Foire du Midi

Once a year, when most people have packed up and gone on holiday for two months over the summer, Brussels closes a quarter of the ring road around the centre of the city and sets up a gigantic fun fair. I think it’s because nobody is protesting around the European Quarter and they don’t want us to get bored. Contrary to popular belief, boring is the one thing Brussels is not.

I say they close off the road, but that’s not strictly true. There are still cars booting it across the fair at various intersections, and the trains clatter overhead. 

Ferret roulette was noticeably absent this year, although there was a carousel with real horses and a massive beach ball with a child inside. There was also a kind of G-force simulator which looked quite fun. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat though so I didn’t actually try any rides out. 

Nor, it seems, did I take pictures of the interesting ones. Mostly I took pictures of the fascinating people, although I’m still a bit shy when it comes to street photography and a lot of the people looked scary. Note to self: man up! 

See – scary! If it hadn’t been for the calming qualities of the snails, I would have feared for my life.

This dog waited patiently while his owner tried to win a telly. There was also the possibility of winning a fridge-freezer, although it was unclear whether this would be delivered to you at a later date, or whether you had to drag it home on the tram.
We’re planning to go back after dark at some point. I think my stealth sneaky spy cam might come into its own in the black of night. Or, more likely, people will be so drunk they won’t notice me taking pictures.
I think the annual pilgrimage to the inner city fair is one of the things that we will miss when we leave.

First Praktica Film

I’d bought a Lomography scanner to try and put my negatives onto the computer, but I can’t get the flipping thing to work properly, so instead I have scanned all of the pictures in. On the whole I’m pretty pleased with the results – these are my favourite eight pictures, but there are other ones which are acceptable. Given my reservations as to whether I’d put the film in correctly (and taken it out correctly for that matter), and whether I was actually using the light meter properly, I’m quite chuffed.

I’ve edited the colours a little, and cropped a bit, but generally they’re not too changed. I think using a black and white film could have better results.

How do other people get their prints into the computer? Why doesn’t my Lomography scanner work properly? Why doesn’t the cat look nice in any of the pictures I took of him to use the film up?

Homeward Bound

At the beginning of this year, someone I knew died. He wasn’t that much older than me and he had always seemed so full of life – it was a massive shock. As a result of this, my year so far has been about working towards feeling happy in the now, not waiting for some distant future to get on with living my dreams.

One of the first steps I took was starting this blog, and I’ve continued in other small ways to change my life. One day recently the realisation came to me that the time had come to make a major change.

After four and a half years, Ben and I had begun to feel a little restless in Brussels. We’d both been in jobs for a while, and although there were plenty of reasons to stay, the important one, the one that said “because we want to”, wasn’t there. We handed in our notice at the end of last month, and we’ll be heading back to Brighton at the end of September.

At the moment, there are no firm plans laid down – we’ll find a place to live and get jobs, we’ll spend time with the people we’ve missed, and miss the people that we’re used to spending time with. It all seems a bit out of control, and right now I welcome that. It’s easy to get settled into a routine, but I think it’s healthy to shake things up every once in a while.

I’m not sure if we’ll be back home forever; I’ve loved living abroad and we’re both very different people than the ones who packed our bags and hopped on a Eurostar all those years ago. I can’t rule out the possibility of heading off into the unknown again; Ben votes for South America, but I need to move to Russia to spite someone. We’ve agreed that Brighton is a happy medium for the time being.

Alfie doesn’t much care where we live as long as he has somewhere to sleep. Here he is testing out my new shorts.


Refashion: Floral Cut Offs

I saw a cool idea for refashioning some old jeans into a pair of cute cut offs on Zoe’s blog, and thought I’d give it a try. I just so happened to have an old pair of jeans lying around and a holiday in a couple of days to prepare for – the timing was perfect! 

The floral fabric came from an old Get Cutie dress which has been languishing in the back of my wardrobe for too long. It felt good to find a new way to use it. Hooray for refashioning! 
Further pleasure came from the fact that my machine only made one terrifying noise, and the thread only snapped once. Hooray for somehow making that happen!

I’ve just noticed that the legs look different lengths in these photos, they do seem to be ok in real life, though. Or else they fit my wonky legs perfectly. 
In other sewing news: The sundress languishes in a practically finished state somewhere in the flat. The bodice is all baggy, though, and I don’t have the enthusiasm to repair it. My mum says the problem is that I rushed it. I say that this is easy for someone who spent my entire childhood sewing one coat to say. 

Nikon Coolpix P330

While I dearly love my Praktica L, I was missing the ease of having a compact camera to carry round in my handbag and whip out should anything interesting happen. Something for those occasions when the iPhone just won’t cut it. 
The sales are on, and I didn’t fancy staying in my office one lunchtime so I headed off to Media Markt and came away with a Nikon Coolpix P330. It wasn’t as cheap as I might have liked, but it looks like it’s come from East Germany, which I approve of. Ben approved of the actual picture taking abilities of it, and I took a nice sneaky snake spy picture of a woman in the shop with full zoom and it wasn’t blurry, so away we went!
The white version is smooth like a Star Wars storm trooper, but the texture of this one is rough, like life behind the iron curtain. Another nice feature is a pop up flash on the top, which I think could also be used for interrogating your victims.
I considered giving my new camera a solid German name, but it doesn’t look like it would approve of that kind of thing.