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CheeseWeb’s 10th Anniversary!

By andrew - January 7, 2014 (Updated: November 18, 2014)

Celebrate 10 years of CheeseWeb!

Celebrate 10 years of CheeseWeb!

Ten years ago today, in an apartment in Amsterdam, CheeseWeb was born! It’s been a rollercoaster ever since. Today I take over the blog to celebrate this huge milestone and share how CheeseWeb (and Alison) have impacted others.

In early January, 2004, Alison and I had just moved into a beautiful flat in the neighbourhood of Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam. We were going to be in Amsterdam for at least two months and were looking forward to exploring the city, country and region. Having never lived so far away from family and friends, Alison decided to set up a website and write about our adventures.

On January 7th, 2004, the first post, “The Adventure Begins,” went live and CheeseWeb was born. (If you don’t know where our name came from, read the story on our About page.) It is fun to go back and re-read these older posts, knowing how things would evolve. I love the section in this post about her initial observations about the Dutch.

CheeseWeb 2004

The first version of CheeseWeb was a bit … “cheesy”!

Fast forward ten years and we have now been in Belgium for 8.5 years. Along the way Alison’s written a thousand posts (500k+ words); shot and edited thousands of photos (2TB of backups!); shared thousands of tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media; and responded to who-knows-how-many emails. We’ve travelled all over this country in search of new, hidden gems, racking up plenty of miles in our various cars. And most important, we’ve met a ton of people, made many friends, and built long-lasting partnerships. In short, it’s been an epic journey.

But enough from me. To mark this big milestone, I didn’t want to simply tell you what these 10 years have meant to me or us, as a couple. I want to know what this journey has meant to you. So, secretly, I reached out to some readers, partners, and friends and asked them each a simple question:

How has Alison and CheeseWeb impacted you in the last 10 years?

The following video and text are what they shared with me.

CheeseWeb 10th Anniversary from Andrew Matheson on Vimeo.

Featured in the video are:

 

CheeseWeb was the first blog to ever mention Etiquette. That was about 2 years ago, still early (and hazy) days for us, as such CheeseWeb both inspired and encouraged the team to keep working in the right direction when we most needed support. Many thanks to Alison for this.

 

When I met Alison (she interviewed me ahead of the Brussels Accessible Art Fair in October 2010), she already started talking about CheeseWeb to me, but at the time I knew nothing about it, and her words did not sink down in my head. Later, when I gradually started understanding the precious added value she brings with her work to people like me – expats in Brussels, I took an increasingly deep interest in it.

My appreciation of CheeseWeb goes in all directions, really. This is enforced by the fact that we have developed such a beautiful friendship with Al. Let me expand on that. For one, the beauty of CheeseWeb and the kind of work that Al does in the framework of this project, is that I get Alison to call upon me to join her for all kinds of events. It can range from book-swapping in an obscure part of town, to dining at a fancy hotel in a central location! And sometimes one must get up real early on a Sunday morning to get to one of the richest parts of town, get to the top floor of a high-riser (see the awesome view of Brussels) and learn how to apply make-up. CheeseWeb is really a generous and versatile source of information for all users, and an exciting experience for those behind the scenes, who are making it happen 🙂

What’s more, Alison even invited me to write an article on my impressions of China. So I got published! How awesome is that?!

Naturally, I became a referee to Cheeseweb for many a tourist and expat. It feels good to do that, because I know the high quality of stuff that goes onto the website, and the personal involvement of Alison (and Andrew!) in everything that is shared. They involve themselves in the process with gusto, and they make sure to entice you into trying out the different things to do, see and taste in Brussels – they got the talent for that!

<p?In all honesty, having spent 13 years in Brussels and having developed some kind of ‘tourist-fatigue’ over time, CheeseWeb helps me re-discover this place, develop affection to it, and nurture my interest in keeping up with the cultural and daily life of Brussels, discover things and keep my hand on the pulse.

Thank you, CheeseWeb! 🙂

 

I first heard of CheeseWeb about 2 and a half years ago, while I was living in Texas,in the countryside, two hours from Houston. I was hot, miserable and without JP so I was not having a good time. We knew then that we might be moving to Belgium and that kept me going. I had told a few friends about our potential move and one of them sent me a link about living in Belgium that turned out to be CheeseWeb. I immediately fell in love with it, great stories, fabulous photos that gave me great visuals about living and traveling in Belgium. I started reading it religiously hoping to do all that was presented and try all the food too. It has been and continues to be a great source of travel for me and my family. I am very grateful that I got to know you closer, you both are really nice people and and proud to call you friends.

I will say this Alison, when you asked me to write a post for CheeseWeb was one of the nicest moments of my recent life. Since I haven’t done anything professionally, in the last 10 years, you gave me the opportunity to do something for me. Thank you both for being our friends and thank you for creating CheeseWeb and making me a part of it.

 

The Social Media Syndicate in Brussels

Alison showing Rick Griffin, Sherry Ott, Dave Bouskil, and Deb Corbeil around Brussels.

Congrats on the 10th anniversary of CheeseWeb!!!! I will never forget the incredible hospitality you and Andrew extended to our Mongol Rally team in 2011. The short time we spent with you in Brussels was certainly a highlight of our journey. I wasn’t even aware of CheeseWeb at the time, but after meeting you IRL and seeing some of your stunning photographs and experiencing your passion as you served as our tour guide, I had to check it out. I’ve been a fan ever since!

Looking forward to the next 10 years of inspiration and I can’t wait to return! Thanks for all that you do!

I’ll be hoisting a glass of Belgian beer in your honor. Cheers!

 

I remember our first meeting as if it was yesterday. There was an immediate connection  … you trying to understand the locals and sharing it with other expats, me trying to reach you newcomers and convince locals to invest more in building bridges between our communities.. Cheeseweb, with its enthusiastic and open approach, is a perfect link. I still hope more ‘locals’ discover your work and understand to appreciate what we have here as much as you do.

Therefore, I would like to launch a new word, in you honor: the ‘newlocal’ = a newcomer who knows more about a country and shows a greater love for it, than most locals.  Maybe Cheeseweb can launch a yearly award for the best  newlocal? Surely we can find some minister to sponsor it :-). I’d like to nominate you for the first edition!

En daarom ga ik even verder in het Nederlands :-). Ik weet dat je een goede basis hebt, maar je een beetje oefening mist.

Dank je voor je inspiratie en enthousiasme! Ik wens je nog heel veel goeie moed en hoop dat we in contact kunnen blijven.

En een beetje nieuws: ik start begin februari aan een nieuwe fantastische job als communicatiedirecteur van ‘Soprimat’, een private organisatie die 15 rusthuizen beheert. Ik kijk er enorm naar uit. Als je ooit een reportage wilt maken over ouderenzorg in en rond Brussel … Of alvast een plekje zoekt voor later 🙂

Gelukkige verjaardag voor Cheeseweb (en gelukkig nieuwjaar!).

Marijke Verboven

 

Alison & Michelle enjoying dinner in Spello, Italy.

Alison & Michelle enjoying dinner in Spello, Italy.

Alison has opened me up to the possibilities inherent in sheer existence. Getting to know her on-line, and creating a friendship out of virtual connection, sharing experiences, and having her support for my writing and my travel, and then glorying in  the massive good fortune to actually meet her (and Andrew), made the world just seem a more accessible place. She is a place of authentic warmth in the universe, and I am grateful for her.

 

Dear Alison (we guess we can include you too, Andrew) – You were the first to dispel the myth that Belgium is not on the internet.  So, firstly, thank you for that.  Whether you know it or not, you were our helping hand throughout the first few months before and few months after our move across the Atlantic. You’ve provided countless inspiration to get us exploring this great, little country, including (but most definitely not limited to) Mexigo – the delicious little Mexican place that fed us before our kitchen arrived; Wépion – the most delicious strawberries in the world; guh-orgeous Villers Abbaye; and probably one of our top brunches ever with Chef Alex, oh and of course, introducing us to Jazz Nights at Britxos..there’s more, but you get it. We felt instantly welcomed when we walked up to that bloggers’ happy hour and whispered under our breaths, ‘oh man. CheeseWebs here. It’s them. It’s CheeseWeb.’ And then you knew us. We were wonderfully flattered, since you guys are expat royalty. Just accept it because you guys are awesome. Here’s to ten more years!

 

I always look forward to the next edition of CheeseWeb – it’s a highlight in my crowded mailbox.

The photography is amazing – always the right angle/ lighting/ colours etc. A real visual treat.

I like the quirky stuff, too, that I’d never get to hear about otherwise.

Although we’ve been in Belgium now for some 17 plus years, there are always surprises in this wonderful, surreal country and CheeseWeb is a great way to look beneath the surface beyond the obvious.

We’ve taken up quite a few of the hints, and had some good days out, so thanks.

As foodies, we are particularly looking forward to our next adventure on a tip you gave out a while ago – Dinner on a Tram. Only in Belgium!

We’ve offered it as a 70th birthday gift to Barry’s brother who is a tram and train buff – what could be better?

Keep up the good work and enjoy your anniversary.

Glynis Whiting & Barry Eaton

 

Rumor has it, CheeseWeb has its 10th anniversary. Congratulations!!!!!!

Thank you for all the trip advice and lots of beautiful pictures, for the stories about Belgium and all the things we wouldn’t have discovered without you (especially food and drink!!), for making us longing to go traveling again!! We enjoyed very much meeting you (both)!

We wish you all the best for the future and good luck!

Sabine & Hannes

 

Cooking up a storm at La Benjamine with the fabulous chef, Cédric!

Cooking up a storm at La Benjamine with the fabulous chef, Cédric!

What I know is that part of your travels for CheeseWeb meant that we have become friends after your first visit in La Benjamine. We shared many special moments there such as New Year’s week end, cookery lessons, wine tasting, swimming pool ball games with a difference, Charade evening, and even a special pique-nique in Laurent’s vineyard which ended with lots of wine and little clothes!!!!! ….souvenirs souvenirs…We even shared some great times in England such as week ends at Holling Grange and another at the London Marathon!

We also loved our first trip to Bruxelles and sharing some of your favourite places to eat and magical Christmas Markets and “Son et Lumiere” show on the main place one the buildings!

We might have not seen you as much but keeping receiving your Cheeseweb emails keeps us updated with all your news and we know that when we meet again it will be like yesterday!

 

Alison plays a hippy at Maxine's BookaLokal Murder Mystery Dinner.

Alison plays a hippy at Maxine’s BookaLokal Murder Mystery Dinner.

Meeting Alison at one of my first Bookalokal Murder Mystery dinner parties was truly a fantastic experience. I instantly liked this bubbly, funny, smart, courageous and Brussels-knowledgeable woman!

Alison is CheeseWeb & CheeseWeb is Alison…. (sorry Andrew)… and we all know that CheeseWeb is the site to go to if you want to know anything about anything in Belgium. Plus – her food photography has you tempted to lick to the computer screen (and this can only be inspired by a truly great photographer – which she is!)

Checking out the “Keep on Toasting” truck as well as fork dueling at “The Restaurant” together has the makings of a great foodie friendship and I look forward to spending more time with Alison in the future.

Alison – you are an inspiration…..

 

Alison, thank you thank you thank you! CheeseWeb, and you, have been such an inspiration to me – both in falling in love with this funny little country we live in, and in pursuing my own work with Bookalokal. I’m so glad you’ve become a friend and I look forward to lots of collaborating with you and Andrew!

 

Oh, the Places You Go!
(with Cheesy thanks to Dr. Seuss)

Con-cheese-ulations!
Today is your decade.
You’re always off to Great Places!
Lens, eye and cheeses, off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re cheesy. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the gal who’ll decide where to go.

You look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down a dullardly street.

And when you found any
you didn’t want to go down.
Cheese-wise, of course,
you headed straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things started to happen,
you didn’t worry. You didn’t stew.
You just went right along.
and started happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’VE GONE!

Always on your way up!
Seeing great sights!
Joining the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You don’t lag behind, because YOU have the CHEESE!
You’ve passed the whole gang and taken the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’re the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you top all the rest.

You find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With blogs and pics flip-flapping,
You always ride high!
Ready for anything, along with your pal.
Ready because you’re that kind of a gal!

Oh, the places you’ve gone! Still, there is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with those pics
will make you the winning-est winner in the world of optics.
Fame! You’re as cheesy as cheesy can be,
with the whole wide world getting cheesy times three.

And did you succeed?
Yes! You did, indeed!
(98 and 8 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’VE MOVED MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Massin or Bixby or Board,
or Alison Ali Van Allen O’Cornford,
It’s off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
A decade in cheesedom,
The bloggers all say,
Thanks for Cheese-sharing, but …

There are mountains still waiting,
So…get on your way!

Bill & Helen Matheson

 

Thank-you to everyone who contributed! Obviously I couldn’t reach out to everyone we’ve ever met. If you have been impacted by CheeseWeb or Alison, I would be honoured (and so would Alison), if you shared your story in the comments below.  If you prefer not to share it publicly, you are always welcome to send a note via our contact page.

Thank-you to everyone who has encouraged Alison and CheeseWeb over the years! We wouldn’t be here without each of you and your support means the world to us. I look forward to the continued evolution of CheeseWeb and hope you’ll all join us on our next adventures!

Read more from Cheeseweb.eu
Andrew
Andrew is our resident tech-geek and is normally found lurking behind the scenes on CheeseWeb.eu doing things with code that Alison finds mysterious. He comes out of hiding occasionally to write about history and technology. He is also part of the duo that produces Tech Brew, a podcast about beer and technology in Belgium. He loves castles, driving on narrow, twisty mountain roads and relaxing with a glass of peaty Scotch. Follow Andrew on Google+
Andrew
@wpjobboard Contact form submission broken - getting a 403 error on submit. - 2 months ago
Andrew

16 comments

  1. Comment by Someone

    Someone January 7, 2014 at 10:06

    Congratulations !

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 7, 2014 at 16:52

      Thank you! And thank you for your insightful and thought provoking comments. I love them!

  2. Comment by Adriana

    Adriana January 7, 2014 at 13:17

    YAY! Happy 10th anniversary!!!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 7, 2014 at 16:51

      Thanks Adi for being a part of it all! It’s been a pleasure sharing your work and having you as a friend this past year!

  3. Comment by Alison

    Alison January 7, 2014 at 16:38

    First let me just say I had NO idea Andrew had planned this and I am baffled at how he pulled it all off. Andrew told me about the anniversary at a bus stop in Granada as he was jetting off to the UK for work. I knew he did something but had no idea what and had to stew on it for an hour. I first read the post at a train station cafe with tears streaming d own my face. I’m sure everyone thought I was in the midst of a messy breakup. I then meet up with Warren & Betsy who continued to keep the secret all the way back to our rental flat where I finally watched the video. More tears and laughter ensued as I was reminded how lucky I am to have such incredible friends, family and readers… And most of all, the most wonderful husband in the world, who remembers important milestones that I don’t. Thank you all for sticking with me on this crazy, wonderful, random journey and for supporting me and encouraging me through it all. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

  4. Comment by Amy

    Amy January 7, 2014 at 17:03

    This made me so teary! What a nice tribute you put together Andrew.
    Alison, I found your blog when I was still just a newcomer to Belgium, and it has been a huge inspiration ever since. Not only has it been a wonderful resource about Belgium and expat life, but it has inspired me to take risks I might not have otherwise considered. Most importantly, it was through CheeseWeb that I met you and Andrew, two of the kindest, most generous friends I know. Thank you for all of the time and energy you put into your work and congratulations on 10 years! Enjoy your time in Spain and Morocco! xo

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 8, 2014 at 09:00

      It made me teary too! The absolute best thing about CheeseWeb has been the amazing people it’s brought into my life. You are one of those people. Thank you for having the courage to reach out to the crazy stranger who put herself online and for becoming a dear friend!

  5. Comment by Marie-Eve

    Marie-Eve January 7, 2014 at 20:44

    Congrats on this big achievement, Alison! So sorry I couldn’t be part of the video, but know that I meeting you two was one of the highlights of my Brussels trip and I hope we do meet again in a near future. On either side of the pond. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 8, 2014 at 09:02

      Thanks Marie-Eve! It was so much fun meeting a fellow Canadian abroad (and at home) and I hope we can catch up again soon!

  6. Comment by Mary @ A Productive Endeavor

    Mary @ A Productive Endeavor January 8, 2014 at 04:10

    As a full-time homeschooling homemaker with no travel bugs in my bones, I am living a COMPLETELY different life and just love reading about your travel adventures! Your photography is amazing and your writing so descriptive that I feel that I am there! I think that it’s just so fun seeing where life takes two friends from Junior High! Congrats on 10 years and for building such a beautiful resource for people! And double extra congrats for landing such a good man! He sure loves you well!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 8, 2014 at 09:03

      Thanks so much Mary! You’re right… I definitely have a wonderful man! I’m still trying to figure out how he pulled it all off!

  7. Comment by Mons

    Mons January 8, 2014 at 09:40

    Yay!!!
    Congratulations and hugs to the both of you wonderful people!
    A++
    😀

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 8, 2014 at 10:54

      Thanks so much Mons! I hope we can share Belgium (or india) with you guys again soon!

  8. Comment by Andreea Gulacsi

    Andreea Gulacsi January 8, 2014 at 09:57

    Being away we missed Andrews super-kind and thoughtful invite (sorry, Andrew!) but we could not agree more with all that has been said, shared, written, posted – you are an expat inspiration with a truly beautiful (photography) eye. I don’t think Belgium ever looked this good 🙂
    Looking forward to more adventures from you building to the grandest of them all, on the road. X

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 8, 2014 at 10:55

      Aw, thanks Andreea! And this year I vow we WILL meet in person!

  9. Comment by siobhansteve

    siobhansteve January 9, 2014 at 15:34

    We discovered Cheeseweb back in 2010 and have found it a fabulous resource for discovery of all kinds in Belgium and abroad. The writing and photography is nothing short of stunning. Living in Belgium since the late ’90’s, we quickly realized after reading posts on Cheeseweb that we had just skimmed the surface of what is out there to see and do, as did the friends we shared it with. Because of Alison’s post about the horseback shrimp fishermen on the Belgian coast, we spent a really magical summer’s afternoon last year on the beach experiencing the “catch” with my 75 year old father, who was visiting from Toronto. It remains one of the top memories of his time here. What Alison has created and continues to create is just wonderful. We were so happy to finally meet Alison & Andrew just in the last couple of months, after Cheeseweb featured our Brussels based shop and made it look the BEST it has EVER looked with her photos! So, thanks for the tips, thanks for the plug, and thanks for helping us make magical memories in Belgium. Long may it continue and all the success in the world!
    And as they say in Belgium (french) for good luck, “merde”! 🙂

    HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY CHEESEWEB!
    Siobhan & Steve
    House of Wunders, Brussels

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