Wake Up Calls

By - June 27, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

I am sitting in bed listening to the rumble of trucks and the crunch of a cement mixer. It seems no matter where we go on this continent, we are doomed to be near construction. Our peaceful country house isn’t quite… I’ve been awake since 6, thanks to a rather persistent black cat, who is currently only coming out from under the bed when he is hungry.

At 6:30 the hammering started, as did the traffic. It’s surprising how fast people drive through here. I guess it shouldn’t be… they are Belgian after all. Andrew looks at me and says, ‘How can you blog with all this noise?’ Ah, but the noise is my muse… well, my inspiration, ok fine frankly I’m just bitching about it. But I did vow to write about the good AND the bad. So the noise is something we will have to get use to… or we could move our bed to the other side of the house… to the living room maybe, or the laundry room.

Aside from the noise it’s been good so far. We got quite a bit done yesterday. The clothes are unpacked and the patio set is assembled. Andrew also learned how to deal with the charcoal BBQ ‘I’m not sure that much lighter fluid is necessary’ but whatever gets the job done I guess. We are also serenaded by the ‘dueling roosters.’ There is a chicken coop behind us, where the donkey also lives, and there is one two yards to the left. One rooster will crow about every two hours and that will set off the other one. They aren’t that loud but it’s kind of funny. I’ve so far only heard the donkey once.

Last night we met our neighbors. L and her daughter C, who is seven. We saw C first, while we were sitting in our lounge chairs reading. After a long day of getting the house in order we wee taking a break. We noticed a little blond streak zipping by every now and then, peaking over the fence. Later, I noticed them on their balcony having supper so I waved and said hello. L came over to the fence later and introduced herself. She was very nice and offered to help with anything she could. She has lived here for 15 months but she said that most of that has been spent recovering from Cancer. She can’t be much more than her early 30s, if that. She said she is feeling well now and is able to enjoy the summer before she returns to work in September. She speaks English very well and said she will speak Vlaams to us once we start to learn a bit more. She also said the landlords were very nice and helpful and our neighbors on the left are very friendly also. We have yet to meet them.

Today, Andrew starts his first day of work at the new office. It will mean new people to get used to and new traffic to deal with. Either today or tomorrow, my landlady is supposed to show me around town. I’m still a bit nervous about this, because of the language issue, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out. Hopefully we can start our lessons soon, and maybe then we will start to feel a bit more at home.

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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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