Normalization, And Some Photography

I have finally reached a point where I feel like I can take some time off. Not just from work-work, but life-work as well. Without any real plans or last-minute trips to Florida this weekend, I had the time to finish getting my apartment sorted out (stage 1 at least), relax a bit, and go out for some light photography. Slowly but surely, I am making a home here.

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Up until now I have had mere fleeting moments of normality in my new home, such as throwing a frozen pizza in the oven and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix. Moments like that when I could take my mind off all the work to do and relax for a little bit, going through a small part of a routine I used to have. But yesterday I emptied my queue of furniture to assemble, and finally got my apartment into a generally presentable state. What once looked like this

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now looks like this

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which has really lowered my stress level, and is hopefully going to make everything seem a lot more normal from here on out.

By no means am I finished with setting up house, but a lot of the major work is done, so I can relax a lot more, play Left 4 Dead and/or Rocket League with American friends for a while, and maybe even have some Belgian friends over soon. There is a lot of normality yet to be restored though, such as:

  • figuring out how and when to watch all the racing I usually keep up with, preferably in English. By this time last year, I’d have watched probably two dozen races from 15 categories. This year I’ve watched only watched 6 races so far (half of them in French), mostly due to being so busy, partly due of unfamiliarity with the available broadcast services;
  • getting back to cooking. I haven’t properly cooked or baked anything since January. It used to be at least a weekly occurrence. But I still need to get a decent set of knives, a mixer, and some other kitchen wares;
  • Keeping up with my photography. I was barely checking Flickr more than once a week for a while. That used to be multiple times daily.

Not doing these things for so long, I was getting worried I was losing touch with my passions. But I’m happy to report I’ve been able to at least get back into my photography today.

I had been hoping to start a year-long 1-a-day photography project, as I’ve seen many photographers on Flickr do. I thought it would be a good way to document this whole process and adventure. But each of my proposed start dates for the project kept passing me by…The interview trip, my birthday, the day of the offer, the new year, the day I got the visa, the day I moved out…they all slipped by undocumented for one reason or another. As it got later and later in the process, the reason was typically “ain’t nobody got time fo dat.” And so I missed photographing a few singular moments.

Photography, for me at least, takes a lot of time and energy, neither of which I’ve had in excess in the last three months. This is true even just to get one decent photo to capture a day. Creative energy is still energy, and after long days of packing, traveling, being sick, apartment hunting, or shopping, I was just out. Back in February I tried to take a day around town to shoot some photos, and I just wasn’t really feeling it.

But today was different. I had a restful three-day weekend, finished round 1 of apartment setup yesterday, and it was a warm, sunny day. So I went out to try and give you a tour around town.It’s about a 10-15 minute walk to get downtown from my apartment, and it’s rather nice as walks go.

To start, here’s the street just outside my apartment on the way into town. Lovely hedgerow with everything just starting to bloom.

Take a left onto a cobbled walk, and go through a nice little park with a view of the skyline (as it were).

Cut through another small park

Take a slight detour to the lake, which is just a five minute walk

…where some interesting things are known to happen on occasion

Going on towards the town center, they are currently building…something

You’ll see murals all around town

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Plus the occasional sculpture (this one commemorating the 30th 24 hour bike race that happens here)

Also graffiti. Some of it political (because college students)…

(Ain’t NOBODY gonna tell no ANARCHISTS what PAR is on the local FROLF COURSE)

…some not so much…

…and some normal tagging

Anyway, we now find ourselves in the Grand Plaza

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…where there are sometimes food trucks and flea markets set up

Here’s a normal street lined with shops, apartments up above. All the streets around downtown are cobbled walkways. It’s a planned city with a pedestrian focused design, with all road traffic and parking underneath. Today being Sunday, most of the shops are closed, and there’s less of a crowd than usual.

One of many restaurants with outdoor seating…and a couple of cheeky students who spotted me with my camera

Here’s the train from the middle of town to Ottignies, the main local station where you change to go to Brussels.

Even some horses

One thing I didn’t like very much about Hampton was the geography. It was very flat, with a strong “suburbran sprawl gone mad” feel, and no large patches of green or nature outside of the rare government-managed or privately-owned park. That’s not a problem here.

Here’s a pedestrian bridge over a road on the way to work; plenty of green, and not flat at all!

…and a few nice parks near my place

And back at my apartment, I can enjoy the sunset on my patio

Overall I think I really like this town, and my neighbourhood, which will go a long way toward helping me settle in and enjoy my time here. And I hope to be doing more photography in my various adventures. If you want to see more photos from the day, and in higher resolution, Visit the album on Flickr.

Author: haveracecarwilltravel

Moved from America to Belgium in early 2016 (mostly for the racetracks) and brought my Lotus along for the ride. I also enjoy putting my D7000 to good use.

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