A very Belgian tradition!
It’s just not English!
Every year, usually the first weekend of September, my little quartier of Ixelles has its braderie. It is an opportunity to open your door and pile all your tat on the footpath in the hope of selling it. Like I say – just not English!
For the first 3 or 4 years I was having none of it. Oh no! I would never, ever pile my personal rubbish on the pavement and invite the scrutiny of the neighbours. Just not English! I was very happy, however, to seize the opportunity to chuck out all my rubbish at the end of the day when the bin men did a late tour to clean the streets with no questions asked. Just pile it up and watch them take it away.
Then, something changed. I “got over” my very English reserve. About 4 years ago we bought the pitch outside our house and set up shop. Wow – it was easy, it was fun, it was sociable ……. and it was profitable!
It’s amazing who you meet on your doorstep; friends, neighbours and colleagues trooped past our front door. Initially I panicked – I didn’t want to share my guilty secrets, or my knackered napkins, with people I knew (is that a bit English – to find strangers more comfortable than the people we know?) but, gradually, I relaxed into it – and made some money.
These days it’s a real event on our calendar. It’s an opportunity to meet the neighbours, to be part of the community, to clear the cellar and to make enough money to enjoy a pizza at the end of the road!