Hung Out to Dry

Lest you imagine us to be living a glamorous jet set life in London, let me give you a little glimpse into our laundry. No, we don’t have a dryer.

Hanging laundry to dry

We hang dry ALL of our laundry.

When we went flat hunting we somehow overlooked the fact that the one we picked didn’t have a dryer. We thought it came with one of those fancy European washer/dryer combos that so many people have across the pond. Turns out it is just a washer. I discovered this little oversight on day two of our expat adventure. I spent the next couple of weeks grieving:

Denial – “There must be a dry button on this thing somewhere, I just need to re-read the manual one more time.”

Anger – “I hate London.”

Bargaining – “I promise to only use non-toxic, plant based, fair trade detergent for the rest of my life if someone will just add a dry button to this machine.”

Depression – “I have nothing to wear (sob), everything is STILL drying (sob), we will NEVER EVER be able to leave the flat because NOTHING will ever be dry and we will starve (sob), and someone will find us three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians.”

Acceptance – “At least my skinny jeans won’t shrink anymore.”

The funny thing is I’m completely used to it now. Yes, we ALWAYS have drying racks hanging in our room. And sometimes we have sheets draped down the staircase and over tables and chairs. But they make great forts and think of all the savings on our electric bill. Besides, if we’re really in a pinch, there is a pub across the street from the neighborhood launderette so we can always have a pint while we watch our sheets dry!

A Love-ly Weekend

Grand Place Brussels

                                                   The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

I’ve always thought February was longest month even though it’s the shortest. You’re stuck in the middle of winter, Christmas has long passed, and you have two more months (at least) until you can pull-off flip flops. So right around mid-February I usually start going a bit nuts. To be honest, London’s not actually that bad this winter, nothing like NY ever was. But it’s still rather gray and cold. And so in the midst of my woe is me winter whining I impulsively booked train tickets to Brussels for Valentine’s weekend. Because there’s nothing more romantic and uplifting than chocolate and beer, right?


                                                      Belgian Chocolate + Beer = Love

You can’t travel to Belgium without the obligatory waffle (or two, in my case). I prefer mine with strawberries and crème Chantilly. And in case you are curious, crème Chantilly is French for whipped cream sweetened and flavored, usually with vanilla.

Belgian Waffles

                                                             Breakfast of Tourists

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

                  The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert aka where to buy fancy chocolate

Chocolate Shop

                                                    The sweetest window displays

And after all those sweets we took a very long walk and eventually the metro (because the walk was too far) to the Parc du Cinquantenaire. It was a sunny day with just the hint of Spring approaching. The park was full of young families enjoying the afternoon sun. And there were so many different languages being spoken at the playground. Can you imagine your local playground being in the shadows of this amazing arch?

Parc du Cinquantenaire Triumphal Arch

                                                  Parc du Cinquantenaire Triumphal Arch

I was completely taken with the Triumphal Arch. It was absolutely huge and gorgeous. Don’t you wish we still built things like this, especially in the U.S? The arch itself is actually relatively new, finished in 1905.

Parc du Cinquantenaire Triumphal Arch

Love Bug Parade

                                                              Love Bug Parade

Parc du Cinquantenaire is also home to the Autoworld museum. We didn’t make it inside but there was a great parade of Volkswagen Love Bugs outside. There were literally hundreds of bugs in all different colors. Of course I gravitated to the aqua ones.

After a long of day of walking it’s always nice to take a break. So we made our way back to the Grand Place just as Henry fell asleep in his buggy. Luckily it was just warm enough to sit out on the square and enjoy a very large beer.

Enjoying a beer on the Grand Place

Sleeping baby in buggy + beautiful European square + beer = living the dream

Lee Beer

We could really get used to this lifestyle… but then…

Grand Place Beer

Henry woke up! And we had to be responsible parents again. So we took him to the most culturally significant thing we could find in Brussels. The statue that represents the spirit of Brussels.

Le Manneken Pis

                                                                   Le Manneken Pis

Henry really seemed to enjoy the little guy. Since he had just recently started to say “pee pee” it was a great talking point. Did you know that Le Manneken Pis has over 800 outfits? Too bad we aren’t quite ready for potty training, I think it could have been a real teachable moment!

We finished our weekend with moules frites, more beer, and of course another waffle for the walk back to the hotel! It was truly a lovely weekend.


Je t’aime Paris

Way way way back in late November we hopped on the Eurostar and headed to Paris for a long weekend. If you’re going to miss turkey and football on Thanksgiving you might as well be in Paris. Even if it’s cold and gray and rainy I think, “Paris is always a good idea*”.

Unfortunately I forgot (quelle surprise!) to bring our camera out and about with us most of the trip so most of our photos were captured with our iphones. Some of the best iphone shots we took were at the Pont des Arts where we (read: Rachel) couldn’t contain our cheesy tourist impulses and added our own “love lock” to the famous bridge.

Henry's Love Lock 3

Henry looking at the lock

Henry's Love Lock

Hilariously, we didn’t know if it was illegal or not so the whole time we were putting the lock on the bridge we acted like sketchy fugitives. It turns out it’s not illegal but it’s not exactly beloved by Parisians either. If you’re interested, I found an article about it in the Wall Street Journal after we returned home.

After fleeing the scene of our vandalism we hopped on a lovely boat tour of the Seine. Which was a HUGE hit with Henry because it was one the handful of words he reliably said at that point. We cruised along and pointed excitedly to La Tour Eiffel and of course yelled, “BOAT, BOAT, BOAT” to all of the other boats on the Seine.

Henry Lee Seine

Bonsoir! It’s off to bed for me but I’ll post more pics of Paris soon. And also more recent adventures from Brussels and Barcelona.

* I’ve been seeing this quote everywhere lately, especially on Pinterest, and it’s always attributed to Audrey Hepburn. But since I’m a huge nerd I wanted to know exactly when/where she said it. Usually people cite the film Sabrina (1954). However I can’t for the life of me find it in the script or anywhere else. It is definitely in the script for the 1995 remake of Sabrina in which the title character is played by Julia Ormond. And while I love the sentiment regardless, I’ll be a little sad if it isn’t actually something Audrey Hepburn said. Not to mention all the incorrect Pinterst posts (heaven forbid!!!). I’ve already spent way too much of my precious toddler free evening hours researching this so I’m moving on. But if anyone else wants to do some sleuthing I’d love to hear what you find.