2010 A Roller-Coaster Year in Review

By - January 3, 2011 (Updated: November 24, 2014)

CheeseWeb 2010 Review

As the sun sets on 2010 CheeseWeb looks back over the past year.

2010 was a roller-coaster of a year, for both CheeseWeb and personally. Andrew and I did a lot of travelling this year, and saw many new destinations. I found some much needed direction in my art and, by the end of the year, Cheeseweb had really come into its own.

Over the holidays, Andrew and I took some time to look back over the last year and set some goals for 2011. I wanted to share some of the highlights from the past year, for those of you who joined us part way through. For those of you who have been with us for a while now, thank you for your support and I hope you’ll enjoy this look back as much as we did.

We started 2010 with a bang and found ourselves in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Andrew’s work. Las Vegas was a place I never had a huge desire to visit. However, after a few wonderful days with friends, I found myself writing an apology to Las Vegas. We also managed to escape the neon and excess of the Strip with the help of a new friend, who kindly took us to visit Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

While in Las Vegas, Andrew won an Amazon Kindle. He and I tested it out and reviewed the Kindle as a choice for both expats and environmentalists. I also reviewed the expat resource, InterNations and interviewed one of the founders, Philipp Von Plato.

February is normally a quiet month. The short, grey, winter days usually make me want to keep busy in front of my computer. Last February, after a lot of work with the Web Guy, I launched the new ACM Photography website.

I looked for inspiration in the art world, when we visited the Frida Kahlo exhibit at Bozar. We also spent a great day, finally exploring the  René Magritte Museum in Brussels.

I was thinking a lot about food during those winter months. Andrew and I signed up for vegetable box delivery and I am happy to say we are still thrilled with their service.  But we can’t always be virtuous. Sometimes we need a decadent treat. So I also reviewed the best Belgian chocolate shops in Brussels, Grand Sablon.

During those grey winter days, I was busy planning for my busiest time of year, photographically speaking – spring. One of my favourite posts is still Belgium’s Top Ten Spring Sights for Garden
and Nature Lovers

Groot Bijgaarden (Grand Bigard) Castle

Groot Bijgaarden (Grand Bigard) Castle – a great destination for garden lovers in Belgium

In March, Andrew and I were Proud to be Canadian as we watched the Winter Olympics in our home country.

I also wrote a guest post I am very proud of, for one of my favourite websites, Almost Fearless, called How Blogging saved my Expat Life. I still get comments about that post, as well as traffic coming to CheeseWeb from Almost Fearless. I continued the introspection when I wrote about my concerns of becoming stuck in Belgium in the Fear of Standing Still, which became my most commented on post here on CheeseWeb.

In April, I escaped the wet Belgian spring with a fellow photographer. We went to Alghero in Sardinia, Italy, to photograph the wild flowers. I fell in love with this lovely Italian island and I hope to return in the future to explore it further.

Asinara Island and Torre de La Pelosa

Asinara Island and Torre de La Pelosa in Sardinia, Italy

When I returned from Sardinia, my life was all about gardens, starting with my annual trip to Keukenhof Tulip Gardens. This year I added a new Dutch garden to my list – Kasteeltuinen Arcen Gardens. I also made my first visit to Kew Gardens in London. I hope to return to all of these stunning gardens for more photographic adventures.

Kew Gardens, London

The Japanese Garden in Kew Gardens, London

I took a break from tulips by photographing our friends’ new and beautiful self-catering cottages, Holling Grange  in Herefordshire, England. I also took a look at life with our furry family in Expatriating with Pets.

In May, Andrew and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary and I  looked back over our adventures together so far.

In June, I was busy showing my Forgotten Postcards at my second Accessible Art Fair. I also ran a contest for a reader to win a custom Forgotten Postcard and was very happy with the winning entry.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India - Forgotten Postcard

Taj Mahal, Agra, India – Forgotten Postcard

I really had fun with posting in June. One of my favourite posts is still the tongue in cheek 20 Signs You’ve Been an Expat in Brussels Too Long. I also interviewed my roommates from university who have all had their own expat experiences.

At the end of the month, we discovered the Thermae Boetfort Belgian Spa near Brussels and had a lovely, relaxing visit. We also finally discovered good Mexican food in Brussels from MexiGo.

My posts over the summer all had a decidedly North American flavour, beginning with my post on music from Eastern Canada.

In August we were on summer vacation. We found ourselves once more in Las Vegas for Andrew’s work. This time, we visited The Grand Canyon and Zion National Park; both places I hope to revisit in the future. Stay tuned as I plan to post more detailed articles about the parks in the future.

After Vegas, we headed back home to the East Coast to spend time with family and friends. While in New Brunswick, we took a day trip to beautiful Grand Manan Island.

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick

I was also fortunate over the summer, to meet several of my virtual friends in the flesh, which was a real treat.

Not long after returning to Europe, we were off to Krakow, Poland for a beautiful weekend break. While there, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wieliczka Salt Mine. There are more posts to come from this part of the world as well.

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

St. Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Back in Brussels, I was already in the midst of my third Accessible Art Fair. After all of the craziness of summer and autumn we decided to make a weekend escape for just the two of us. We found a great deal on the Margi Hotel in Vouliagmeni, Greece. While near Athens we couldn’t not visit the Acropolis and some of the other great sites in the city. (You guessed it, more posts to come!)

Vouliagmeni, Greece

Vouliagmeni, Greece

By the time we returned from Greece, it was already time to think about Christmas shopping, so I posted about Dod – Affordable Fashion in Belgium. In December we participated in some of our favourite expat Christmas Traditions and visited the Brussels Christmas Market.

Brussels Christmas Market

Brussels Christmas Market

I wasn’t alone in the posting in 2010. Andrew did some great posts about technology in Belgium this year. He discussed computer shopping in Belgium, Internet service providers in Belgium, Choosing a Smartphone in Belgium,  Mobile Internet Operators in Belgium and my favourite post on How to Backup Your Expat Life.

Andrew even stepped away from the computer to write about the Montaigle Castle Ruins in Falaën, Belgium.

CheeseWeb increased its visitors and subscribers this year by leaps and bounds. We were thrilled to be included on Almost Fearless’ list of top 100 travel blogs. We were also named a recommended website by Expat Focus. Later in the week I’ll be posting about a great new community I’m pleased to be part of, but you can get a sneak peak in my interview Exploring Expat Life.

It hasn’t all been happy days and sunshine for us. We’ve had some terrible losses to family and friends this year. We’ve had personal frustrations, setbacks and questions about where our lives are headed.

But looking back over all we accomplished last year I can’t help but be proud and encouraged about the year ahead. We have some exciting things planned and I’m sure much of the best bits will be unplanned.

Through it all, we look forward to sharing our journey with you. As always, we encourage your feedback. What did you like most about CheeseWeb in 2010? What didn’t you enjoy? Leave your comments below or contact us via email. Don’t forget to subscribe to CheeseWeb via RSS or Email so you don’t miss a thing.

If you like this, you might like:

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 Andrew

    Andrew January 3, 2011 at 13:07

    When you sum it up, last year was quite busy! Even though at the time it didn’t seem that busy 🙂 You’ve done a great job over the past year and I look forward to 2011!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 3, 2011 at 13:09

      Really? I thought it was super busy! I can’t believe we packed all of that into one year. Even more in 2011? Bring it on!

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  3. Comment by Andrea

    Andrea January 3, 2011 at 15:05

    You definitely saw a lot in 2010. Love your photos!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 3, 2011 at 16:18

      Thanks Andrea! We definitely were busy last year and I hope the trend continues in 2011!

  4. Comment by Megan

    Megan January 3, 2011 at 16:36

    Happy new year, guys. Mmmmmm…Belgian chocolate review…

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 3, 2011 at 16:46

      Happy New Year Megan! Yes, I may just have to ‘review’ that chocolate again… things change 🙂

  5. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler January 3, 2011 at 17:55

    Oh wow – I was reading everything asking myself, how do you remember it all? And yes you were quite busy. I just love seeing all of the photos. And I’m happy you now think that AZ has more to offer than just Vegas. I would like to visit there some day again and visit Red Rock and Zion as well!

    Can’t wait to see more as I’m more in a sleepy sickness day in and day out, too lazy to post much going on, yet busy trying to prepare for life changes. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 3, 2011 at 18:09

      The only way I remember everything is going back through my blog posts 🙂 Another great reason to blog! You definitely have had your own roller coaster last year and I’m sure 2011 will be a great ride for you guys as well!

  6. Comment by Tavus

    Tavus January 3, 2011 at 21:06

    I’m happy to notice that I have read most of the posts you mentioned here. From reading through this post I feel like all of the events happened just last month and not a year ago. Needless to say, time really flies fast!

    I really enjoyed your posts that has to do with discovering Brussels (the restaurants, gardens, and the art world). Of course, this is due to the fact that I live in Brussels as an expat. I also enjoyed how I get inspired by your posts and the overall webpage factors. In fact, that’s one more thing you should add to your review of 2010. The fact that, among many other wonderful things, you’ve also inspired many bloggers to carry on and bring out their best.

    Gratitude and applauses from me!

    ~ T

  7. Comment by Sarah Novak

    Sarah Novak January 4, 2011 at 03:11

    Wow- What a sensational year! LOVE it! Talk about fully living… so proud of you, you’re a great model for other expats!

    XOXO, Sarah

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 4, 2011 at 11:18

      Aw, thanks Sarah! It took a few years for me to get to this place but I’m certainly trying to take advantage of every opportunity I can. Your positivity and enthusiasm for life is a great inspiration! All the best for 2011!

  8. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops January 4, 2011 at 16:21

    Wow … thanks for taking us along on the ride … looking forward to more in ’11 …

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 4, 2011 at 17:42

      It’s been a big year of ups and downs and hopefully 2011 will bring more of the ups our way.

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