Google+ Followers

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Household robot?

A Belgian scientist, now working for an American university, is in the process of creating a robot which could be active in the household.

It will take up to 10 years, but then you'll be able to buy a robot which can move around in the house, fold towels (?), load and unload the dishwasher, ...



Not what I would wish, actually. I could go for a robot which masters the art of housekeeping: cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing the windows, ... But I guess I'll be long dead before such a marvel is being created!!!

I admit freely I don't like housekeeping. I need to do it, of course, but my heart is not into it. I clean, I cook when I must, I get groceries, ... but I'd rather sit behind my computer and do some writing!

My sister always laughs at me for hating housework. I could have done with a house full of slaves, I confess. (Am I the reincarnation of some Roman empress, who ruled not only the house but also the state?) I'm very good at giving orders and seeing they are carried out. (I'm less good in following them.)

And what about you? Do you like work in the house?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rain keeps falling down

... and it's pretty depressing! I so hate these dark days when rain comes down incessantly and there is even thunder and lightning. It gets on my nerves. And I'm probably not the only one who feels like that!



The numerous rain is already getting people in trouble. Some streets have flooded already and thunderstorms have caused deaths already.

I really look forward to some days full of sunshine!!! But I can get some solace from the knowledge that I'll be in Venice soon enough. And there will be sunshine galore. The latest years, we always pick a destination where you are sure to have some sunshine. Earlier this month, in Marseille, we also had fine weather - about the only good days up to now.

And how's the weather where you live?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Finding someone to do little chores

... can be very difficult here in Belgium. When you need work done, there are plenty of companies to be found in the region where you live. But once you contact them, and they find out it's only for a small job (not much to earn), they just quit.

I had a roofworker over last week, because some work needs to be done to the drain and the chimney. He took a (brief) look and said he'd drop an estimate in my letterbox next week. It's exactly one week past, and I haven't heard a word.

Did not expect it either. You can tell by the way they act, don't you?




So up to the next one. I still have some names on my list. But as a friend told me, it will be difficult finding someone. If the problem had been at the flat at the coast, the work had already been done. In that region there are plenty of folk who do small chores - as there are so many holiday flats to maintain.

Friday, May 27, 2016

BK Staken

For those who don't understand: BK means Belgian Championship, staken means 'going on strike'.

Since we're 'blessed' with strikes practically every day now, an IT-student thought of making a website in which strikes are evaluated and given points. The actual strike of yesterday and today gets silver!

How are strikes rated?

- extra points for the most disturbance: thousands of people who can't get to work, for instance

- extra's for going unannounced (better surprise element)

- etc.

You can just as well laught at it, right? The strikes today and yesterday didn't disturb my day, nor that of my sister as she works close to home. Trains are passing by (we can view them at the end of our garden) but less than normal. That is because some trains come from Wallony, where the strike is general. These Walloons intend to go until the government falls.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Trouble With Misbehaving

Come and meet Victoria Hanlen, author of The Trouble With Misbehaving (historical romance) by Harper Collins Carina UK. To promote this book, Victoria will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Please use the link underneath to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1719




Blurb

Love, Betrayal and Redemption

Calista ‘CC’ Collins is used to being the talk of the town. With her scandalous past she’s learnt the hard way that a woman needs to be strong to get what she wants in a man’s world. And what she wants is the infamous Captain Beauford Tollier—roguish son of an earl, notorious blockade-runner and all-round knave of the seas.

However, Captain Beau is not one to be cajoled—he is done with the dangerous sea life and ready to follow the life of the straight and narrow. But with many powerful forces circling around him, Beau doesn’t stand a chance…

Excerpt

Clutching her elbow, he led her across the manicured lawn into a copse of trees.

What are you do—”

He swung them behind a tree and peered out. Whatever she wanted to talk about suddenly lost importance. The villains following him were the more immediate problem.

“Tell me—”

“Shhhh.” He pressed a finger to her lips.

Two men in top hats stepped off the gravel path and picked their way across the lawn.

Beau marched C.C. deeper into the grove around trees and shrubs. Then through an archway of fragrant vines to a fountain struggling to reflect hazy moonlight. They needed to stay quiet and hidden.

“Before you drag me any further into the bushes—”

Didn’t the woman know the meaning of shhhh? She would give away their hiding place if he didn’t do something quick. He pulled her to him and covered her mouth with his. Mint and vanilla filled his senses.

Her sweet, almost maidenly response surprised him. No, she probably wasn’t a tart. Just a hasty stolen kiss, yet he couldn’t help appreciate the tantalizing fit of her supple lips under his and how her body softened against him. His heart stammered and launched into a faster beat. Lifting his head, he gazed about her bewildered, upturned countenance, breathlessly poised for a man’s kisses. Hmm, not entirely a maiden either.

Perhaps another quick kiss would clarify matters?




Author  bio and links

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is happily-ever-afters spiced with a dash of wit and a page-turning mystery. Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.
She enjoys hearing from readers at:









BAM!:


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Falling for Heroes

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a virtual book blast tour for Falling for Heroes Box set by Eryn LaPlant, a contemporary romance available now from First Born Publishing. Eryn will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the link below to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1704




Blurb

Falling for Shock

Oliver Hannel, England’s sexiest new star, has finally moved from the television screen to the silver screen, playing comic book hero The Shock in Hollywood’s upcoming blockbuster. While filming one summer night in the midwestern town of Greenfield, Indiana, Oliver finds himself witnessing a crime in progress. Will he embrace his inner superhero and save the day? Or will he remember he isn’t invincible and call for help?

Layla Brooks is a small town girl with a big spirited heart, especially when it comes to her twin sister, Lucy. She’ll rest at nothing to protect her from a casino mogul’s henchman bent on collecting a debt… even if that includes taking her sister’s punishment. But a strange suited man out from the shadows isn’t about to let that happen.

Oliver and Layla’s opposite worlds collide with a Bam! But are either of them ready for the lies, truth and lust that comes along with a relationship born of shock? Or will their love come and go as fast as a bolt of lightning?

Falling for Freedom

FBI Special Agent Cara Giosino is ballsy and relentless when it comes to justice. When she finds herself in London in furious pursuit of the notorious casino mogul and crime lord Feng Khai, she must give up her solo act and rely upon the fearless Interpol agent who caught Khai the first time.

Edward Hannel is not the man he once was. Tragedy has struck him down, leaving him a shell of his former self. He wants nothing to do with Interpol or the sexy Agent Giosino and her plan to take down the criminal who extorted his brother two years prior. That is until he discovers the madman’s vengeance is still focused on his family.

As they race to capture Khai and protect Edward’s family, neither Cara nor Edward realizes the depth to which this case will take them or how fast their partnership will bloom. And they certainly don’t expect to find such bliss in each other's arms when they finally give in to letting go and being free.



Excerpt

Falling for Freedom


PROLOGUE

1997
Washington D.C.
U.S.A


“Hi. I’m Cara Giosino and I’m here in the J. Edgar Hoover building learning how to be an FBI agent—Ugh! That sucked.”

Cara clicked the remote to her dad’s video camera so she could start all over again. She tossed her hair over her shoulder, happy to see that it fluttered like one of those shampoo commercials all black and flowy in the view finder screen. Maybe she could make her sixth grade career day video on being a hair model instead. No, no, no she wanted to be an agent just like her dad, a few doors down from where she was in the conference room where she was recording. Everyone in her family worked for some big government agency and so would she one day. Uncle Tommy worked in the Las Vegas field office FBI and her grandpa was in the CIA, though no one knew where he was at the moment.

Her eye caught the clock on the wall. It was almost lunchtime. She had to get going. Her dad was taking her out for pizza. Clearing her throat nice and loud, Cara clicked record and started again, this time flashing a big smile for the camera. “Coming to you live from the J. Edgar Hoover building, it’s the future Special Agent Cara Giosino.” She tisked and shook her head. “That sucked too. I sound like a stupid game show guy.”

She reset again, got serious and got rid of her cheesy grin. “Hi. I’m with my dad, head of the D.C. Counterterrorism Division, at the FBI. My name is Cara Giosino and when I grow up I want to be just like h—“

RAT TAT TAT TAT TAT TAT!!

A ferocious, loud, mechanical noise made her jump and scream, holding her ears. She dropped to the ground, landing on her purple book bag. Other people were screaming and yelling too, the kind of hollering that sounded hurt and scared. Was that gunfire?



Author bio and links

Eryn LaPlant grew up wishing she could have lived in the books she read, living through characters and their romantic adventures. Now she writes romances of her own to share with readers like you.
When not writing, she spends her time with her loving husband, their handsome son and fluffy new Pomeranian puppy, Marley, in the Land of Lincoln. 

For more information on Eryn, please visit her website:



Buy links for the box set:

Price is $0.99




Other works by Eryn include:

Beneath the Wall
The Blue Lute

Falling for Heroes series:
Falling for Shock
Falling for Freedom
and upcoming Falling for Phoenix (2016)

Days of protest

Today there was a big demonstration against the government, taking place in Brussels. It is not the first of this kind, nor will it be the last one!


People just aren't satisfied with what the goverment does (or rather, doesn't do). Every day, you may expect a new rule - you have to work longer (for some people, it can be 7 years!), they want to do away with the 38-hours week, you have to pay more for drinks, for electricity, there is an extra tax because the government gave subsidies too freely, ...

But the rich get richer. Never in the world it is easier for a company to evade taxes. And those who park their country in Panama or other tax havens are not punished either. That stings with most people. They could bear all the afore mentioned measures if the rich were equally taxed. Where is the fairness?

I wonder if this government will be able to continue for much longer?

And it's not only here. Also in France there are strikes galore.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wanderlust

I'm inviting all of you to come and meet author Bernadette Marie, who's doing a book blast tour  to launch her novel Wanderlust (contemporary romance, from Prince Publishing). Bernadette is giving away a 20$ gift certificate from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Please use the link below to leave your comment and have a chance to win:
https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4776d9a023


Blurb


Gia Gallow has traveled the world. Her wanderlust landed her in Georgia where she has created a life for herself away from the petty differences of relatives and domineering ex-lovers. Having settled in America, she has a successful business and dear friends—and the attention of both Dane and Russell Walker. Due to her own family's dramas over dueling hearts, she might have to forget about her feelings for Dane to keep peace within the Walker family, but sometimes even running thousands of miles away can't keep a heart from going after what the heart wants. And Gia's heart wants Dane.

Excerpt

He'd only seen her once, and his breath had caught in his chest. Her image had stayed with him

—her long dark hair that had a charismatic bounce to it and those dark chocolate eyes that twinkled. She might have stood all of five-foot-three, but her personality was enormous. Then, of course, her voice had run in his ears for the past two months. That accent still tickled his spine in a way that sent tingles down it, right to his core.



Author bio and links

Bernadette Marie has been an avid reader since the early age of 13, when she'd fill notebook after notebook with stories that she's share with her friends. Her journey into novel writing started the summer before eight grade when her father gave her an old typewriter. At all times of the day and night you would find her on the back porch penning her first work, which she would continue to write for the next 22 years.

In 2007 - after marriage, filling her chronic entrepreneurial needs, and having five children - Bernadette began to write seriously with the gaol of being published. That year she wrote 12 books. In 2009 she was contracted for her first trilogy and the published author was born. In 2011 she (being the entrepreneur that she is) opened her own publishing house, Prince Publishing, and has released contemporay titles and has begun the process of taking on other authors in other genres.

Bernadeette spends most of her free time driving her kids to their many events. She is also an accomplished martial artist, working her way to her second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do.

An avid reader she loves to meet reader who enjoy reading contemporary romances and she always promises Happily Ever After.

Links:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 - the year icons pass away

This morning, we heard the news that Gaston Berhgmans (aged 90) had died early this morning. Together with his partner, Leo Martin, he was famous for his sketches and comedy acts.

In my youth, you couldn't have a good night out if you hadn't seen Gaston & Leo, as they were called. Their most famous act is 'Joske Vermeulen' - where someone makes a telephone call to his friend's house (and remember, this was in the 70's) and the young (!) son of the house picks up the phone. The most famous sentence from this sketch is when Joske repeats his address time and again - Joske Vermeulen, Trammesantlei, Schoten"...



Gaston is not the first one to die this year. Many a famous person has gone before. Think of Bowie, Prince, ... and most likely, more will follow. No wonder, as they are all children of the years after the war, when lots of babies were born. They all are in their seventies or early eighties, and then it's only natural that some of them will die.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What happened to the Egypt Air flight?

Yesterday, an Airbus from Egypt Air left Paris with destination Cairo. It never arrived. Now the Egyptians claim they've found parts of the plane and also luggage of its passengers, even a body part.



The airbus has supposedly crashed in the neigborhood of Alexandria, but as long as the black boxes have been found, nobody knows what really happened.

A terrorist attack? France and Egypt are "crusader countries" for ISIS. (Just as Belgium...) Or is it another German Wings scenario?

If a bomb has been planted in the plane while at Charles de Gaulle airport, this would mean serious trouble for the French security services. And poses question as how safe the European Championship Soccer will be...


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Friendship fraude

This morning, I heard a story on the radio that set my hair on end. Unfortunately, such things happen more than you expect!

The topic was about a woman, who had send 250,000 € to an overseas account. A couple of years before, she had lost her only daughter and was overwhelmed with grief. Then she met a man, who helped her to cope with this grief (online). He told her one day, she'd get a mail with a prosperous deal. She should take this - and of course, the woman believed him. So when she got a 'proposal of business' a year or so later, she trusted this to be real and sent money. Which she lost, of course.

The internet crawls with such schemes. There are a lot of people around who only want your money. I can't tell how many mails I receive, in which 'prosperous' business deals are proposed to me, or someone tells me I've inherited a big sum from an unknown person. Who does believe that??? According to the police, many enough! Most of the time, people spend about 5,000 to 10,000 € on such schemes. And not many go to the police because they feel ashamed afterwards.

Another thing you should be careful of, is friendship requests at social networks. Especially when you are a single woman of a certain age. Then you'll get request from young(er) guys. If you accept, they'll hang up a story about how unlucky they were (in affairs, in love, whatever) and need your help. Can you please buy them an airline ticket, so they can come and visit? I never accept such requests and I certainly don't put any actual information (like my address, phone number, etc.) on Facebook, Twitter or any other site.

Best thing to do is go to the police if you suspect anything wrong. They can help you!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Secrets of Flight



Please come and meet Maggie Leffler, author of The Secrets of Flight, a commercial/historical fiction novel from publisher William Morrow. Maggie is giving away a physical copy of her book and another historical fiction title (US only) to a randomly drawn winner during her tour, via rafflecopter. Please use the following link to place your comment:



Blurb

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her Jewish heritage. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is haunted by a lifetime of secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, but when a new member walks in--a fifteen year old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah--Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

She hires the serious-eyed teenager to type up her story of a daring female pilot during WWII who gambled everything for her dreams--and both their lives take flight in unexpected ways.

At times laugh-out-loud funny and at others heart-wrenching, this is a story of identity, betrayal, love, hope, and forgiveness.



Author bio and links

Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from University of Delaware and volunteered with Americorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.


Bucket list

Now that I'm 60 years old (or should I say, young?) it's maybe time to make up a bucket list of things I want to do before I die...

Gee, just thinking about it is hard. I suppose I'm extremely lucky to have done a lot of things already. I had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and grandparents who doted on us. We could travel and most of the time had things before any other had them. Nevertheless, we never suffered from bullying at school. We learned to speak several languages and from a young age enjoyed good food and fine wines.

But there are still a few things left.

So here goes:

1) I want to see all the continents of the world
 
Status: have already been in Europe (live there, but been to Holland, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Russia, Rumania, and shall be visiting Sweden and Hungary later this year).
North America: some US states (New York, Vermont, Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, California, Nevada and Alaska) and regions in Canada (Qu├ębec, Alberta, British Columbia).
South America: been to Peru and Bolivia.
Asia: visit to Thailand.
TOTAL: 26 countries visited

2) I want to write a bestseller

Status: still trying! Next novel will appear in February 2017. (Find out more at www.nickiefleming.be)

3) I want to take a ride in a helicopter

Status: not done yet

Not many, I do admit. But better this than nothing. Care to share your bucket lists?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

I've seen Abraham

H ere in Belgium, there is a saying that goes: "Have you seen Abraham yet?" - meaning, have you already reached an age over 60?

So today, I've reached that point. Not than I feel any different than when I was still 59, as there is no way to stop time. I don't have any problem getting older, as long as my health stays more or less good (everyone has a minor ailment, right?) I only need to take 2 pills a day, for blood pressure and sugar level. Cholesterol in under control already by eating a bit differently.

My sister is treating me to a nice dinner tonight. Restaurant Bartholomeus in Heist is the place to be if you want fine food. Chef Bart Desmidt already has 2 Michelin stars, but is certainly worth 3. Hopefully he gets this reward soon!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Diamond in the rough

Come and meet Lori L. Robinett, author of Diamond in the rough, a contemporary western romance from Three Creeks Press (available as of tomorrow). To promote this launch, Lori is doing a book blast tour and is giving away a 25$ gift certificate either from Amazon or Barnes&Noble. The winner will be chosen from the entries via rafflecopter. Please use this link to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1671



Blurb

Ranch hand Aidan Brackston has built a new life at the Diamond J, and he keeps women at arm’s length to protect his secret . . . until he walks into the local scrapbook store on an errand for his boss. When he accidentally knocks Gina on her ass, she respond with a slap . . . and the fireworks begin.

Single mom Gina Montgomery has her hands full running a business and taking care of her little boy. The last thing she needs is a man in her life, but when a tall, dark and sexy cowboy strides into her store, she’s reminded that she’s still a young woman with hopes and desires.

Just as passion ignites between Aidan and Gina, her little boy is kidnapped by rustlers. Will the two of them be able to save her little boy . . . even if that means exposing Aidan’s secret?

Excerpt

She gave herself a shake. Ridiculous. That’s what this whole thing was. How could she even think about being attracted to a man, much less some minimum-wage making cowboy? If she ever did allow herself to fall for a man, he would have to be perfect. A solid, respectable man with a good job, who was kind and caring and thoughtful. Preferably good looking.

Granted, this guy met the height and weight requirements.

But he looked dark and dangerous, which she didn’t need in her life.

She took a deep breath, gathered her thoughts and pointed to the display. “Here are some blank cards, or you could do something on 8 ½ by 11 paper. Do you prefer cards or flyers?”

He shrugged. She let her eyes wander up and down him one more time. Waves of dark hair peeked out from under his black Stetson, probably permanently curled around his hat. Yes, he definitely had the physical attributes her dream man would have, even the blue eyes, but cowboy didn’t fit into her equation anywhere.

She pulled a plastic bag from a hook and held it up. “A card would be my suggestion.”

He took the package of blank cards from her, and his fingertips brushed hers. His hands were rough and calloused, a working man’s hands, yet his touch was gentle. The cowboy turned the package over and looked at it from every direction, doubt clouding his tanned features. His hat dipped slightly on his forehead as his dark eyebrows pinched together in a frown. He glanced at her and asked, “What do I do with them?”



Author bio and links

Lori is the author of four books, and serves as a mentor for aspiring writers. She is a creative soul trapped in a paralegal’s body. Several years ago, she discovered (and won) National Novel Writing Month and rediscovered the joy of escaping into a world of her own creation.

She lives in rural Missouri with her husband. One very spoiled Miniature Schnauzer and Miniature Beagle allow Lori and her husband to live in their house, and the outside is patrolled by BK (short for Barn Kitty) and Patches (a sweet tom cat stray that missed his calling as a lap cat).

Her novels cover everything from romance to thrillers, but mystery is the thread that binds them all together. Her favorite authors are Tawna Fenske, Tierney James, Colleen Donnelly, Allison Merritt, Lisa Medley, Lea Waite, Susan Mallery, Hugh Howey, HP Mallory and, well, the list goes on and on.

Links:


http://lorilrobinett.com/

https://twitter.com/LoriRobinett

Tax declaration

As if we don't pay enough taxes yet (more than 50% on our wages, derived directly before it goes into your bank account) we also need to fill in a yearly tax declaration.

Luckily you can do this via Tax-On-Web, which has made it somewhat easier, as some of the posts are already filled in (what you earn, who you are, if you're married or single, the donations you give). But the most intricitate part you have to do yourself. And that is filling in your interests and capital payments when you have a mortgage running. Everything depends on the part of the country you live in, and whether or not  you have taken this mortgage before 2005, between 2005-2009 and after 2015. The three dates have seperate columns. No wonder a lot of people find it difficult to file this form, and therefore need to go and seek some help.



My declaration was filled in in just 5 minutes. Because, whatever new pages and columns the government includes, you only have to read carefully. The wording of the articles remains the same.... Not important whether it's 1145 or 1356 (you to show), as long as the words are the same as those of the year before, you're right.

How difficult or easy is making a tax declaration in your country?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The annual circus returns

And we will know it! Yesterday evening the first semi-final of the yearly Eurovision Song Contest took place in Stockholm (Sweden won last year's finale) and tomorrow will be the next one. Belgium is competing in that one.



I don't think Laura Tessoro will make it to the final, though. Flanders is known to make the wrong choice of candidate. The only time they did well was when they sent Tom Dice with "Me and My Guitar", which was a great song of a singer-songwriter.

But win or not, Saturday night, most of Europe (and other parts of the world) will be glued to the screen to see the grand finale. You may expect anything at it. The most special acts, the worst singers, ... And when the commentators are good, you can have fun just watching the show.

Get a big sack of chips and a bottle of wine (or beer) and you're set for the evening!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Carefree travel

Nowadays, with all the extra security on highspeed trains and airplanes, it is useful to travel lightly. Only pack hand-luggage, so to speak.

Long years of experience in travelling have taught my sister and I how to travel with the least amount of luggage. And our suitcases are packed in a couple of minutes. I don't even need a list.

Important is, you only bring what you really need. You don't need ten dresses or t-shirts a day. In our case, we take underwear for as many days as we're away (with one set extra, because you never know). Same goes for the t-shirts. Then take a pair of shorts/trousers/skirts that is easy to wear and suits with the colors/design of your t-shirts or blouses. For a short trip, we only pack one pair of shoes or sandals in the suitcase, plus a pair of bedroom slippers. Last item in the suitcase is a nightshirt or pajamas - and of yes, a bathing suit if you go to sunny places.

We've managed to downsize on our luggage so we can always travel with carry-on luggage only. One (small) suitcase, and a big sack aka handbag. But the sack can carry a pair of shoes, underwear, a laptop and e-reader without problem. It's handy when your handbag (sack) has compartments, in which you can place your travel documents and all those items which need to be taken out at the scanner. I put them into plastic bags already, so they can just be plucked out.

The big advantage is you can easily carry your luggage (handy when you have to climb stairs, like you have to do when going from the railway station in Zaventem to the departure hall) and it's no problem when having to walk a while.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Three days in Provence

Alas, not a year, like in the novel of Peter Mayle! But we had a great time, that's for sure. Especially when the weather was more than fine, with degrees over 20° Celsius.

We took a flight to Marseille on Wednesday evening (was a bit strange to enter Brussels airport, with all those military carrying heavy duty rifles). We arrived late in our hotel because of a delay in take-off (I guess the lady who had to do the boarding doesn't have a watch...) but we slept well enough.

After breakfast the next morning, we could start our discovery of Marseille, which is the capital of the Provence area. We explored the Vieux Port, Le Panier, went to the basilic of Notre Dame de la Garde, ... We also took time for leisure and enjoyed food and drinks in various restaurants.



On our last day we made a day trip to various places in the Provence. We had booked this tour the first day, and to our surprise we were all alone with our guid Fabrizio. A very friendly guy, and quite knowledgable. We drove to Arles, where we visited the remains of the Roman area.



Then we went via Nimes to see the Pont du Gard, the aquaduct built by the Romans as well.



Afeterwards it went to Avignon, the city of the popes. There we had time to have lunch and also see the Palace of the Popes. And of course, we also had to see the famous 'pont d'Avignon'! Well, you can't dance on it, that's for sure!



Later that day we also went to St. Remy de Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh stayed in the asylum and we finished our trip in Baux-de-Provence, a city built on the rocks.



I could recommend this excursion to others!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Back from a trip

Just a few words to let you know I haven't decided to stop writing my blog! No, I've been away on a trip and did not have time to get to a computer...

Will tell you more tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hand Over Fist

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Blast Tour for Hand Over Fist by Michael Ross, a Thriller available April 26, 2016 from Limitless Publishing. The Book Blast Tour will take place on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

 Michael will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1634/


Blurb

When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems…

Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around.

Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.


Excerpt

…but there was something gnawing away at him; something about Zachary Jackson that was just not right. He seemed like a good kid, a good son to a troubled mother and a dying father. But now Bobby stood in the shadows watching Zack leave The Chemist's house and he cursed his sixth sense.

The Chemist's house was one of a pair of semis that were angled at the end of Shortcross Drive. The area was the roughest part of the city, an independent borough with its own self-administered terms of crime and punishment. The crimes that carried the heaviest forms of punishment were those that affected The Chemist negatively. Punishments ranged from being forced to cut his lawn for a month to having both your knees smashed by a crow bar. And even worse penalties if you failed to insist to A&E staff that you'd been hit by a car.

By the time the local police force had recognised The Chemist's power, it was easier to leave him well alone than to face the cost of breaking down his power base. The semi detached council house was fortified more strongly than a clearing bank's vault. Over the years, every door and window had been replaced and so heavily reinforced that it would take a tank to force entry into the property.



Author bio and links

This is what Mike says:

It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.

Twitter         @mikerosswriter
Website        www.michaelrosswriter.com
Blog             http://mikerosswriter.wordpress.com
Goodreads    Mike Ross

Chaos at Zaventem

It's a right shame. Due to (unnecessary) safety-measures, travelers have to wait for hours to get to their plane at Zaventem, the national airport of Belgium. And lots of them miss their flight, even when coming 3-4 hours in advance!



This afternoon there is another (!) meeting between the police and the federal government. I sure hope Minister Jambon will put his foot down and see to it that the safetly measures are less strict. Now you have one control after the other.

On the other hand, last weekend we took the Eurostar - and there was no more security than before. Can terrorists not strike there???

It's giving a bad example and it will cause loss of income for Brussels Airport and the airlines which use it. In three or four hours you are in Paris or Amsterdam, where you can take a plane as well. Don't they see that?


Monday, May 2, 2016

London weekend

We spent the past weekend in London, UK. A short break, but more than excellent!!!

Last year in September we heard that Glen Close was asked to resume her role as Norma Desmond in a 40-days-run of Lloyd-Webber's  Sunset Boulevard at the London Colisseum. We managed to get tickets in the stalls for last Saturday's performance and then of course we also needed a hotel to spend the night there.

Now, as a Hilton Honors member, I had saved up to 100,000 points already and thought this would buy us at least a double room for one night at one of the London Hilton hotels. Comparing hotels, we found the Hilton Bankside, which was not yet open at that time. Therefore, rooms went for lower rates. With the amount of point saved, we were able to book a one-bedroom suite with lounge access!!!

So, in fact, it became a rather cheap weekend. The Eurostar is not that expensive when booked well in advance and the hotel cost us nothing. Being able to enter the executive lounge, we also did not have to pay for breakfast, plus we could have afternoon tea and hors d'oeuvres in the evening (with wine or champage to boot).

As we took an early Eurostar, we could do some shopping as well - London is cheap for buying clothes - and had a nice lunch at Tuttons Brasserie at Covent Garden. We often go to Tuttons when in London, as they always offer the same quality and serve decent portions.

The performance was great. The theatre was full but we had good seats, with a central view on the stage. The ENO orchestra delivered the music. And then the singing! Close - although 69 - still delivered the role like she did twenty years ago. She got a standing ovation. And after the show, we were able to go to the stage door to grab a picture and an autograph (which we managed).



We spent a restful night in our suite (no disturbance whatsoever) and returned back home in the course of Sunday. Tired, but satisfied that the trip was so wonderful!