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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great War remembered

Yesterday and today both the English and the Belgians remember the Great War of 1914-18. Especially the Battle of Passchendaele, where hundreds of thousands lives were lost.

The tribute started with the Last Post at the Menen Gate, in attendance of our King and Queen, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate). BBC1 took out with the big means to bring a show nobody would forget.


The evening was full of marching soldiers of various regiments, big choirs and pipe bands, a wonderful orchestra. Various actors brought back thoughts and poems of soldiers in the war. The introductions were made by Dame Helen Mirren, and even Alfoe Boe brought a song.

But what was most impressing was the projection of images on the Cloth Hall of Ypres. The BBC had made excact measurements of the building, so the 3D images would fit completely.



Our own granddad was one of the lucky who survided this ordeal. He was only a boy of 17 when the war started, studying at the military academy. All the last years were drafted into service, and he got the command over a regiment of men who were twice as old as he was.

He never talked about this war. The only thing he once mentioned, was that King Albert I rode his horse through the lines and he talked to him. And that Queen Elizabeth personally tended to the wounded. It must have been a terrible thing for a kid. Most likely he suffered a trauma of sorts.

Later on, he lived through another war, but of the last one we have heard  many stories.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wishing for some sunny weather...

Ever since we came to Heist after my surgery, the weather has been lousy. Dark skies, lots of wind, often rain... it looks more like autumn. You wouldn't know it was summer!

And I do long for some sunshine. I can't do a lot (I'm not permitted to lift or carry heavy objects) except taking a walk or ride my bike - but then you don't do that when it's stormy and raining hard.

Normally, this time of year we would have been in Tuscany, enjoying the Italian sun and food. We had a hotel booked in Florence, and had planned trips to Pisa, Sienna and the Chianti region. On doctor's advise we cancelled all (luckily without losing money in the process). But like I feel now, I think we'd better had not cancelled. I feel fine enough and as long as I don't overdo it, I could as well walk in Italy.

             (This is what I have in mind: taking a relaxing dip in a rooftop pool somewhere)

Next Wednesday I have an appointment with my surgeon, and I'll ask her if we can do a short trip later in August. I really need some sun, and warmer temperatures! With a bit of luck we can find a hotel in either France or Italy and an airplane ticket that's not too expensive.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Folkore marktet

It's Thursday afternoon, and in Heist (part of Knokke-Heist) this means it's time for the weekly folklore market.

Some of the streets are closed off for traffic, and people set up their market stalls where (most of them) show their artifacts or practise their crafts. For younger people and children, this is quite something. Most of them haven't experienced life in the old days. They haven't seen how the fishermen here made their nets, don't know how lace is made, how to peel shrimp...




The market always draws a lot of tourists, especially on sunny days. And being Flemish, it's made sure you won't starve of hunger or thirst! There are more than enough stalls where you can buy freshly baked pancakes or 'smoutebollen' (a typical Flemish speciality), or freshly peeled shrimp and other fish, taste special salami's or cheese, ... And then there are the caf├ęs where you can have a pint of those tasteful Belgian beers.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rid of the stitches

I'm finally rid of the stitches (well, to be precise: metal hooks) that closed my wound. 28 of them... It's a big wound too, from the middle of my stomach to my right side.

The last few days the stitches begin to itch, and that's a terrible feeling. It's such a relief to be finally rid of them!

The wound has closed without any problem and the doctor thinks the scar will be almost invisible in time. Well, I don't mind. I don't intend to put on a bikini in the near future. I'm allowed to take in some sun, but when you're over 60 it's nicer to put on a bathing suit, don't you agree? And I have a couple of pretty ones.

Off to the seaside for the rest of the summer vacation. Hopefully the weather will become somewhat nicer than it is now. I long for some sunshine after spending a week in hospital.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This weekend's place to be: Tomorrowland

Yesterday, July 21st (our national holiday), the doors of Tomorrowland in Boom opened for its 13th edition. No more adventures in other countries this time, but TWO weekends of fun for (almost) everyone!

What concerns most visitors is how the main stage will look. It's quite something, even for those not into dance music. This year the theme is the circus, and Tomorrowland offers acts worthy of Cirque du Soleil. Another new item is that there's also live music. Some bands bring their own music, and yesterday afternoon there was even rock'n roll to be heard.


And better still, even our royal pair King Filip and Queen Mathilde think it's worthy to visit the festival. Big business, of course, and our king used to head the missions into foreign countries when he was still crown prince.



Brussels Airlines has a plane especially painted for Tomorrowland. It brings folks to the festival from all over the world. I suppose when I was 40 years younger, I'd go as well. Nowadays I prefer quieter stuff, like musical shows or ballet. But this festival sure looks like fun!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Home Sweet Home

They discharged me out of the hospital yesterday morning. I must confess, I was feeling a lot better already, but had planned to stay one more night. But they probably needed beds...

So my right kidney has been removed. Good thing you can perfectly live well with one kidney, as long as you take care of yourself. According to the surgeon who operated on me, the surgery went extremely well and was done faster then expected. And from day one in the hospital, I got compliments on how well I was doing. My stomach and bowel transit already took up the day after the operation and the wound is healing well.

I must confess, it's great to be home again. Tonight was the first time in a week I could sleep without being disturbed by the calls of other patients, carts being pushed through the corridor, ... Slept for 8 hours without waking up!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doing well

I'miss happy to say my operation went extremely well and I make good progress according to the surgeons. I'mean already rid of some infuses and shortly the pain pump will be gone too. I already eat light food and can go to the toilet,  almost on my own. That will probably be tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Just a short note

Just to let you know I'made I  hospital and won'the be able to write a lot. I have a kidney removed and need to recover.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Detective Madison Knight Series

Please welcome author Carolyn Arnold, who's promoting her Detective Knight Series. Carolyn will be awarding a paperback copy of In the Line of Duty valid in US, Canada and UK to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2311



Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).



Blurb

He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him?

It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him, shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice.
When news of Weir’s murder reaches the department, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves just when they need one another the most.

With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with members of the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more officers pay with their lives.

Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of In the Line of Duty (Detective Madison Knight series)

Troy gripped the sink in the men’s washroom at the Stiles police station with both hands and stared at himself in the mirror. He’d lost men close to him before. The last one was two years ago, and the officer had been killed in a car accident while off duty. He’d left behind two kids and a wife. But Barry…he was different. Life always equaled death, of course. It was a simple equation to accept until it touched close to home. And that’s what Barry’s death was for him—personal.

Losing Barry made it clear just how dangerous this job could be and how fragile life was. One minute here, the next gone. Barry had just been pumping gas, a routine thing, something people did all the time without any thought to their safety. Those on the outside would say that’s the risk he took being in law enforcement. Yes, there was the chance any one of them wouldn’t return home from a shift, but it wasn’t something Troy consciously thought about before heading to work.

In fact, when serving in a SWAT capacity, he’d say it was one of the safest positions within the Stiles PD. SWAT had the toys, and when they showed up to manage a situation, it was often brought under control rather quickly. Even the majority of criminals didn’t want to tango with an AR-15 and armored vehicles. Besides, dwelling on one’s mortality wasn’t healthy. But when
something like this happened to one of their own, it spurred on such self-reflection. It could have easily been him in the morgue, or one of his team members. Or Madison…

His insides quivered with rage as his heartbeat slowed with his grief. He squeezed his eyes shut.

 “I’ve got Dad’s car tonight,” Barry says. “We’ll take it out on the back roads and see what she’s really capable of.”

“Your dad’s a cop, Barry,” Troy reminds him.

“So? What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Barry takes a few steps down the hall of their high school but stops and spins when Troy doesn’t follow. “Come on, man. Don’t make me take Lyman.”

Troy came back from his thoughts and opened his eyes to find himself staring at his reflection.

That night had been one of the best ever. Barry had sent the car airborne by racing over the railway tracks on the outskirts of the city. They’d even conned some seniors into getting beer for them and drank it by the tracks later that night.

Barry had made Troy feel alive…

Pain knotted in his chest, the regrets over skipping drinks with Barry last week paired with losing a part of his childhood somehow.

Troy pinched the bridge of his nose as the memories continued to rush over him.

“I just got my acceptance letter.” Barry holds the envelope in his hand. “This college has the hottest chicks… Not that it would matter to you.”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s Lauren and Troy sitting in a tree…” Barry sings.

“Seriously? You’re like a girl sometimes, you know that? A big, emotional girl.”

“Hey!” Barry punches him playfully in the arm.

Madison punched him in the arm sometimes, too…

God, what would he have done if Madison were the one who’d been killed?






Author bio and links

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website - http://carolynarnold.net
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold
And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.
Amazon - http://getbook.at/in-the-line-of-duty
Barnes & Noble - http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/7992314/type/dlg/http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1124067400
Kobo - http://store.kobobooks.com/Search/Query?fcmedia=Book&query=9781988353203
Apple - https://geo.itunes.apple.com/ca/book/in-the-line-of-duty/id1131251159?mt=11&at=1001l5GE

Google Play - https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=ZX-qDAAAQBAJ



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunny days at the coast

Since coming back from London, we're staying at our flat on the North Sea coast. Not a very big flat, but comfy and an top of the building. We have a great view over the landscape. When the sky is clear and sunny, we can even spot the church towers of Bruges (15km away from where we are). And we see the ships going in and out of Zeebrugge harbor. Better than having sea view (nothing much happens there).



The days we've been here were good ones. The sun is out and when it doesn't get too warm, our terrace is the perfect place to be. You can enjoy the sun there, lunch or dine on it....

We're having a great time. We've been enjoying the sun, the local crafts market on Thursdays, new restaurants (there's a new Indian where tthe food is great), the local pubs....

There really isn't nothing better than our North Sea coast when the weather co-operates. Big sandy beaches, long walking promenades, lots of entertainment.... What more do you need?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bat Out of Hell

Boy, I wouldn't have missed this for anything! I'm ever so glad my operation will only be on July 13th, so Chris and I could continue with our planned trip to London.

Our main reason was to see the new musical, Bat Out of Hell. I bought the vinyl LP a long time ago (still have it, along with other LP's which are now collector's items) and just loved the music. Then it was Meatloaf and Ellen Foley's voices, but I must say the young singers/actors in the musical were just as great.

The theatre was more than full. I've never witnessed seeing people crowding even the highest circles! Not one empty seat visible. Guess lots of people must love this show! Taking pictures during the show was not permitted, but we took some at the curtain call, like everyone. And as you can see we had top seat, on the third row of stalls (and they weren't even that expensive).

                                                             Strat and his gang

The lead roles were sung by Andrew Polec, Christina Bennigton, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton. Not one of them sang less good than the other.  It was also very nice to meet these actors backstage and have a little talk with them. I find musical actors always willing to talk, hand out signatures and go on a picture with the fans.

                                  With Andrew Polec (Strat) and Christina Bennington (Raven)

                                              Chris with Rob Fowler (Falco, Raven's dad)

Needless to say we had a very good time in London - the weather was fine and sunny, also the hotel was more than okay, we had a great lunch & did some shopping (a girl can always use something new...)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Off to London once more

Without any doubt, London is the city where we like to be. I don't know exactly how many times we've visited there, but it must be a lot.

This year, it's already the third time we take the Eurostar train to St. Pancras. This train made it ever so easy to reach England's capital. Just two hours away from Brussels. In the old days, you had first to take a ferry from Ostend to Dover (and then by train to London), next came the catamaran which made it a bit faster, and finally the Chunnel.

The occasion for this visit is - of course - because we want to see a show. We're going to "Bat Out of Hell" which all of those who've live long enough will surely know. The show gets 5-star critics even from The Times.

It will be nice to be away after all the trouble I've been having lately. And next week I must go to the hospital for rather major surgery. I'll have to stay about one week in the hospital. So my doctor said I should enjoy this trip because I won't be able to do any travelling in the coming weeks. We had to cancel our trip to Italy which should have taken place later this month. Ah well, Italy won't go away and we'll be able to do it later. But a show like this is unique and won't return in the near future.