This spot is dedicated to the world and how I see it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

2 November 2011

I love tea. So much!

What would a day be without my cup of green tea in the morning and my black tea after lunch (at the moment English Breakfast), accompanied with some peices of dark chocolate...

There is one kind of tea for each moment. And it's the perfect gift!

Oh, how I miss my years in the UK, where tea is a comforting institution and everything can be solved after having had your soothing cuppa!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

20 August

Where do all these people come from?! Going by metro at rushhour on a rainy August afternoon is one of my least favourite things to do! Gaahh, craaazy!

Yesterday I jumped out of the train I was on cause it war far too crowded. Umbrellas, wet jackets, shopping bags & people on the phone loudly discussing what groceries to buy on their way home. I let four trains pass, the fifth was quite empty and I got a seat. What a luxury!

Note to self: There are nicer things to do than citystrolls on rainy Friday afternoons!

Question to reader: How often do you jump of the tube when it's too crowded? I do it quite often.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

13 August 2011

The disadvantage with an early summerholiday (we went in June) is that I soooo much want to have another holiday - now! And now it's August! I want to get my tan back, hang out on the beach... and to enjoy the amazing food we had this summer. The Corsican food was outstanding & here are some of the delicious dishes we had:

PS. I didn't have the meat dishes, I'm a veg!

13 August 2011

One of the most important reasons I left Sweden was the Swedish attitude to alcohol. All conversations about how drunk people got etc. made me so sick and tired. Not to mention the way alcohol always serves as an excuse for almost everything stupid you can do, like "Oh, I was sooo drunk so I couldn't help betraying my girlfriend /etc.../, and I regret it so much"...

Yeah sure you are!

I don't want to sound boring or demoralising, but for god's sake, the decision to drink and to drink too much is always your own.

I love having good wine, a dram of whiskey, some sparkling, a pink Cosmo or a heavy Belgian Orval, I do - and I love their taste and how each of them fits the moment and how they enhance the ambiance and the spirits. But this, I feel, is an entire universe from the point "Let's drink to get drunk"!

Is Stockholm/Sweden by any means worse than other cities/countries in terms of alcohol? Definitely Yes (apart from the UK possibly). Of course people get drunk everywhere, in Sweden people tend to brag with how drunk they were. In most other European countries south of Sweden, people keep quiet about it. It's not an achievement! And even if they are drunk (which of course they also get) they try to act as if they are not. In Sweden it's the opposite.

To sum it up: Very uncivilized, in my opinion.

Luckily I think we can now see a trend towards a healthier socity with less alcohol (in some circles!). The Swedish alcohol supermarket Systembolaget has a larger range non-alcoholic beverages than ever before & it also seems like it's more accepted not to drink without getting the comment, "So you don't want to have fun tonight then?!"...

Or maybe it's just my generation getting older. And wiser. Luckily.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

30 July 2011

We spent this year's summer holidays on L'ile de Beauté - Corsica! Two weeks of pure natural beauty, peace and harmony!

After 6 hours on Corsica Sardina Ferries, from Nice to Calvi - I was extremely glad to arrive safe and sound. I don't particularly enjoy going by boat, and especially not when it's windy. On the crossing I hardly managed to walk to the bathroom, nor swallow any piece of food. It was rather windy. And rather large waves. But I survived.

Corsica made a strong impression on me and I'm already so much looking forward to going back! Nature is extremely pure and high mountains meet the coast. Beaches are amazingly pretty, we visited some beaches in natural reserves where we first could swim in the sea and then wash of the saltwater in a sweet-water lagoon (with cows looking at us - they roam on several beaches). Many beaches have very white sand and most beaches have Caribbean turqoise water... It's so much more exotic that I ever imagined...

The reason we went to Corisca is that we fell in love with the food at the Corican resto "Campoloro" here in Stockholm. The food there is simply outstanding and our tastebuds were longing for more. And we were not disappointed!

I love good food.

Good food can totally make your day. Lift your spirits and make you connect to the beauty in life! We decided to have a large budget for gastronomy - so every night we tried different restos - with a starter, main dish and desert. Such a luxury!

Even if my place on earth is the beach, I was touched by the gorgeous Corsican inland. We spent 2 nights in Valleé de la Restonica, close to the town of Corte - the purity and of the mountains and nature energized us. Like an injection of Vitamin C. Nature's power on the senses is amazing! Imagine... walking along this river, dipping your warm hiking-toes into this water:


The ferycrossing back to Nice was as calm as could be. When we where about one hour from Nice, dolphins approached us and swam along, jumping up and down in the water... I hope we'll see them next time too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

28 May 2011

It's amazing what a little bit of fresh air can do. An hour's pottering in our little garden re-sets my brain and body. And an hour passes so quickly when you are in this flow-mood.

This week (as many other weeks) I've been thinking alot about work-life balance. And I always reach the same conclusion: I was so not made for working full-time. Honestly. Do not misunderstand me, I enjoy working and being in the office and meeting my nice colleagues is very important to me.

Even if I work normal hours, 9:00-5:30, I'm home at 6-ish if I go straight back home and then the evening passes while doing the 'must-do stuff'. One day this week was a revelation: I had a meeting which ended at 3:30 and I went straight back home. And the rest of the day was so long! I felt I had so much space to live! Plenty and plenty of time to do everything: tidy up, talk with a friend, go to the gym, cook, have a cup of tea and read AND skype with a friend for 1,5 hours planning our toastmadam/toastmaster role.

At work the day after I was reflecting about how fresh I felt, not as worn out as one usually feels after a workweek. Pure luxury. Or?! That's the way life should be. I'm surprised about how we humans have accepted and normalised this kind of life. Everyone does it - but, to me, it's not normal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Cat is back, in new shape and form. It's been a year and a half that I'm back in my native country. It has not been easy. It's been and existential trip which is not over yet. The person I was during the past 10 year when I was living abroad is still there - but noone here can see that person.

Brussels. I was living in the city where things happen which change the world. Important thoughts are thought, ideas are born and politics and even history is made. The world out there is present. And I was in the middle of this amazing environment! Part of it.

Stockholm. Very beautiful, check. Fresh air to breathe, check. Flexible working hours, check. Those things I had been missing, check. But yet, I don't identify with my life here. Yet. And I am in serious doubt if I ever will. I feel more detached from Sweden than ever before. Some days more and some days less. This country, is it mine? And Swedish, how do I feel when I speak my mother-tounge? Most of the time, I'm fine with Swedish - but often I feel trapped. Stuck in a sqare language. Well all languages are beautiful in their own way when you master them. But I still feel that my vocabulary is the way it was back in 1999. With a few new additions, luckily.

I read a fabulous book by Bobo Karlsson called "Urban Safari" in which he paints portraits of the soul of different cities around the world. About the Swedish capital he writes "Stockholmers are like insecure teenagers always changing according to the fashion of the day". It's quite an appropriate description. Stockholmers very fashionable - and most fashionable people wear the same fashion. When something has gone out of fashion, it's out - dare you coming back. This, I would say, symbolises a certain insecurity about the city's soul. Of course there are exceptions like anywhere. But this is the sixth big city I've lived in and, I tell you, I've never experienced insecurity so present before. Fashion is only one of the channels this feeling is transmitted. I so much prefer individualism when everyone does what they feel like.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eurocat leaves Brussels
14 January 2010

New Year and new horizons! After 10 years outside my native country, Sweden, I have now returned back home. Well, not really back home as such, but at least to my country. I have never lived in Stockholm before, so this is really exciting. It is such a pretty city, gosh. It's all surrounded by water (ice) and people live on islands dotted around. Having just returned I see this with a foreigner's eyes and have to say, Stockholm, you are a smashing beauty!

Leaving Brussels is the end of an era. BUT the start of something new as well. Having done this massive change I think I need to change the intro to my blog... or maybe not. I'm still Eurocat, even though now based in Stockholm, I live here with a European heart!

Monday, August 10, 2009

10 August 2009

Oh, it's lovely. Summertime and livin' is easy! Even when I'm in the office. I'm the only person here... Drinking tea, listening to the radio, lunching outside, getting bubbling ideas... and doing some productive work too (actually).
This morning I biked to work only wearing a skirt and a top. No jacket, no leggings. Met a friend in the park by coincidence. Met my fiancé in another park for lunch. We had our favourite baguettes from our favourite baguette place around the corner. Mine is with courgettes and Camenbert, loads of thick slices. Mmmmm! And tonight we're going for dinner at some friends' place.
And soon it's time for holidays!

Friday, August 07, 2009

7 August 2009

My dad is a very careful person. He has always makes sure that our insurances are in order and, until I left home, that I remembered to bring the necessary paperwork on my trips abroad.

Last spring he reminded me to check my own Belgian insurances and especially that I would have enough cover in case of burglary, theft or for medical purposes. I almost told him off for being too careful, indeed, I told him that I just checked that my Homeinsurance would cover my theft of my luggage was travelling. Before signing the ING Homeinsurance, I asked the advisor and she claimed that 'yes, it's covered, even if you travel within Belgium, but I don't have the policy document at hand in English. But trust me. You're covered.'

3 months later. My bag disappears on the train. I had my SLR camera, 80 Euro in cash, mobile phone, shoes, wallet, VISA card, keys - of a total value of appr. 1100 Euro. And that excludes the price for exchanging the lock to my flat in the middle of the night.

The next day I ran to the policestation to report the incident, saying that despite being extremely careful, the had been stolen. I said I needed the papers to claim my insurance. They looked at me and said 'well, no insurance would cover this situation'. After having asked about this specifically at the time I got the insurance, I was completely convinced that they were wrong. The next working day I called the insurance company - and, no, I WAS wrong. Indeed. I would have been covered ONLY if I lost my bag under violence, like under gunthreat. Great.

Now. 12 months later, we're planning our summer holiday. Our initial plans were to rent a villa so already in May we paid the deposit by VISA. Circumstances have changed since then and we had to change our plans as well. But no, no - since we cancelled only 6 weeks before, we will lose our deposit, plus that we need to paid an additional 40% to the villa owners. Dah - 220 Euros lost just like that. The owners told us that we would probably get it refunded - in theory yes - in practice - no way! Our VISA does not cover cancellation (not even with medical certificate) and no, we were not clever enough to get a travel insurance 3 months before actually going on our holiday!

Put short. Insurances drive me crazy. It's Murphy's Law. Even if you think you are completely safe and covered, when something happens, it's most likely that you will be informed that you are not. And if you're from a country where the Homeinsurance actually also has travel- and theft insurance included, in your country and abroad for 41 days - it's even more difficult to understand what to do! When I bought by new SLR I got special cover for it: But what we shall do for our holiday next week is still a mystery:

We already have the blue European Health Insurance card which gives us the right to the same medical treatment in another EU countries as their citizens. Fine. But how is the system in Italy? In Belgium you have to pay quite a lot for staying in a hospital and even more for surgery. And for this you need a 'hospitalisation' insurance. So if you were a tourist here, you would need to pay this upfront in the hospital. But if hospitalisation in Italy is free, then so I believe, I would not need a travelinsurance for that. My fiancé has hospitalisation insurance through his employer… but does he really know what it includes? Shall I force him to read the smallprint? Maybe it even covers me?!

Another advantage of a travelinsurance is of course that it protects you in case of theft. But now, since my most valuable item already is covered, should we even consider this as necessary?! And what if our bags get stolen? Not that I have any Chanel dresses, but still - all added up it will be expensive anyway. And what about insurance for the rented car?! Of course we got the excess cover, from a specialised car insurer…

Insurances are like a jungle. A very expensive one. And it's very difficult to get advice - if you have home insurance A you may not need travel insurance B. However if you have home insurance B, you must get travel insurance B. If you rent your car from rental company X, you are not allowed to have an additional driver, wheras your specialised car insurer where you purchased the Excess cover says that the car as a whole is covered, not any specific driver. And don't forget that if you get the car rental company's excess cover which should include 'everything', it may not cover 'everything', it might actually exclude damages made to, surprise, the tyres! And if you pay a trip by VISA you have to make sure you pay x% of the whole amount by card, otherwise you're not covered by their cancellation insurance.

I don't even dare to think about how much you pay in a lifetime to companies which thrive on people's fears.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

19 July 2007

Ok, so this thing I promised in my last post to write a summary of each month, kind of didn't work. Here I am half a year later, with nothing posted in the meantime. But life is not about posting on your blog is it?!
It's been quite an eventful time - and that's the reason writing has not been at the top of my list. I have gone quite a tough time at the job I started in November with big hopes about a lifelong career. After disappointments as regards the tasks I got, which were not what I had agreed to do when I signed the contract, I decided to quit after 8 months. Feeling superflous is extremely stressful! And stress, as we all know, can have real physical effects on health and wellbeing - something which happened to me - despite not feeling stressed at all at work. It was the stress of not having anything meaningful to fill me working days with, which caused an inflammation and loads of pain as well as numerous visits doctors and different medical examinations!
Given the recession (which the institutions here are blessed not being affected by), I was very lucky to be able to go back to the position in the private sector which I had before. Thank God! Now I begin regaining my professional confidence and feel that what I do is meaningful and that our members appreciate what I do during working hours. Ok, work is work, but after all is what you spend 8 hours, or so, a day, doing - so it must make sense to me! Quitting means that I lose 600 Euros a month and lots of other advantages - but it's totally worth it! There are so many people who get stuck in a 'Golden cage', from which they can't get out without selling their house and changing their lifestyle. I don't want to lose my freedom, even if I sit in a Golden Cage!