Leon – another day, another dollar, eh ladies?
Roseanne – well I haven’t counted my tips yet but that sounds right.

The train has left Gare du Midi or Zuid Station if you prefer and I’m on my way back to Blighty. Today wasn’t the endurance session I first feared but rather a gentle discussion of the remaining unmentioned Articles. At least until we got to Article 13 and then all hell broke loose after some…intractable posturing by one of the delegates. Just about everyone in the room including yours truly felt the urge to make a statement. In fact, I’m happy to say I received a few wry smiles when I raised my flag to speak and the Irish chair noted my comments when I turned the EUs own procurement rules back on them.

All in all it was a productive time in Brussels talking shop and trying out the Justus Lipus restaurant (the vegetarian jambalaya was excellent). Right – so that’s the good stuff out of the way, now to the bitching. Actually the main gripe was with the hotel. My room was adjacent to the lift and as well as hearing it grind up and down floors, the loud banging of the door every fifteen minutes got on my wick also. I’m not sure how much sleep I managed to snatch but I’m all but certain I can count it in minutes rather than hours.

Other than that, it was your average Thursday evening in Brussels; not that I’ve actually spent a Thursday evening in the Belgian capital… Though I received a contact from former housemate Hussein completely unexpected. In hindsight however, I should have considered this. After he was married, he went to live and study in Brussels. Duh! Had I sorted things out earlier, we might have been able to catch up a little but alas it was not to be. Maybe next time.

So what did I get up to? Not a lot as it turns out – went to this family owned restaurant in Koelnmarkt and everything I tried to order off the menu had run out/finished. Except that it hadn’t – I tried to order a Greek salad but they said they’d run out of salad ingredients. So I tried the buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and lo, they brought me a Greek Salad but with Mozzarella rather than Feta. Tried to order a cheese platter, received a goats cheese salad with a couple other cheeses – close enough I guess. And all the beers I wanted were supposedly off also – they gave me this Weissbier which was 9% and enough to fell an elephant. Two was my limit. The place wasn’t without its charm however and only €20 for two courses and two beers.

After the restaurant, I went to Baroque – was a little more quiet and sedate compared with the last time I was there though being the new face in the crowd, there were more than a few solicitous stares in my direction. That’s all that happened however – stares. Not that I minded, by 11 I was beginning to fade thanks to the beer and the subsequent gin.

Following the conclusion of the meeting, I made my way to the supermarket that I visited the first time I was in town and stocked up on goodies as threatened. Both of my bags and rucksack are heaving with stuff – at least 18 bottles of fruity beers, 6 bottles of wine, one bottle of violet liqueur (as in Palma Violet), chocolate, cheese, more chocolate, biscuits, yet more chocolate, cake, some chocolate and deli stuff such as pâté, salami and chocolate, Oh – and caffeine free Coke Zero (don’t ask). Spent about €112 on the lot which I’m pleased with. Was intrigued to note that there was a fair amount of Raclette cheese on sale; ideas are forming in my noggin.

The heavens had decided to open by the time I’d finished and the three heaving bags were already a massive burden to heft around so my plans to play tourist and see at least the fountain if not the chocolate museum this time had to be postponed. Slowly headed back towards the station for a quick dinner, white hot chocolate (blissna) and the train home. Which of course is where this blog post started.

I’m beyond ecstatic to report I have an airline seat all to myself this time – carriage is fairly full of Brits coming home – couple of Americans behind me who have that irritating propensity to infuse sentences with the word “like” rather liberally. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Freemasons for their remixes which I’m using to deaden my hearing.

Oh and if you’re reading this blog post Joey – the train manager’s name is Benoit!


Ah, about to arrive at Lille – do I get to keep my seat or is it about to be occupado? There’s a few twitchy passengers who are clearly going to get up to get off but I really do mean about three. *waits tentatively* looks like I might have dodged company for the next leg of the journey to ebbsfleet. Nobody else looking forlornly at the carriage numbering? No? Sweet. Oh wait – another passenger making a last gasp-second dive on the train. And it’s a fatty. Phew – walked past me.

So, I’m practical terms, went out to Belgium with €230 (£200) and am coming home with around €70 which can go straight into my sock drawer with the Euros I forgot to bring with me this time. It’ll be handy for the next time I’m here or for berlin in April. I think the sign of being bourgeois is when you keep a ready supply of foreign currency at home ‘just in case’.

Hmm, dunno what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, guess the same as I do most Saturdays; put on the washing, clean something (and I can’t keep deferring doing the oven), um… I don’t know what else though I guess I _could_ try writing up what I threatened to do in yesterday’s blog entry re Age of Mythology.

Of course – it’s February and you know what that means folks. NO FREAKIN’ COUNCIL TAX BAY-BEH. Good extra heap o’gold in me coffers. Lets just ignore the fact that I think I just spent it helping to revitalise the Eurozone or there’s a birthday coming up which will need to be paid for. Or anything else that needs a cash settlement in the upcoming twenty eight days – for the next few hours, just let me wallow in my greed.

In case it had crossed your mind, there are no Brussels pics this time. That’s cos I have a great big old sinus zit right in the middle of my
forehead which is angry and red. I’m too vain to snap a few of myself with a blemish like that. But I would rather have that than a continuance of the snuffling, snivelling and sneezing of the last week (almost totally gone) coupled with malaise, apathy and unhappiness. Fair trade.

There’s not much more I feel like pouring out this evening. We’ve not yet hit the channel tunnel despite the near total blackness outside the train although I’d love to watch progress on GPS – the little blue dot plowing ever closer to its destination. It’s 2050 now, I’d say tunnel within the next few minutes as the incline has just descend and then time to re synch all devices with GMT. Ah, home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

Couple of hours later…

Just watching Father Ted’s A Song for Europe