We took the children for a last check-up with the paediatrician (we have become reverse ex-pats – who knows whether they will have paediatricians in our home country?). As they kissed him goodbye (Belgium is the country of the social kiss, something I find bewildering but charming), I scanned the books on his shelf: lots of books on pediatrics in English and French and the Hachette Guide des Vins, 2006.
We took the car for a last trip to the garage to get rid of all the dents (as Mr. Waffle points out, we are careless with our toys). 4,500 euros later, the man in the garage and the Princess were exchanging polite kisses and we were leading out our gleaming car which we hope somebody may now buy.
Friday was my last day at work. During the week I had a farewell dinner with my lovely boss who flew in specially to say goodbye, had drinks with my lovely colleagues and got some lovely presents. Emptied my inbox (really lovely) and handed over my key. If you think there are too many lovelies in this paragraph, you have never had my job. Sigh.
On Friday night, Mr. Waffle and I went to a farewell dinner in our favourite restaurant in Brussels. A place we used to go to long before it got its Michelin star when it bore the considerably less user friendly name of Mieux vaut boire ice qu’en face.
On Saturday we had a farewell party. At the start of the evening Mr. Waffle made me a stiff gin and tonic and after that it all seemed to go swimmingly. The next day, far less so. That was my last gin.
All week we have been getting quotes from moving companies in excess of the value of our furniture. Highest offer so far is 10,000 euros. I feel faint. Who would have thought that my inability to throw out books would cost us quite so much? Would anybody like to buy a double bed?
Our cleaner came for the last time today. She brought little presents for the children who adore her and they had something for her as well. She has been so kind to them and they are so fond of her, that I felt quite tearful as did the Princess (though this may have been because she didn’t want to go on her sports course). She was also an excellent cleaner and I am not sure whether the reduced cost lifestyle we will be enjoying in Dublin will permit us to replace her. Alas. She is on our Christmas card list.
Yesterday was the last time we will attend Belgian National Day celebrations. Of course, the same may well be true for everyone else in Belgium. The Prime Minister tried to resign in despair last week but the King wouldn’t let him. The pair of them sat glumly in the rain yesterday watching the parade. We, on the other hand, had a very pleasant time eating waffles and frites (not together, you understand) and meeting the police (horses! spinning cars!), the firemen (hoses! and firemen!), the civil defence (trampolines?), the army (tanks and our optician who used to be in the navy and gave us some new glasses cleaning solution for Daniel), farm animals (pigs, cows, and best of all a horse being shod who kept nibbling the farrier’s bottom) and suppliers to the royal court (Mercedes, Jules Destrooper, Delvaux, Godiva and lots of table ware). As is the nature of these things, there were lots of balloons for the children and little Belgian flags to wave. These latter included one (sponsored by a radio station but never mind) which covers my feelings for Belgium at the moment: