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Tag: Belgium

Democracy: Too important to be left to the people

28 February, 2012

There was a report in the newspaper recently on a bridge in Slovakia being named after Chuck Norris. Apparently local officials had put it to a popular vote, and (at the time of writing) 74% of people had voted to call it the Chuck Norris Bridge, outvoting a local historical figure by a huge margin. [...]

Bureaucracy: Belgium’s greatest export

1 June, 2007

I thought that I’d left all of the bureaucracy behind when I left Belgium earlier this year, but no.  It seems that not content with foisting their arcane machinations on the rest of Europe, the Belgians have now set their sights on the global stage. On July 15th, a new law will come into effect [...]

Raising the (Chocolate) Bar

8 May, 2007

For some reason I’ve got this real craving for Toffos.  Unfortunately, being some 10,000 miles from the nearest packet, it’s likely to remain unsatiated.  Despite globalization and the flattening of the world, some things just don’t seem to travel intercontinentally – and sweets (candy, snoep, what you will) seems to be one of them.  Although there’s [...]

And not a ‘Hi-De-Hi’ within earshot

19 July, 2006

Last weekend we enjoyed a family holiday (4 days – does that count as a holiday?) at one of the CenterParcs here in Belgium (De Vossemeren).  We’ve never done one of these kind of places before (I think us Brits have a natural aversion to anything that even vaguely smells of a Butlins Holiday Camp), [...]

Nu kan ik Nederlands spreken

21 June, 2006

For the past year I’ve been studying Flemish (a.k.a. Dutch) at night school.  I’ve just had my end-of-year exams, and thankfully I passed (and quite comfortably, with 84%).  For my efforts, I’ve been awarded an offical certificate, which felt oddly like the Straw Man in the Wizard of Oz receiving his diploma, as I didn’t really study that [...]

Belgium is Driving Me Crazy

3 May, 2006

OK, I’ve now been in Belgium for over a year, so I think I’m qualified to make a few comments without being dismissed as a ‘newbie’ who needs to learn to adapt.  There are some aspects of driving in Belgium that I just can’t adapt to.  Three of them, in fact: (1) Giving way to [...]

Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad

19 September, 2005

Last Sunday was ‘Car Free Day’ here in Brussels.  This is the one day a year when all traffic (emergency vehicles and the ubiquitous police excepted) is banned from the city.  I think it’s to promote exercise, or reduce pollution, or something.  To give them credit, the Belgians fully embrace these kinds of initiatives, so [...]

Refuse Fascism

28 July, 2005

Belgium prides itself on being one of the more forward-thinking countries when it comes to refuse collection and recycling.  This is commendable, but damn, if they don’t make it difficult.Firstly, the refuse collectors (dustbinmen, residential waste experts, whatever…) will only collect your standard household refuse if it is bagged in specific proprietary bags (with the [...]

The Joy of Driving (Or Not)…Belgian Style

3 May, 2005

Nowadays, a car is pretty much a necessity.  And just about everyone here in Belgium has one.  So why do the Belgians make getting a car on the road such a difficult, lengthy, and truly exasperating process?  Here’s what I had to go through… When you buy a car (even a second hand one – [...]

Born Free, But You’ll Pay To Prove It…

16 March, 2005

We’re finally back in Belgium, and going through all of the requisite administrative steps to register ourselves here.  Given that Belgium is home to the EU, it should come as no surprise that it boasts world-class bureaucracy.  Here’s an example of Belgian bureaucracy at it’s finest… When you move into a house here (Belgium) you [...]

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