Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

But everybody’s gone, And you’ve been there for too long, To face this on your own, Well I guess this is growing up!

I spend yesterday afternoon and in to the early night enjoying the wonders of Bruges.  The city was bathed in glorious sunlight and as I had little tourist things to do, I decided what better to do than to make use of this good weather.  I sat in the De Garre pub, enjoyed another glass of that amazing beer and read my book.  I sat along the canals, between the two oldest bridges in town as the sun hit my neck, ate a selection of beautiful belgian chocolates and read my book.  I sat in the Markt as the throngs of tourists disappeared off for dinner, chowed down on some Belgian Frites (or French Fries to the uninformed) and read my book.  In the end it was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon/evening that I am sure my bookworm mother (or aunts, great aunts, grandmothers, etc) would all be proud of.


The book I was reading, and have now finished, is a book I started reading long ago.  I got it for christmas 2007 I am pretty sure and it is a biography of John Curtin. John Curtin has always been a major figure of interest for me as an Australian, with centre-left tendencies and generally a politics geek…how could he not.  I still remember the first time I came across his name was back in Grade 6 when I included him in my highly uniformed list of the 10 Greatest Australians.  I am now still not ‘properly informed’ to make such judgments, but I know a lot more to be in a position to judge and while a few have fallen from that original list, Jack Curtin survives.  The book was incredibly interesting reading and I think it was pure laziness that stopped me finishing it earlier.  As with all biographies (the type of books I love) it takes a while to get “to the good stuff” as you have to generally deal with all the family background, childhood and formative years and I didn’t have the patience to do so.  However, the book has now been read from stained and torn cover to cover and Curtin continues to be a really interesting figure.  He is a very flawed man who almost fell in to the positions that lead him to have such influence.  Continually doubting of his own abilities but hardly doubting of his cause.  He does show a progression from idealistic youth to the more moderate and worldly figure that sat in the Lodge, but it seems that he matured as leader as Australia matured as a country and in the end he was just the perfect leader for Australia at that time.  The good thing about the biography was that it made clear that Curtin was FAR from perfect. He struggled with depression, alcoholism and many other issues, but I think you can take heart in what he was able to achieve from such a handicapped position.  Okay, I could go on…but I feel I might have bored even the most politically minded members of my family and friends (Hi Mum!) at this point.


This morning I had two last tourist stops to make before I left Bruges for the start of my trek to Washington via a stopover in London.  They were two of the museums – one dedicated to Belgian “Don’t call ’em French or Freedom” Fries and one dedicated to Belgian Chocolate.  They probably weren’t the most amazing places to visit and they definitely weren’t the reason I came to Bruges, but they were enjoyable enough.  There was a reason I left them until last, but there was also a reason I went to them you could say.  I started off at the chocolate museum and it covered the history of both the plant/substance and the industry in Bruges and wider Belgium.  Besides making myself incredibly hungry it was interesting to learn all the processes and to find out the Mayan/Aztecs role in chocolate’s history. Particularly the fact that it was recently that it went from a drink to the solid chocolate we know and love.  I then moved on to the Fries museum which was just up the road and I was able to buy a combination ticket for both of them.  The fries museum taught me three things – the history of the potatoes, how we came to eat fries and that man some people take this stuff seriously.  There was a rather comical (even if not in the ended way) cartoon character romance story between a male potato and a female Fry that went throughout all the exhibits that I enjoyed.  Although I must say, although there were some trivia tidbits that may come in handy for a pub quiz down the road, the highlight was definitely the fries at the end.
Anyhow after a quick stop off at Stef’s Chocolate Shop to stock off, I took the train back to the Brussels Airport and I am now awaiting to take my British Airways flight back to London Heathrow.  I will meet up with Joey at Richmond station, head off to Marmi’s for some sleep before we are up early at about 4am to catch our flight to USA.  Another part of my travels is about to begin and it is a part that I have been eagerly awaiting for months now.  Not just because of the cities and sights that I will be able to see but that I have the opportunity to do with a good friend.  I can’t wait!!!! 😀 😀


May 30, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Will pass on some of your ‘Curtin’ thoughts to one on my Enhancement students who just wrote on Curtin for her extended essay. (Remember Billy Hughes!) Also, have another one on Bradman which makes me think of the two of you at Lords in the near future – travel on – I am back to the marking.

    Comment by Christine | May 30, 2009 | Reply

  2. oh. my. god. no. WAY! you will not believe i just spent ALL day listening to BLINK 182!

    and omg 2 of my favourite things, potatoes and chocolate! i am now adding Belgium to my next trip of must do’s (shame i’m doing canada, USA and sth america before heading back to europe lol!!!) but sweet!

    Comment by bethy | June 1, 2009 | Reply

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