February 7, 2011 § 6 Comments
Belgium, full of the smells of my Oma; mashed potatoes with nutmeg, that particular washing detergent, that special smell of cold icy weather, cigars, sausages and green shrubs. Not that my Oma smoked cigars but that is the smell of Belgium that is so intertwined with the memory of her in my mind. And it is bitterly cold. I have been sleeping in a jumper, woollen pants, socks three blankets and two quilts.
Here on the outskirts of Brussels in the brown fields mixed with old houses and ever multiplying industries and shopping complexes, I stay with my uncle in the old family home. This is the house that my great grandparents built alongside their fields that they passed on to my grandparents and they to my uncle. The narrow street leads from the canal to their shrub-lined driveway with that very particular smell. The church on the other side rings memories of being a child. The graveyard where they are all buried lies across the field of what was the old rose nursery that is now lying bare and empty.
I have a week here of wandering the streets of Brussels, peering in the shops filled with chocolate and tempting pretty things and watching people in the warm lit old wooden decorated cafes. I have been practicing pretending I know French and am oh so bourgeois. Mainly by not saying anything other than the simplest phrases and guessing what other people are saying when they speak to me. It’s always fun when I get away with it.
Stupidly in my mad rush to leave Australia in five hours which you can read more about here, I decided not to bring my camera which was fine in Salone as I could use D’s but much regretted now that he is not here. I have been taking these photos with the web cam on my laptop. I have been too embarrassed to do it anywhere too public so these are all just taken from around my uncles place. It is impossible to frame a picture without my head getting in the way so they end up being random and wonky most of the time but in their own way they have a certain charm.