Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

I'd like to take the opportunity to widh everyone who reads this blog all the best for 2016.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

1000 Classics

It's a yearly tradtion. Radio 2, the biggest radio station in Belgium has been airing the top-1000 of the classics (songs older than 5 years) during this week.

Tomorrow we'll hear which song made it to number One. Will it be Elvis again, with Suspicious Mind, or will Queen regain its place with Bohemian Rhapsody?

The listeners can vote online. First they can choose the songs that will make the top-1000, afterwards they'll choose once more for the last 100 songs.

This is a nice way to end a year. We'll be staying in tomorrow, to miss nothing. Afterwards, of course, we'll go out for a good dinner with friends and celebrate the new year together.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What will 2016 bring us?

With a renewed terrorist threat for Brussels, 2015 doesn't end very well. So much has happened - the many nature disasters, the continuous stream of fugitives to Europe, the terrorist attacks on Paris....

So you can wonder what the new year will bring. More taxes, that's for sure. Our nice government decided to raise a tax on the use of electricity, above all the rises in price already for 2016. Some families will have to pay 800€ extra just for the tax! We Belgians are really top of the ranking in what concerns paying taxes. Half of what we earn goes back to the state.

Another certainty is that there will be more work for teachers, with all the fugitives having to learn the languages of the country. As they say, one's death is another one's bread...

And what will our climate do? Will it snow at Easter or in July? Or are we in for a heatwave in April?We'll see.

What is already concrete are the trips we have booked for the coming year. We'll be going to Dublin, London, Venice and Stockholm + Visby already, and we haven't made plans for autumn and winter. (No, we are already thinking of the summer of 2017, considering a trip to the Azores.)

What do you hope for?

Monday, December 28, 2015

The weather is playing havoc

What kind of weather are we having? Here in Belgium it's way too warm for the time of year (likewise in New York). During the past weekend, it felt like we had Easter holidays instead of Christmas holidays!

While we are enjoying high temperatures, people in the north of England are drowning in rain and big territories are flooded.

And in the midwest of the States, hurricanes destroyed hundreds of houses

While in California there are already big fires spreading....

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pics from our trip to Copenhagen

As promised, here are a few pics from our Copenhagen trip.

This is a sight of Nyhavn (new harbor) which is well-known with the tourists. Look at the typical coloring of the houses. Reminds me a bit of Bergen in Norway.

And this is is the Little Mermaid from the tales of Hans Christian Andersen. She looks a  bit lonely, doesn't she?

This is for those who love Shakespeare. We are seeing Kronborg palace in Helsingör (or Elsinore in 'Hamlet'). There is a Hamlet experience for those who want to. Helsingör is about 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Back from Denmark - and Merry Christmas!

Hi there folks! We've just returned from a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. (I'll be posting some pics later on.)

Originally we wanted to go to Tallinn, Estland around this time, but some months ago we received word from the airline that our flight was cancelled. We got a choice to either book another flight, or get our money back. Because the other flights didn't suit, we decided to cancel the hotel as well and ask our money back. Just as well, because a few weeks later Estonian Air was in failure.

So we had to decide on another destination and the choice fell on Copenhagen. One of our friends used to live there and always said how nice it was. And really, it's a great city. Not very big, easy to walk about, with lots of things to do and many good restaurants.

We had a good time there. As it was near Christmas, there were also many Christmas markets and singing in the streets. Cozy!

Right now we are preparing for Christmas Eve (my sister's birthday) so I won't take too long. I want to wish everyone who reads my blog a joyful Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Finding the perfect present

It's not always easy to find THE perfect present for someone you love. Just watch the second-hand sites in a week or so - full of presents that were not to the liking...

So here's what I usually do when I want to surprise my sister (she's the only one left). Throughout the year, I listen carefully to what she says. When she mentions she needs something and cannot buy it at the moment, then I know this could be a great gift.

Another thing you can do is to know what the person likes - or not. A person who doesn't like cooking doesn't need another machine to help in the kitchen. Or someone who doesn't read has no need for an e-reader.

The better you know the person you want to surprise, the better you'll be able to find the correct present. Like the one I'm giving my sister shortly. I know she doesn't expect it, so the surprise will be much the bigger and I'm sure she'll love it.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Here comes spring!

Can you believe it? Today the temperature rose to 16°Celsius - which we often don't have in spring (or even summer)!

Birds are brooding already and flowers are showing. Crazy weather... is all this due to climate changes or is it just a coincidence?

I don't know the answer. But I quite enjoy the temperatures and - to be honest - my budget will be thankful too. We don't have put on the heating like we do when it's really cold, and that saves a lot of money.

Shopkeeper, on the other hand, are not so happy. They don't sell as much goods for winter than usually.

Alas, it can't be ok for everyone, right?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Give in to your sweet tooth

These are hard times when you're on a diet! When you enter a shop or supermarket nowadays, you'll be buried by everything that is sweet and contains lots of sugar & chocolate! It's pretty busy as well, as if everyone is already buying what they need to prepare the Christmas meal.

Although we need to be careful with our intake of sugar (well, I had a good report - had my blood tested last Monday - sugar level was down) so we can indulge just a little. Our doctor always says you have to be able to spoil yourself a bit, as long as you don't overdo.

So we'll have a sweet dessert for Christmas. I don't know what yet, we'll see when we go shopping on December 24th. We'll go in the morning, then it's not too busy yet.

Perhaps some chocolates with the coffee, or a slice of Buche de Noel.... What would you prefer?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Preparing a surprise

Do you also know the feeling? If you want to want to make someone a special gift, and it has to remain a secret until then? It gives you just as much pleasure of making the preparations than it is to he one who will be surprised!

My sister thinks I've forgotten about her birthday. I mean, she knows I won't forget the date, but she doesn't expect a present. But she's in for a surprise... and it might even be a bigger one than we can imagine!

How do you feel about giving presents and preparing surprises???

Monday, December 14, 2015

Just found my dreamhouse...

I don't know about you guys, but I like to browse the sites that offer realty for sale. Not that I'm planning on buying another place soon, but hey, you can wish!

Only yesterday I came across THE place I'd like to own: a penthouse apartment right in the historical center of Dendermonde, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a big open living room and a wonderful kitchen. Plus two terraces facing the Great Market.

The cost? Well, they ask 690,000 Euro. If I had the money, I wouldn't think twice. So planning on playing Euromillions tomorrow, where there will be about 70 million to win. If ever I could be that lucky...

But I'm not born to win a lottery. My luck lies elsewhere (for which I'm grateful) - I've survived two situations already that could be life-threatening. I've been in dire circumstances, and before things got too bad, my lucky angel intervened and it went upward again.

In which aspect are you lucky?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The two longest-living musicals of all times

Due to the rain, which fell all day, we didn't go to the Christmas market this afternoon. Instead we watched Les Mis on DVD.

Les Misérables, along with Phantom of the Opera, are without doubt those musicals which will be remembered througout the ages. Both are practically running for 30 years (Les Mis in 2016, Phantom in 2017) and still have full theaters.

I don't know what the magic of those two is, but I do know that I love both of them. So this afternoon we enjoyed a prime performance. It's not like in the theater itself but good enough. We've seen Les Mis a couple of times in the theatre (London and New York) and have the DVD of 10 years Les Mis and 25 years Les Mis, also the recent film version. Personally, I think the 10 years version is the best, with great voices of Colm Wilkinson, Ruthie Henshall, Lea Salonga and Michael Ball. Btw, we have seen those artists already live and were also able to share some words with them at the stage door.

Still, my absolute favorite is Phantom. We have seen this musical in theaters in London, New York, Scheveningen (Holland), Antwerp (Belgium) - AND we were present at the live performance in the Royal Albert Hall of 25 years Phantom. That day, Sierra Boggess got a 20-minute applause for singing "Wishing you were somehow here again". The poor girl could not grasp it, and fell to her knees on stage... so endearing! Sierra and Ramin are just the best couple for Christine and Phantom.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Getting in the mood for Christmas

Now that Saint Nicholas has disappeared out of town (December 6th) the town center is shaping up for Christmas. Btw, Nicholas (or Nicolaus) is a saint who comes to bring presents for those children who were good during the past year; a tradition in parts of Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Tomorrow we'll have the annual Christmas Market in town, as well as an opening of all shops on Sunday. As they don't predict bad weather, it will get pretty crowded, I think. Lots of stalls where you can buy hot drinks and food and of course also Christmas decorations.

Of course, for the real Christmas markets you'll have to go to Germany. When I used to live there, I always went to Cologne or Düsseldorf to  see the Christmas markets, and later on I also visited the one in Aachen.

There is no snow, unfortunately. It's been extremely mild in our parts, with temperatures around 12-13 degrees Celsius. A real Christmas market should have some snow....

Friday, December 11, 2015

Trying to live on 5€ a day

Some time ago, volunteeers were asked to try and live one week off a budget of 5€ a day... This to 'feel' how the poor must live in our country. 

More than 10 % of the population lives below the poverty mark. Some forms of support (OCMW help, some pensions for the elderly) are way below what you need to get around. Go figure, if you have 800 € or less a month, how do you cope? You have to pay rent, electricity and heating, buy food, ... and these are only the basics. Most of the time, the money would not suffice to pay for the above mentioned.

So a group of people tried to get around with those 5 € a day. One of them, being interviewed on radio, told the listeners he had not been able to eat for two days in a row (only surviving on water) and even ate the crust around the cheese.

Being poor is a terrible thing. Especially the kids suffers from it. When the parents are poor, chances are that the children will be poor as well.

My dad came from such a family. They didn't have a nail to scratch their behind. Mum and Dad were out of work and drank. So he, being the eldest, had the courage to go out and find a job, so he could buy food for the little ones that depended on him. When the sister following in age was a bit older, she too looked for a sewing job. Three of the kids - out of eight - made it out of poverty. My dad got a good job at the railways and always sought to improve himself, one sister became a modiste and earned good money, while the other married a good boy and they first began a small shop and later on increased on it. All three of them had the will to make it. I still admire them for it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Buffalo, buffalo!

Yesterday  night, AA Gent (a first class soccer team, residing in Ghent - East Flanders' main seat) surprised friend and enemy by placing itself for the 1/8 finals of the Champions League. Next time they'll play against Barcelona, Chelsea or Bayern München.

For years this was a rather unimportant club. But since the arrival of coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck they are playing very well and became champion of the first league in 2015. They play in blue and white and they are called 'the Buffalo's' by their supporters. When playing, the crowd go "Buffalo, Buffalo!"

But where does this name come from? Two possible theories are carried:

1) This is the first explanation. During the Olympic Games of 1920 in Antwerp, a couple of soccer players from Ghent were present. They were surprised of how the Americans cheered at their athletes, so they thought of the name 'Buffalo' for their own supporters to cheer when they were playing.

2) Another explanation goes back to Buffalo Bill. His Wild West show came twice to Ghent. The trailers of the group would have stood in the neighborhood of the Otten Stadium (where AA Gent plays, and which is now the Ghelamco Arena). In the 1906 show Bill Cody used a large herd of buffalo and the public was very much impressed by it. They had never seen such large animals. Further, Cody's riders did a sort of soccer match on horseback.

I suppose we'll never know which is the right explanation. But the Buffalo's are doing great, no doubt!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Event tickets - maffia?

Have you ever tried to buy tickets for a first-class concert of your favorite artist? I bet you have. And how easy was it to get those tickets???

Selling tickets for hot concerts has become big business. Live Nation owns Ticketmaster, which owns several companies that'll re-sell those tickets for a (very) high price.

For next year, several artists have announced a concert in Belgium: Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Adele,... to name a few.

Those tickets went officially online on a certain day from 10 a.m. But if you tried to buy tickets at sharply 10 a.m. all the good tickets were already sold, figure that.

Of course, now you'll be able to buy them from a second party (which is illegal in Belgium, but they'll find a way around that). Instead of paying 76 € for the best seats you can pay 100, 200 - even going up to 2,999 for the Adele concert!

We had to do the same when we wanted to see Barry Gibb in Birmingham (UK). We could not get tickets from the official site (at 76 £), so we bought them via another site owned by Ticketmaster. They cost us an average of 200 £, but we did not mind that because they were really good seats in front of the stage.

But 3,000 € would be a bit too much for me!

Our government wants to do something this illegal selling of tickets. It's no use we have rules when other countries permit selling through tickets.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Euthanasia: forbidden for those who suffer mentally?

Belgium is one of the countries which allows euthanasia, if the one requesting it suffers from 'unbearable pains'.

Personally, I can imagine you are looking forward to the end of your pains when you suffer from a disease which tortures your already wretched body - and you know the end will come sooner or later. I also think you have the right to decide this for yourself.

But right now, a group of doctors are asking the government to revise the law allowing euthanasia. They want to forbid it for those who suffer from psychological pains. Specialists claim that a psychological disease troubles the thinking - when you are depressed you can't think clearly. So when you ask for the ending of your life, you are also not thinking straight.

Tough question, if you ask me. Who can determine how much pain a person suffers? There will be those who also suffer mentally. I can't imagine it because I have a nature that always looks for the positive, even in negative situations. But there are others.

I'm wondering how the government will decide.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Extreme right wins in France

Yesterday there were elections in France. And does it surprise you to learn that extreme-right has won greatly? Marine Le Pen won the biggest part of the votes, especially in the regions north and south.

This is no wonder if you look at history. Europeans have a deep distrust of everything that is not their own. Throughout history, certain groups were visualised because they had another color or another faith. Look at what happened to the Jews and the gypsies throughout times.

When things go bad - economically and in society - we look at the odd duck out.

Right now, when none of the European governments is effectively dealing with the fugitive crisis, extreme right will gain more and more support. Why? Because they promise to 'deal' with the fugitives, who are seen as taking what is actually due to others. They will need support in finding a home, finding a job, getting an education, ... Funds that could better be spent on needy people from the own country, says extreme right.

When the current situation continues for a longer time, I foresee an escalation of anger towards strangers. It could lead to deportation and worse....The Germans living in Hitler's time also did not think they did anything wrong!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Boy, those were 2 days never to forget! You only realize how much you depend on everything when you are missing it...

Yesterday afternoon we went to pick up a new B-box (for the internet/tv connection) because the old one failed. No problem, we got it and brought it back home. We also connected it to our TV correctly. Everything seemed to be working fine - for just one hour! Then suddenly we neither had TV-connection or internet.

Followed endless phonecalls to Proximus (which took about one hour each) where nobody seemed able to help us. Called back this morning.

By noon we had internet again. Still no TV, as the decoder is also in failure. This one has to be switched as well.

Just so lucky to have the tablet with me so we can at least watch some TV programs via the tablet (thanks to Stievie, a provider via internet).

So this was the reason I couldn't write my blog. Sorry, guys!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Long weekend

Having a hard-working person in the house can  be quite pleasant at times... Doing a lot of overtime means you can get days off when you want. So we were able to come to the seaside yesterday noon and only need to return next Monday.

The sun is out today and it looks to be a beautiful day. We'll go for a walk of course, and then we need to go to the hairdresser's as we're dining out in a 2-star (Michelin guide) restaurant. We know it's chef and owner since he was a little boy who rode a pony.

And then we also have the two days of the weekend. They predict dry weather for tomorrow, though there will be some wind. Only for Sunday they predict a bit of rain.

The weather is quite nice for December - with temperatures around 12°Celsius, it's actually warmen than we should be having - but hey, who's complaining?

And how's the weather where you are living?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The perfect gift for Christmas

Being Flemish, I speak more than one language. (This has grown out of necessity, as our poor country was occupied by many another one - France, Germany, Austria, Spain, ...)

I regularly watch BBC tv or the German channels. I've lived in Germany for four years when I was in my twenties and want to keep up speaking that language. So I sometimes visit a German forum for book lovers, Was Liest Du.

There was an article about a great gift for Christmas. It was about writing a sort of history of your life. Kids could do it, and then hand it on to their  parents (who could fill in many of the gaps left) - and perhaps later on pass it on to their children.

Well, I don't have kids, but I have been keeping a diary since I was 14. You can make the count, as I'm now 59... It keeps track of all the important things in my life (many of which I've forgotten) and makes a great read when you're feeling down. You'll discover there were days long ago when it was even worse!

I don't know who will read my diaries later on. I hope to live on for some time longer (well, I live in hope as I just learned that one of the pills I'm taking lenghtens your life!) but there's only my sister and I. I don't know if there is an organisation which will accept people's diaries. I gave away my original Barbie collection (dolls and clothes) from the 50's and 60's to the Toy Museum in Mechelen. They were thrilled and I'm happy that many others will be able to see those toys.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Poor King Tut

This morning, I read an interesting fact in my newspaper - well, it was interesting to me, as I love history and antiquity.

It was about the Egyption pharaoh Tutanchamon (king Tut). You have to conclude he was a poor bugger. Not only was he probably murdered, but he was burried second-hand.

The world famous death mask was not originally made for him, but for his stepmother, Queen Nefertiti... His name was written aboven Nefertiti's one. And also in the burial room were lots of objects belonging to other members of the royal family.

Proves that riches don't always bring happiness!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Saving the climate... starts at home

Today the Climate Conference in Paris opened. Big talk and even bigger problems to face...

So, when you really are concerned with our environment and the climate, I think there is a lot you can do yourself. When everyone would do his/her best, the problems would be less.

What can you do? Well, for starters you can put the thermostat of your heating system some degrees lower. That way you use less energy. We put our thermostat on 20 degrees Celsius. When it is really cold and we are watching televison, we just snuggle up in a plaid.

Instead of taking a bath, you can shower. And it works even better if you don't shower longer than 5 minutes. I always turn off the water when I soap in or shampoo my hair. The same goes for brushing my teeth. I never let the water run while I'm busy.

Eating vegetarian twice a week also helps. If you don't bake meat, it helps the planet. I don't know about that, but anyway we eat veggie twice a week already. In any case it helps my health! (And the plus of it is that I lose weight.)

A good thing is also to forego a car. We haven't had a car for over 6 years now. We do all our errands on foot or by bike and we use train or bus to get to places.

What are you doing for the climate?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It couldn't be

Just a short note this time, because I'm feeling a bit down. Belgium just lost the Davis Cup Final against Great-Britain. Although Goffin played very well, Murray proved a bit too strong for him (and he had one ace after the other).

And we did not win anything with the lotto this week... more disappontment! (Well, we never win a lot, but mostly we win enough to be able to play again the following week.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Davis Cup Final in Ghent

For those who love tennis, this afternoon started the Davis Cup Final between Belgium and England. Our national number one, David Goffin, is right now playing the opening match against Kyle Edmund. It's 2-2 so it will be quite thrilling.

Of course the British have Andy Murray. But we know that the boys in our team can work very well together and often do better than they're supposed to be. And of course they are playing on gravel, which is their favorite ground.

So who will win? Flanders Expo is crowded with public to watch these games. Also our King and Queen are present for the opening match.

It was 111 years ago that Belgium has won the Davis Cup, and already 36 years for England (then with the famous Fred Perry), so this is a historical event.

Will keep you guys posted!

Note: Goffin won the first match. Go Belgium!!!!

Saturday afternoon: Double won by Great-Britain, score 2-1 for GB

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What are you thankful for?

For all  my American readers - and those who also celebrate - I want to wish you Happy Thanksgiving!

So, what are you wishing for? As I grow older, I believe more and more that what's important is having a good health and the love and support of those who are close to you. I only have my sister left, and I hope she'll be with me for a long time still.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1000 Classics

On Saturday, the voting for the list of 1000 classics (from the years '60, '70, '80) will open once more - and I'm sure lots of people eagerly are awaiting this. Between Christmas and December 31st, the popular radio station Radio 2 will only be playing records that are in the list. The number one will be played at 6 p.m. on the 31st. 

For a couple of years, Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen has been the number one. Will it keep its position? Or will there be another number one???

If you could choose from all records that were produced and were popular in their time, which ones would you pick for your own Top 5?

Mine would be:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
2. Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Meatloaf
3. Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
4. Memories - Barbra Streisand
5. Hélène - Julien Clercq

Don't hesitate to let me know your list!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A never-ever-ending story

For some years now, I have been trying to finish my next novel, The Black Coach.

When I began, all went well. I got well into the story and the chapters got finished one after the other. And then... something came in-between. I don't recall what exactly it was, but my writing was stalled. When I had time once more, I did not find any inspiration. Total black-out!

A year or so, I began once more. And the same happened. Now I had advanced almost to the last chapters...

So keep my fingers crossed, I've begun to work over the novel for - hopefully - the last time! I hope nothing comes between me and my writing now as I'd like to finish this book once and for all.

By the way, it should be a good story. A bit gothic, a bit of mystery, a love-affair woven in-between. For those who have read my collection of short stories, Face in the Mirror and Other Stories, this is the real story behind the legend of the black coach in the last story of the collection.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How long can this continue?

The government has decided to continue alarm level 4 for Brussels. Today the metro and all schools were kept closed. Lots of buses and trams were not riding as well. Shops and restaurant were closed.

This can't continue, of course. People need to go on with their lives. Like the schools - how can you close schools for several days, especially when the exams are coming up?

And they are still looking for the terrorists.... Don't want to say too much about the work of our police force or the secret agencies....

In the meantime, jokes about Salah already pop up at the social networks. In our language, 'salah' nears 'salade' which is salad...

And Belgium is not a safe country to travel to... It gets better day by day

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Alarm level 4 for Brussels

This morning, we heard on the radio news (yes, I still listen to my radio, daily) that for Brussels the terror alarm was raised from 3 to 4 (the highest level). Apparently, there is a real threat that an attempt will be carried out.

So all the shops, museums, events, sports events had to shut down. The trains of the metro are not riding and the stations are closed for public. Also some trains to and from Brussels are cancelled.

The government asks everybody to be extra-vigilant. I just hope this won't lead to many panic calls to the emergency services, from people who are afraid. And what will happen when someone forgets (and I really mean 'forget') something on a tram or bus?

Makes me think of our last ride on Eurostar, way back in May. Across the aisle a guy sat down, who was carrying a big hold-all. He put this in the racks above. But some time later he stood up and strode out of the carriage. We haven't seen him come back - and the hold-all remained in the rack until we arrived in Brussels... Reason for alarm? Probably not, but I don't think you should try this right now!

Friday, November 20, 2015

How crazy is the weather?

For a long time, it's been way too warm for the time of year. Not so long ago, we were in Hamburg, Germany and the temperatures were like end of August, begin of September. A coat was too warm - hence we both are suffering now from a bad cold!!! We began sneezing and coughing a couple of days after we returned home from our trip. Although we've been taking medicine it's not yet completely cured. Will have to be careful for the days to come...

And right now we're plunging into winter. From one extreme to the other. The weather bureau predicts night frost and snow. That's early, especially for Flanders.

How's the weather where you are living? Please feel free to share.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We shouldn't be afraid

To my astonishment I hear and read that lots of people are cancelling their trips (mostly to France). Also football matches are cancelled or forbidden to be played with public.

Where are we going to? This is just what those people of IS are wanting: for us all to be afraid. They want us to feel threatened, afraid of going out. So what? You can fall of the stairs in your home as well, and break your neck.

I think it's a bad sign of our leaders to go along in this. They for one should show the world  we aim to maintain our rights - our freedom of speech, our freedom of thinking. Our women can go to school and have a good job. Education plays an important role in enlightment. Those who have studied realize there is more than just the world of a deity (be it God, Allah or Jehovah) and they will know how to show respect for everyone. Because respect has nothing to do with belief. I have respect for everyone (if you are a teacher, that is a must) but I also expect respect from the other side - it's a two-way thing.

So no, I won't be afraid. I'll go on my trips as planned - the only thing that can change those plans is that the airline won't fly or going to this or other country would become forbidden. If I have to die, it will happen. But I'll never die a coward!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We move too little

According to a recent research program, we Belgian move too little. One on two people sits more than 8 hours a day, and apparently most of the people eat before their telly.

That is the main reason why our youth is getting too fat and it sure becomes a problem. Kids come home from school, throw themselves in a chair and either watch TV or play on the computer.

When I was young, we came home from school, made our homework (half an hour!) and went outside, playing. This meant running around a lot, climbing into trees, making rafts to ferry across a river or brook, just name it.

Even now I often move. I do all my shopping either on foot or by bike (even the heavy stuff) and I don't know how many times I run up all the stairs in my home to the attic room where I do my ironing and drying of the washing.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Agent A.X.L. Pendergast

Have you ever read a novel by Preston & Child? More especially, the ones in which FBI Special Agent plays the main role?

Well, if you  haven't I can certainly recommend these novels. It all starts within the Museum of Natural History, where one of the local scientists finds a  special creature in its cellars (Relic). This is followed by Reliquary, The Cabinet of Curiosities, Still Life With Crows, Brimstone, Dance of Death, The Book of the Dead, The Wheel of Darkness, Cemetery Dance, Fever Dream, Cold Vengeance, Two Graves, White Fire, Blue Labyrinth, with The Crimson Tide being the latest installment.

In each book characters are introduced, but many are returning. Like archeologist Nora Kelly who falls in love with reporter William Smithback. Or researcher Margo Green and NYPD lieutenant Vincent d'Agosta - and not to forget Constance Green, Pendergast's ward...

Once you have read one of these books, you won't be able to not read the others. You'll want to know how the story continues - because there is an ever-continuing thread in the books. See, Pendergast has dark secrets - and a brother who is pure evil.

And Pendergast is quite a special guy. He is very rich, owns among others a mansion in New York, where things are hidden down the immense cellars. He only wears black and was married once.

The authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, know how to get the reader into a trance. Once you begin reading one of their novels, you continue until you reach the last page!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tribute to a hero

Just read this on Facebook, it was posted by author Teresa Medeiros. I'm passing it on because it really is something that should be shared!

We all love our romance heroes and what they stand for and I want to pay tribute to a real-life hero today. Ludovic Boumbas (known as "Ludo" to his friends) was enjoying a birthday celebration for a friend in the cafe in Paris where one of the attacks took place on Friday. When the chaos began, he instinctively threw himself in front of a girl to protect her from the shower of bullets and ended up dying in her place. I've always believed that instinct to protect another human life, especially when a man does it for a woman, is a triumph of the very best in human nature. When something incomprehensibly evil like this happens, our battered hearts can only survive by gazing steadfastly into the opposite direction of sacrificial love. Or as it says in John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terror in France

I suppose all of the well-thinking world will be affected by the vicious terrorist attacks yesterday night in Paris.

Just suppose, you're going to enjoy a concert (as most of us do occasionally), or you sit dining in a restaurant - and a couple of brain-washed imbeciles shoot their Kalashnikovs or let themselves explode.

There are already more than 120 people dead, and 300 wounded, who can possibly die as well. Where is the world going to???

Last week we were talking to a Danish guy, who was worried - just like us - about the state of affairs in Europe. This is not going well and I'm very much afraid it will lead to another world war. Extreme right will have new fuel to attack all that is muslim and even normal-thinking people consider revenge.

I just can't understand how faith can lead to such extremes. I've read the Koran, just like the Bible and the Thora. They are old stories, and should be treated as such. Anyway, if you live according to what's written in them, you live an exemplary life. But it's the interpretation that can lead to excesses. And some ayatollah's have very persuasive powers....

My thoughts go to al those who have lost loved ones last night!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Who's gong to be Sportswoman of the Year?

By the end of this year, the "Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year" will be announced. And like each previous year, it are not those you'd expected.

Last year, Naafi Tian was picked. She won one bronze medal! But others were just passed -  because the sport they practice is not important enough?

For this year, I would nominate either Delfine Persoon (boxing) or Marieke Vervoort (wheelchair racing).

Although severely handicapped and close to death, Marieke can still bring up the courage to fight against her illness and tries to win gold medals in world championships and Paralympic Games. And she does - she won three gold medals shortly after another!

Delfine Persoon works full time as a railway police officer and spends her free time at boxing (lightweights). She does this extremely well: only yesterday she won her third consecutive world champion title in the lightweight category. And even the big boss of the police, Catherine De Bolle, was present at the fight!

Forget the Naafi Tians and others who only perform once or twice - and never when it really counts. Give the cup to those who deserve it!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Speaking English

According to a report of some international organisation, Belgium dropped quite a bit in the list of countries where English is well-spoken.

Well, I'm not surprised. I've been  a teacher for a very long time (almost on pension) and I know from experience that teaching English is not evident. I quite honestly confess I knew no English myself when I finished school. Of course, I had got lessons in English but they really don't teach you anything. What you read in the textbooks is no real English (expressions like 'it's raining cats and dogs'...). And a lot of teacher don't pronounce the language as it should be. There was a piece on the news today, where they went to a class and attented a lesson of English. The teacher could use lessons as well!

I've only learned to write and speak English by first reading books in English, then by watching BBC television and thirdly by spending a lot of time in the UK and the USA. Now I can say I can speak a decent sort of English.

What about where you live? How is it with the knowledge of languages?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Day of Remembrance

Today, 11th November, we remember the end of World War One. As usual, at 11 a.m., the Last Post was blown under the Ieper Gate.

I wasn't there to watch it, but I keep my grandfather's memory in mind. Alfred Urbain (1897-1973) was only a boy of not even 17 when he was called away from military academy to fight in a war so terrible he never spoke about it. He had the command over men who were at least twice his age but who adored their 'little one'.

Granddad was caught by the poisonous gas and was also shot a couple of times. And once more, in 1940, he was fighting another world war. This one he talked about. He told me stories of how he escaped from the POW camp in Germany and went underground in the south of France. He stayed and worked there at a local vineyard - hence his love for a good glass of wine. And when the Germans were losing the war and he returned to Belgium, he hid himself in the cellar of a neighbor. Grandma proudly told us how our mother - aged 13 - could lie to the Gestapo and tell them she hadn't seen her dad in over 3 years. Her boys wouldn't have been able to pull that off.

Yes, I fondly remember my grandparents and my parents. They have all died now, my sister and I are the only ones left. But they still live on in our minds.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

City trip to Hamburg

As promised, I'm going to tell a bit more about our trip to Hamburg today. I'm still not feeling quite well but my mind is in working order!

You could ask why we chose Hamburg as destination? Well, mainly it was because we wanted to see the German version of 'Love Never Dies'. We both love this show and didn't want to leave the chance of seeing it once more.

All in all, Hamburg is not that far off. Only a plain ride of one hour. And not expensive either, as Brussels Airlines offers cheap fares inside the EU (especially when you only take hand luggage). We found a hotel online, and we were set.

Well, we found the town quite pleasing. Enough to see and the distances were not too big. We could walk to any place, and it mostly did not take longer than half an hour. I love town that are walkable. For those who don't like to walk however, I can recommend the InterCity hotel. They offer you a free public transport ticket for the entire duration of your stay.

The muscial - in a theatre quite near to the (in)famous Reeperbahn of Hamburg - was superb. The lead roles of Phantom and Christine were sung by Mathias Edenborn and Rachel Anne Moore. Edenborn is a Swede, who used to be a premier league soccer player before he went to the music academy. And Rachel Anne Moore is American. Normally, it disturbs me when muscial numbers which are originally in English are translated - it is horrible how they do this in Holland and over here in Belgium! But the German version sounded just as believable as the English one. Beautiful texts, well set to the music. A live orchestra with great conductor and the superb singing of all the artists made this a show I'm not likely to forget.

Something I can recommend while visiting Hamburg is a boat trip on the Elbe. There is also the Alster (inside and outside) but that's only a big lake, nothing special (although houses around the Alster are quite expensive). The boat trips on the Elbe are something else. I recommend you go for a small ship, as they are able to navigate the small canals in and around Speicherstadt (for those who don't understand German: warehouse town). The temperature inside these building remains equal despite the climate, which makes them great for storing goods.

Shopping can be done in the area around the Town Hall. All the great shops - and a lot cheaper than in Belgium. I bought a tunic at Gerry Weber's that was 20€ cheaper than the one I saw in a local shop here.

All in all, it was a nice trip. The hotel was ok - we slept undisturbed - and we could spend our days without any problem.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Back from Hamburg

I haven't been writing my blog for a couple of days, as we were on a city trip to Hamburg, Germany.
I'm going to write more about this trip tomorrow, as I'm feeling a bit under the weather right now.

No, I haven't drunk too much (you can't get pissed on German beer) but I think it has mainly to do with the absurd weather we've been having. More than 21° Celsius in November! Two days ago, we could make a boat trip while sitting on the open deck.

I'm feeling terrible cold and the shivers run over my spine. So it will be off to bed soon, with a hot toddy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Gigolo's in high demand

The things you read in the newspaper... This morning, one of the lead articles was one about gigolo's!

Now I don't mind people paying for and having sex (as long as they don't disturb me - the woman in teh flat below ours was up all night having 'roaring' sex). But according to this article it are especially women over 50 who want a gigolo.

I don't know about you guys, but my sister and I are both over 50 - and we never paid a gigolo. All in all, I think sex is over-rated. What more is sex than a physical pleasure? You can just as well go horse riding, or ski down a vertical drop, go to the hairdresser's or sit down to a gourmet diner. I don't need sex to feel good. And I certainly wouldn't want to spend my hard-earned money on paying for it.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fraude with fish

Be aware of what you eat! A resent research project showed that most of the fish which restaurants put on your plate are not what you ordered, but a cheap variety...

Well, cheating is as old as the world itself. As long as humans exist, some of them have been trying to sell lesser wares for the true thing - and rid you of a lot of money.

So, when you order tuna in a restaurant, there is a big chance you'll be getting the cheap yellowfin tuna instead of the bluefin one. Or you get pangasus filet instead of haddock.

There is only one thing you can do: only eat in a reputed fish restaurant, where the chef buys his fish straight from the fishermen - and allows you to see the catch. It may cost some more, but then you'll be sure not be tricked.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Warmest begin of November ever!

All touristic destinations in Belgium are overwhelmed with joy - thanks to the exceptional high temperatures for November (20,7°Celsius yesterday!) they have much more people visiting them.

Yesterday was more than special. It was the 1st of November - the day on which we remember the dead. But the sun was out from early in the morning to sunse, and the temperatures quickly rose to over 20 degrees Celsius. On our roof terrce it was warmer than we experienced during July and August. We could do chores we kept postponing during our so-called 'summer' because there was almost no sunshine and the winds were always high. Now it was the right moment to paint the outer railing of the terrace and dry some washing in the meantime.

It was time for ice-cream cones and rides with the bike. The seafront promenade was as full with tourists as on the top days in summer. And all the terraces were filled with people enjoying a cool drink...

How's the weather where you are living?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick or treat?

Just wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Halloween!

What do you intend to do? Have a party? Here in Belgium Halloween is getting more and more popular. It isn't a custom that originates in these parts, but kids watch American TV and so Halloween has crept into our towns some time ago.

Normally we celebrate 1st November, All Saints. But then Belgium is mainly a catholic country (or used to be).... It's the time when you go and visit the graves of your lost ones - although this custom is slowly disappearing too. We buried the ashes of our mother simply in the garden (which is allowed by law). She always wanted to rest next to her pets (she lived there all her life) Minou and Pluche. So we respected her wish and buried the urn with her ashes there.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A well-deserved holiday coming up

Around this time, schools will be closing until Monday, November 9th. Students and teachers both have deserved a week's holiday after the first long term of 9 weeks.

Never underestimate the job of a teacher. Here in Belgium we are laughed at by the general public, because we 'have too many holidays'. That's all the people see.

Indeed, not only the kids but also the teachers get school holidays. Here in Belgium they are as following: one week of autumn leave, two weeks for Christmas/New Year, one week of holidays in February or early March, two weeks for Easter and then we have a couple of long weekends in May/June. Followed by two months of summer leave.

Looks pretty much, but I can guarantee that a teacher needs this. Because the teaching profession is not just standing in your class, teaching your subject. You need to prepare your lessons (can take a while when you're a young and inexperienced teacher), you have to make corrections of the work your students deliver, you have to prepare examinations and tests throughout the year, you need to make an evaluation of what EACH student is doing (the paperworks gets heavier year by year). In short, you  have to put EVERTHING on paper to make sure you can't be sued.

Then there is the job uncertainly. Many a young (and also older) teacher will not be able to remain in one school throughtout his/her career. Sometimes you need to do a lot of interim work before you find a place to stay.

And never underestimate the kids. You need to have stamina to deal with them from day to day. Many fail in doing this, so they drop out after one or two years in the profession. You have to have the knack, or you're a basket-case.

So this holiday is well deserved i.m.o.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


A while ago, I heard the music of 'Bolero' on the radio (yes, I still listen to my radio, each day btw) - and the images of the supreme ice-dancing of Torvill & Dean come to mind.

Man, what a performance that was! It was the year of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo: 1884. A long time ago, but then I'm already an old-timer myself (haha).

I'm quite fond of ice-dancing and so I try to see it whenever I can. I don't skate myself (well, have done when I was younger, but not ice-dancing) but the time of the big ice-shows has gone, I'm afraid. When we were kids we could go to Antwerp each winter to see a big ice-show in the Sportpaleis. Last time I saw a good show was two years ago, when we were in Salford (Manchester, UK) to see Robin Cousin's Dancing on Ice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How do you deal with sudden death?

On the risk of sounding too gloomy, I'd like to write a little about the way in which people deal with the sudden departure of a loved one.

I came to the idea when I was browsing a hotel-restaurant site. We're going to dine there next Saturday night. Earlier this year, chef and owner Steve Vandenberghe died while doing a rally in Africa. Not by accident, but because he got a stroke. He left a wife, Anneke, and a young son, Glen.

Now Glen was a rising star in the cookery world. In 2011 he won a major cookery contest (something like Master Chef) and got a contract to work for Peter Goossens in Hof Ter Cleve (3 Michelin stars). He stayed there two years, then went on with sous-chef Michael Vrijmoed who began his own business. Later on Glen moved to work with Niek Ducheyne. He intended to more work in the kitchens of famous chefs, and then return to the family's business and help out his father and mother.

But the sudden death of his dad forced him to make a decision. Should he continue his own career - or return immediately to the hotel-restaurant of his parents and be chef there? Well, he decided to return. (

I think that is such a beautiful gesture. Glen could easily have said, 'No, I want to be a Michelin chef myself; Do what you want with the hotel-restaurant.'

When our own father died - also of a stroke - we had to be adults at once. We had to take care of our mother (she was never able to do much on her own), start cooking and cleaning, take control over the money and banking. No time to weep and be worthless.

I see that's the way it often goes. Either you let go yourself - and you complain about how unfair life has dealt you all the time, or you face the facts and go on with life. Of course you miss the person who left, but that doesn't mean your life has ended as well.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

All-in-one ovendishes

When I have a busy day (today I was cleaning up my house) I try to cook something that doesn't take too much time.

And for that, all-in-one dishes are quite handy. Moreover, both my sister and I love eating them! Tonight, I'm going to prepare a dish with mashed potatoes, cauliflower, ground meat and cheese.

I just need to cook the potatoes and the cauliflower (doesn't take long), then mash up the potatoes and spread them out at the bottom of an oven dish. On top of these I put the pieces of cauliflower, and then I add the ground meat (you can even make this a vegetarian dish by replacing real meat by a soya variant) and then top up with the cheese (take one that has a good taste).

Put in into the oven for about 20 minutes and it's ready!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Eating red meat is bad for your health

The WHO has placed red meat on the same list as for instance asbestos... They clearly want to convey that eating (too much) read meat is bad for your health and can cause cancers or any other life-threatening condition.

Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb and mutton. Also every preparation with meat is bad for your health.

What a piece of luck we've switched to eating more soup for lunch!!! Since last spring, we have home-made fresh soup (without bread) for lunch and we only eat one sandwich a week. Added to that, we eat vegetarian twice a week. And I must say, we have been losing weight! When I go to see my doctor in December, I'm interested to see how the change in food pattern will have an effect on my blood levels. Both my sister and I need to be careful with sugars and fat. So hopefully the levels of these in our blood have gone down as well.

But for all that, I don't mind having steak and frites once in a while!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Evolution is expensive!

When you're more than half a century old, you have seen lots of changes in the course of these years.

I was born in an age when most people did not even have a bathroom. Washing was done in the kitchen, in an big wooden or metal tub. And you were lucky when you got your own warm water (heated over the stove)! Going to the toilet happened in an outhouse - and again you were lucky when it was close to your house, and not way back in the garden!

Then the telephone. Only the doctor had one. We got our first one in the seventies - because I was going to the university and my dad wanted me to be able to contact them.

We played records (singles and LP's) on our portable record-players (at request, in the attic so the older ones weren't bothered with the loud music...) and later on got a cassette-player. Big invention!!

But because we were reasonably well-off we did have a TV from the 1950's - and we were the first in our street to have a color TV. I remember when it was first playing, people pushed others aside to have a look through our front window.

In the course of time, we replaced our video cassettes by DVD's, our old records by CD's. Had to replace the telephone by a newer one and afterwards by cell phones (now smartphones).  We bought several computers (first they were nothing better than text machines.) But what costed most was replacing all my print books by electronical ones.

I'm doing this because we plan to go and live at the coast when we're pensioned. And the flat is a lot smaller than the house where we are living now. No more space for lots of bookcases! So here came Kindle  - what an invention! I have already spent lots of euro's by replacing all the print books by author. I've emptied a few bookcases already. The print books, I give away to charitable organisations.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Would you forfeit your principles for profit?

This is a question that most of us would answer by saying 'YES' wholehearteldy. Most people can stretch their principles pretty far if it involves (a lot of) money.

But there are exceptions. Yesterday I read an article in the newspaper about fashion designer Murielle Scherre. She has her own make of (sex) underwear by the name of La fille d'O.  Superstars such as Rihanna, Roison Murphy or M.I.A. are spotted wearing this underwear.

Murielle refuges to make compromises. She won't let her bra's and slips be manufactured in a country where wages are low or kids are slaving away. That would bring in a nice profit.

No, her undergarments are made in Belgium, with materials solely from here and made by people who know their job and are paid accordingly. Of course, this drives us the price for a set of underwear, but that's the way it is, says Murielle.

What do you think? Would you submit to easily made profit?

What concerns me, I don't really know. I don't mind a quick profit. If for instance I had something on my attic (which had been there for ages and thus has no value for me) which proved to be special, I wouldn't mind bringing it to Sotheby's for auction. But when some producer proposed a film deal for one of my books, and they'd plan to change everything in the story - then I would refuse. Even if they offered me a million or more. So it depends.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Decorating your home according to the season

Having no kids or grandchildren, my sister and I like to occupy ourselves by making our home cozy. We try to find fetching decorations for every time of year.

So right now it's time for Halloween-sphere! Over the year, we have found several nice figurines of witches and spooks, which we place around the living room. We also have pumpkins galore, and autumn leaves, as well as little forest animals. And cobwebs, of course. Plus a couple of funny corpses.

I think this makes the living room more cozy, especially when the days grow shorter and shorter.

Do you also like to decorate?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Summer/winter time - for or against?

Next weekend we'll have to set our clocks right again - from 3 am to 2 am. Not that most of us will do that in the middle of the night... rather before going to bed or when you wake up.

But it's a change anyway. This time we can sleep an hour longer. Myself, I don't have a lot of trouble with changes in time - didn't suffer from jetlag either - but my sister does, and so do lots of other people.

There are groups which want to protest against this switching of times. But it's now a European question and I don't think they'll cancel the rule. Too many groups of interested parties are looking over the shoulder (pharmaceutical firms, for instance, which produce pills against sleeplessness or provide pills which make you feel better during the day....)

Especially animals and little kids suffer from this change in time. And you know that a kid who hasn't got its night's rest will be nervous throughout the day - which makes mums and dads tear out their hairs as well.

So, what do you think? Should we get rid of this change in time???

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to the future

Guess most of us have seen the film Back to the Future? In the second part of the trilogy, Marty McFly and Doc Emmet Brown arrive in the future on October 21st, 2015. And that's today.

Worldwide fans of the films are celebrating this fact. And it's nice to see what happened to the predictions made in this film...

Doc's DeLorean racecar rides on beer and a few bits of leftover food. This hasn't happened yet, but we do  already use bio-fuel.

When they arrive in 2015, it's raining very hard. Doc looks at his watch and predicts it will stop in 4 seconds. In reality we have iWatches and when you have an app, you can pretty accurately predict the weather.

Also on arrival, Doc peels off his old skin. Now Botox and plastic surgery are pretty common.

In 1989, you took pictures with an old-fashioned camera, and the roll of film needed to be processed. Nowadays we have camera's on our smartphones or extra-light digital camera's.

When Griff and his gang are arrested, a sort of drone falls out of the sky to take pictures for USA Today. Nowadays we see drones anywhere.

There are many more things that the film predicted correctly. If you know any more, feel free to comment!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More reading teasers for Halloween

As Halloween is drawing closer, I've got a few more teasers for you from my collection of short stories, Face in the Mirror and Other Stories.

Mark wandered around for what seemed like ages, not feeling tired one bit. He guessed he must be near the center of the garden. Indeed, the path he was following led him to an open space with a marble fountain in the middle. Four paths arrived from different directions. At the end of each path, a statue was put on a pedestal. Two of them represented animals – a staggering horse and a roaring lion – and the other two represented humans.
Face to face were the images of a man and a woman, sculpted so near-to-life that Mark could hardly believe they were mere marble. He was not very interested in the man, but the woman fascinated him.
“If only you could be real…” he whispered.
She was everything he wished for a woman to be: beautifully shaped with rounded curves and a face that looked kind and pure.
He gave out a hard sigh and returned the same way he entered. But the next night he went back.
From The Italian Garden

A shape popped up before her on the road. All of a sudden she realized she was daydreaming. She quickly applied the brakes and the car skidded to a stop. Yes, there was someone there; a huddled figure carrying two heavy bags. How strange! She drove this road twice a day and never ever had she seen anyone on this deserted stretch over Hawestone Moor. Nobody lived here, did they
She looked again. The figure – she could not decide whether it was a man or a woman – kept moving on steadily. For just one second Marie considered her options. If she would offer help, she would make it home even later than seven o’clock. But almost immediately her conscience forced her to open up her window and call out
“Hello there? Need a ride?”
The figure stopped and turned around. She saw that it was a woman and an old one for goodness sake. What was this granny doing out in this shit weather?”
“Thank you, dear. I’d like that.”
From The Witch of Hawestone Moor

The next weekend the leaves had increased in numbers. Tim’s mother phoned in to tell him that her son had been taken ill and would not be able to work during the weekend.
He was in a rather foul mood when he dressed in an old jeans and worn out sweater, and took the rake out of the garden shed. He worked for two hours and then went inside to have tea.
When he returned to the garden, the heaps he had carefully raked together had dispersed. And yet there was no wind that day.
From Falling Leaves

Monday, October 19, 2015

Going through things you don't like

I don't know about you - but I keep postponing those tasks I really don't like to do.

Like cleaning... I do clean my kitchen and bathroom at regular times, but I don't think the rest of the house needs the same care. After all, there are only the two of us. But my sister doesn't always see it that way. I can bear that there's a bit of dust, but she doesn't. So I need to take out my mop and dust all the furnitur (yuk!). Or wash the windows. I thing the rain can do that as well (...)

I'd rather sit behind my computer the whole day and just write. That's what I really love to do. A pîty I've never written that bestseller - which would allow me to hire a housekeeper to perform all those nasty tasks in the house.

Sure, you can get a cleaning woman/man for utility-checks (an invention of our government) but who are these? Man and women unable to find a job on their own, and who are pressed by the unemployment agency to take on these cleaning jobs. I wouldn't trust to have one of those in my house. I once tried to hire one, but after explaining four times how to mop a floor, I just gave up. In that time I could have done it myself!

What about you? Are there also things you don't like to do - but have to?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike: best DJ's in the world!

Tonight, Belgians with Greek roots, Dimitri Vegas and his brother Like Mike (Dimitri and Michael Thivaios from the Antwerp area) have been elected as the world's best DJ's in Amsterdam.

Must say, it's been a great week for us Belgians. First our national soccer team became the world's number one, and now this... Of course, Tomorrowland is also one of the world's best dance festivals.

Where is this going to end???

Friday, October 16, 2015

Preparing a trip to Hamburg, Germany

I've been spending most of this grey afternoon making arrangments for our trip to Hamburg in November.

My sister and I love musical theatre, so when we heard that Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Love Never Dies would be staged in Hamburg (as Liebe Stirbt Nie), we immediately decided to go and see the show once more. We've seen the show twice in London, way back in 2010, and loved it very much despite the criticism. We saw it once with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess.

This Hamburg production stages Gardar Thor Cortes as the Phantom and Rachel Anne Moore as Christine. I watched some video's on You Tube and was impressed by Gardar's voice. So I think this will be a great show as well.

I don't have problems with the German language. I've lived and worked for 4 years in Germany (way back in the 1980's) and I've seen quite a bit of the country during that period. Unfortunately, I've never visited Hamburg.

So if someone who reads this blog has done, can you please pass on some tips of things to do? We are taking a couple of days there. Also looking for good restaurants. Comments are more than welcome!