Lost in Translation

By - June 30, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

Well, it was a nerve wracking morning but I survived and damn it, I’m a stronger person for it… now someone pass me the wine bottle…

Today I went for a tour / shopping outing with my landlady. I’m still not quite sure what to call her. We only know her as Mevrouw (Mrs.) Beulens (as on the lease) but Lieve said she could never imagine calling her Mevrouw, only her first name, blah blah blah (which is what I hear whenever anyone says their name, which Andrew can attest to … he being the person who has to tell me 18 times what someone’s name is)

Anyway… There was a bit of confusion over what day she was coming because at one point she said Mondag and then as she was leaving she said Dinsdag… so yesterday I waited and she didn’t show, but she arrived right on time this morning. I was so nervous I was literally shaking as I got in the car. I did NOT know how this whole language thing was going to go.

As it was, I understood her about 85% of the time. She understood me, probably 50% of the time but we made do with a lot of nodding and waving of arms. Ok, I just totally lost my train of thought there because Orange just climbed inside the fireplace and came out covered in soot. I swear that cat totally missed the line for brains…

She took me to the bakery around the corner, which is very nice and also sells pastry and chocolate (danger). Then we went to the grocery store and she made sure that I got a savings card. I now have 9 points and when I get 500 I get a 5 euro coupon. She seems to be all about the coupons. She showed me the post office, the town hall, some schools (but then said quickly ‘but I know you don’t have children.’ I think this was because of a little faux pas of her asking me if I was pregnant the last time she saw me. Further fodder for the diet initiative, granted I had commented when I bought the top I was wearing that it made me look pregnant so I guess I was right.)

She also showed me the rec centre and the church (she asked if I was Catholic, I said no and that didn’t get a comment at all. EVERYONE here is Catholic.) She pointed out several walking trails, where they began and ended, which I never would have noticed on my own. There are quite a few nice paths here, several through the woods which will be great when the dog gets here. She asked when he would be arriving but didn’t say anything negative about him at all. She even commented that the trails would be good for dog walking.

Lieve says she doesn’t like animals in the house but I guess they were desperate to rent. I didn’t ask how long it was empty. Maybe that will be a question for the neighbors. So all in all my little tour went well. She seems very helpful and I think we will enjoy being here. I was able to sleep through the traffic a bit better this morning and as long as I’m at the back of the house the construction noise isn’t too bad. It’s a bit of an adjustment having your neighbors right there in the evenings. Seems like the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

I love hearing all of the birds. There are so many here. We’ve also had two visiting cats. They won’t be too happy when Caesar gets here. Of course, neither will our cats. So far, the outlook remains ok.

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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+
The 🍁🍂🍃 colours here... 😍 - 30 mins ago


  1. Comment by Stephanie

    Stephanie June 30, 2005 at 14:17

    Wow – that sounds both frustrating and exciting at the same time. I hate to be misunderstood (or not understood), but what a great learning experience! 🙂

  2. Comment by Jenn

    Jenn July 4, 2005 at 00:29

    Sounds like you had an interesting trip. Its all about the coupons. When is Ceasar making the trip? Hope you are able to get online soon. I am very excited to go to the beauty supply store tomorrow 🙂

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