La vie en Belgique

Feline friends and waffle warriors aside, life in Brussels has been rolling on smoothly. I don’t think I ever regaled you with an account of my first metro ticket – in true Harriet style, I hurried to the ticket barriers with my Oyster card in hand, to be promptly reminded that I was in Belgium… and without the necessary MOBIB card. That’s fine, I’ve got cash. Oh no it isn’t said the ticket machine gruffly as it guzzled my pristine ‘I’ve just arrived’ 10€ note. Standing awkwardly between the machine and barrier, the Belgian public took pity on me. In fact, several people offered to buy me a ticket! And I lived happily ever after on tram number 7…

I think you’ve been left in suspense long enough – the fitness classes are dire… and led by an extraordinarily energetic gymnast who, in appearance, style and barking voice, resembles Anne Robinson. Hundreds of giggling (I’ve know idea why, they obviously don’t know what’s coming) students pack into the ‘salle de gymnase’, squinting under the fluorescent lighting. The music starts pumping, the yoga mats laid out and we’re off… an hour later and I’m curled over dreaming of waffles. I’m fairly sure my laughter throughout the class does more abdominal good than the actual exercises, but it’s all about the cultural experience isn’t it… I’m already dreading the microphone announcement “You, redhead, you’re the weakest link, au revoir”.

My gymnastic capacity was pushed to its limit last week. I found myself locked inside the church building- with the keys. Having summoned all of my MI5/intelligence knowledge I leapt up onto the window sill in the bathroom and hurled myself out onto the pavement. Some bemused pedestrians glanced over. I think it is fairly concerning that they didn’t approach me for questioning. The alert readers amongst you will have noticed that the window was left open… so having muddled through my set of keys, I wedged the front door ajar with my bag (baguette looking more like pitta by this point) and then closed the window from the inside. Look out for me in the next series of Spooks…

Leaving my over-ambitious gym sessions behind me, I decided that cycling would provide a suitable substitute. The weather disagreed. The rain is unforgiving. Freezing cold wind whistling through my ears, glasses in need of windscreen wipers, jeans drenched, fingers numb. It was this bedraggled figure who arrived at choir on Monday, still wearing her fluorescent jacket – Harriet Subtle Beckham. The rehearsal was great. Good music, entertaining singers. I spent a good deal of it with my scarf in my mouth to stifle laughter. The only way I can begin to describe the soprano section is as a parliament of owls. Glasses perched on noses, eyebrows raised, beady-eyed, twittering… I love it. They’ve all decided I’m called Henriette – I’m cool with that.

Had a few shocker moments with Tsonga of late. He was recently given a new collar – no strings attached. Just a bell. Being chased up the stairs in the dark by a high-speed bell is no laughing matter. It is fear-inducing. However, it has its advantages… no more creeping up on me in the morning!

This week in the kitchen – cupcakes. The children here have a sixth sense for anything sweet, so I’m surprised I managed to snap this pic.
Quote of the week from little Theo: “Harriet, tu devrais ouvrir un salon de thé!”

What are you about to do? Tell me what YOU’RE up to. S‘il vous plaît?

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4 responses to “La vie en Belgique

  1. You do keep me laughing Henriette. Tonight is our first night of Focus (hello Romans!), and you’ll be sorely missed by all, especially me. Maybe I’ll bring stickers to win the girls’ affections from the start. It seemed to work on you…

  2. ohhh the fluorescent yellow jacket…. it’s funny to think we probably enter bedraggled simultaneously sometimes.
    thinking of you.

  3. You’re a massive joker harri! Hope you are enjoying life generally. life in Brizzle is totally mad – what with course-related work really stepping up and loads of internship applications to be done, and CU responsibilities but surviving! Also, joined a wind orchestra which is jokes!!

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