Suck It Up Princess

By - May 23, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

I’d like to start the blog today by thanking everyone. I’ve tried to do this in personal e-mails but I want you all to know how great it was after my last blog that you all came forward with support at a difficult time. I also didn’t mean to worry anyone with the negativity. I tried to end on a positive note and I’m afraid that may not have come through. But thank you all so much for caring. It really made me remember that you all are there for us, despite the distance, when things are looking down. Big hugs to all!

Thursday, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and go out and do something. I settled on the Modern Art museum because it was nearby and I knew Andrew wouldn’t want to go anyway – Ever since the Pompidou Fiasco in Paris, he considers modern art to be ‘crap’ and doesn’t want to pay money to look at ‘garbage on the floor.’

The Stedilijk is in temporary digs right now as they expand the original building (there’s a lot of that going on here) and the collection is fairly small. It is presented in an interesting way though. They start in the late 1800s and have one piece from each year until 2005. I’ve posted the promotional film in the movie section. It is interesting to see the progression. Some of it I really liked some of it I didn’t ‘get.’ But it was interesting and, if nothing else, the walk did me good.

This past week was probably harder on Drew than me. The project that he, and others in the Halifax office, was working on was not coming together and he was under a lot of stress. He learned that he would have to spend yet another week in Brussels so he headed back down this morning. Living out of a hotel room for two weeks, with little sleep (and without my cooking) had taken its toll.

On Thursday he asked me to find us a weekend getaway spot that would be very relaxing, where we could just be together and not worry about all of the negative things in our lives. He told me that the cost didn’t matter because, despite our money worries, our sanity was more important.

I took my mission very seriously, especially since Drew’s birthday is coming up. I wanted to find something I knew he would love, to take his mind off work. Drew’s always had a bit of a fixation with castles and when I came across Duin & Kruidberg, I knew I found the winner. The castle dates from 1682, and was the hunting lodge of King William the III. I found an excellent last minute package on a discount travel website, which included a 4 course supper and breakfast buffet. It was perfect.

When Andrew got home on Friday night, we went out for supper with Robert and Marie-Anne and had a great meal. It was nice to finally have some time to spend with them both since our schedules had both been busy.

Saturday we got up and headed into A’dam to get my film processed. (The slides look fantastic and I will be busy scanning for most of the week. I’ll post them as soon as they’re ready.) The guy at the photo lab recommended a great lunch spot so we dined canal side in the sun. That helped me remember what I wanted to be here for in the first place. Once the slides were ready we headed out of town.

When we found the castle it was even grander than pictured on the web. The attention to detail was excellent. We strolled the grounds and generally relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. Our super began with champagne and starters in front of the fireplace in the lounge. We decided to try the wine tasting menu with our meal as well, so with each course we were served a glass of wine to compliment that particular food. The dining room was stunning. There were fresh flowers everywhere and it was very formal. (Had to remember what forks to use first and try not to totally embarrass ourselves). The food was excellent and the presentation was beautiful. After supper we retired to the bar for a while and then to bed.

The next morning after breakfast and checking out, we went for a drive and discovered some WWII bunkers in the sand dunes. Drew had a good explore around them and then we headed towards home. We decided to spend a few hours at the botanical gardens, since Andrew had never been there. They have done a lot of work on them since I was there, last August, with Jenn. We had fun in the butterfly house and wandered around for a few hours.

By the time we got home we were too tired to go out for supper but there was nothing in the house to cook. We were sick of pizza and wondered what else we could have delivered. Sometimes, technology is an amazing thing. We found a website that listed all of the take-out places in A’dam that would deliver to us… and you could order on-line! No dealing with calling and finding someone who understands English. The website did it all for you. And there were all kinds of different restaurants available. We settled on Indian and a short time later we had a fabulous curry feast… I think we may be using that service again!

So this week we will spend in separate countries again. Hopefully it will be the last and it will go by quickly. Think positive thoughts for Andrew’s project and I’ll keep myself busy by scanning.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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