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  • Last year I married a Belgian professor. (I felt like Charlotte Bronte...) He's Flemish, but I met him in France. I speak French, and so does he, and his English is impeccable. Also, I'd lived in Brussels for four years when my son was a baby. I knew about Belgium... so I thought it would be straightforward....

    It isn't. The Flemish don't/won't speak French, and though many of them speak English, you can't assume it is the case (as you can with the Dutch, for instance).

    For various reasons, some of them medical, I ended up spending months and months in Flanders, my poor brain struggling to make sense of this language which sounded a bit like English and a bit like German (of which I have a smattering), but which had a hideously convoluted grammar of its own.

    I need to learn some Dutch, I think (not least because I have two rumbustious step-grandsons who are trying to teach me to sing Bob de Bouwe - Bob the Builder). But so far I still feel like this sign. I'm wandeling in the polder.
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