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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Some quiet days at the coast

After returning from Liverpool, we decided to spend the rest of the vacation at the coast. The coast always has something to offer, winter, summer, autumn or spring. Of course, now it's more quiet here than in the summer season, but it isn't dead at all.

I remember when we were younger, when you visited a place at the coast then, you didn't see a living soul. But now more and more people have a second home at the seaside and they like to spend their weekends there as much as possible.

I've always loved the coast. It's peaceful here. At home we live near the railroad and a busy street where sometimes you can't cross the street because of the heavy traffic. Here you only hear the tram from far and the calling of seagulls.


The weather was not bad either. We saw the sun regularly and that's always nice. We made walks along the seafront, did some shopping (!) and went out dining on our last evening here. Later today we go back home because my sister has to start work again. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Back from Liverpool

We spent the last few days in Liverpool, UK. Originally, we planned this trip because we wanted to attend a meet-and-greet with Michael Bolton, but a few days ago we got news the event was cancelled.

Having booked our Eurostar and Virgin trains tickets however, plus made a reservation for a hotel, we decided to go anyway. However you look at it, it's some days away from home!

And we were lucky with the weather. We arrived in Liverpool with hail and sleet, but the following day was quite sunny although windy.

As I've already written in my travel blog, there is enough to see in Liverpool. Beatles fans can do the Beatle experience, and there are some good musea too. There's a Tate Modern, a slavery museum, one about the history, ... You can make nice walks around the waterfront as well.


For those who love shows, there's the Empire Theatre, where most major companies will tour for a couple of weeks or even a few days.

And then there's the shopping! Liverpool One is one of the biggest shopping places we've seen already, and if you can't find it there, you won't find it anywhere. Of course we ended up with more luggage than we left home!


An additional touch was that it was Valentine's weekend, so everything was decorated with pink hearts and flowers.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good news

Yesterday, I've spent most of the daytime at our local hospital (which is really a very good one) to have my 3-monthly-check-up. This needs to be done when you are being treated for cancer. Amongst others, I had a scan of the lower body to see how the metastasis were doing. Also blood tests, of course.

Around two pm the oncologist came to see me (yes, they do that here, they're very friendly) and told me the results were fine. The little dots on my lungs are disappearing and the lump at my pancreas has certainly not increased in size, is even changing color (which I assume must be positive). So I can keep on with the lower dosis of the medication - and as it is, it seems that since a couple of days the side-effects of this medication are less intense. My feet have been hurting like hell for a long time, but since last weekend I can walk once more. Hopefully it stays this way!

Well, we left the hospital feeling good.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Flight to the sun

Next Saturday schools will close for a week, because of carnival (although they name this vacation: Crocus Break...). Brussels airport expects at least 180,000 passengers who'll want to leave for sunnier parts during this break.

When I was a couple of years younger, I couln't imagine spending a sunny vacation in winter, because I loved to go skiing (and not only in Europe). But now we don't ski anymore (my sister had an accident about 10 years ago, she fell while skiing and was out of consciousness for a rather long time - the doctors still don't know what caused this) I like the sun more and more.

We won't be seeking the sun during the coming break, but 6 weeks later, we'll head to the United Arab Emirates. It will be warm enough there! And during the Christmas holidays, we'll be in Mexico where the climate will also be a lot better than in Europe.

Loving sunshine doesn't mean we'll just sit at the pool and do nothing but soaking and having drinks from the bar! No, even when it's hot we like to wander around, exploring the neighborhood and seeing more of the place you are visiting. Only afterwards, we take a plunge and spend half an hour drying up. That's more than enough, we're not the sort of tourist who puts down his towel to secure a resting place near the pool.

And what about you?


Monday, February 5, 2018

Havana Blues

Please welcome David Pereda today. Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Blurb Blitz Tour for Havana Blues, a Historical Coming-of-Age novel available now from Custom Book Publications. The tour will run February 5 - March 2.


David Pereda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2590

Blurb

The year is 1952 and Ramon Rodriguez’s life as a teenager in fun-loving Havana is filled with typical activities and concerns: girls, education, religion, baseball, parties, and hanging out with friends. The country is enjoying a period of prosperity and happiness--until General Batista stages a coup that topples the government and Ramon’s life is flung into chaos. 

In a few short years, the carefree fifties morph into a vicious and repressive dictatorship highlighted by corruption, organized gambling, school closures, student demonstrations, police brutality, and assassinations. 

As Ramon experiences the thrills of his first romantic relationship, graduates from school, and struggles to plan for an uncertain future, he is forced to make important decisions that may be dangerous to him, his family, his friends, and his girlfriend – the beautiful Sonia -- and could turn deadly.




Excerpt

My room was on fire. Orange tongues licked the crumbling walls and snaked across the burning floor toward my bed. Thick gray smoke choked me. My ears throbbed with an insistent and reverberating sound.

I couldn’t breathe.

I gasped for air. My palms felt sweaty, and my heart thrashed against my rib cage, as if trying to escape my chest. I opened my eyes.
For a moment, I was in a bright and silent void – then I heard my parents arguing in the kitchen.

It was a hot and sunny morning. I had been dreaming of hell again, and the alarm clock was ringing.

I shut it off.

Ever since Brother Santiago had given in Religion class a week ago a vivid and realistic description of hell as punishment for masturbation and having sex with prostitutes, I’d had the same dream over and over. Amid much commotion and speculation, Pacheco, the frail student with a perennially runny nose who sat behind me in class, fainted and had to be carted off to the school infirmary, pale and limp like a noodle in won ton soup. Everyone in class knew Pacheco was an assiduous masturbator – he bragged about it to other students often enough – but his blackout generated great speculation in the school about his frequent visits to brothels. I wondered what kind of nightmares Pacheco was having.

On second thought, I really didn’t want to know. I had enough with my own nightmares of hell.

I stretched lazily in bed. Today was a special day. It was my birthday. I was fifteen years old.

A door slammed somewhere, and once more I was aware of my parents’ angry voices in the kitchen. I likened their arguments to a sort of word symphony, the sound of their voices harmonized so well. My mother’s shrill, piercing sting was a nearly perfect complement to my father’s placating hum.

Though I couldn’t hear them clearly, I guessed what they were arguing about – money. Ever since Papa’s broom-making business started going bad, it seemed money was all they ever talked about.

Author bio and links

David Pereda was born in Havana, Cuba. The award-winning author of seven previous novels, he enjoys crafting political thrillers and edgy mainstream novels with unique characters placed in exotic settings. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.
A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events. 
http://davidpereda.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Pereda-Writer/345490998614
https://twitter.com/DavidPeredaAVL


Buy links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Havana-Blues-David-Pereda-ebook/dp/B078KLQNL9
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/havana-blues-david-pereda/112742180

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Chile con carne

Ever since we tried this dish, we've been fond of it! So nowadays we like to make our own batch of chile and then freeze it in in portions for use later on.


H.ere's a pic of the ingredients; As you can see, you need quite a lot - and also lots of time to prepare!

First of all, you put olive oil in a big (and I mean really big) pot and heat it up. Then add the cubes of smoked bacon and let them fry a bit. Fish them out of the pot and put the ground meat in it. Then add the slices of steak. Once they're done a bit, take them out and put fresh oil into the pot.

Then fry your onions. After a while, add the white wine. Then add the bacon and meat and half of the spices. Let it boil softly for about 20 minutes.

Finally, you add chicken stock and tomato coulis, red beans and beer. The chile needs another 45 minutes to be ready - and of course, it's at it best when you make it the day before and let it rest a while.

We use to eat it like a snack, not as our main meal. It's nice with a bit of ciabatta. Perhaps not quite Mexican, but that is how we like it!


Friday, February 2, 2018

Some books really have it!

As the current weather is not inviting to go outside, I'm glad I'm comfortably on my sofa reading one of the best books in ages!

I'm talking about Beware the Past by Joy Ellis, a British author of crime fiction. Unknown to me, before Amazon kindly presented it to me. The summary of that book seemed promising, so I bought it. And wow, what a book! I'm already through 4/5 of the novel and still haven't got a clue of to who or why.


The plot centers around DCI Matt Ballard, who is stationed in a place called Fenfleet, somewhere in Lincolnshire's marshland. As a young police-officeer he witnessed a bout of serial killings of young boys aged 11. Now he's the only one from the old team still around. And someone seems to know a lot about Matt... Another 11-year-old boy is found murdered and another disappears. And Matt gets strange pictures that play around with his sanity. The murderer clearly knows what happened all through Matt's career and is also well aware of his personal life.

I'm hoping to finish the book today as I can barely restrict myself from peeping at the last page to see how it ends!