One thing I wanted to do after my trip was to continue writing a lot on the blog. Didn’t really turn out that way. Must be something about being in England or Berlin. Gonna try and rectify that right now.
On Friday I left the island, and now I’m back On The Continent. I had a horrendous stomach ache on the train from London to Luton airport; a stomach ache made worse by having to sit near a couple of women who wouldn’t stop nattering about a hairdresser they knew, and how she was going out with someone of a reality TV show.
I’ve already moaned way too much about airports on these pages, so I won’t say much, but I will say this: at Luton airport, you have to buy the re-sealable plastic bags to put your liquids in. Yes, that’s right. There’s a vending machine where they give you four bags in a little plastic ball for a quid. Fucking chancers.
I was flying with that most opulent of airlines, EasyJet. On a Friday. So, the flight was full of horrid English people all going for a weekend in Berlin. The snob in me comes out at moments like that: leave my nice city alone, you fucking yobbos! As luck would have it, I was sat quite near the two ladies I’d been sat next to on the train. One of them got in an argument with a German woman, and they were conducting the argument in a way that amuses me: pleasantly. Both of them were calling each other “bitch” and other nasty stuff, but both were doing it in polite pleasant tones, not wanting to show each other any annoyance or loss of control.
Anyway, it was nice to be in Berlin for a few days. See a few friends, that kinda thing. Got to hang out with Billy for an afternoon. He’s on the mend, slowly. He spent four days in a doggy hospital last week, and the vet seems to think that he’s getting better. He’s very skinny now, though. Lost two kilos over the past six weeks, the poor little bugger.
I also got to see the Prenzlauer Berg Piranhas play. That’s the softball team I played with last year. They crushed their opponents 22-2, and are heading to the final. I guess that’s what happens when an Englishman leaves the team. Well done, Piranhas.
And on Monday, I got on a train at the Enormobahnhof. It’s been a while coming. Since I got back from flouncing around the Americas, the only real landmark in the distance that I’ve had is the thought of living for a few months in Belgium. While I’ve enjoyed seeing friends and family in London, Lincoln, Nottingham, Oxford, and Berlin, there’s been a couple of feelings circling around each other the whole time. Contradictory feelings: grab my backpack and go off again to some corner of the world where I don’t speak the language and see stuff that’ll make me feel alive again, and grab my backpack and settle down for a while in Belgium. I can’t financially justify the former, and I also want to save the experience of going off again until I really feel the need to go off again. It’s strange – and difficult to explain – how only nine months ago I was in a camping shop buying my backpack (Christmas present from me mum), never having done anything like that, and now… well, I can’t imagine life without wanting to go off somewhere. I know I’m lucky, having a job that takes place within a laptop, so I can work anywhere I want to, and I kinda feel that I should make the most of that.
But for now, I’m in Aalst, Belgium. A town of about 77,000 people between Brussels and Ghent. My friends Beatrijs and Jeroen live here, and they had a spare room, which will be my home for (insert random amount of time here). I’m in the attic. I think I’m going to refer to it as a garret, though, cos that sounds more bohemian; like I’m necking absinthe and painting nudes all day.
So, yes: hello Belgium. Let’s see what you’ve got to offer, eh?