I travelled less this year than last, and I travelled less than I’d originally planned, for a lot of reasons, but largely because I wanted to spend some time at home.
However, I did still fit in some trips, mainly for business, although a couple to see people as well. Here are some of the stand-out points from my 2016 travels.
It’s coming up to one of my favourite times of year. No, not Christmas; new year. The time to reflect, to look back over the past twelve months, work out what went well and what could have gone differently, and think about whether I’ve attained the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, and what my goals for next year might be.
Part one here, in which I discuss Brussels’ excellent shopping options.
But it’s not just shops that make Brussels a fantastic place to visit. It’s… well, everything.
I hate shopping.
I have to drag myself kicking and screaming whenever I need to buy new clothes. The crowds, the lights, the queues, the humans, the prices, the stress… did I mention the humans?
Today I am in Belgium. I arrived about an hour ago to 20-degree heat, brilliant sunshine and a nice breeze.
Elise is a practical, religious lady. Didier is a bearded romantic who believes that religion is ridiculous. She works in a tattoo parlour; he doesn’t like body art. And yet they fall together in a way that feels inevitable; they meet, get along immediately and enter a whirlwind romance that soon sees them living together and spending all their time with one another. Didier introduces Elise to bluegrass music, and she discovers the wonders of Belgian country bands, joining Didier’s own group as a lead singer.
Fast forward a few years, and they have a young daughter, Maybelle. But things are not going smoothly; their child is diagnosed with cancer and the two of them are catapulted into a world of hospital videos, chemotherapy and fear. Will their relationship be strong enough to withstand their daughter’s illness? Will the differences in their spiritual beliefs drive a wedge between them?
A beautifully acted movie with an excellent soundtrack, The Broken Circle Breakdown tugs at the heartstrings and brings up questions of life and death, love and loss. Its only downfall is perhaps how much it jumps around; past, present and future are intertwined and it often takes a couple of minutes to work out whether you’re watching the same timeframe as the previous scene. The music lifts the film beyond what might otherwise be a fairly average, if touching, drama. The haunting tones of Belgian bluegrass provide the perfect accompaniment to the events that are taking place; in some ways it is almost more musical than movie.
Out to own on DVD from the 25th of November, The Broken Circle Breakdown is not to be missed if you like good music or touching family dramas.