How I met my partner: Brussels job move led to romance for Ailsa and Agnes

Twenty years on from when they met, Ailsa and Agnes recall how their summer romance blossomed into a an 'extraordinary journey'. 
How I met my partner: Brussels job move led to romance for Ailsa and Agnes

Ailsa Spindler had just moved to Belgium for work when she met Agnes Boes-Spindler volunteering at an LGBTQ+ community centre.

A summer romance that never ended — Ailsa Spindler had just moved to Belgium for work when she met Agnes Boes-Spindler volunteering at an LGBTQ+ community centre.

It was July 2002 and Ailsa was taking up the post of executive director of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe in Brussels.

Ailsa Spindler had just moved to Belgium for work when she met Agnes Boes-Spindler volunteering at an LGBTQ+ community centre.
Ailsa Spindler had just moved to Belgium for work when she met Agnes Boes-Spindler volunteering at an LGBTQ+ community centre.

Ailsa said that, as part of that role, she felt she should get to know the local LGBT scene.

“I arranged to visit the Rainbow House centre. It was a hot Sunday afternoon, and as I arrived at the building, I couldn’t help but notice a tall, beautiful woman who was painting a table in the sunshine.

“I was shown around the centre and introduced to several people, but when I left, I still had not been introduced to the ‘painter’. I asked my host for an introduction.”

Engrossed in her work, Agnes didn’t notice Ailsa until they were introduced.

“I saw someone go into the Rainbow House and a bit later someone brought this person to me and introduced her as Ailsa, who had just moved from Scotland to Brussels to take up a new job as executive director of ILGA Europe.

“We chatted outside and I invited her to come to one of the bar evenings for lesbians at the Rainbow House. As I did not know the dates by heart, I asked her for her email address.”

Agnes and Ailsa. Agnes said that evening was the moment she realised there was potentially something special between the pair.
Agnes and Ailsa. Agnes said that evening was the moment she realised there was potentially something special between the pair.

Ailsa said she made a few flirtatious comments before heading off for dinner.

“I didn’t know Brussels at all at that point, so we could have gone anywhere for dinner, but actually we stayed in the area near the Rainbow House.

“Later that evening, my colleagues and I were enjoying a post-dinner drink at a nearby hotel when, to my delight, I saw the beautiful woman – who I now knew as Agnes — again.

“She was enjoying a drink while people-watching on her favourite terrace. I couldn’t resist a bit more flirtatious banter but didn’t think it would lead to anything.”

While Ailsa was just having fun, Agnes said that evening was the moment she realised there was potentially something special between the pair.

“After my volunteering, I went to have a cup of tea at the iconic, baroque Metropole café, such a lovely place to sit outside or inside and just chill and watch the world go by. When I left, I couldn’t help but notice that Ailsa and some of her new work colleagues were also having a drink outside. I was not close to them. I looked at her and waved, she saw me too and shouted something and at that moment something happened between us, it was physical and non-physical at the same time. That was the moment we really ‘met’.”

Of course, the path of true love never runs smooth and there were some initial hiccups upsetting the natural attraction, according to Ailsa.

“A few days later, Agnes invited me for a drink, but I couldn’t make it (for a very genuine reason, I had to go back to Scotland to sell my apartment there). Agnes could have taken this as a brush-off and decided that I wasn’t interested.”

Agnes and Ailsa. Agnes said that evening was the moment she realised there was potentially something special between the pair.
Agnes and Ailsa. Agnes said that evening was the moment she realised there was potentially something special between the pair.

All seemed lost in terms of romance until the local media stepped in to save the day.

“Fortunately for me, a couple of weeks later Agnes saw a profile piece about me in the ILGA magazine and decided to try one more time.

“After a rather frantic exchange of e-mails, we met a couple of days later, for a dinner date…... and we have been happily together ever since.”

Agnes said: “Twenty years later, 11 married years later, having gone through ups and downs, difficult and very happy times… here we are: still together, still growing as individuals and as a team, still growing in love…what an extraordinary journey.”

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