Chris drove me through the bank holiday monsoon to the Eurostar terminal at Ebbsfleet for my 8.00 train to Brussels for the V-ICT-OR "International Congress" incorporating the annual LOLA meeting.\nAfter recent unproductive car journeys to Socitm meetings, it was good to be able to get some work done during the brief trip \u2013 which was no longer than my daily commute into London!\nI was met at the Brussels terminus by Louis Massage, who drove me to the conference hotel at Aalst. I say "conference hotel", but it turns-out only the international guests stay there; as Belgium is a small country, the local delegates commute daily to the venue.\n"Miss Belgian Beauty 2009" pageant was taking place at the hotel, so there were welcome distractions for the international al visitors. However the weather wasn't good, so I was content to stay in my hotel room and catch-up on correspondence until Peter Ryder turned-up \u2013 about 3.00pm \u2013 and we adjourned to a local bar. Well \u2013 it was a holiday at home!\nDuring the afternoon, we were joined by colleagues from Sweden \u2013 Annette and Christian, who were now "old friends", Mike Manson \u2013 who had been enjoying an extended holiday with his family in Europe since the Kommits conference, Canada, the US and, of course, Belgium.\nMuch of this event is dedicated to the launch of LOLA \u2013 the association of local government societies from the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland and Sweden. The first meeting, from 5 until 7.30 pm, mainly concerned development of its web-site.\nTo be honest, I've always been sceptical about the benefits of international co-operation, study tours etc, so a big part of my agenda on this trip is to challenge the assumption that "LOLA" is worth pursuing. The initial LOLA web-site is fairly basic, so I'm keen to consider how we can make it more engaging through the use of RSS feeds and collaboration software.\nA New Zealand supplier has offered to finance a survey on unified communications in the LOLA countries. I am supportive only if it is undertaken to enable a gap analysis to identify what must be done to achieve an agreed vision of what we understand by "unified communications".\nOf much greater interest, I thought, was another New Zealand proposal \u2013 to develop and pilot a "Personal Learning Assistant" \u2013 software that "learns" individuals' preferred work-styles, and assists them by predicting web searches and prompting with relevant facts, whilst maintaining a "knowledge bank".\nAfter dinner and a few drinks at the hotel, we again adjourned to a local bar. Guess which 70s hit by the Kinks was requested (repeatedly!)?