Brussels houseI’ve moved from a global city, well renowned for its sights and economy (London), to a rather grey provincial capital where the EU institutions are based (Brussels). But I love it. Most people I speak to in London just cannot understand it. Why would I want to leave London behind? Isn’t Brussels just so grey? Well, yes, to a certain extent.

But I sit here typing in my brightly lit office in my spacious flat in a Brussels town house, 10 minutes away from all the things I need. I could never do that in London. It’s home in a certain way, more than London ever was. I’m off out now for dinner in a Lebanese restaurant, invited by an Estonian and the others in the group will be British, Austrian, Catalan, German, Belgian, Norwegian and Swedish. Would I ever do that in London? Gareth Harding wrote this excellent column in The Guardian about it – that’s more or less the way I feel.


  1. Richard Coxon

    Hi Jon, welcome to Brussels. Having also moved from London – but 3 years ago – I agree that it is a small, grey, damp city in the winter. In the summer, if there is one, it is a small, bright, humid city.

    It is possible to live in the centre of town, without being a city banker or a rent boy, and walk everywhere. There are fab restaurants, good cinemas, and Radio 4 on Long Wave.

    But the pavements are full of holes, the metro looks like the 1970s never went away (and has never been cleaned) and the shops shut when you want them to be open. My first country where the shops are open 0930-1730 Mon-Sat and closed Sundays. Insane.

  2. I love Brussels! Besides, today is anything but grey!

    Nice blog 😉

  3. That’s the criteria that more people should use Jon…I share your perspective beyond my obvious reasons

  4. There’s no particular reason, other than that’s how those individuals define their background themselves. It’s not a political statement of any kind from me.

  5. Why do you mention Catalans while you do not say Bavarian, Flemish or Scotish??
    Best regards

  6. You’re quite right Mary – it’s not a real world here. But I do like it! I don’t think my post had more serious political implications than that.

  7. There’s an issue here about communication that I think is really important. One of the problems with perceptions of the EU in the UK is that successive governments have failed to make the case for it. And where are all the really committed Europeans….? In Brussels, hanging out with the converted. Obviously I’m being deliberately provocative, but I know from my own experience that when you move away from the UK it’s very easy to look back accross the Channel with a degree of pity/condescension for a nation of monolingual xenophobes while you get on with building your personal European utopia in microcosm. So enjoy Brussels but don’t forget us, it may not be long before we need your help!

  8. Jeremy Hargreaves

    You are making this bloke you have left behind in London, very envious! 🙂

  9. Jon,
    I agree with you. It is indeed a grey provincial city, but it has a specific flavor and attraction that London doesn’t have. You can also eat much better and cheaper in Brussels than in London!
    By the way, I like your recognition of our identity. Great international awareness 😉

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