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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Autumn break

The school kids (and their teachers) have their first break of the school year. Traditionally this is always at the end of October, beginning of November. Right for Halloween and All Saint's Day.

The weather is co-operating too. It's rather windless and sunny, which makes it all the more beautiful. The leafs show various colors; red, yellow and brown and they are slowly beginning to fall.

Many people have decided to take a week's holiday and all the touristic places are quite busy. Last Friday, there was a traffic jam of people driving to the coast!



We are staying at our flat in Knokke-Heist for this week. Makes a nice break from the busy work my sister is doing. She was near to a breakdown before this holiday. Some people get a whole load of work, while other just do nothing - but earn the same. Life is not fair!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Couple of dogs adopt a goat

The cutest pictures going around these days, are those by Isolde Mattart, a young woman of 23 who is living in West-Flanders (Belgium). Isolde has her home in Damme, not far away from Bruges.



Isolde studies economic sciences and has a love for gardening and animals. Not strange, as her father is a vetrenarian. She has two St. Bernard dogs, Basiel and Julie. Some weeks ago, the father brought home a motherless baby goat. Isolde fed it by hand and the two dogs seemed to adopt the little one. Goat Hans thinks the two dogs are his parents and he listens to their guidance. Cute, isn't it?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thursday afternoon

Means my sister has a half day off from work, so I can't do a lot. As I've mentioned before, I can't write when someone is constantly talking to me - in this case, my sister. Our mother was better that way. She just read a book when I was writing, or did some knitting. Plus made coffee for us both.

So we've kept ourselves busy with making a new batch of soup (main ingredient: chicory) and installed the new printer we got today. The old one was supposed to copy-scan-print but did not do much anymore. Hopefully the new one will work better!

And finally checked if we got the return of our taxes. The ministry is supposed to make the payment by the end of this month. We are the lucky ones, who have been getting money back since we started filing our taxes. That's one of the advantages of being single, even if we share the same house. For the tax administration that doesn't count. People who are married or living together, pay extra taxes as a rule. It's never very much you get back, some hundreds of Euro's, but you can always do something with the money.

In an hour or so we can start to prepare our evening dinner. Vegetarian today, an ommelette with a mix of red beans, corn, bell pepper and potato cubes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What You Don't Know

Right now, author Elka Ray is my guest. She's promoting her new release What You Don't Know and is doing a book tour - which you can follow, plus it allows you to win a 10$ GC from Amazon or Barnes&Noble. Each time you enter a comment, you have a chance to win. Use this link to place your comment: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1971



I've asked Elka to answer some questons about this publication - a collection of suspense-crime short stories. Here they are, along with her answers:

Why do you place the action in far-away places? 

I set my fiction in places I know well that evoke strong feelings. I spent my earliest years in Africa and the bulk of my childhood in Canada with frequent trips to Europe and the UK. For the past two decades, I’ve been based in Vietnam. The stories in my latest book, What You Don’t Know: Ten Tales of Obsession, Mystery and Murder in Southeast Asia, are all set in Southeast Asia, a region I find endlessly fascinating.


Do you like to travel a lot? 

As well as writing fiction, I work as a magazine editor and travel writer. Now that I have kids, I travel less - and less adventurously - than I used to. Since I live in a small village by the beach in Central Vietnam, now and then I need a dose of urban life, which means a short flight to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore. 


Do your memories of such travels have a response in your writing?

Maybe on account of my nomadic childhood, I feel very attached to places. I have strong and often irrational feelings about the places I visit - for instance locales that others consider beautiful might strike me as ominous. In retrospect, I’m often right - a riot was brewing, a coup was imminent, a horrible crime took place nearby… I believe that places, as well as people, give off good and bad energies. 

Some places I go inspire stories, that little twinge of unease leading to a “what if”.  An example from this collection would be the story “Burning Bright”, which is set on Cambodia’s Bokor Hill, home to a French colonial casino in the 1930s and a Khmer Rouge base from the 1970s through 1990s. When I visited a decade back, it was utterly desolate - a few burned-out ruins on a windswept plateau. This haunted setting inspired a story about a bereaved woman traveling with a husband whose many betrayals have pushed her to the point of doing something unthinkable.


More about What You Don't Know:

Blurb


An American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother's trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy - or does it?  Take a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok's seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions - fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination?  With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these ten stories shine light into the dark corners of Southeast Asia.


Excerpt

It’s the quality of light that I notice first, for I have broken free of the foliage and reached the river. Although it's dark, it is slightly less dark than it was under the tree canopy. I turn and see the darker shadow of our boat. The baby’s cries seem to have ceased. Relief floods over me.

I wade through the shallows, stumbling with fatigue. The rocks are loose and slippery. 

The boat is as it was when I left, still listing to one side, a rope tying it to a thick branch. I stagger towards it. I am about ten feet from the boat when I trip, my foot striking something hard yet yielding. In my panic, I fall forward, my hand touching something smooth and slippery.

It takes a moment to register, and even when I realize what it is, my mind rejects it. That cannot be Chau’s head bobbing with the current. It cannot be his hair brushing against my arms, or his bulging eyes staring up at me. 

My voice seems to have left me.




Author bio and links

At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, “What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia”, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled “Hanoi Jane”, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller “Saigon Dark”, will come out with Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.
Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in - or near -the ocean.

Contact: Email Elka at elka.k.ray@gmail.com
Agent: Elka is represented by Amy Tipton at Signature Literary Agency http://elkaray.com/542-2/
Elka Ray’s website: http://elkaray.com/
Elka Ray Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/elkaraybooks/
Elka Ray on Twitter: https://twitter.com/elkaray
Elka Ray on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5027427.Elka_Ray
Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/What-You-Dont-Know-obsession/dp/0988370344/

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week of the Seventies

Starting as of this morning, Radio 2 (the radio station with most listeners in Belgium) began playing exclusively songs of the Seventies.

For those old enough, a lovely look-back to the time when we were teenagers (I was 14 when the year turned into 1970). Great songs, as well.


I must say I love most music. Even today's. Well, I don't like jazz or most electronic music (which isn't music at all in my mind) but when I think back of the Seventies, I think of The Sweet and Mud, Slade, Abba, ...



Both my sister and I were great fans of the band Mud. We saw them as much as we could, whenever they did a gig in Belgium (at that moment in time, we still didn't hop over the pond when we felt like it - that was before Eurostar) and the guys began to recognize us. They always waved when they spotted us in the audience. Even years later, when only Les Gray brought Mud songs in the tradition of Golden Oldies, he still recognized us!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flemish traditional food

Tonight, we dined on something which is a typical Flemish dish: chicory in the oven.



There are several variations in this recipe: you can just make it with a cheese sause (which means, boil the chicory, prepare a cheese sause with the boiling fluid and put both chicory and sauce in a oven dish). Put gratin cheese on top and leave it for a while in the oven.

But you can also boil your chicory, take away the wetness with kitchen paper and roll them into slices of ham (boiled or smoked, up to you). Then put the rolls into an oven dish and spread a cheese sauce over them. Leave them some time in the oven.

We serve mashed patatoes with either of these dishes. When we eat chicory in the oven with just the cheese sauce, we also eat a steak with it.

Like tonight. Yummie!

Friday, October 21, 2016

They're already playing Christmas songs

As I'm already 60 (don't feel that old, though), I'm of a generation who loves to listen to the radio. It's a habit of mine to switch on the radio as soon as I come down for breakfast. It remains playing all day, as long as I'm inside the house. We only turn it off when the TV goes on, around 6.30 pm for 'Blokken' (a quiz) and the 7 o'clock news.

Just a moment ago, I heard the first Christmas tune of this year being played.

When I was a kid, they'd only play Christmas songs the week before Christmas day. But in the course of years, commerce has taken over and each season seem to come earlier and earlier. Before we realize it, they'll be putting up Valentine decoration in the shops!

What do you think of this?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Afternoon in the kitchen

Sometimes, our kitchen resembles a small factory. On free afternoons (my sister is still working) we like to prepare some food for the days to come.

Today we made soup, a tuna salad for tomorrow and in a few moments we'll start preparing today's dinner. The soup is a mixture of onion, turnip and carrot. You start by cutting up the vegetables in small cubes. Then you fry the onion for a while, generously add curry and then add water When the water cooks, drop some bouillon cubes into it. When they are dissolved, add the carrots and turnip. Let cook for about half an hour. When the soup is cooled down a bit, you mix the lot.

The tuna salad is made of red bell peppers (2/3), shallot, egg, tuna on olive oil and mayonaise. You can also add some herbs to your own taste. This is great with real Belgian fries!

And tonight's dinner is something we haven't tried before. It's a stew of seitan with beer, onion and mushroom, along with roasted Brussels sprouts and rice. We'll see how it tastes.

So this afternoon was pretty busy. I don't mind, however, it makes a nice change from sitting behind the computer and do some writing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Euromillions millionaire flees the country

Granted, when all the world knows you've won a big sum (in this case: 168 million Euro), you won't have a quiet moment left. Just everyone will be begging for money. The man who won this big amount two weeks ago didn't dare stay in Schaarbeek, where he lived and worked. He fled to Germany, to live with family there.

He had bought his ticket in a shop, of course. The system works like this: when you go to the shop to have your ticket validated, the screen will go black and you'll be asked to call the Lottery in Brussels. There someone will tell you you're the winner of a big amount. They will also ask you what you want to have known in the media. And this is where most people go wrong. They allow the lottery to share their gender, their age, their family situation, even their address. And the owner of the shop where the winning tickets was sold, of course also knows he had a winner. No wonder all the world knows who and what after a couple of days.

When you want to live anonymously (and I think it can be done) you have to play online. For starters, there will not be a single clue of to where the winning ticket was sold. And you go to the Lottery headquarters with your own contract. Have them sign nothing of your identity, gender, occupation, family situtian and address will be shared in the media. Just have them announce there was a winner in Belgium. The country is big enough.

And then, continue you ordinary life for some time. It's easier when you are alreay a bit older. In our case, my sister could go on working for one or two years, and then claim to have taken up some sort of leave (which does exist in the department of education). Then sell the house (we want to to this anyway, all the neighorhood knows) and move to the coast. Nobody there will know how much money you have in the bank. I don't think we would spend too much of all this money. Just freshen up the flat at the coast and do some more travelling. And stay in first class hotels and fly business class. There would be a lot left when we'd go - good for the charities we've been supporting for many years. The state would get nothing.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Eagerly looking forward to the next Pendergast

Tomorrow, the next Pendergast novel is being available on Kindle: The Obsidian Chamber. I am so looking forward to reading it!



I've loved the novels of Preston & Child ever since I picked one up at an WH Smith in the UK, many years ago. I could not put down that book, so I bought the other ones as well. My favorite character is Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. He's the kind of man I'd love to meet in real.

A warning: you should really read the Pendergast novels in order, starting with Relic and now continuing with The Obsidian Chamber. Many subcharacters occur in the course of the novels, and it's nice to know who they are and what they have done.

In this new novel, Pendergast's evil brother is returning (although for long believed dead). I just wonder how this plot will go.

Any other Pendergast fans around?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tuscany dreams

We've been thinking a bit this weekend, and we decided to cancel our trip to Paris (due early November). The main reason we wanted to make this trip was to attend Le Fantôme de L'Opéra but because of the fire in the Mogador theater, the performances were cancelled for this year. As we've already been to Paris with our parish priest (a long time ago,, but such a great trip) who was also our neighbor, we decided to cancel the hotel reservation.

Instead we are looking for another destination next year. We already have trips booked, to London, Buenos Aires and Krakow, but another trip is always welcome. So we are thinking of Florence and the Tuscany region.



The past years we've been to Rome and Venice so Florence is the next town in Italy we want to see. Home of the Medici family, who figure in my novel about The Medica Diamonds... It's Maria de Medici's necklace that causes all the havoc in Marguérite's life - and will cause more so for Countess Rebecca and her granddaugther Julie in the next installment.



I love Italian food and also like the atmosphere in this country, mafia aside. In our two trips, we never experiences anything negative. We were not robbed of our valuables (we don't carrry around any) and only met kind people who helped us where necessary.

It will be lovely to visit the town of Florence and see some masterpieces of Italian renaissance, as well as discovering the Tuscany valley. Should definitely make a day trip to Sienna and the wine region.

Now the only thing left to do is pick some dates and make some reservations.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Nobel Prize Literature for Bob Dylan

This certainly came as a surprise - this year's Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to singer/songwriter Bob Dylan!


And's it caused quite a controversy already. Most of the authors who write literature (which is, in my opinion, just something I'd never touch) say a genuine writer should get this Prize.

So ok, they could hand it to whomever. But why especially Bob Dylan? I don't think he's that great a singer. Heaven, he can't sing, he just wails a bit and sometimes produces the sound of a saw. Neither are his texts that special. Although I'm from the generation who should like Dylan, I'm not. Neither did I like The Beatles - only think that John Lennon wrote some beautiful songs (when sung by others).

Who'll get the next Nobel Prize?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Vegetarian kitchen

We've been busy all afternoon (still trying to fix the problem with the loose tiles in the courtyard) so there was not much time for cooking.

That's why we decided to go for vegetarian. We're not real vegetarians, but we do eat veggie food at least twice a week. It's healthy, and it has a great taste.

Tonight we opted for the luke-warm salad of quinoa with feta. Not much work to prepare. For 2 people you need 4 red onions, 4 tomatoes and 125 gram quinoa. You peel the onions and cut the tomatoes and let them stew a bit. In the meantime you prepare the quinoa. It needs to cook for some 10 minutes in boiling water (to which we add one cube of vegetable stock). When ready, you add it to the mix of onion and tomato. Finally you add some herbs (we like mint) and the feta cheese.



Good and tasty!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Games that sharpen the mind

When you are getting older, it's not a bad thing to play some games - real or virtual ones. Some games are really good for the mind.

The number one game would be chess - but I don't like that. Too mathematical to my liking. (I never got the feeling for maths, because nobody could ever explain to me what those 'a' and 'y' symbols actually represented.) On the contrary, I was quite good at reckoning sums (even now can do them out of my head) and accounting. I'm good with money, can plan my expenses and can make up a budget. These are what you need in life, not those silly irrational maths. These are only good for freaks....



On the other hand, I like word games - games like Words of Wonder where you have to make words to score points. And recently I discovered Mahjong. This is also a game I like. You have to think forward to score. Up to now I've managed to do the three daily challenges in a rather fast time. It's just figuring out how the cubes are put together. And it's a funny game, too. I play it on my pc, which is easier for my rheumatic fingers.

Anyone else who likes these games?

Monday, October 10, 2016

The General's Wife

Please meet author Sara R. Turnquist today. Sara is doing a virtual book tour for The General's Wife, her historical romance available from Clean Reads.

Sara will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1913



Blurb

“Go home!” Ismene is speechless as she reads those words written in blood on the walls of her new home. The young, raven-haired Grecian beauty had traveled all the way from her homeland to marry the Pharaoh’s top general. But she never expected this. The hatred of the Alexandrian mob for their Greek rulers is right in front of her. It is the first of many threats she will receive. Things are escalating out of control. Damaged crops and horses turned loose at night are one thing. But when Ismene receives a death threat, it becomes clear that there is a spy within her own household. She would turn to her husband to deal with this issue, except he left for battle by order of the Pharaoh. Not knowing whom to trust, she fears for her safety as well as the entire ruling class of Egypt.

Excerpt

Once they were alone, he gathered Ismene into his arms. “Love, are you truly all right?”

“I am.” She sighed, closing her eyes and just breathing in the scent of him. “Now.”

He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. When he closed his eyes he could still see the scene that he had come upon when he had found her on the balcony, and his blood ran hot. He forced his mind back to the present.

“I have a surprise for you.”

“Truly?”

“I thought I might read to you.”

“Oh?” She pulled back to look into his face. “That is a pleasant surprise. I think, sir, that you have found my weakness.”

“I think you know mine too, milady.” He said, drawing her in for an intimate kiss.

Author bio and links

Sara is originally from middle TN. After a short stint in Memphis, where she earned a degree in Biology and began a career as both a Zoo Educator and a Sleep Technician, she then followed a dream to work for a large zoo in Orlando, FL as an Educator. Once she and her husband started their family, they moved back to Tennessee. Sara and her husband now enjoy a full life with their three beautiful and very active children. Sara enjoys many creative outlets – singing, piano, drawing, drama, and organizing anything. And even though she has enjoyed her career as a Zoo Educator, Sara's great love of the written word continued to draw her to write. She has always been an avid reader and, for many years, has been what she terms a “closet writer”. Her travels and love of history have served to inspire her to write Historical Fiction. Sara has made several trips overseas to the Czech Republic. Her time among the Czech people and the landscapes of the country inspired her and greatly influenced her work on her debut novel, The Lady Bornekova, set in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. Sara is also a member of the ACFW.



How to reach me:

Website/URL: saraturnquist.com
Twitter: @sarat1701 Facebook: Sara R. Turnquist, Author - www.facebook.com/authorsararturnquist Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/saravturnquist/


Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Generals-Wife-Sara-R-Turnquist-ebook/dp/B01A9FDT9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453141274&sr=8-1&keywords=the+general%27s+wife

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-generals-wife-sara-r-turnquist/1123223438?ean=2940157880965

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-general-s-wife-1

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/606098

iTunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-generals-wife/id1076223420




Guest blog - A letter from an aspiring author

Please note that I am not saying that I have all the answers. In fact, I am still fairly new to the game. But I want to share what information I have gleaned while it is fresh in my mind. I am a few years into the game (having signed my third contract about a couple of months ago). I think it is important that we share what we have learned and leave the porch light on, so to speak, so that the writers coming behind us can find their way along the path. When I was an aspiring author (and still am, to a large extent), I wondered about what I needed to do, what I needed in my arsenal, and what my day needed to look like. I will try to help you out with those questions as much as I can...
Write the book. First, you need to delve into writing the best book you can. You are likely an aspiring author because you have a story inside of you trying to get out. You have found that inspiration. Get it out on paper. Do what you can to write the best book. This may involve learning how to write. Well how do I learn how to write?
Read books about the craft of writing. Some of my favorite books on the craft include The Emotion Thesaurus and the other books in that series. And most of the books out there about deep point of view, specifically Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View. There are tons of books out there on the craft of writing. You just have to get started somewhere.
Go to conferences. I cannot say enough about the difference that investing in conferences has made in my writing. Learning from the experts, networking with other writers, having the chance to learn from pitching your work to an agent/editor...these are just a few of the gems that come from going to a good conference. There is likely a conference near you (it may be small, but I recommend starting small). And there are larger conferences, even some in specific genres. 
Find a critique group. If you can, join a writing critique group, even if it's online. Find a good one. What I mean by that is there should be at least one person in the group that is published. Or else, you may end up in a situation where the blind are leading the blind. Also, some groups can end up tearing down the more talented writers...that's not what you want. So be on the lookout for
that. A good critique group is going to give you feedback, but give it constructively.
Mentor. As you continue on your journey, see if you can hook up with a mentor. Maybe it will be someone in your critique group who is farther along than you are; maybe it's someone you come across at a conference. But a mentor is an invaluable resource.
Write the book. Are you still writing that book? Cause that's what it's all about. You have to have the book. It's all about the book.
Learn about querying. Query Shark is an amazing resource about how to write a query. Also, be mindful to research the agents/publishers you want to submit to, they each have their own submission guidelines. Some will want a cover letter, some won't. Some want a formal book proposal, some want just sample chapters. Just be mindful and FOLLOW THEIR GUIDELINES to the letter.
Build a website/blog. You need to start building a PLATFORM. I know that sounds like a big, scary word. But, if you plan on marketing (another scary word) your book, you need to have your own website and, probably, a blog. Instead of delving into everything that makes up a platform, I'll just focus on why you set up a website and blog. You want a place where your fan base can come and visit you. You do not own Facebook/Twitter. They can change the rules on you in an instant. You do not want to rely on one of these social media outlets to be your only internet presence. So, set up your own website and start a blog. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you about platform.
Read other authors’ blogs. I follow 5 blogs every week and make regular comments on these blogs to get involved in these communities. This is a piece of advice my mentor gave to me. It’s a great way to not only learn, but also network.
Write the book. In the end, it's still about the book. These other things are ways to enhance your experience as a writer/author. But, you cannot forget that it is about your idea, your story, your novel. Never lose sight of that. And there will be days when you don't feel like spending time with your book, editing, revising, or writing. But it is important to spend that time in your work, creating. Just tryto make yourself sit down and start working, once the pump is primed, the juices just might start flowing. You won't know until you try.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lazy Sunday

After spending a day shopping in Antwerp yesterday, we are enjoying a very lazy Sunday. The day in Antwerp was nice. The weather was better than expected, with sun coming out somewhere late in the morning. The region between the Central Station and the river are practically car-free, so it's nice walking around.

We had lunch in a place not far from the shopping streets and that was ok as well. Friendly staff, decent food, fair prices.

We also did find what we were looking for. I needed a new coat for winter (found one in a color I really like) and my sister needed a cardigan. She also found her choice.

For a change the trains were spot on time (is becoming to be more normal these days) and we arrived back home at a decent hour in the evening. Enough time to fix a bite to eat and then enjoy some TV shows, with a bottle of red wine and some cracker nuts.

Today, we slept a bit longer and then took time to read our Sunday paper. This afternoon we're looking at pictures from former trips. We are selecting some to enlarge so we can put them against the wall at the flat in Heist.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The 'A' of Antwerp

When I want to go shopping, I prefer to go to Antwerp. We've always done this, probably since our grandmother was born there. But later on I've been in many other city, like Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, ... and I still like Antwerp best.



It's easy to reach the city by train. You arrive in the Central Station, which has been fully renovated to its former glory of the 19th century.

Leaving the railway station, you head into De Keyserlei, which brings you to the Meir - a long shopping street. Finally you come to the river Schelde and the quays. Somewhere between the river and the shopping quarter is the Groenplaats where a weekly market is held and then you're also not far from the oldest church in town and the Grand Place. 

Antwerp has theatres and venues for big events. Unfortunately, when you want to attend a show in the evening, you'd better hope it doesn't end too late or else you don't get back to Dendermonde. That's the reason why early next year, we'll be spending the weekend in Antwerp. We want to see Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley, so we booked a hotel for the weekend. Can as well do some sightseeing - you know, you almost never do this in your own country!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Be careful when you have builders in the house!

This afternoon, I came to the conclusion that you really have to be there when builders are carrying out a job in or around your house. You have to watch them constantly and check they do everything as was agreed.

Some years ago, I had my courtyard tiled. I paid the contractor a handsome sum and yes, everything LOOKED very nice when they were finished. But we weren't there all the time they worked. We had a little trip and only returned when the work was almost done.

Now, we needed to steady some tiles which had loosened up a bit. What did we discover? The tiles were not laid on a chappe, but on stamped earth! No wonder the tiles loosened up. And of course this problem only shows up after the period of guarantee.

The only thing now is to have the entire courtyard redone by a company that does decent work. A pity my dad's cousin is no more alive. He also did this kind of work, and for family he always had a 'special' price.

Yuk! My finances were already low after having to buy a new heater for warm water and central heating - now this! I'll have to save up a bit first. Luckily the bad weather season is coming to us, so they won't be able to work before spring comes. By then I can have more funds.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Here comes autumn

The sun is out, but when I woke up this morning my garden was full of leaves and there was a definite chill in the air.



I like autumn, though. I like to make walks in the wood, with the fallen leaves crackling under my feet. Also at the coast this season is a nice one. No more beach huts, open view from the boulevard to the water. And less tourists. I don't mind tourists, and probably the people in Heist think I'm an 'outlander' either, but this is my second home and I like it there very much.

The only season I don't like very much is spring. Way to cold mostly and also very wet. In winter you can have snow and ice, to which you can dress. And summer in one of the southern countries, just wonderful!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Resthaven

Today author Erik Therme is our guest. He's doing a blurb blitz tour for his latest novel Resthaven, a YA suspense available from Kindle Press.

Erik will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Here's the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1907



Blurb

The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt—especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge of town. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety . . . only to discover the front doors are now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found. Kaylee is about to learn that not everything that goes ‘bump in the night’ is imaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts. 

Excerpt

Listen.

That’s my father’s favorite word. I’m pretty sure that’s why he left my mother and me: we never listened. What does he expect? My mother hides behind a computer sixty hours a week, and I’m only fifteen. It’s not in our nature to listen. Case in point: I think my mother just asked a question I didn’t catch—which is bad—because she hates repeating herself almost as much as I do. My best defense is to keep staring out the car window, pretending I didn’t hear.

“Well?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “I get it. You hate me.”

“Kaylee, I don’t hate you. And we both know you brought this on yourself.”

“Me? How is this my fault? I haven’t done anything—” 

“Exactly. It’s been three weeks since we moved here, and in that time you’ve made zero effort to make friends or leave the apartment. If it wasn’t for Anna, you wouldn’t do anything but come home from school and sulk in your room.”

I slunk down further in the passenger seat. “Yeah, and if it wasn’t for Anna I wouldn’t even be here right now.”

“Well, I think it was very generous of these girls to invite you over tonight, so at least try and make an effort. It’s only for a few hours.”

I scowled out my window, knowing it was pointless to argue. Once my mother made up her mind it took an act of God, or an argument with my father, to change it. 



Author bio and links

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 4 with his thirteen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.


Website https://www.eriktherme.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/erik.therme

Twitter https://twitter.com/ErikTherme

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7831573.Erik_Therme

BUY @ AMAZON http://tinyurl.com/zdxwebl 


Could you survive in dire circumstances?

Lately, I've been reading a lot. One of my books was about a young boy who escaped a kidnapper and ran into the woods. There he tried to survive until he got to a place where he would be safe and could contact his parents and the police. He survived, but of course that's just fiction.

Makes me wonder how many of us would be able to do just the same? Imagine you have to leave your home with nothing but your clothes on your body and (hopefully) something in your pockets or purse that could serve as a knife. Would you be able to catch, kill and skin a bird, a rabbit or whatever? Or make a fire? Find a shelter to sleep in?

I know for myself I'd find it very hard. We modern people don't know how to live in the wild any longer. Our grandparents perhaps could have managed - well, some did when they lived through a terrible war. They used what they could to make do. I do know some basics, like the fact that snow can be used to isolate and that's it's warmer near a tree under a cover of leafs. But I seriously doubt I could catch a bird or a rabbit. Next to that I also don't know what edible and what's not. I just wouldn't survive.

Schools should teach kids how to cope with the circumstances instead of having subjects that don't interest a person.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Putting up the Halloween decoration

We like to keep our house decorated according to the season. So now October has started it's time for the Halloween stuff.



Now our living quarters are full of witches (little and bigger ones), pumpkins, acorns, ghosts... This decoration can stay up until the end of the month, and a little later it's time for the Christmas stuff.

We have a large attic room, and in the cupboards there are boxes for every season: Valentine, Easter, spring, summer, autumn, Halloween, winter and Christimas.

We don't overdo it, but I think a house looks cosier when you have no bare walls. Btw, I also don't like everything in white. Some people have white walls AND white furniture. I think that's so cold. I prefer a light color on my walls, as the house is too old to use modern colors, but I want some paintings at least. For the rest, I don't want little figurines or anything which can break easily, as I'm not always careful when dusting off!