Jun 062009

I had a quick scoot round Brussels centre today with my camera and grabbed a few photos. Can’t help but think you can see all these in tourist guides anyway (and at better quality), but at least they’re mine.

Anyway, the album can be viewed here.

Jun 032009

Today was my first full day in Belgium and I’m pleased to say that the glorious sunny weather we’ve been having in Scotland (seriously) has followed me over here. Which was just as well as my first job/task was to negotiate my way into Brussels and get my bearings.

I also had another excuse to go into Brussels – shopping. When I packed my case it ended up being over the weight allowance. So I began removing stuff and in my jubilation at getting the bag under the weight limit, I forgot to repack my shoes. So, today’s shopping trip was to get a pair of smart shoes.

Anyway, in case you thought I was already ‘in Brussels’, I’m currently staying in greater Brussels, in an area called Zaventem. I move in to the centre in a couple of weeks. So, at the moment, I need to take a train to the city centre. Evan (one half of the lovely young couple I’m staying with, Trisha being the other) showed me around Zaventem, gave me the drill on using the train, tickets, metro, buses, etc and then pointed me in the direction of Brussels. I managed to get off at the correct station and then stood around for a while figuring out where I was on the map before heading to the ‘Grand Place’ and, from there, the main shopping area. What surprised me was just how compact the city centre is. There seems to be so much crammed in to a very small area. The other thing I noticed was how much graffiti there was, which was a real shame as there are so many striking buildings in Brussels. I also noticed how expensive stuff was, but that’s the downside of working in a capital city, I guess.

What I found fascinating about the city though was how ‘compartmentalised’ it seemed. You found little blocks of music shops, or there was a group of streets which were all seafood restaurants, dozens of them all side-by-side. There was one indoor shopping precinct that seemed to be full of shops that sold nothing but leather jackets – and it claimed to have 102 shops in the precinct! One of the main shopping streets is just packed end-to-end with clothes and accessories shops. Since I was looking at shoe shops I couldn’t help but notice that there were several shops, all of the same name, all within a few hundred yards of each other. I suppose it makes shopping easier if all the same types of places are together.

Anyway, I didn’t get lost and even managed to get the correct train home despite it being late and changing platforms. I didn’t take any photos though. I thought I would be too busy figuring out where I was to be bothered about sightseeing, but I’ll bring my camera along next time and get some photos uploaded.

Jun 022009

Just doing the last of my packing before heading off to the airport for my flight to Brussels. This is the first leg of my Belgian summer. The second is after I graduate on the 3rd of July.

I don’t know what internet access I’ll have for the first couple of weeks, but I will be online thereafter, so plenty of ‘postcards from Belgium’ to follow. Assuming I’m not worked too hard, of course. I keep having to remind everyone I’m not on an extended holiday.

Oh, and if you fancy dropping in if you’re in Brussels… join the queue. I think everybody and their aunty has promised to come and make sure I’m doing well. But, if you do happen to be in the area, get in touch and maybe we can meet.

Jan 282009

And nothing to do with sprouts.

It looks as though this is where I will be spending 12 weeks of the summer. Thanks to an exceptionally generous answer to prayer for accommodation, the last barrier to my summer placement has gone. The details have still to be finalised but I think it’s close enough to be pretty certain.

I will be working with St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Brussels and I’m really looking forward to it. What’s more, it looks like the family will also be able to join me (one of the original obstacles to overcome) for a significant part of my placement.

The timetable is pretty tight to fit in the required 10 weeks prior to the August Candidates’ Conference. I finish up in Camelon on Sunday the 31st of May and jump on a plane on the Monday or Tuesday. I get back the day before the August conference.

More details as and when they are confirmed, but it all looks good so far.