On Plans and Laughter – A Lesson in Adaptability

By - October 28, 2014 (Updated: November 30, 2015)

Man Plans. God Laughs.Today, we’re getting personal and sharing one of the hardest lessons we’ve learned as expats. We’re also giving you a sneak peak of our big plans, and the future of CheeseWeb.

We’ve all heard the old Yiddish proverb, ‘Man plans. God Laughs.’

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over our ten years as expats, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Despite my ever so slight desire burning need to have a plan, my expat experience has taught me how to roll with the punches, switch gears at a moment’s notice, and adapt, amend, adjust.

For the past month, we’ve been relearning this lesson.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember us mentioning our long-term plan. A few years ago, with the help of the incredible book, Dream. Save. Do., we defined our dream – to slow travel around Europe in a motorhome, with our cats.

But we went far beyond just dreaming our dream. With the help of the book, we built a plan to make it happen. We have set a budget, been paying down our debt and saving money, we’re downsizing our stuff and, most importantly, we’ve set a deadline – May 6th, 2016.

We believed we still had a year and a half to achieve all of these goals.

Man (and woman) plans. God Laughs.

Last month, a week before we were set to leave on our annual trip to Canada, Andrew learned he was being laid off from his job – after 16 years and a move to Belgium.

We had been prepared for this eventuality for a long time.  In fact, we were expecting it. Still, it came as a shock. Like we had been punched in our guts.

What about our big plan?

So, while we were in Canada, surrounded by friends and family, we switched gears. We adapted. We amended. We Adjusted.

Now we have a new plan, ready to change at a moment’s notice.

Our new plan is our old plan – accelerated by one year (give or take). We’re still jumping in that motorhome; we’re just doing it a year earlier. This means we have the next six months or so to downsize our possessions, pay off our debt, buy a motorhome, and make enough money to live for the next year.

It’s a tough challenge, but we’re ready for it. We’re excited to be this close to our dream, and more than a little terrified.

A New CheeseWeb – Coming Soon

So, what does this mean for you dear readers, and what does it mean for CheeseWeb?

For the foreseeable future, you won’t see too many changes. We’re still committed to bringing you our honest reviews of what to do, see, and eat, in Belgium and beyond.

We’ve had some big ideas, for a new and improved CheeseWeb, in the works even before our world shifted. We hope to have a shiny new website early next year, with loads of new features.

Once we leave on our epic adventure, we’ll be bringing you our tales from the road, sharing our slow travel discoveries, and uncovering the hidden gems of Europe, just as we do now – there will just be more of them.

There will also be more of us. We’ve distanced our personal stories from CheeseWeb a bit, in the past few years, and we want to share more of us with you too, warts and all. (We’re sure there will be more than a few warts while living in such a tiny space together!)

If you’d like to know more about our new, improved focus and philosophy, check out our brand new About Page, where we share our thoughts on Slow Travel and Slow Living.

Finally, Belgium-lovers never fear, we won’t be abandoning Belgium. It will remain our home base in Europe and we’ll be back. Besides, we have enough material to keep writing about Belgium for another ten years.

We are super excited to share this new phase of our lives with you and we hope you’ll stick with us on this journey.

As always, YOU, dear readers, are the reason we do this. We love hearing from you, connecting with you, and sharing our passion for travel in Europe with you. We hope you’ll share your thoughts on the next phase of CheeseWeb with us. What do you want to see here? Where should we go? What should we write about? Share your thoughts in the comments, or drop us an email. We can’t wait to hear from you.

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson
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+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 1 day ago


  1. Comment by Deb Gunsch

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Deb Gunsch October 28, 2014 at 13:06

    We thought we’d be in Germany for a long time. We got moved to Belgium a year ago and have to laugh at times. We are very German… highly organized, expect people around us to be, but we can let loose and enjoy life as well. Belgium is definitely a different beast. Hope you enjoy the journey. It’s all POTA as a good friend says — part of the adventure.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 28, 2014 at 14:54

      POTA is a perfect philosophy Deb! And yes, Belgium is about as different from Germany as it can possibly be. 🙂

  2. Comment by Sylvain

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sylvain October 28, 2014 at 13:50

    I admire the way you quickly decided to adapt to the new situation. I wish you the best for the months to come, and I’m sure I’ll gladly follow your motorhome adventures in the future 😉

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 28, 2014 at 14:49

      Thanks Sylvain! It’s scary and exciting and we still have lots of unanswered questions but we’re tackling them one at a time.

  3. Comment by Annette

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Annette October 28, 2014 at 17:35

    Dear Alison, i was the director of the belgian tourist office in mew york for 30 years and retired last april. You were in contact with francoise in my office but i followed you for many years! I must admit you were the best source of info for belgium ( as well as the bulletin magazine! ) So thank you for all you did for our small country and might still do. Enjoy your european trip. What a great idea! All the best, and happy travels annette
    Ps i was often forwarding your enews to my belgian friends!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 28, 2014 at 21:06

      Thanks so much Annette for your kind words and support. We will definitely still continue to write about Belgium. It’s still our ‘home away from home’ and we will always proudly share our love for this special little country!

  4. Comment by Michelle

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Michelle October 28, 2014 at 22:58

    WOWZA!! THIS IS FABULOUS. And I don’t do caps lock lightly.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 29, 2014 at 10:50

      Your year in Spello serves as a great example of what can be achieved if you decide to go after your dreams 🙂

  5. Comment by Betsy Talbot

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Betsy Talbot October 29, 2014 at 11:50

    I’m so looking forward to your upcoming adventures (and hopefully a long visit with us in sunny Spain). You have a great eye for capturing the best of a location, and I can’t wait to see the world through your lens as you slowly take it all in. I love the more personal stories about travel and life, too.

    Happy that our book helped you lay the groundwork for realizing a dream and proud of you both for putting in the work to make it happen! Buen viaje!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 29, 2014 at 16:25

      You guys have been so instrumental in this plan ever coming to light. We cherish your support and friendship and, of course, visiting you guys in Spain is on our list. We’ll also have a spare bed, complete with cat, ready for you guys anytime 🙂

  6. Comment by Sylvia

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sylvia October 30, 2014 at 09:44

    Very exciting and very brave. I’m really looking forward to reading all about your adventures!!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 30, 2014 at 09:52

      Thanks Sylvia! We don’t feel very brave but hopefully we can ‘fake it ’til we make it.’ 🙂

  7. Comment by cathy @ ma vie trouvee

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    cathy @ ma vie trouvee October 30, 2014 at 22:45

    Wonderful – GO for it! Knowing what I know now, all the traveling we have been able to experience (in my 53rd country as I write this) I would say you are making a great decision! What a grand opportunity. And as far as Europe goes – one of our favs was Romania! Can’t wait to read more….CONGRATS.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison October 31, 2014 at 09:22

      Thanks Cathy! We definitely know how rewarding travel is and we hope we can continue to do it no matter what. 🙂

  8. Comment by Sofie

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sofie November 3, 2014 at 16:25

    I’ll have to check out that book you mention.
    And the rest? Let’s talk about that over dinner:)

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 3, 2014 at 17:23

      The book was a life-changer for us. It really made us stop and think what it was we really wanted. And yes, we shall catch up over food soon!

  9. Comment by Maxine

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Maxine November 6, 2014 at 16:22

    If i hadn’t followed a similiar path – I wouldn’t have moved to Europe, met & married HIM… and of course gotten to know you!

    So much fun & adventure ahead… we can’t wait to read all your updates!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 7, 2014 at 09:57

      So true Max! Big scary changes are the thing that makes life happen 🙂

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