Birthday Week Celebrations

By - February 25, 2008 (Updated: November 28, 2014)

Whew, what a birthday week that was! In fact, things are pretty hectic in general in Cornford-Matheson land but I’m getting ahead of myself. First the birthday celebrations…

So on Wednesday I turned 31… I’m now officially “in my 30s.” Yuck. Anyway, Kara asked if I would like to spend the day in the city with her. Not sitting at home and working on my birthday sounded appealing so I agreed. Andrew and I had one stop to make in the morning before the partying could begin however.

At 10 am on Wednesday we had a date to revisit one of the many apartments we have viewed over the last few weeks. We wanted to have a second look to make sure it was clear in our minds and we wanted to check out the neighbourhood. We have since made an offer on this place and are in the midst of negotiations. I’m not sure how it’s going to go. We aren’t very good at negotiating. Cross your fingers for us and I’ll keep you posted.


After the apartment visit, Andrew dropped me off at Kara’s. She cooked me a delicious breakfast to fuel our day of birthday celebrations. With full bellies, we decided to go for a walk in the, surprisingly, rain-less Brussels air. We wandered through the neighbourhood of the potential new apartment and I found myself quite happy with the location.

After our reconnoitre, we ended up in Grand Place where we enjoyed some cherry beer. We spent the afternoon with various beverages in hand (some were coffee, others weren’t.) As I waited to hear from Andrew, who still hadn’t shared my birthday night plans with me, Kara was doing some furious text messaging. I knew something was up.

Eventually we wandered back to Grand Place where I was surprised by Monami. Then I received a message from Andrew to meet him at Como Como, a tapas restaurant nearby. We three girls were joined at the restaurant by Andrew and Arvi and I was informed that this was only stage one of the evening. We enjoyed some Spanish wine and nibbles (and of course some lively conversation) before moving on.


Stage two was a visit to a nearby seafood restaurant where I was commanded to order lobster (life is rough, I know). The seafood was delish and I think we were the last people to leave the restaurant for the evening.

Our final stop was at a salsa bar across the street. Unfortunately there was not much dancing going on, being a Wednesday night and all. But we all agreed that returning on a weekend in the future would be fun. After a hard day of walking and drinking, I was more than ready to call it a night.


The next morning (er, make that afternoon) Kara and I met at Central Station for an overnight trip to Amsterdam. We found a great deal on a hotel room in the city center and I got to show Kara some of my favourite spots (er… shops). We had Mexican food, jenever and noodles, did some shopping and sightseeing and took a late train back to Brussels on Friday night.

Saturday, Andrew and I had a lazy morning. After running some errands in the afternoon (ah the glamour of expat life) we decided an evening at Grimbergen spa would be a good way to unwind. It gave us a chance to discuss the apartment we put our offer on, moving in general and our future travel plans (more on this in another post).


Sunday we met Arvi and Monami for breakfast and then jumped in the car for a trip to Kinderdijk. Andrew and I hadn’t visited the windmills in ages and we wanted our Indian friends to have an authentic Dutch experience before heading home next weekend. After our walk through the windmills we decided to hit the beach… unfortunately it was under construction (?!?) as they were working to rebuild the dijk. After a rather long lunch/supper we headed back to Brussels to get ready for another busy week.

So thank you to my “Belgian” friends for sharing a wonderful birthday week for me and to my wonderful hubby for surprising me with my favourite things – friends and food.

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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+
It's after Halloween so I can officially share Christmas Markets now right...? 🎄🎅 - 1 week ago


  1. Comment by Mons

    Mons February 26, 2008 at 16:05

    That was an evenful b’day! 😉 Photos are lovely…

  2. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops February 26, 2008 at 17:41

    Wow … congrats to the party girl and the party facilitators and participants … sounds like a ball … the new apt sounds like it’s in a great location but did I hear that it is a four story walk-up … hmmm, comes with a fitness program bonus … time to leash train the kitties and invest in some kitty backpacks … as to the 31 thingy, this is your 32nd February 26th … enjoy … enjoy … lots of love … pp

  3. Comment by Ira

    Ira March 1, 2008 at 01:41

    Congratulations on your passed birthday! A little belated (but still steaming) best wishes!

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