Trip Number Five (Of Twelve): Belgium and Manchester too
If you have been following my blog at all this year, then you will know that It is a year of travelfor me…and as such it’s time to update you on the latest trips.
So here we are – six months in – and May was a double trip month for me. First was a short weekend getaway to Manchester followed by Brussels birthday celebrations.
May’s Significance for Me
May has always been a special for me. It’s a month that I have almost always spent with my father in California. His birthday falls in May and so, more often than not, I wanted to be there with him to celebrate – ever year just about. I think his birthday mattered more to me than it ever did him but that’s ok. It was arguably what might be considered a tradition to spend it with him.
So this year, the first without him in California, I decided to celebrate him in Brussels. It also coincides with a friend Kimba’s birthday so am celebrated with her there too.
But First, Manchester
So mid May it was down to Manchester for a Merch UK Meetup. It was just about a dozen or so people who are print on demand side hustlers too. To be fair, they were all much more successful and experienced than I am but I enjoyed meeting some new people and reconnecting with people I’d already met in London and Seattle last year. I decided to stay at the hotel the event was at to make it easy on myself.
Then the next day it was a full day of sight-seeing with my friend Rachel who I’d not seen in about eight or nine years. When I knew I was going to the city, I do what I always do – and checked my social media connections to see who might be where I am going. Then I message and see if they’re interested in meeting up. Lucky for me, Rachel was and we had a blast walking, talking, eating and sight seeing. We did the double decker bus – which are always fun.
Then around seven that night I got the train back up to Scotland. It was a wonderful weekend in Manchester. I really do like that city.
Next Up, It’s Off to Belgium
Then at the end of the month it was time for my next jump over to the continent. This time it was Belgium. I flew Ryanair for the first time in probably a decade. Landed in Brussels Charleroi Sud Airport and got a shuttle bus to Brussels Midi Station. Conveniently though, my friend met me off the boss and walked me around the corner to the Hotel Pullman which was attached to the Midi train station. (Good job Kimba!)
That night we hopped the underground four stops and spent some time wandering around The Grand Place or Grote Markt – which is the central square of Brussels. It’s filled with amazing buildings, shops, restaurants, cafes and tourists. We had a nice meal in one of its galleries off the main square.
Day Two – Kimba’s Birthday, In Bruges
Day Two: It was Kim’s birthday so it was her pick with what she wanted to do. She chose a train trip to Bruges with a quick stop in Ghent en route. It was a long, fun-filled day of being tourists, walking, eating, talking, and taking a ridiculous amount of photographs. We didn’t see much in Gent and decided to get back on the train to go to Bruges.
The first thing we did in Bruges was take the boat tour. It was one of the things I was most excited about when heading to Bruges, and probably as such, ended up being a bit of a let down.
It wasn’t bad, not by any means, merely a bit anti-climactic. Plus a little tip for you, if you do the trip – sit in the single middle seat rather than on the sides. Two fat people got on our boat and I felt off kilter the whole time! Not only that it made it hard to take pictures hanging off the side of the boat a little like a contortionist.
When we got off the boat we finally found somewhere to eat. We were hangry by that point and wound up in, of all things, an Irish pub. The service was kind but it was slower than heck. They’d just been slammed by an Irish Fire Department influx of customers I guess. Whatever. The food was good. In fact all meals were good in Belgium.
After lunch it was off for another sight seeing bus – a small open top. Arguably my fave one of all the sight seeing trips we took. It weaved around Bruges, down roads, passed windmills, over canals and back again. (There are four remaining 18th and 19th century wind mills between the Dampoort and the Kruispoort.)
We did a bit more wandering around before getting the, 5:30, one-hour train back to Brussels.
After resting our tired bodies for an hour it was back out again for the Birthday Dinner at NONA a pizza place, Rue Sainte-Catherine.
A place that prides itself on “Proper Neapolitan pizza” – it was a slightly ho-hum pizza, to be honest, but still not bad by any stretch.
After the meal we wandered back to our usual place, the Grand Place, for ice creams and I treated us to scarves. We got the same pale blue Belgium scarves. How cute are we?
That was a nice way to end a birthday in Brussels, I believe. Hopefully Kim did too…By the time we got back to the hotel room we’d done around 26,000 steps which is about 15,000 above my normal daily step count.
As Kim’s birthday ended my father’s began.
I’ve been blogging a fair bit about dad this year already….and I truly believe I am handling his passing in exactly the way he’d want and expect from me. Namely, I am living, traveling, working, seeing movies, hanging with friends and celebrating him every opportunity I get.
His birthday was celebrated in Brussels and it was a good one from start to finish. Breakfast at the Chicago Cafe (right near the Pizza joint from the previous night). The highlight at breakfast was the main woman there (possibly the owner) who was, quite frankly a chirpy Belgian Hoot. I can still hear her cheery “Bonjour” echoing in my ears – weeks later.
Then it was off for a day on the double-decker buses. The Atomium was our first stop. Clearly a cool landmark from the outside, but the trip up it was an absolute waste of money, to my mind. It would have been better if it had some windows to take pictures from. We managed a few shots on the stairs down but that was it.
Thankfully we got a “free ticket” to the Design Museum which made it almost worth my while. Kim and I choose to spend that hour apart as I was more interested in Design than she was…
At one moment I came upon a chair that reminded me of my father’s and the inscription on the piece made me well up a bit….if I am being honest with you. But that wobble aside it was a good day with no real sadness or tears.
After The Visit to Atomium…Back on the Bus
After we had our few hours there at Atomium, we got back on the double decker bus and took it to an area Louise where we got off to take pictures. Trust my stomach to take that moment to throw an absolute fit. So we made our way to a cafe down the hill for a tea and pit stop (just in time).
Once I felt better we walked back up the hill to take in the scenery – and could even see our hotel in the distance. We did a bit more walking around the area, hopped a tram for a few stops, walked some more before taking an elevator down the hill and heading back to the hotel room.
It was evening of Good Vibes in Brussels. Sun shining, people smiling.
After another bit of rest in our hotel room we got our second wind and it was time to get back to Place De Brouckère to have a birthday celebration for dad. Opted for Fish & Chips – not something dad would have enjoyed but a worthy choice none-the-less, for me. Afterwards Kim got her waffles and I had a double scoop of ice cream on a cone. We celebrated him in style at Grote Markt.
I swear I’d have gained a stone had we not been averaging about 22,000 steps a day!
The Last Day – Destination Unknown
Our last day was Friday. We got up with the intention of seeing where we could end up. We a priced trip EuroStar, fast train, trip to Amsterdam but when the guy said 337 Euros, we pretty much felt our jaws hit the floor. So Antwerp it was! It was an easy trip – helped largely because we accidentally ended up sitting in first class for the first half hour…
Arriving at the train station – it was a sight to behold. Clearly one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Absolutely incredible architecture.
We hopped another sight-seeing bus immediately and got off at the Antwerp Ferris Wheel at Steenplein and headed to their Grote Markt, a main square, for some lunch. After a bit of a wander we split up for some free time and reconnected back at the Ferris Wheel to catch the bus back to the gorgeous train station and home.
The Last Supper
So here we are, we had one last night in Brussels and therefor after a rest we headed back to the Grand Place for dinner. We didn’t have a specific place in mind for this last supper, and thus it took as a while to find a place to stop to eat.
We eventually found a decent spot and had a lovely meal Arcadi Cafe – at the entrance to Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Again I opted for Fish and Chips. They had a fun pillar with currencies from around the world that was pretty impressive to look at.
Then, naturally, we had to find ourselves a dessert. Nothing much was appealing to me. I fancied Cake but there were not a lot of “cake places” so I settled for another single scoop of ice cream. Kim wanted waffles from the famous Maison Dandoy but as in typical fashion – it was a Friday night at 9pm and they were closing. The line was 30 deep and as she joined it, was told they were doing no more. Ridiculous.
Oh well, here is a tip, right next door is probably just as good and much cheaper with no line…
Summary of the Trip to Belgium
Having been in Berlin the month prior, it was interesting to compare the two countries. Frankly I preferred Belgium I think.
Both were nice but Belgian people just had a warm friend attitude toward its visitors and Berlin, well, no so much. I will likely go back to Berlin again, to see my friend Neil, but I will definitely go back to Belgium again as soon as I can! I’d like to spend more time there, even though I think I spent more money there.
I did actually notice that Younique is launching in Belgium soon…so perhaps a good excuse to go back over again!
Here’s to the next trip…a more local one to the Borders town of Hawick.
This is potentially going to be a random, waffly post about celebrating many things. First there is the fact that it’s Independence Day tomorrow, and even though I now live in the country we celebrate our independence from, I still like to celebrate…it’s a day that means a lot to me.
I guess, in a way, I celebrate my own independence, and it’s less about simply being a patriotic American.
Celebrating SYBD’s Birthday
I am celebrating the fact that So You’ve Been Dumped is now turning 17 years old tomorrow too. I don’t think, if you had said to me 17 years ago when the site launched, that I’d be doing this for 17 years, I would have believed you.
Alas here we are. While I don’t run it to the same extent that I did for the first decade, it still ticks along with 30-40,000 visits each month (down from almost 50,000 a few months ago). It is still there to help the lovelorn which is the reason it was launched.
Though the traffic is down, to be fair I don’t do anything with it…apart from moderate the comments. Truth be told, I debate whether to, either focus all my energy on sorting it this summer, or closing it altogether.
It could go either way. Watch this space, as they say. In the meantime to celebrate the birthday, here are 17 Funny Breakup Lines from SYBD for your amusement. Enjoy and please share.
I am also simply celebrating life. As an immediate family member fights Cancer, and with a mother who died around my age, it makes it all the more important for me to be mindful, grateful and to celebrate each day.
The older I get the happier I get, as I simply don’t let things get to me the way they once did.
As I now reach a major milestone birthday, I feel truly grateful. I am grateful for my health, wealth and for all of the people who have love and accepted me as I am. These people have stayed true, some even when I have behaved in ways that were less than positive, or said things that were hurtful. They forgive me.
I also now forgive myself for those times I hurt friends in the past, who chose to never forgive or ever speak to me again. There are a handful of these people, who I still think about regularly, and wonder how they are. But, though I still think of them all, I no longer carry around the guilt for my past perceived crimes. If they choose to have a problem with me, or hold any malice toward me, then that’s on them.
I have finally learned that I have no control over anyone else – whether they love me or loathe me is out of my control. “Perspective is a mirror not a fact”.
I learned that I need forgive everyone who has ever said or done anything to hurt me. I chose to celebrate these experiences, and I am grateful to them and for the lessons they have all taught me.
Celebrating New Directions
Though I spent a lot of time, energy and some money on it, I have decided to not launch the coffee after all. There were lots of problems that were going on behind the scenes that led to my decision but ultimately it was simply a learning experience for me. Though it wasn’t commercially launched, I did take an idea, build a brand, a concept and eventually even had physical products which were handed out – so to that end Neart was a success.
Now Neart will become something else…I just need to work out what. I have many ideas marinating in my brain so we will see what the new Neart venture is.
Celebrating My Younique Life
I am also celebrating my Younique business. There have been some purchases. There have been some new recruits (nearing 40 since I joined). One such recent recruit is Diane who works in Glasgow. It’s nice to be able to offer some one-to-one coaching in person.
“Younique is not for everyone” is a phrase I utter often, but as I near my 3rd anniversary of being a presenter and sponsor, I still love running my business. I am loving the products and get excited by each new launch.
These arrived the other day and I am excited to get dolled up with the new Splurge Cream Eye Shadows especially. Looking forward to spending my 25% commissions on new bedding for my birthday. And speaking of which, each year on your birthday Younique gives you Y-cash credit to buy some make up with. I can’t wait for that to happen! 🙂
I will always give honest info. Perhaps too honest. I think I sometimes end up talking people out of joining but I’d not want anyone to join who wasn’t fully committed anyway. It isn’t easy but it can be super fun for the right sort of person!
Well that’s all for now. Time to get my day rolling…Hopefully it won’t be another 2 months before I write here again. That said I have thought of closing this blog down too. I seem to be in simplify mode. We’ll see.
Even to this day, I’m a still a “daddy’s girl”. I can honestly say that there is no one I have ever loved, or will ever love, more than my dear, ole father. That feeling, I believe, is mutual. So I guess you might say that the first lesson he taught me is what unconditional love and support looks like…
As it’s Father’s Day, I thought I’d share some life lessons he’s taught me.
You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down
My dad, now in his 80s, is a workaholic. Still. He’s been that way my entire life. He works out of necessity rather than joy. He has to. He’s no real savings. The big million dollar houses we lived in are a thing of the distant past. He now lives, quite simply, alone, in his Silicon Valley apartment, and works just to make ends meet.
He runs his own security business (sort of). I say “sort of” because he has a few younger guys who, (when they actually bother to show up), do most of the grafting whilst he supervises.
He’s always been a bit like a packer mule, my father. What he lacks in entrepreneurial flair, he makes up for by being a hard-working, get-your-head-down-and-just-get-on-with-it sort of guy.
Dad often brags how he had perfect attendance throughout his four years of high school. (It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the only person to have EVER achieved that accolade). He literally never missed a day in four years which is a trait that carried into his work life too. I can’t really remember him ever staying home from work sick. Not once.
“Work” and “dad” are sort of synonymous terms for me.
Things began to change significantly a few years ago when he suffered an “episode” (he doesn’t like the word stroke, but that’s what it was).
Hands down, that was the worst phone call I have ever received. Halfway through my late night, radio show I heard the words, “Thea you father has had a stroke”. I felt the life drain right out of me on the spot.
Two days later, at his bedside, I stood over this six-foot-four-bulk-of-a-man lying prostrate in a hospital bed. Weak. Shrunken. Powerless. Sad. I felt the same. This could not be happening. Not to him. Not to my strong father.
But, defying the odds, a month later, after learning to walk again, he was done with rehab and back to work. A little slower. A little more hard to understand, sure, but working again. You really can’t keep a good man down!
Over the course of the next two years, I racked up the trans-Atlantic air miles when he broke his left hip, and followed that up by breaking the other one!
But do you know what? Rather miraculously, like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going…He is the text book definition of resilience, and it’s a skill I believe I inherited from him.
My dad works hard, but I’ve often wondered if that may be to his detriment. He’s the kind of guy who you reckon, the day after he retires, just won’t wake up. He’s made his life all about his work – it’s what has kept him going all these years. If you take that away, what’s left.
Watching how his work became his identity, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to end up like him – in that respect – living alone, working all the time, sleeping or just streaming TV shows on a tablet.
My aim is to have more balance, more joy, fun and passion in my own life. Work does not define me the same way his does him. I do it and I enjoy it, yes, but I have friends, hobbies and passions – basically a life outside my work. I know who I am without it.
We’re Make Bad Employees
My dad was an Electronic Engineer by degree, and has a rather brilliant mind (particularly with Math – which is not my strong suit). He moved from the East Coast to Menlo Park – as a result of a practical joke played on him by co-workers (a story for another time).
In the sixties and seventies, he worked all over the world, and achieved much. Designing high voltage power supplies in, he (claims he) was the only one in the world working on power supplies over 200,000 volts.
Eventually he moved out of engineering into project management.
When I was young, he got bit by the bug to leave gainful employment and run his own business.
The first business was a construction company, spending days building big beautiful homes (ones I was lucky enough to grow up in).
Then, when the housing market crashed, he segued into residential and commercial security where he has remained for the last several decades.
“Do what you love and the money will follow” is a phrase instilled in me from early on. We’re not nine-to-fivers. In fact, I’d say we both make “crap employees”. We like setting our own schedules, doing our own thing and answering to no one. I suspect, on some level, we’re both still doing what we love, and hoping that the money will follow.
That ethos has definitely shaped the choices I’ve made for my entire adult life. I’ve always stated “I’d rather earn a thousand pounds doing what I love each month, than ten thousand doing a job I loathed.” (Truth be told, I’ve come to realize, I’d actually quite like to earn the ten thousand doing what I love,…).??So instead of getting a proper job, I became a dabbler and never really had proper jobs for any length of time.
I have done radio. I co-founded ‘Bigwig’ (a music magazine) in the early 90s. After that I wrote and published an 80s music trivia book. Eventually launched soyouvebeendumped.com – rather deliberately on Independence Day in 2000.
Not quite failures as such, but not one one of them has been a financial success either. That has meant that even though he’s had little money these past few decades, my father has been my CFO throughout every endeavor. Always the money guy, he’s had to support me long after any father should have to.
That fact is arguably what has caused me a the most amount of guilt in my entire life. Therefore my whole Raison d’être has become enough of a success that I can, one day, pay him back for all the support he’s given me.
It is my number one goal, and I hope reach it while he’s still here to see it.
On Embracing Technology
I would attribute my passion for technology and gadgets to him as well. We were the first on our block to have the six-foot (projector) television, the top-loading VCR (some of you will be too young to even know that is), and an IBM PC.
To this day, we share the passion for the products. The TVs, the cameras, and the iPads. When I first got my dad an iPad though, he had a look as if to say “what the hell am I going to do with this contraption?” Thankfully, a month later, it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! Now it’s never out of his reach, he even sleeps with the darn thing!
Day and night, dad streams his favorite TV shows (binge watches Netflix) another characteristic I inherited from him, and we use them to Skype every morning and night.
Through the joys of technology, we even can watch TV together – even though we’re six thousand miles apart. (We’re currently watching and loving ‘24’).
The technology connects us in a way I’d never have dreamed of when I moved to the UK, more than twenty years ago, and it’s made me feel less homesick as a result.
Good on him for embracing it still, right? Though he is easily frustrated by it, use it he does. Not every eighty-plus year old is like that, are they? I sure hope that if I reach eighty, I am.
Have a Laugh Along the Way
My father is a very funny guy. Not a lot of people really realize how funny he is, I don’t think. I used to tell all my friends about how hilarious he was, and when they’d come over he’d clam up. It reminded me of those singing frog cartoons from the 70s – who would sing “Hello My Baby” until you got him in front of other people and then all you’d get is “ribbet”…
I’m not sure why it was like that, but take my word for it, he’s hilarious when he wants to be. We do have laugh right through life challenges, and I am sure it’s where I get my own quirky sense of humor from.
Inadvertent Life Lessons
In essence, my father has taught me many valuable lessons across the four decades of my life. Too many to really document here but suffice it to say, he’s inspired me to work hard, and do what I love. He’s shown me what bouncing back truly looks like.
Through observing the choices that he’s made, he’s inadvertently taught me the importance of having more than just my work. I know that I need to have connections with real people – personally and professionally. I need my friends, fun, travel and joy in my life.
As wonderful and funny as my father is, joyous and passionate aren’t exactly words I’d associate with him, but maybe that will change? I keep reminding him that when he gets to the end of his days, he won’t be wishing he worked more, or streamed one more episode of ‘Charmed’ on Netflix.
More than likely, he’ll regret not doing more things he had always wanted to do. It’s my intention to get him to do some of those things now – before it’s too late.
The novel is the first item on that list, and I could not be more proud of him for embarking on this journey. It could be, if you’ll forgive the pun, a whole new chapter on his life. Incidentally, it’s called ‘Then and Again’ and it’s very good, but then I might be biased. No, in fact, I know that I am…
Happy Father’s day to my father, all of you fathers out there.
Now let me start with a disclaimer: I know that I am on the sharpest tool in the shed. I fully admit that. I reckon, on just about most things, that I am mostly-average sort of gal.
Sometimes though, I really do get my “buttons pushed” when perusing the Internet…
Who Said That?
Scanning through my Twitter feed just now I saw a quote, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – which is among my all-time favorites. So much so, when I launched the soyouvebeendumped.com website it was one of the initial quotes we used. So, I know it’s actually Confucius who said that way back before his death in 479 BC.
Now this tweet had been re-tweeted nearly 500 times which would be great if it hadn’t cited Ralph Waldo Emerson as the author or it. (Ralph died in 1882 incidentally).
Button Well and Truly Pushed!
Heck, maybe Ralph did say it? Maybe Ralph, in fact, was Confucius reincarnated – who knows? None of us today were around in either guy’s life (as far as we know) so who can say who really said it?
But my vote’s on the Chinese philosopher with this one.
It just got me thinking how often I see these misquotes circle the globe a thousand times over. Not only misquotes, but many with incorrect spelling or bad grammar. More buttons pushed!
I think the Internet really is making us all dumb. (I include myself in there too). The unfortunate thing, in some ways, is that we’ll never know a life without it going forward. Like anything it’s a mixed blessing really.
So I decided to make the picture quote and for some reason I decided to pick (on) Pamela Anderson to cite on my quote. She’s as good as anyone else would be really. I could have used Abe Lincoln. A lot of people use Abe for these quotes .
Incidentally, somewhat spookily (yes that’s a real word I asked Google just now), a quick search on Pammy reveals something rather cool posted on the Independent site just an hour ago – a collaboration with Morrissey! How fun is that?
It’s late on a Sunday night (or technically Monday morning now) so I thought it was high time I wrote another, quick blog with some of the best things I’ve come across on social media this last week (or three…)
I’ll start with one I watched this morning (now yesterday!) – when it was shared by my Facebook friend, Scottishsinger/songwriter Roddy Hart. This video actually dates back to January, but this morning was the first I’ve seen of it, and, well, it made me laugh so hard, I had tears in my eyes,…so I thought it worthy of a share today.
Was that hilarious or what? As I say, I thought so (and heck, I don’t even like Football!) I should dedicate that video to my ole boss Gary @nsdesign – he loves (American) football, and would probably get a right kick out of it (knowing Gary he’s seen it already!)
Another viral share that’s been making the rounds this weekend was both fun and educational.
August 18, 2013 · TwistedSifter · Categories: ART, BEST OF, DESIGN, FUNNY, LISTS, NATURE/SPACE, SCI/TECH, STORIES, TRAVEL Tags: · facts, maps, world tour · Leave a Comment If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that. Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some… >>> Open this article
There were some great maps in this collection of 40. I personally liked the one about Mississippi. (Every time I write that word, or even say it, I spell it out in sing-song way – any fellow Americans will do it the same way, I suspect).
HELLO FACEBOOK YOU’RE MAKING US MISERABLE!
This next one is not humorous or entertaining – but it did catch my eye and resonate with me so I thought I’d include it here too. It’s about Facebook, the social media platform that I, personally, have a sort of love/hate sort of relationship with.
Though I am not in the same demographic as was surveyed here (late teens, early twenties), I do believe I agreed with its findings. None of the other social media platforms have the same affect as FB seems to have on me…
August 16, 2013 · The Economist · Using the social network seems to make people more miserable THOSE who have resisted the urge to join Facebook will surely feel vindicated when they read the latest research. A study just published by the Public Library of Science, conducted by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium, has shown that the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life. Past investigations have found that using Facebook is associated…Open this article
Anyway, as I am in the process of setting up my new One Day, Basic WordPress website training aimed at SMEs who need a little hand-holding, I thought I’d leave you with an infographic showing its popularity.
It appears that one in three adults in the US have heard of WordPress (according to the #WCSF keynote I listened to last week) but for those of you who don’t know, it’s a Content Management System (CMS) for websites.
Anyway so here is a great WP infographicthat I came across – detailing some of its numbers. They have a staggering 59% of the marketshare for websites that use a CMS. Seems this blog right here is just one of 500,000 that get posted daily. Geez with that number how did you find this one? 🙂
They have a staggering future (see their “anticipated growth” section of this infographic!) And some of the biggest websites in the world utilize their platform.