Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

I'd like to wish everyone who reads this all the best for the new year 2018.

Here in Belgium, due to the very bad weather, lots of fireworks displays have been cancelled, but I suppose there will be enough of them in other places.

We won't be doing a lot of partying, as we are leaving for London to spend to rest of the week there. London is always fun!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Enjoying the Chrismas holidays

Christmas has gone for another year. Now it's heading off to New Year's Eve.

We're staying at the coast for the time being. The coast is always great, in every season. Now it's cold and windy, with bouts of rain. However, there is always a chance to be outdoors. The rain never lasts for hours. So we make walks, enjoy goodies (after all, it's a holiday), do what we like... Especially for my sister a holidays is much needed.She has such a strenuous job and need to kick off every now and then.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at home (it was also my sister's birthday) but we went out dining in the bistro next door. Btw, it's nice to have a good restaurant so close by! Christine and Evie, the two ladies who own the restaurant, always take very good care of their guests. We had a lovely meal and our afternoon went by in a great way.

We won't be able to do anything with New Year's Eve, as we are going to London the following day. So no big celebration or party! I need my rest nowadays.

So, how do you spend the holidays?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this blog a Merry Christmas. Make it a happy time, with lots of love, family joy ... good food and lots of presents!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Start of the Christmas holidays

It's going to be a very busy day at Brussels Airport today. They expect a load of passengers. The exams are done, most pupils got their marks and so everyone can leave for a trip. Most of these people travel to sunnier places, like Dubai or Sharm-El-Sheikh. For me, that's not done. Ok, I like sun, but in winter I'd choose a place where you can find some snow. Last winter we went to Budapest, and it was snowing as we arrived - the rest of the days were sunny, though, with a cold edge.

This time, we are first going to spend some time at our flat at the coast. We'll celebrate Christmas there. My sister likes to cook, so we can expect something special on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then we'll head home on the 30th, to be able to do more shopping for New Year's Eve. In Dendermonde, the shops close on most Sundays and holidays. At the coast, this is different. There the supermarket is always open on Sunday.

After New Year, we're going to spend the rest of the week in our favorite place abroad, namely London. We've got tickets for a musical (Kinky Boots) and a ballet (Cinderella at Sadlers' Wells). Always great to be there, and there'll be sales when you go shopping. I still need some things for our upcoming trip to the Emirates.

I'm still on half a dosis of my daily poison, so I may expect to enjoy the holidays to the full extent.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In the Heat of the Tropics

Please welcome author Christina Elliott today, who's doing a virtual book tour for her publication In the Heat of the Tropics.  Christina will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. Please use this link to place your comment:

So, what's the book about?


Amid a sweltering Miami summer, a serial killer is haunting the city. Reporter Ingrid Sorenson is assigned the story and her primary source is brusque detective Rick Gonzalez. The pair clash, but sparks of passion ignite. They risk their jobs to give in to their desire, but mistrust of each other’s career motives wedges them apart. Then Ingrid gets a tip that leads her into the killer’s lair. She and Rick must choose between saving themselves or rescuing their love.


As Ingrid opened the door, Rick thrust a bouquet of white roses at her. “To make up for being out of touch,” he said.

She was touched by his thoughtfulness. “You didn’t have to do that, but thanks. They’re lovely. I’ll put them in a vase.” They entered and she disappeared into the kitchen.

“It was either flowers or chocolate,” he called as she disappeared into the kitchen. She filled a glass vase with water and set the roses in them. 

“Good choice. I love chocolate, but I try to stay away from it,” she said, exiting the kitchen to place the vase in the center of the dining table.

“I figured. Chocolate can be a double-edged sword, but you can’t really go wrong with roses.”

“White’s an elegant color, too.”

“You’re an elegant lady.”

“You know all the lines.”

“I wish it was as simple as knowing lines.” 

“It’s not, is it?” She gave him a bemused smile.

“You got that right. So how am I doing so far?”

“Mmmm.” Folding her arms, she tilted her head and squinted her eyes in a mock-study of him. “B-plus.”

“What? I thought I deserved at least an A-minus.”

“There’s always room for improvement.”

“Whoa, she’s tough, ladies and gentlemen.”

She laughed. “So, you ate pizza already.”

“I was starving and believe me, you don’t want to be around me when I’m hungry, but we can get you something to eat.”

“So you can do surveillance on me as I chow down?”

“You’re a feast for my eyes.”

Ingrid groaned. “Let’s get going before your lines make me lose my appetite.” She grabbed her purse.

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” He held open the front door for her. “I know a great empanada place in Coconut Grove. We could get a couple of them and go eat by the marina at a picnic table,” Rick said as he drove. “We can even sit side-by-side so I don’t have you under surveillance.”

“I love empanadas,” Ingrid said. “Definitely one of the best things I’ve discovered in Miami.”

“So am I up to an A-minus now?”

She laughed, suddenly feeling carefree and totally in the moment. “Yes, I’ll give you an A-minus for that.”

I did a little interview with Christina, and here's what she answered:

a) How did you prepare for this novel?
In the Heat of the Tropics grew out of my stint as a newspaper reporter in Miami. The protagonist, Ingrid, is the reporter. Since I lived in Miami, I chose to set the book there as it’s a sexy setting. Cops and reporters are always clashing on big stories—the reporters want information, the police don’t want to give it. Also, reporters and police have a common goal—the truth. So there’s a natural tension, as well as a commonality, that I saw I could use as the basis for a good romance. Plus, of course, many cops are alpha males, who make  good hero characters.
b) Do you have a background in law/police?
As a reporter, I covered cops, crime and courts a lot during my career. I’ve also dated two cops (!) and took a citizens police course that was offered by my local police department. I highly recommend those courses as a good way to gain insight into police and policing. Many jurisdictions offer them and they’re free! So with all that, I had a good leg up on the police stuff. I looked up online a few things I didn’t know or posted queries on writers’ groups. 
c) How do you deal with criticism, albeit justified?
It always stings, but I don’t overreact. I remind myself that it’s only one person’s opinion. If more than one reader makes the same criticism, then that element bears looking at. I wait for a while to let the sting cool off then I go back and look at what they’re saying with an objective eye to see what I can learn for the future. After all, you don’t get better by everyone patting you on the back. You have to know where you can improve to improve.
d) Is this a first novel, or have you written others?
This is my first romantic suspense novel written as Christina Elliott. As Christina Hoag, I’ve had two other novels published: Girl on the Brink, a YA story about a girl who gets involved with the wrong guy. It’s about dating violence and was named to Suspense magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. My other is a gritty crime novel, Skin of Tattoos, about a gang member who wants to get out of the gang life, but finds it much harder than he anticipates for a number of reasons. He gets drawn in deeper with some pretty bad consequences. That one was a finalist for the 2017 Silver Falchion Award for suspense.
e) What do you like to read yourself?
I read a lot of different stuff, but I’d say I love well written fiction that incorporates crime and romance. Those two elements make for good, emotionally intense drama. I was an English major, so I also love reading classics and literary fiction and exploring international authors and settings. I think writers have to read widely and a lot. 

Author bio and links

Christina Elliott is a former Miami newspaper reporter and editor. She now writes spicy romantic suspense novels from Los Angeles, where she’s glad to report there are far fewer bad-hair days but sadly far less Cuban coffee. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America.



Monday, December 18, 2017

Why not try a folly once in while?

Nowadays, I take life as it comes. I enjoy each day given to me and hope there'll be many more. And one important thing is never to give up hope.

So it's good to make plans - even impromptu ones. 2018 is getting pretty busy with all the things we're going to do. We're lucky that money isn't an issue. My sister still works and has a decent monthl income, while I enjoy a pension as civil servant. No kids, mortgage paid, so why do we need to save (too) much?

Like I said, this allows to give in to a folly every now and then. I remember 2011 when all of a sudden we could get tickets (250 £ a piece) for the 25th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Plus two nights at a hotel.... But it was so worth all the money! It's one of those memories we both cherish, as we were also blessed with truly beautiful warm weather for this occasion.

And now we did it again. Chris read somewhere that American singer Michael Bolton (whom met unexpectedly met in Venice last year) comes to the UK for a series of special performances. As ones of these dates falls into a school holiday, we are able to attend. Spent all yesterday afternoon booking train tickets (Eurostar to London, Virgin to Liverpool), finding a hotel, buying VIP tickets to the event. Gives us the opportunity to talk to Michael for a while, and ask if he now has time to buy us a pint...

Do you ever give in to follies?

Friday, December 15, 2017

The warmest week

In three days' time, StuBru (one of our national radio stations) will organize De Warmste Week (Flemish for: the warmest week). It is traditionally the week before Christmas.

During this week, funds will be raised for all kind of good causes and the money will be donated to these organisations during a big live show on TV.

It's a wonderful gesture, I think. Most organisations don't get government support, like the organisation that fights cancer. They all depend on the goodwill of people like you and me. It is thanks to the moneys they collected in the course of years, that doctors now have more means to conquer this ugly illness. Would I've had cancer ten years ago, my chances would have been nihil. Now, thanks to the money collected, a whole ranch of medicines have been brought to market. These pills can reduce the size of tumors, even make them disappear. Doctors think that in 10 years' time cancer will only be a chronical disease. I hope to live that long.

Our (little) support comes in the form of a monthly donation. We used to support another good cause, but now think the fight against cancer is more important. We also plan to leave our inheritance to this organisation. This way we can do something back for all the chances I've been given.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gradually getting into the Christmas spirit

Since Monday last, the radio station has been airing christmas songs galore. That's already something to put you into the right mindset for Christmas. I love classics as 'Last Christmas' by George Michael.

Our house is already fully decorated. We like to put up decorations according to the season. It brings life into the old house, I find. Ever if we have the opportunity, we buy little things abroad that are nice for one season or other. Like we have reindeer from Alaska, and strings of fishes from the south of France.

The Christmas stall we put up was already there when I was born, nearly 62 years ago. We still have it (and it's in relatively good shape), only the big star has gone missing. We now have a little one.

Another reason why I look forward to the coming holidays is that I feel fine once more. Since my last check-up on Thursday last week, the doctor halved my dosis of my daily 'poison'. I also got a prescription for a pill that helps against nausea. Now I take such a pill half an hour before I take my 'poison' pill of 400 mg and .... I feel fine. I can eat with taste once more, have more energy, no more pain anywhere in my body. I hope it can remain this way.

So, how do you feel about Christmas?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why it pays to have two freezers

Our weather is just terrible, and continues to be so. Yesterday, it was full chaos. Brussels Airport had to cancel almost their flights, as they could only use one runway. People had to spend the night at the airport.

On the roads, not so much difference. Traffic got stuck for hours at an end. For a relatively short distance, you had to reckon with a ride of 2-3 hours, as many trucks got stuck on bridges or such.

I tried to clear a path on the pavement, but after ten minutes you couldn't see it anymore.

Conclusion: if you don't have to go outside, remain in! Luckily we had done some shopping on Saturday, when it was cold but dry. And we do have two freezers, in which can be found many things. My sister loves home baking, so we always have some cake or buns in the freezer. Just like soup. Onion soup, leek soup, tomato soup, ... All in portions of one person.

Today is also a day you'd better not leave you home because the pavements are slippery because not everybody cleans them up (even when there are fines). So we live from what we find in our freezers. For today there's a big pot of premade spaghetti sauce and I always have a pasta enough. Tomorrow we can have an omelet for lunch, with bread we just have to unfreeze.

And hopefully tomorrow will be somewhat better!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Let it snow, let it snow...

Yesterday, it snowed all morning and well into the afternoon. It was the first time this year the snow remained for a while. This morning, we woke up once more to heavy snowfall. It's still going on right this minute, and I won't be able to clear a path (I tried to, but you don't see it anymore).

We usually don't get this kind of snow. Most of the time, when it snows, it's just for a short while and the snow disappears before you know it.

This reminds me of my years in Germany, when winters were cold and snow fell abundantly. We went skiing and skating of the frozen lakes. That was great fun. Last week I was talking with someone (during a check-up at the hospital) who equally spent time in Soest. Lots of memories came back. It really was a good time and I enjoyed those years a lot. I remember I had so much fun there with my friends I barely came home (only when I didn't have any clean clothes left).

Friday, December 8, 2017

The shame of Brussels

Yesterday, it was decided that Brussels won't get any EC 2018 matches. A real shame. They just don't get the Eurostadium ready in time - well, the building hasn't even started.

This is a great problem in our country. I.m.o. it's because of all the different governments we have. Indeed, for such a small country we have various government: the federal, the regional ones (Flanders, Brussels and Wallony). And then you must know that we have a high debt...  Wouldn't it be easier if we just had ONE government, like in the old days? It would save a lot of money, that could be used to build more schools, improve the police force, get more public building done.

But no, they rather fight over who has the right to do something.

The Eurostadium isn't the only building project gone wrong. There is equally a big problem with Brussels Airport, where the Brussels regional government hands out fines for planes flying over their territory. Also in my home town of Dendermonde we have two projects that just aren't going to be. Ten years ago, it was decided the railway station and its environment needed a make-over. But protest from locals has prevented this. Up to now nothing has been done. The same with the new prison. The existing one has become too old, too small for the number of prisoners incarcerated there. So they wanted to build a new prison, completely up to modern standards, on a piece of land near the river and the railway line. Nobody lives there. But some farmers have been succesfully fighting this decision. I think they hope that when the plans are definitely burned, they can sell that ground as building lots (for lots of money).

I.m.o. public good should prevail over private interests. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Thankful for little things

These last weeks, I've learned how precious the little things in life are. Always having been full of health, full of energy, I didn't think of being ill. I enjoyed my life to the full - good food, good wine, lots of trips abroad. Life was great.

But now I'm suffering from the effects of a chemo-treatment I've come to know how precious those things really are. Right now I feel thankful for being able to eat without being sick afterwards (mind, nothing to heavy on the stomach, light meals). I'm thankful for being able to walk to the town center - last week I was unable to stand on my feet as they hurt like hell.

Every day without major trouble is a good one nowadays. I just hope the treatment helps to reduce the metastasis in my body. The main tumor has been removed but a couple of small lumps remain. The medicine I take should be able to reduce the size of them, even can make them go away. But it's poison to the body. Just think of it: if it doesn't kill you, you might get better!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tabula Rasa

Yesterday, we watched the last - and very surprising - episode of Tabula Rasa:  a Flemisch tv-series with Veerle Baetens in the leading role and of course a lot of other prime actors.

'Tabula Rasa' is about Mie D'Haeze, a married woman who suffers from amnesia since her car accident. Mie (short for Annemarie) can't remember anything - not even what happened just ago. And then someone goes missing and she's the only witness. The police place her in a mental institution in the hope the doctors there can make Mie better so she remembers where Thomas is.

Inside the institution, Mie gets visits from her mother and husband and she gets friendly with another patient, Vronsky. She also gets visits from the police and her psychiater, Dr. Mommaerts. She keeps a scrapbook in which she draws pictures of her dreams. Sometimes she gets mysterieus letters, warning her not to believe everything she sees or hears...

Bit by bit the viewer get more insight in what really happened. For instance, we learn that Mie's little girls - who plays around in the first episodes - in reality died in the car accident. And that she meets the man who is deemed responsible for that accident.

It was a rather special series, but both my sister and I loved it. And we never saw the end coming!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Kick-off of the 1000 Classics

Today my home town Dendermonde had the honor of being the one where Radio 2's lauch of 1000 Classics was to take place. The 1000 Classics are always aired during the first week of the Christmas holidays and everyone can vote for them. You just go to one of the happenings, or simply go online to make your top-three of favorites. The number that gets most votes will be nr 1. For a couple of years, that's been Queen's  Bohemian Rhapsody, which is also my all-time favorite.

The radio vans of Radio 2 were parked on the market square of Dendermonde, and if you voted, you got a free ticket for a special attraction. Santa's sleigh was being lifted high up in the air, and when inside you had a magnificent view over the town. The only minor thing was that it was rather foggy, next to being ice-cold. But you were treated to a warm soup or a glass of cava (good quality). That warmed the bones!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Winter's coming

This morning, we woke up to grey skies threathening with snow. That's early. Last year, we had soft temperatures all winter - when we were in Budapest (Hungary) with Christmas, it was even warm and sunny!

Looks like this year it will be different. Normally we don't get a lot of snow in Belgium, but when it falls, the owners of ski gear in the Ardennes will be very glad. According to the weather bureau, there'll be snow to ski on this weekend already.

I like snow, as long as it don't become mush. And I especially don't like it when they put salt on the roads and pavements. I know it's supposed to make the surface less slippery, but it does a lot of damage to your shoes. I use a pair of old snow boots in these conditions.

How's the weather where you are? Care to share?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Haven't been feeling well

I haven't written something for a while yet, the main reason being I was not feeling very well. My treatment against cancer has some side effects and not every day is a good one. That being said, I must say I count myself lucky because I do have days in which I feel OK. Some patients are poorly every day.

At the same time, I also suffer from a severe head cold and that's not helping either. Just like watching tennis the past weekend. Belgium didn't win the Davis Cup. David Goffin was his usually great self, but Steve Darcis could better have stayed at home.

Today is a day not to go outside (but I had to, as I need to run some errands). I got drenched! The rain keeps falling. When there's one thing I hate it's rain. It chills my bones. I can stand extreme heat and cold, as long as it keep dry.

Just heard on the radio that Prince Harry and Megan are finally engaged. Harry has always been my favorite British prince.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Shadows, Shells and Spain

Having recently visited Spain and enjoyed it a lot, it's with pleasure I present to you John Meyer. John is doing a virtual book tour for Shadows, Shells and Spain, a travel memoir available November 17th from Summer Nomad Publications. The tour will run November 20th-December 1st.

John Meyer will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:

I asked John what draws him to Spain in particular? This is his answer:

Because I write what I call fictional travel memoirs, I need locations that are rich in history, filled with local, colorful characters, and steeped in adventure. And now in two of my books, I’ve been drawn to Spain for all those reasons and more.
The first time was in my book, Bulls, Bands, and London, where I ran with the bulls during Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival. London was the primary focus of the story but Pamplona was where the main character was truly challenged and had to make a life-altering decision—while risking his life being pursued by a half-dozen frightened bulls.
My current book, Shadows, Shells, and Spain, was first conceived while I was visiting the town of Estella during the research stage of Bulls, Bands, and London. Exploring the town, I saw many hikers marching through Estella with their gigantic backpacks and their walking sticks. What was going on? Who were these people?
I dropped in a local albergue where many of these walkers were staying and discovered a diverse group of people from all over the world, who were determined to walk 800 kilometers across the country along an ancient Roman trading route to visit Santiago de Compostela. Each walker had their own personal reason for their demanding journey. Some had just quit their jobs. Some had just quit their marriages. Some just needed to unplug from their stressful lives back home. Whatever their reason they were all united in their belief that walking across the country would help them heal from their hurts or stimulate their minds to live their lives better when they returned.
So in the June of 2014, I joined this pilgrim party and walked the Spanish Camino from Pamplona to Santiago. The adventure had everything I needed to write my next book. I had the rich history of the Camino; I uncovered interesting anecdotes in every town; and I met wonderful characters from around the world. All I needed to do was add my story: Lost and listless on the island of Mallorca, Jamie Draper searches for his estranged wife, Pam, who has left him without any explanation or warning. Exploring her last known location, Jamie stumbles upon an urgent letter from his missing wife promising full disclosure as to her sudden departure and her current whereabouts. There’s just one catch: her mysterious adventure is disclosed in a series of letters she’s left hidden along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain...
To outside pilgrims scattered across the globe, this Camino was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some serious soul-searching. To Spanish pilgrims, this 800 kilometer trek was almost a rite of passage: a journey every Spaniard must make in order to test the body, free the mind, nurture the soul—and truly understand what it means to be Spanish. 
That's what draws me to Spain. It doesn't matter where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you make, every citizen embraces their heritage and takes a moment to re-connect with the land and dig deep inside their hearts to re-focus their minds to what's truly important in their lives.

More info on the book:


John Meyer's "Shadows, Shells, and Spain" is a thrilling new adventure where a husband desperately searches for his missing wife along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. It’s also a bold, new take on a modern-day pilgrimage that feeds the mind and soul of every character while testing the limits of their bodies... and their comfort zones.


It became a miserable daily existence, made worse by a George Bernard Shaw quote that singly gnawed at me: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

George was right. I had to do . . . something. Anything! Teaching teenagers wasn’t fulfilling me; I needed to find a more creative outlet—and I thought I had found it when I started writing novels.

I tried several genres. My young adult novels only reminded me of my apathetic students, and my science fiction books always morphed into Star Wars. My dystopian novels were too depressing. My horror novels gave me nightmares. My political thrillers gave me headaches. I settled on detective novels starring rugged private eyes and leggy dames. 

I wasn’t very good at it. 

In fact, I never came close to completing any of them. I wasn’t clever enough to conceal the credible clues. My attempts at misdirection were too misleading. I was heavy-handed when I
needed to be charming, and I was lightweight when I needed to be conclusive. And anyone who read any of my early chapters always deduced the killer right away.

I even gave my early chapters to my brightest students as an extra-credit homework assignment.

“So, what did you think?”

“Sir, I didn’t finish it . . .”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“What is this, a murder mystery? Am I supposed to guess who the killer is? What does this have to do with my history project?”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“I don’t know . . . Was it the chambermaid with the stutter?”

“Damn it!”

Author bio and links

John Meyer writes fictional travel memoirs—unique adventure stories that combine fun facts of history with present-day drama and humor—always revolving around a fictitious love story and always based on his own thrilling journeys. His previous publication, Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy, was selected as a November Best Book by Chatelaine magazine. Meyer is also the studio writer for Entertainment Tonight Canada and has been ever since the popular daily show launched back in 2005.


Buy links:

Barnes and Noble:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Prosecco Christmas

Come and meet my guest, author Sylvia Ashby. Sylvia is the author of Prosecco Christmas,  a romantic comedy/chick lit available November 17 from Vangtorp Volumes. The Book Blast Tour will take place on Tuesday, November 21.

Sylvia will be awarding a pair of funny prosecco socks to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week? 

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof. 

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?


It’s dark outside but I’m awake.

It’s normal. Nothing to worry about. Everyone has little things that keep them awake at night with their stomachs knotted, right? I’m no different to anybody else. 

For me those things are Eatwell and bad curry.

And the curry last night must’ve been really bad because it’s giving me awful cramps.

At dawn I tiptoe to Mum’s kitchen to make myself a cup of hot chocolate. I drop a few giant marshmallows on top and watch them melt into the dark liquid. It reminds me of snow softening into the ground. I love snow. It’s a pity we hardly ever get it in England. 

There’s only frost outside now as far as I can see.

In the fluffy dawn light, Mum’s garden looks stunning in a quaint, English-village sort of way. With it’s perfectly trimmed hedges that are currently covered in curtain light strings and Christmas icicle lights.

Mum’s even bought a mummy and baby penguin for the patio. The baby is looking up and the mummy is doting down on it. They are made out of metal framing and glittery strands and illuminate the darkness around them with cool spark. 

I glide a hand over my stomach in which my own baby is growing.

‘A few more weeks to go, little one.’ I whisper in the dark. ‘I can’t wait to meet you!’ 

My tummy tightens and I feel the baby turn. It’s too big to move now, I’m in my thirty-seventh week, but it manages to roll a bit and slam into my bladder. 

I totter towards the toilet. That’s another thing I can’t wait for – to regain control over my own bladder. This baby has been keeping me as fidgety as a popcorn in a frying pan. 

Another cramp grips me as I’m washing my hands.

‘Aw, aw, aw, aw!’ I double over the sink. ‘Bloody curry.’

I’m surprised everyone else isn’t up and queuing for the loos, considering we all ate—’

And that’s when it hits me – it’s not the curry.

I’m in labour!

Author bio and links

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT - she's written it all!
She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe - London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

Amazon author page

Sunday, November 19, 2017

David Goffin into ATP Masters final

For most people, quite an unepected final today. It was believed Federer would play against Nadal, but our countryman Goffin decided otherwise.

He started the big money tournament with a win against Rafael Nadal, then lost against Dimitrov, but won once more against Thiem and yesterday, in an epic match, he beat Federer!

Today he'll play once more against Dimitrov - and the result is yet to be awaited. David will want a revanche for his lost match earlier this week. And he'll be on a high after beating Federer. That one was his big idol and he could never win against him - up to now.

Goffin has the potential to become a top-5 player, even to win some Grand Slams. He's only 26, so he can tennis for a while longer. And what he doesn't have in lenght he compensates by being quick on his legs and having a great forehand.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If I Want You

My guest today is author Rachel Brimble, who's doing a virtual book tour for If I Want You, a romantic suspense available November 8 from Wild Rose Press. The tour will run November 13 - December 1.

Rachel will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:

So what's the book about?


When local journalist, Tori Peterson, fails to prevent a child abduction outside her niece’s school, her horror and guilt sparks a vow to do whatever it takes to get little Abby Brady home to her parents. While Tori battles the vile memories of her own kidnapping as a child, she accepts the help of widowed father, Mark Bolton. As he and Tori join forces with the local police, their attraction and intimacy grows…along with their fears for Abby. Links are uncovered between Abby’s disappearance and Tori’s kidnapping, and Tori is forced to accept the monster who held her captive is back. But this time, Tori is all grown up, and there is no way she will let him hurt another little girl.


It wasn’t the just the smell of fresh air and sandalwood that alerted Tori to the fact Mark had joined them. It was the way his shadow fell over her as though covering her body with his wide, deep and potentially dangerous protectiveness.

She didn’t bother to look at him...even though her Cally was seriously looking. Tori lifted her hand in a half-hearted wave. “Take a seat, superhero.”

“I will.” He sat beside her. “Thank you.”

Every now and then, when she was alone at home, she’d picked up a book. And every now and then, Tori would toss the book across the room whenever she read the words, “the air crackled between them.” Well, whatever instantly plagued the atmosphere between her and Mark as she forced her gaze to his, she was loath to call it crackling. Maybe humming… screaming… burning… but definitely not crackling.

She swallowed. “What are you doing here?”

“Olivia’s staying at a friend’s. I was at a loose end.”

Despite her best efforts to fight her smile, it was ruthless and broke through her barriers like they were made of sugar paper. “Loose end, my ass. You were no doubt pacing around the house and doing everything you could not to get in the car and go get her.”

He smiled and put a glass on the table. “Merlot, right?”

I asked Rachel some questions about this publication:

· Have you ever been in a kidnap (or any other violent crime) situation?
Fortunately, not and thankfully nothing violent has happened to my friends and family. Long may it stay that way. My heart breaks for people who have undergone an ordeal at the hands of another. It must take incredible strength to move past a violent ordeal and they have my every sympathy and admiration.
· Does it need psychological insight to write such novels and how do you go ahead with it?
As I write romantic suspense rather than crime, the psychological insight comes from me focusing on my own emotions as I write imaginary crimes and the victims involved. I also have to try to immerse myself in the mind of the perpetrator/s which can prove very hard to do sometimes. I read A LOT of books and research police and charity websites to gain as much insight as possible with regards to procedure and after-care for the victims of violent crime. I am also lucky enough to have a fabulous police detective contact who answers any questions I might have.
The main focus of romantic suspense is the romance so that is the arc I concentrate on the most while, hopefully, providing a crime element that adds to the reader’s enjoyment of the book.

Author bio and links

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eighth coming in Feb 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Facebook Street Team - Rachel's Readers:
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Just love Stephanie Plum!

I don't recall when the first Stephanie Plum novel was published (somewhere in the '90s) but  I have been reading all of them ever since. They never fail to bring a laugh!

Stephanie is single, thirty-ish and ... a total failure. She's lost her previous job and now tries her luck as bounty hunter. You can guess how that goes. Good for her, she has help. There's Lula, a former hooker, but she's more of a risk than a  help. Next there are the guys - two of them, and it's difficult to choose either one of them.

There's Joe Morelli, copper and on-and-off fiancé to Steph, but there's also sexy Ranger, ex-Special Services and deadly attractive. Both have it on for Stephanie. I once asked Janet Evanovich in my Ten Questions if you would let it end with Steph picking one guy, but she left it in the middle.

These books never bore you and you want to read until you've reached 'The End'. The situations are funny and full of surprises. I sure hope Janet will continue to write on this series, as I just love it!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Devil's Gamble

Please welcome author Michele Arris, who's doing a virtual release day book blast tour for Devil's Gamble, a contemporary romance available November 13, 2017 from Crimson Romance/Simon and Schuster. The Book Blast Tour will take place on Monday, November 13, 2017.

Michele will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Sienna Keller saw how men used her mother, and from an early age she swore she’d never allow it to happen to her. So when she meets smooth-talking billionaire Gavin Crane, who uses his connections to help her art career, she resolves to keep things strictly professional—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Gavin might be the son of the head of the Kavanagh organized crime family, but he wants no part of that life. It’s important to him to prove to Sienna that he’s a good guy. But when she winds up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, he is driven to exact revenge. His father agrees to provide security to watch over her as well as find the man who shot her, but at a cost—Gavin must come back into the family business.

As Sienna begins to let her guard down around Gavin, seeing the kind, caring man he’s always wanted her to see, his secrets begin to pile up. Has she done the one thing she vowed never to do—trusted her heart to the wrong man?


“You have your room keycard?”

She pulled it from her black leather clutch purse. He took it from her, and with a quick swipe at the lock, opened, and stood just inside the room with his back braced flush against the door, giving her a wide area to pass without them making contact.

Just then her cell phone rang. She took it from her purse to view the display and quickly connected. “Hey. Hold on a moment.” Pressing the phone at her chest, she looked at Gavin, whose attention was laser focused on the phone in her hand. “I have to take this.”

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said with little inflection as he reached to his right and set the keycard on the entry table, then his steady stare held hers briefly. “Sleep well.” He stepped out. The door closed quietly behind him.

Sienna waited for the resounding clank of the door across the hall before she let go a breath, and her pulse managed to calm. Wow. She’d expected he’d ask to come inside. A small part of her, that perverse side of her, wanted him to, only so she could turn him away. Turning down his invitation wouldn’t have been just because she felt he was a player or a pain in the ass on occasion, it was something else, some kind of deeply embedded feeling that her mind fought against.

Author bio and links

Award winning author, Michele Arris, writes steamy contemporary romance. 
Michele is always plotting out her characters’ next move. Even when she’s not seated in front of her laptop writing about strong-willed, professional heroines and the complex heroes who strive to have them, she’s plotting scenes in her head. 
“I love to write story where my characters are guaranteed their Happily Ever After.”
In her spare time, Michele enjoys reading all types of romance genres. She loves paranormal romance as well as historical romances, enjoys watching period classics (Little Dorrit, The Buccaneers, and Persuasion to name a few), actually looks forward to working out, is a holistic enthusiast/vitamin junkie, and spending time with family and friends – simply enjoying life. 

Twitter: @ArrisMichele
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

He comes, he comes...

For most people, November 11th will be the day we remember the end of the first World War. But to us and all who live in the region Dendermonde-Aalst, it means something else.

When we were kids, we almost couldn't sleep the night between November 10 and 11. Because that was the day Saint Martin would come with presents and goodies for those children who had been good. It's more or less like the American SantaClaus. Saint Martin actually existed. He was a saint, who gave his cloak to a beggar.

For a little child it means something very special when you wake up, and you find some toys and chocolate next to the chimney (because the good saint drops the presents through it). Of course you'd put down some food for his horse, like carrots and turnip. Little did we wonder why we ate a stew the other day...

We only asked for one present, I remember. A new dress for our Barbie, which were so expensive when we were kids. We needed to save up for almost a year on the little pittance we got for pocket money to buy a new dress. Nowadays, kids ask like a full toy store!

As I went to the shops yesterday, I could buy some treats as even grown-ups like to be surprised at times!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

You Enter a Room

Please welcome my fellow author at Rogue Phoenix Press Nancy Dafoe. Nancy wants to present to you her literay thriller You Enter a Room and is giving away a digital copy of this book to one randomly drawn commenter.

The novel is available at Rogue Phoenix Press and with online booksellers.


Heroine Advena (Vena) Goodwin does not set out to become a detective. She is more interested in untangling a literary mystery, writing her dissertation, and falling in love, but the young man who fascinates her has killed himself or, as she suspects, been murdered.

A smart, resilient young woman, Vena attempts to trap the clever murderer Professor Gould by using his over-sized ego against him. With no one believing her suspicions at first, she is on her own in dangerous territory masked by a scholarly campus setting.

This upmarket murder mystery takes place in the settings of Rochester in upstate New York and Rome, Italy. The crimes, murder and theft, are interwoven with a literary puzzle the protagonist solves even as her life is imperiled.


“Yeah, well, they meant business, so I knew something was going down there. After circling the house, the cops pounded on the door again, then one of them looks through a window he’d already passed and returned to, standing on his toes, and yells something. The other one comes back to the front, or I guess, really a side door, and starts kicking at it. Then both of them were smashing their boots against the door. I mean, I’ve seen this kind of smash in the door on TV, but to actually see these guys break something down is damned impressive.”
Suddenly, I wanted him to slow up and not say the next part out loud, but Sam urged him on. “Then?”
“They went in, and I ran across the street like I was still jogging and looked in the open doorway because I guess I wasn’t thinking about anybody having guns, and I realize that wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do—see, I wasn’t even thinking about myself at that point.”
“Andrew!” I wanted to slap him.
“It was awful, really. This guy, he was hanging from the ceiling fixture at the top.” I covered my face and Sam gripped my arm, her painted nails digging in and leaving little impressions. “They were trying to get him down, so they didn’t see me. One cop grabbed his legs and pulled him back to the top of the stairs to check for a pulse. Then he let him go, accidentally, I think, and the guy starts swinging back and forth like a pendulum. I stepped back then because I’d never seen a dead person hanging like that, and that’s when I saw his boot at the bottom just inside the door. One of his boots was still on, but the other had fallen. I was so close that I could have picked it up. I went back to the other side of the street and called my friend Jay to come get me. I was starting to feel sick.”
At first the detail of the boot seemed pointless and then I saw the image as clearly as Andrew had, marking the death of the individual. Michael’s boot, the worn, old leather ones that he wore every day. “How do you know the shoe or boot was Michael Lawler's?” Sam asked. “Did you know him?”
“No, never heard of him, but when an ambulance pulled up and the EMTs went in, I was still waiting for my friend. Jay had been sleeping in that morning because he didn’t have class, so he wasn’t there yet. See, I didn’t feel like running anymore, I was nauseous, like you.” He looks at me, then said, “Just like you. Another cop came and took pictures, then they brought out his body covered up like on a TV show. One of the cops said to the other, ‘Anything in his pockets?’”
““License says Michael Lawler,” I’m pretty sure the cop said. “Student ID on him too. University of Rochester student. Suicide.” I didn’t want the cops to notice me, so I stepped back further and ducked around behind a house. Thinking about what I did now, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea because they might have thought I had something to do with it, like I was involved in a murder or something. I mean, he was hanging, but who knew how he got there, even if he did say suicide?”
“Oh, no,” was all I could get out. Sam was crying. Looking back later, I realized Andrew might have been the one to put the word 'murder' in my head.
“You’re sure?” Sam asked, and he nodded. I liked Sam a little bit more during those moments we were drawn together in horror. Whatever else life held for either of us, we experienced a temporary bond in that claustrophobic space where breathing becomes more difficult.
Andrew waited a few minutes but saw that neither one of us was up to questioning him further, so he walked off, ready to repeat his tale. He probably had friends back home who had yet to hear of his dramatic morning. That would be all the experience was for Andrew, an opportunity to enlarge his life.
Sam hugged me, and I took that solace greedily. We finally stopped holding one another. “You okay?” she asked.
I nodded, “I can’t believe it.”
“Me either. I’m so sorry, but I’ve got to go,” and we parted. As soon as I left the bookstore, I was hit again, my whole body aching. By the time I reached my apartment, my head hurt so badly that I turned off the lights, pulled the curtains, and rolled into a fetal position on my bed where I stayed for hours. It didn’t help and changed nothing. Hours later, I woke to restless fear and more nausea.
Although I didn’t know Michael well, I was aware of his peculiarities, his withdrawn silence, his intelligence and gentleness. What was certain was I wanted to know him better. What I recognized him best for, however, was his talent. We had read each other’s work on multiple occasions, wrote a few comments that were generous rather than critical. I couldn’t quite believe that Michael had taken his own life, that he was gone. Logically, my search should have ended there with his death and certainty. We were told he had hanged himself. Everything should have been obvious, as related circumstances appeared to be to nearly everyone around me, but suicide and Michael did not fit, would never fit.

My mind kept seeing Michael’s worn boot at the bottom of the stairs and then him swinging when the cop let go of his body either accidentally or deliberately. Unlike Andrew, I was not a witness, had not been at the crime scene, but I might as well have been because I conjured up the sight as clearly as if I had been standing outside in the snow, looking through that open doorway. My eyes followed a line of dread up narrow stairs in disbelief, but I kept turning away before seeing his distorted face, as if I couldn’t bear to look at him in death, even in imagination.

Author bio and links

Writer, poet, and educator Nancy Avery Dafoe, Homer, NY, has published books on teaching writing, Breaking Open the Box and Writing Creatively: A Guided Journal through Rowman & Littlefield Education in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Her latest book on education policy, The Misdirection of Education Policy: Raising Questions about School Reform was published by Rowman & Littlefield in June 2016. Her first chapbook of poetry, Poets Diving in the Night, is due out from Finishing Line Press in January 2017.

She recently won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom creative writing award in poetry for 2016 and previously won the New Century Writer award for short stories. Dafoe’s poems, essays, and stories have appeared in numerous literary publications. Her fiction work also appears in the anthology Lost Orchard, published by SUNY Press in 2014.

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Facebook page: Nancy Dafoe, Nancy A. Dafoe, Dafoe Writing and Consulting

Radio is still a powerful medium

Although it's thought to be outmodisch, radio still has a lot of power. Here in Belgium, Radio 2 is the most-listened-to radio station - in my home, the radio is switched on as soon as I get out of bed and tuned to Radio 2.

One of the most popular programs (between 8 and 9 am) is De Inspecteur (the Inspector) presented by Sven Pichal. Everyone who has a problem can contact him and he tries to find a solution. And there you can see how much influence radio still has. Most of these problems are solved - especially because the national press also picks up these and the big companies are quick to respond in a positive way...

This week it's about finding shoe buddies - yes, you read well. Apparently, there are people who have different foot sizes. Like right a 37 size and left a 38. Up to now such people needed to buy two pair of shoes everytime they needed new ones.

Sven was already able to persuade two big companies of shoe sellers (Torfs and Brantano) to sell the second pair for half the price, but now they also have a Facebook group where you can find a shoe buddy. Someone who has the same problem but then vice-versa. Together you can then go and find a suitable pair of shoes. Each one buys a pair and they switch the other shoe. Great idea, right?

Are there any other programs like this in other parts of the world?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Protecting Her Secret Son

This time author Regan Black is my guest. Regan is doing a virtual book blast tour for Protecting Her Secret Son, a romantic suspense available November 7, 2017 from Harlequin Publishing.

Regan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Shannon Nolan thought she’d escaped a nightmare world of ruthless crime - until her son is kidnapped! With nowhere else to run and no one else to trust, she puts her life in the hands of her boss, firefighter Daniel Jennings.


“You need to call the cops,” Daniel said flatly.

“I can’t.”

“They took your son,” he said, incredulous.

“I know!” She bit her lip against another outburst.

“What aren’t you saying?”

“He called,” she said. “When I got here. When I walked into the backyard, he called and said...”She could barely get the words out. “He said he’d send Aiden back to me in pieces if I involved the police.”

“Oh, Shannon.” He rubbed her shoulder.

The immense sympathy in those two words overwhelmed her. She didn’t know if she should lean into him or run away. “Thank you for helping her and fixing everything.”

“I followed you to help you,” he said, a lick of impatience in his voice. “You need to report this.”

“If I do and they hurt my baby, it will be my fault. I can’t live with that.”

“What’s really going on?”

“I don’t know much more than you do.” She didn’t realize she was crying again, or that Daniel had her wrapped in his arms until the fabric under her cheek was damp.

“Will you trust me?” Daniel asked when she quieted.

It seemed she already did.

Author bio and links

Regan Black, a USA Today bestselling author, writes award-winning, action-packed romantic suspense and paranormal romance novels featuring daring heroines and sexy heroes. Raised in the Midwest and California, she and her family, along with their adopted greyhound and two arrogant cats, reside in the South Carolina Lowcountry where the rich blend of legend, romance, and history fuels her imagination.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

The Boyfriend Swap

Please welcome today author Meredith Schorr, who's doing a virtual book blast tour for The Boyfriend Swap, a romantic comedy available November 7, from Henery Press.

Meredith will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure. Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flaky actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.


“Give the idea a minute to percolate,” Sidney said calmly. Her mouth remained in a straight line, indicating she wasn’t joking.

My stomach quivered with unease, but I took calming breaths to settle down. According to Anne Marie, Sidney was very opinionated and sometimes wouldn’t shut up until she got her way. I’d just let her keep at it until her throat hurt or she passed out from too much wine.

Sidney continued, “If left to our own devices, the holidays are going to blow chunks, but if we pool together, we’ll all be better off. And it’s only for a few days. It’s the perfect solution to our mutual problem.”

I stood from the table and removed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. I poured a glass and placed it in front of her. Hopefully she’d take the hint. The wine was clearly going to her head. 

“What do you say?” she asked the minute I sat back down. 

The girl had to be on more than fermented grape juice. Hallucinogenics maybe? Whatever influence she was under, she clearly believed her ludicrous plan had merit and I was going to have to put my foot down. “I say that I’m a grown woman and shouldn’t need to lie to my parents about who I’m dating.”

Sidney nodded. “I agree. You shouldn’t.”

A breeze of relief zipped through my core. “Glad we’re on the same page.” 

“You shouldn’t have to lie, but in our case, we sort of do. If we want to make it to the New Year without requiring a straitjacket, that is.” She smiled, a slick grin I was certain both assured her clients and put the fear of the devil in her adversaries in equal measure.

Author bio and links

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict. To learn more, visit her at

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Instagram: meredithschorr 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Salamander season 2

We've just been watching the 2013 series of Salamander - with Filip Peeters and a lot more superb Flemish actors. The series starts with a break-in in a private bank, and 166 safes are opened, the contents removed. Soon afterwards, the owners of these safes get a message... Some of them commit suicide, others are killed. Clearly, someone is out on revenge on the Salamander group. Chief of police Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters) starts his investigation, but is hindered from the start. He loses his badge and needs to continue on his own. His wife becomes the victim of this: she's killed with a car bomb meant for him.

It all goes back to something that happened in WWII. Guys of the resistance are betrayed by their chief, but another gets the blame. It's his son who seeks revenge and wants to clear his father's name.

In the second series, Paul Gerardi will have to investigate a case in the Matonge quarter. He suspects that some members of Salamander are involved in this. Little does he know he'll bring himself and his daughter (one of my former pupils, Violet Braekman) in danger...

The new series will be aired next year and most likely, it'll also get to Netflix, like the first one. Something to look out for!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Holiday's almost over

Tomorrow we're heading back home after a week spent at the Belgian coast. I like the coast better when it's not so hectic - although you can't say it's ever void of tourists. The view at the North Sea is unhindered by many beach huts (they can only be placed between March 15th and October 15th).  And in autumn, it's ever so nice to walk along the shoreline.

We were lucky with the weather, too. Most of the time it was dry (a few spatters of rain, mostly in the evening) and the last few days were sunny as well. We've been taking walks along the shoreline, in the dunes, in the nature reserve which is close to our flat: the 'Baai van Heist' (Bay of Heist). It's natuarally formed, a place where birds can breed in peace and quiet. Only out of the breeding season it's allowed to walk on marked ways through the reserve.

Knokke-Heist takes good care of nature. There are several reserves for birds, one in Heist and the other in Knokke (Heist and Knokke used to be independent villages before a fusion in the 1970s). There are several bicycle roads which lead to neighboring villages and even into Holland.

In general, the tax money is well spent here. The inhabitants of Knokke-Heist, by the way, don't have to pay city taxes. That's because there are so many second homes here - and all of them pay a tidy sum for the pleasure. But as a result, you never see a road in bad condition. Also the promenade is well-kept, the parks well maintained and a pleasure for parents with kids.

I can certainly recommend our second home for a holiday!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Enjoy Halloween

It's October 31st today, so tonight everyone interested can celebrate Halloween. Here in Belgium, it's becoming bigger and bigger - lots of American trends make their way across the ocean.

Halloween, though, doesn't quite belong in our tradition. Perhaps in the old days, when Celts and Picts lived. But our part of the world soon became Christian, and so it's November 1st that gathers the attentions.

On All Saints, people go to the churchyards to remember their deceased loved ones - at least when you need to remember them that way. Personally, I don't like graveyards. I tend to remember those who are no longer there by speaking about them frequently, even dreaming of them.

What are you going to do tonight?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The It Girls

Please welcome author Karen Harper today. Karen is making a blurb blitz tour for her novel The It Girls. During this tour, she's giving away three digital copies of this book to randomly drawn commenters.

Please use the following link to place your comment:


They rose from genteel poverty, two beautiful sisters, ambitious, witty, seductive. Elinor and Lucy Sutherland are at once each other’s fiercest supporters and most vicious critics.

Lucy transformed herself into Lucile, the daring fashion designer who revolutionized the industry with her flirtatious gowns and brazen self-promotion. And when she married Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon her life seemed to be a fairy tale. But success came at many costs-to her marriage and to her children…and then came the fateful night of April 14, 1912 and the scandal that followed.

Elinor’s novels titillate readers, and it’s even asked in polite drawing rooms if you would like to “sin with Elinor Glyn?” Her work pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable; her foray into the glittering new world of Hollywood turns her into a world-wide phenomenon. But although she writes of passion, the true love she longs for eludes her.

But despite quarrels and misunderstandings, distance and destiny, there is no bond stronger than that of the two sisters-confidants, friends, rivals and the two “It Girls” of their day

Excerpt from an article by the author about The It Girls


In the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, two very different British sisters overcame poverty and obscurity to carve pioneering paths through the restrictive rules and rigid regulations of society.  Both worked their way to fame and fortune in an age in which being divorced, going into trade on one’s own, especially for women with strict upbringing and some aristocratic ties, was strictly taboo.  I was thrilled to find such amazing women and make them my heroines in The It Girls.

Both Lucile and Elinor Sutherland were career women in an age in which the only proper career was marriage and motherhood.  When the eras they knew best were over, they shifted gears and sped into the Roaring 20s.  Elinor eventually wrote for the silent movies in Hollywood and hobnobbed with early film stars.  After an international fashion career, Lucile designed for the common woman in the Sears Catalogue.  Yet these sisters, reared in the wilds of Canada and then on the backwater Isle of Jersey, were not common for their time.  

Lucile Sutherland, later Lady Duff-Gordon, (1862 – 1934,) was rebellious, charming, determined and outgoing.  When her husband deserted her and her daughter to run off with a “pantomime girl,” Lucile began to design, cut and sew fabulous fashions on her dining room table.  She forged a path for women designers, which was then strictly the realm of men.  She dressed the rich, famous and royal and fought for innovative changes.

In her 1932 autobiography Discretions and Indiscretions, Lucile relates an incident when she was fitting a gown in her shop for Mary, Duchess of York, wife of George, Duke of York, later King George V.  Lucile spilled pins all over the floor, and the duke knelt in front of her to help pick them up.  Ah, a future king kneeling before her!

Lucile forged the way to get women out of corsets and boldly put side slits in long skirts so women would not have to take little steps.  She certainly was taking big ones!  She was one of the first to design silky, lacy lingerie instead of stiff linen or cotton pantaloons and petticoats.  She weathered the “immoral woman” accusations (mostly from “moral” married men) because woman dared to love her light-weight, fancy but racy designs.  

Lucile first used fashion shows with live “mannequins”/models, rather than showing her costumes on stuffed, faceless dummies.  She personally recruited tall, slender woman, even raiding salesgirls from Harrod’s.  She called these women her ‘goddesses,’ gave them romantic names and taught them social graces. 

Author bio and links

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Harper is a former university (Ohio State) and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. She is the author of The Royal Nanny, and several Tudor era books that have been bestsellers in the UK and Russia. A rabid Anglophile, she likes nothing more than to research her novels on site in the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for Dark Angel, and her novel Shattered Secrets was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. The author and her husband live in Ohio and love to travel.

For more information please visit: