Home and Away

By - July 8, 2008 (Updated: November 27, 2014)


Flights, hotels and rental cars are booked, beds with friends and family are reserved, cat and house sitters arranged – Canada (and California) here we come!

Ok, so I still have a few things to do, like, oh I don’t know, pack for four weeks… ugh. And buy chocolate… can’t forget the chocolate.

As always, I’m excited to go home. I can’t wait to see my friends and family. I can’t wait to shop – cheap drugs, shoes, books… heaven. I can’t wait to eat – garlic fingers, sushi pizza, onion rings, poutine, lobster, corn on the cob, basically anything my mom makes… home food, comfort food, love. I can’t wait to see the ocean, smell the salt, hear the quiet, breath fresh air, and be somewhere that isn’t filled with people. I love Europe, adore it… but sometimes it’s just too… European. That’s the trouble with being an expat… there comes a point when you just don’t quite fit anywhere anymore.

I’m also looking forward to our escape to California, although I wonder how much of it will still be standing when we get there. I almost booked a hotel in Big Sur. Luckily I found a cheaper on in San Luis Obispo. Parts of Highway 1 are closed because of the fires. The one thing I wanted to do with Andrew was drive that road. Last night I was reading about the fires – the lost homes; the miles and miles of forest, gone; the firefighters working so hard to get everything back under control. Mother Nature can be so devastating sometimes. Hopefully the fires will be out by the time we get there, but even if they aren’t I’m still looking forward to a few precious days alone together.

Here in the loft, things have been good. Still no word on the builders but I’ve about given up on that. We put up our bookcase because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Just two boxes left of things to hang on the walls. They will wait until we get back.

On the weekend we walked… Friday night we walked downtown and had Thai, while sitting at a table on the sidewalk, remarking that in Halifax they’d never put tables on such a busy street. Then we walked to my favourite cocktail bar and had overpriced girly drinks (although Andrew’s were girlier than mine) and watched the never ending sea of life pass on the street below us – more entertaining than TV and a true ‘Reality show’. Then we walked home. Saturday, we walked to Ave. Louise to shop with the over-coiffed little old ladies with their tiny little dogs, and the yuppie families in matching over-priced polo shirts. We ate lunch outside. We walked to the wine store and left with a bottle of Belgian sparkling wine and a ‘special day’ red. Then we walked home to rest. A few hours later, we walked to one of my favourite squares and met up with an old friend for pizza at my favourite pizza place. Then we walked to her house. Several bottles of champagne and several hours later we walked home. Add on a lazy Sunday with a kebab from the halal shop around the corner and the discovery of frozen perogies at the Polish store and we had perfection. I can’t remember the last weekend in Brussels that was so good.

I think we moved here at just the right time of year. Belgium is still rainy but we’ve been blessed with some gorgeous days. Brussels is at its best in summer – cafés & people watching…it’s really all you need. I’m remembering to like it here. It’s a nice feeling.

Last week I took a bunch of photos on my way to the butcher. I wanted to show some of the local sights. I was going to post them here but I think I make it too easy on you. You’re going to have to work for it by going to my photoblog every day. It’s not hard… the photo of the day link is right over there to the left. If that’s not easy enough you can RSS the photoblog feed. Google Reader is your friend.

I will be nice and post a shot of my backyard. I love it. I’m waiting for the perfect evening to grab a night shot of the same scene. I’m usually too busy eating BBQ on the nice nights to remember. Mmmm… BBQ.

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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+
I'm always shocked (in a good way) at what a great response we get to our Belgian Gift Guide. This year's is even... - 4 hours ago


  1. Comment by Di

    Di July 8, 2008 at 18:49

    Had to comment, this is a brilliant piece of writing.
    Nice work.

  2. Comment by Alison

    Alison July 9, 2008 at 09:58

    Thanks Di

  3. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops July 16, 2008 at 18:08

    I agree with Di … great stuff served deliciously … a thought occurred however – the more room you allocate to chocolate heading across the pond the more room you will have for KayDee, popcorn and shoes on the way back! … genius, eh? … it’s wonderful that you are coming here but a weekend in Brussels as you live it will be hard to match … does the loft have a name yet? … lotsalov … PP

  4. Comment by Breigh

    Breigh July 25, 2008 at 11:40

    Ooooooh I’m SO FRIGGIN JEALOUS OMG! Kiss Canada for me! It doesn’t matter where, you know… a tree, a park bench, some cute guy on the street! Just so Canada knows how much I love and miss it!
    Oh yeah, and have a wonderful trip and take lots and lots of pics 🙂

  5. Comment by Danielle Barkhouse

    Danielle Barkhouse August 5, 2008 at 03:07

    Hey, email me and let me know when you’ll be in the Maritimes! I just may be there at the same time.

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