I always think of this beautiful piece of Art Nouveau designed by Victor Horta as a piece of my past. Many years ago I often stopped to look at it as I walked by, and I still think it is arresting, and a symbol of the city where it stands. Does anyone recognise this small but exquisite corner?
, where I lived with my family, at two different times, for quite a few years while I was growing up. It was where I learned to speak French, aged six, a lucky chance which has enriched my life. It’s also the city where I spent my late teenage years, for a while at an international school, and then returning every holiday from boarding school in Brussels . England
And last weekend I was in
, at a celebration party for one of my nearest and dearest, Josine. A wonderful time was had by all, and the next morning we made our way to the rail station and the journey home via the Grand’ Place. The square of seventeenth century guild houses has been re-gilded – appropriately for the occasion! – and gleams newly minted. Brussels
On the corner of “L’Etoile”, The House of the Star, is Horta’s 1899 memorial to Charles Buls, pictured here in a wider view. Buls was a politician and a man of culture, a progressive of his time in that he fought to preserve and restore the dilapidated old buildings of the Grand’ Place, successfully fighting any ideas of redeveloping the site. If that were not sufficient to honour him, Buls was also a prolific author and travel writer.
So, layers of the past then: both the past of the place and my own. It’s always thought-provoking when you return somewhere you know well but haven’t seen for a few years, especially when you then add the memories of a friendship of more than thirty years.
Perhaps I’m too nostalgic but I’m always fascinated by the then and now, and how the two interweave. If I had known then what I know now - how my life would turn out, I mean – I would never have been so worried, quite so determined to push so hard. But then, of course, perhaps it all might have turned out differently…