sale. There was no going back now.

All that happened a year ago today.

Happy anniversary.


Vicus Scurra said...

So your blog is a year behind? Let me know when you catch up.

Richard Wintle said...

Er... um... happy anniversary. Or congratulations. Or sorry you're feeling homesick. Or something.

I'm also a year behind, of course.

[He whom what used to be known as 'Ricardipus']

Leen said...

I moved to the UK from Belgium 12 years ago and your posts sound very similar to how I felt after the move.

JudyBelg said...

Oh sweetie I wish I could give you a big bear hug.Ask Richard to do that for me.He must be one of the reasons you are there at the moment.oxo

Zoe said...

Leen, your comment means a lot to me as there aren't many other people that I know of in the same position as me apart from Sharon, who moved here from Norway over 20 years ago. But it's good to hear from a fellow 'Belgian' :-)

Thank you, Judy. xxx

CK said...

Hi Zoe, Its not just moving from Belgium to UK thing. Its usually whenever we take decisions in life, where someone else, apart from us, also plays a major role in what we decide for ourselves. And this exact feeling sweeps over us. IT happened to me couple of times whenever i have moved around after being in a place for quite some years. And i become very polite and chatty with fellow travelers, or the driver. Anything to keep the mind getting foggy. !! Cheers to one amazing year and that life has moved on beautifully. :)

Bart said...

Yeah, I know the feeling from when I moved from the centre of Antwerp six kilometers to the south to live in the suburbs. Life is so different here, although they do drive on the same side of the road.

What? It is totally the same!

Invader_Stu said...

It's never easy moving to another country... Especially if that country is England :p

Anji said...

It must have been awful at the time.

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