A Belgian Weekend

This was going to be a post about one of my two (two!!!) new makes from last week, complete with photos taken in Brussels. Sadly I fell down some stairs on my first night there and smashed my chin open on the pavement. Yes, alcohol was involved. I’ve decided that the world isn’t ready for pictures of my manky chin, so you’re just going to have to wait for the clothes posts.

In the meantime, I offer you this picture of a pig outside the Berlaymont (European Commission headquarters). The pig is called Hope, and she’s part of a campaign calling upon the Commission to uphold laws protecting pigs from inhumane treatment in Europe. It’s all very interesting, and you can find out more about the campaign here, and the other work Compassion in World Farming do here.

This is one of the more sedate demonstrations I’ve seen in Brussels. The dustmen’s protest involved setting fire to all the street bins within a kilometre of my office, and I had a firecracker thrown at me while trying to get through the annual farmers blockade near my work (they then sprayed the European Parliament with milk and partied in the square outside, apparently oblivious to the smell).

We spent most of our trip trying to catch up with as many of our friends as possible, and generally eating and drinking too much. It would be a lot easier if all of our friends were friends with each other, but we have diverse tastes, so we just had to cram everyone into any available gap. It was great to catch up on everyone’s news and I was pleased I could fit in a lunch with my old office buddies at Lunch and More, a brilliant Polish Restaurant close to Arts Loi specialising in pierogi (yummy dumplings).

Of course we couldn’t come back without some of our favourite Belgian treats (and a bottle of Soviet Champagne, because we found a Russian supermarket).

Exploitation Demonstration


One of the nice/scary things about the location of my office is that we get to see a lot of demonstrations on their way to the European Parliament.

This week it was the turn of the builders and woodworkers of Europe. There may have been others; the builders and woodworkers were in the first group, followed by some Dutch and some Poles, then some Germans and Norwegians. After the English signs stopped, I was a little unsure of what was going on anymore. 

The gist of it seemed to be ‘Stop exploitation of our workers and stop social dumping’. 

They all wandered along, throwing firecrackers (which I’ve been suspicious of since one was thrown at me during the last farmers demo), and chanting. Occasionally the crowds were broken up by a bus which they’d brought along. 

My favourite part was when someone buried a mannequin in a wheelbarrow of sand. This was quickly followed up by a trio of coffins. 

The parade itself seemed well organised (more so than when the street cleaners went on strike and stood outside our office drinking beer); they all appeared to have a little brown paper bag with a packed lunch. 

The German section was especially loud, and I think concerned about CCTV. They also had vuvuzelas. And very professional looking flags.

During one especially tense moment, a car tried to escape from the garage opposite – this did not go down well. Fortunately, Belgians are such bad drivers that the demonstrators saw sense and let them pass. 

After they’d left, a band of street cleaners came through and had a snowball fight. Sadly I didn’t manage to capture the most exciting moment of the day on film.