Winter Preparedness

By - September 12, 2007 (Updated: November 28, 2014)

It’s early September and already I’m preparing for the Belgian winter. This time last year we were enjoying a blissful Indian summer. In fact, when Andrew’s parents were visiting in October, we had fantastic weather for the entire trip. (Granted, we were in Belgium for most of it but I do have photos of us wandering around Brussels in the sun.)

That hasn’t been the case this year. Our summer was sometime in April (mostly when Andrew and I were in Canada the first time around). The days now are mostly grey and if there is a spot of sun, it’s still bloody cold.

So, as I said, I’m preparing for winter this year. Last weekend I went out and bought a Luminotherapy lamp. ‘A what?’ I hear you asking… It’s a big, flat lamp that rests on an easel on my desk. The light it emits replicates sunlight, without all of the harmful UV rays. This is what they prescribe to people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I’m certain I’m afflicted with (either that or I just suffer from Belgium). So I’m supposed to turn this lamp on for at least an hour a day (or as necessary, which for me could be all the time) and absorb all of the happy little B vitamins through my eyes.

I don’t know if it’s working or not. I turned it on for the first time today. It takes a week to see results… I’ll keep you posted (riveting, I know.)

Andrew also went out this week and bought me a heater for my office. That’s right, even though my office is in the basement, in the room beside the furnace; there is no heat in here. Just one more marvel of Belgian design… or at least, my landlord’s design. The heater is wonderful and I’m sure my office will become a sauna in no time.

The best part of my winter preparedness however, is my plan to get out of here for a week. (Unfortunately that week isn’t technically in winter but at least it will give me happy memories while the skies are grey here.) I’ve more or less finalised our trip to Pau in October.

This time, instead of driving straight to Pau and back, we’re taking a little detour to the Loire Valley. This is something we’ve wanted to do since we moved here. Our previous attempt was foiled by rain during the Tour Daze France, so hopefully this time around we’ll have a bit of sun. We’ve decided on three (out of literally hundreds) castles to visit and we’re looking forward to a bit of uncharted territory.

So inevitably, Belgian winter is on its way, but maybe this time I’ll be a little more ready for it.

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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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  1. Comment by anon

    anon September 12, 2007 at 15:28

    which castles???? I certainly hope chambord, chenonceau and Azay Le Rideau are the ones…but then you’d not see Amboise, Usse or Villandry. 🙁 Try and do more than 3! You’ll never regret it.

  2. Comment by Mirka

    Mirka September 13, 2007 at 17:05

    I definatelly suffer of Belgium, and that all year round, no lamp would help me 🙂 But I do understand your reasons for the light, the grey days are so depressing!

  3. Comment by Megan

    Megan September 16, 2007 at 04:54

    It snowed today in Yellowknife. This is NOT going to be fun.

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