The Septuagenarian Hobbit

Recently, I discovered my inner Hobbit. And no I don’t mean I found I have leathery feet with hair on top.

I am planning a trip to Brussels in December to stay with my brother. Blake congratulated me, saying it would be an adventure and I heard myself replying that I don’t want an adventure. Hobbits are notorious for their love of home. They want to enjoy their second breakfast in front of their own hearth, not go wandering over the earth on quests.

Don’t ask me how my brother, Rob, enticed me to go. He did hold out the promise of my own little apartment at the top of his house where the pigeon loft used to be. The first floor used to be a bakery and still has the wide Dutch door through which the loaves were sold. And so I was seduced.

There was a time when I set off gleefully for long summers on the road. Through Belgium, France and Corsica with side trips into Italy and Greece. In a tiny Fiat. Staying in “Clean but comfortable”, one star hotels.  Laughing at getting locked out and struggling through wet laundry lines to get in the kitchen door. Amused by the timed hall lights that left you in pitch darkness half way to the toilet. Undaunted by not understanding the language.

Now I am daunted.

As I recall Belgian cuisine, while outstanding, relies heavily on bread and frites. I haven’t eaten either for some time. My brother is a vegetarian of the fish persuasion.  Christmas dinner, (served on Christmas Eve) will be a huge fish stew perhaps or a steamed Irish salmon. I am ill-adapted to fishy feasts, living as I do far from the sea. Okay, I have those recipes buried somewhere in my memory or in that bottom drawer of the buffet. I’ll just have to go with a complete gastro shake-up. Years ago, I went on a family trip to Maui with the same sort of reservations about hotel food, but the astonishing thing was that the laughter at every meal rendered my digestion better than it had ever been.

But with some things I won’t take chances. My buckwheat pillow is going with me in my carry-on.