Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas at the New Zealand Embassy

My goodness Kiwis are such nice people ...and they make the best wines.

Gert and I drove all over Belgium last night (it's not a big country), picking up the children, feeding them and then delivering them to their Bompi and Bomma (Grandma and Grandad, with a little twist on Grandad's name, due to an advertisement that was around in that crucial timeframe when kids name their grandparents).

We raced (through a series of traffic jams) the 12 kms north to their grandparents place, then back to Antwerpen and on past it, south to Brussels some 50kms away, through less challenging traffic jams due to avoiding the infamous snarl ups on the Ring Road around Brussels.

Ring roads, just by the way, are motorways around a city; all motorways to and from other cities like Antwerpen, Ghent, Liege, start and end on the ring road. Antwerpen has its own notorious version, and everyone complains about rush hour traffic on them.

Anyway, the Kiwi Christmas function ...I slipped a couple of Canucks onto the guest list. I had been so delighted by both the people and the wine in Mesen that I wanted to share with Alison and Andrew.

We had the loveliest time ... re-meeting a few of the people from the Mesen event, and new people from England and all over. Kiwis clearly have some kind of plan of intermarriage and world domination ... I can see that if we're ever called up for action, we will turn up in every place, and quite possibly, with the oddest of stories about how we got there. Of course, this is probably due to our incredibly lovable nature, and the modesty.

The NZ Ambassador gave a short speech, and talked of the fact the Helen Clarke had popped over for a two day whistle-stop tour of meetings and more meetings. Our relationship with things Belgian and the EU seemto be just fine, but of course.

You know, there is something delicious about hearing the New Zealand accent slip out of the mouths of people you've never met. In Europe, we disappear into the crowd ... during the discussion regarding my illegal traffic light crossing I did ask the traffic policeman (unaffectionately known as a Smurf here) if I looked like a foreigner. He said no, that initially, he hadn't realised. And that's how it is ... so when greeted at the embassy by a woman who could easily have been a Belgian, it was a delightful surprise to hear someone who sounded just like me.

I had lots of New Zealand red wine, aided and abetted by the resident NZ chef and his sidekick, the art director. There was much laughter and mingling, and even today, after a painkiller, I'm still smiling over a good dose of 'home'.

How to Find the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels

The Embassy is located on the seventh floor of the Dexia building at Square de Meeûs and is a short walk from the European Parliament buildings. The nearest metro station is Trône. The nearest rail station is Gare du Luxembourg. Buses numbers 20,21, 34, 38, 54, 60, 80, 95, 96 stop at Square de Meeûs.


Alison said...

I can attest to the friendliness of Kiwi's, even to a couple of Canuks who tagged along for the wine :)

woman wandering said...

Well, we've talked of it, Kiwis and Canadians share a humour and a way of being ... you're an honorary one really BUT, you'll have to eat Vegemite ... that's THE initiation into things Kiwi ... we'll wash it down with a nice red one day soon.

Good lord, even I grimaced imagining the two together. We'll have to drink a lot of red wine fast I suspect. Can you do it?

Alison said...

Um... thanks for the offer but 'I AM Canadian!'

woman wandering said...

Well actually ... coming to my country's embassy means you're an honorary kiwi now - it's how we do these things (did I forget to mention this to you?) ... and that means you MUST eat VEGEMITE.

Kind regards,
Faustus' friend