I was recently on the Island of Ireland (I say recently, it was the end of March/start of April), for the Spring Gathering of European and Middle East Young Friends, and a little holiday. The epistle is here, and the official photos will presumably be available here eventually. In the meantime though here’s my photo journal – (almost) a photo a day from the trip
Rather late, here is an update on the books I read last year.
Every three years, British Quakers have a big get together, where around 1,500 Qs converge for a week or so, usually on a university campus or similar, mainly because they’re the only places big enough to put us all up.
In 2017, it happened in Warwick, and that’s where E and I headed from Oslo (via Lewes). As ever with Quaker gatherings there’s far too much going on for me to detail every little thing that happened, so I will group it into a few main themes: pilgrims, world stuff, business, and everything else.
Feel free to skip bits of less interest for you, and apologies to non-Quaker readers – I’m open to any and all questions you might have (maybe that should be another post..)
We got up on deck about half an hour before we were meant to arrive, and were greeted by the lovely sight of all the picturesque waterside houses gliding by, painted in red, blue, yellow and green, with the water sparkling in the morning sun.
We disembarked, and headed for our airbnb, where E had a nap. Even after that, we got out earlier than we did any other day of our stay… We walked towards the centre of Oslo from where we were staying in St Hanshaugen, through another cemetery, this one with Ibsen and Munch in it.
This year, Emmie and I headed north for our hols. E having never been to Scandinavia fancied a visit, and we worked out a route that would take us from Brussels to Oslo, via Copenhagen, without flying (though we did then fly to London…)
On the first day we took several trains, and a ferry (when the train rolled onto it) to Copenhagen, arriving at our very cute Airbnb, north of Nørrebro in the evening, in time to eat and collapse into bed.
Disclaimer: Now, I’m no Architecture expert, so the following blog consists of my (often ill-informed) observations, rather than absolute fact. I’m sure there are many better sources for proper architecture facts..
Now, as ever with Belgium and Brussels particularly, there is a bit of a melange of Dutch and French influences in the building styles. Emmie insists that Belgian buildings are “more Catholic” i.e. with more decoration and unnecessary frills than in the sober, Protestant Netherlands. While this is probably true, from my perspective, the Dutch influence is clear from the stepped roofs and plain brick work.
My brother visited Brussels/Belgium for the first time last weekend! It was nice, and slightly odd that he was only visiting after I’d been here so long. We did all the usual stuff – saw the sights, ate frites and waffles, played board games etc. We also went to the Brussels Chocolate Village, which was new to me, and quite cool. They had real cocoa trees in a sweltering and humid conservatory, and a proper chocolate workshop (complete with tempting melted chocolate machine, and completed truffle on the stone table). They also had a section on chocolate advertising, which was intriguing.
We also had interesting chats about his feelings on returning to the family dynamic after four years in the States, whether it was weird to see me in my individual/everyday context, (as we normally see each other in family settings i.e. at least with parents), how we are in relationships, feminism, how to use white male privilege to help others (we didn’t come to any great conclusions..) and whether we grew up believing ourselves to be more different from each other than we in fact are – we thought we did. It was interesting, and good fun.
(I didn’t take any pictures, since we were only in boring ‘ol Bxl 😉 so credit goes to Joe)