Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How was your Christmas?

Have you spent a nice Christmas? We did, as Christmas (or rather, Christmas Eve) is also my sister's birthday.

She already got a nice surprise during our flight to Mexico City. Although it was still a day early, one of the stewards brought her a box of chocolates. That was really a nice attention!

We made a guided tour on our first day in Mexico, and when we went for lunch the guide had arranged a birthday cake and the whole restaurant sang along.

Christmas is the sort of feast you spent with family. Our family is only small but we Skyped with the one cousin who still keeps contact. Was nice! Just thinking how technology has changed our way of life...

Well, we're off for another day of exploration. Today we are going to see Aztec pyramids.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Feliz Navidad

For everyone a Merry Christmas!

We are currently just arrived in Mexico City, where we spent the day discovering downtown with a private guide - but more about that in my travel blog which  I'll post after our return home.

It was a long journey and we didn't sleep for a long time. Will see our bed early tonight!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Record year for Brussels airport

It appears that our national airport, Zaventem (or: Brussels Airport), has well recovered from the terrorist attack in 2016 which killed a number of people and destroyed half of the buildings. The number of passengers sank just after the attack, but right now they'll count at least 25 million for this year!

This means that an average of 70,000 people will board a plane at Brussels daily, with days that the number goes up to 90,000 or even more! Like now in the Christmas period. Already yesterday 79,000 people were leaving and sure there will be more today and tomorrow.

Not only Belgians take the plane here, but lots of Dutchmen and French as well. It's easier to reach Zaventem from the south of Holland or the north of France than it takes them to go to Schiphol or Charles de Gaulle.

One other advantage is that Brussels airport still allows for more growth. By 2025 a new pier will be ready and bigger planes will be able to go up and land.

Needless to say, the CEO is very satisfied!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Warmest Week

Since a couple of years, the week before Christmas is in Flanders 'The Warmest Week' - where everyboby cares for everyone. National radio station StuBru organises this event, in which more than 2000 worthy causes are supported by all kind of actions, like a warmathon, a pancake bake, just name it. The center of these actions is the provincial estate of Wachtebeke, where 3 DJ's of StuBru have taken up station and broadcast live.

There will be a live show on TV, where it will become known how much money was collected this year. Of course the organisation hopes for a lot!

The group of schools for which my sister works, also has undertaken an action. They have a Christmas market and also broadcast songs (for pay) on a local radio station.

We have also made our contribution by sending Hallmark cards to our friends and family. By buying these, a percentage of the proceeds goes to The Warmest Week.

Monday, December 17, 2018

What a Widow Wants

Please welcome Jenna Jaxon today. Jenna is the author of What a Widow Wants, a historical romance available December 18th from Kensington Publishing. To promote this release, Jenna's doing a virtual book blast tour today.

Jenna will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:


Widowed by the Battle of Waterloo, the ladies of Lyttlefield Park are returning to London society—with their futures in their own hands . . .

The widowed Lady Stephen Tarkington, Fanny to her friends, has finished mourning her cad of a husband and is ready to enjoy her freedom. The kind of freedom neither a gently bred miss nor a close-watched wife is permitted: dressing up as Aphrodite for a masquerade, drawing gentlemen away from the party, and hinting at late-night assignations with her dance partners. All is going pleasurably according to plan—until the Roman god Fanny kisses during a masquerade turns out to be Matthew, Lord Lathbury, whose proposal she refused years ago . . .

Lathbury is charming, passionate, inventive, everything Fanny wants in a lover—but unfortunately, he’s on the hunt for a wife. He’s more than willing to use all his wicked skills to persuade her back to the altar, but he can’t wait forever. And now Fanny’s position is more precarious than she once thought. If the tongues of the ton set to wagging, it’s possible no offer in the world will save her from ruin. But does she want to be saved? . .


Heart pounding, Fanny ran on tiptoes in an effort to keep up with him. This was madness. Wherever was he taking her? And what on earth did he have in mind? Oh, but she knew what that was. That deep desire in his eyes told her exactly where his intentions lay. Would she allow him to have his way with her? She didn’t quite recognize him; the mask hid just enough of his face. Still he reminded her of someone. Someone who had been most dear to her what seemed a lifetime ago. But that man had left London, swearing never to return to the ton years before. He’d retreated to his country estate and had not been seen in Town for seven years.

They raced down the corridor, Pollux still in the lead, Castor right behind her. That gave her some comfort. Pollux wouldn’t ravish her in front of his brother, or friend rather. Still, the urgency of his headlong flight, dodging wide-eyed guests left and right, persuaded her that this man would stop at nothing to get her alone.

He turned a corner into a deserted hall and slowed finally. Stopping at a door on the far end, he glanced around then put his hand on the latch. “Keep watch, Cas. No one enters.”

Castor grinned. “Not a soul, Pol. My word as a gentleman.”

Pollux pushed down the latch, opened the door into a shadowy room, and drew her inside.
The flickering fireplace across the room gave the only light. Fanny’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the dimness. A moment in which Pollux pulled her hard against him, crushing her breasts against his unyielding chest. He wrapped his arms around her, pinning her to him, and sank his mouth onto hers.

Author bio and links

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical romance in all time periods because, she says, “passion is timeless.”  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She’s a theatre director when she’s not writing and lives in Gloucester, Virginia with her family, including two very vocal cats and one silent one. 
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as an active member of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. She has four series currently available: The House of Pleasure, set in Georgian England, Handful of Hearts, set in Regency England, and Time Enough to Love, set in medieval England and France, and The Widows’ Club series, also set in Regency England and available from Kensington Publishing in both print and digital.
She currently writes to support her chocolate habit. 

Find Jenna Jaxon online:
Buy the book at

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Red Lions World Champion Hockey!

Go back a couple of years, and hockey meant nothing in Belgium. Our national team was like a pub crew and just did nothing. Then a new coach came and he brought in a new swing.

At the Rio Olympics our Red Lions already played the finale, but lost it against Argentina. Today, they played finals once more (against Holland) and WON. This is just fantastic!

It's good to see how our little country can be the best of the world. Not only in hockey and soccer, but also in athletics and gymnastics. A great generation of excellent sporters has come and hopefully we'll see more gold medals in the future!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Dreaming of a big win

Tonight, at the Euro Millions draw, there is a jackpot of 85 million Euro to be won. Doesn't everyone secretly wish he/she'd be the lucky one?

I do. That's why I play every week for a modest sum. Sometimes I win (although always only a small sum) but most of the times I don't. But every week I dream about what I could do when I had that kind of money...

With this jackpot, it would be easy. Most of the money would be given away to the fondation against cancer. I don't need so much money. I only wish I had enough to be able to demolish this old house in which I'm living and build a new one on the same site. A house that would have every standard necessary now (such as isolation everywhere, a heating system that doesn't rely on gas or fuel - which can be very expensive - a kitchen that has everything my sister wants, a dream of a bathroom...) And of course I'd wish that there was enough so Chris could stop working as well and we could both enjoy our pension and travel as much as we like.

What would you like?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bringing some Christmas spirit to the house

Now that Saint Nicholas has left our country for sunnier parts (he resides in Spain, according to the tale) it's time to think about Christmas. It's one of my favorite times of the year, and I like the atmosphere around it.

The radio has begun to play Christmas carols and last weekend we've decorated our house to match the Christmas spirit. We don't have a big tree - there wouldn't be space for it. And also, I don't like to pick up dried needles every time of the day!

So we just have a (very) small artificial tree but lots of other decorations. Everywhere you look, there is something referring to Christmas.

My sister has her birthday on Christmas Eve and I have prepared a nice surprise for her. She'll be happy when she sees it! I remember my mother telling that the nurses in the hospital where she delivered my sister always asked her why she didn't wait until Christmas morning? Well, my sister was clearly in a hurry to be born! Mum got her first pain and not an hour later my sister was born. Giving birth easily runs in the family. Our grandma had her four kids the same way and didn't make anything special of it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Looking out to the next trip, already planning other ones...

Not long now before we head to Mexico. I've dreamed a long time about going there, ever since I read about the Aztecs. No wonder that one of my first novels (I wrote the first draft of it when I was about 15) was about a girl who moves to New Spain (as Mexico was called then) and has a lot of adventures there! Of course, it took a long time before the actual novel was published. It bears the title Maria Gonzalez and it's not entirely about Mexico. Maria has adventures there, but also in Spain and England.

We'll first spend some days in Mexico City, from where we are going to do some day trips to see more of the culture of the country (and the famous pyramids, of course). Later on we move to a rancho where we are going to do some horseback riding at our leisure. That's another way of seeing something of the environs!

So, even when this trip is coming up, we are already thinking of what we're going to do in the coming months. For 2019 most trips are already booked (but there will be some unexpected ones in between, for sure), going to for instance Florence and Nice (with a visit to Monaco). And we're also going to Leeds and Rotterdam. Right now we are thinking of our big trip for 2020. Thinking of Jordan - always wanted to see the Dead Sea and Petra.

Are there others around who also act this way? Totally infested with the travel bug???

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Saint Nicholas

Today, 6th of December, is the day Saint Nicholas walks over the rooftops and his helper, Piet, drops presents through the chimneys for all the kids who were good the past year. At last, that was how it used to be.

Nowadays, there is discussion about the fact that Piet has a black face - accusations of racism galore! But Piet was a chimney sweep, so he HAD a black face. Piet isn't of African descent. He's just an ordinay guy who gets smudges on his face because of his job.

In Belgium, everyone knows this tradition. There is just a little difference in region. In some of these, not Saint Nicholas but Saint Martin visits. Same sort of saint, just another day (November 11th). In our parish, it was Saint Martin, but just a little but further it was Nicholas. So we figured as kids that we could have presents and chocolate twice (ha, ha!)...

Most young kids still believe in the holy saint. It's endearing to read the letters they sent him. B-Post has a special address to where such letters can be sent, and the kids even get an answer.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Final Notice

Please welcome Van Fleisher today. Van is the author of Final Notice, a thriller/political satire available now. To promote this launch, Van is doing a virtual blurb blitz tour which will run December 3 - January 4.

Van will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:


The year is the very near future.  A brilliant young doctor and mathematician, Vijay Patel, has invented a new health/sport watch that monitors blood chemistry so accurately, it can actually predict when someone will die – within 10, 20, or 30 days.  The intention of this “Final Notice,” as it is called, is to allow people to get their affairs in order and reach out to loved ones before it’s too late.  But when those notified have easy access to a gun, the result is sometimes lethal for more than just the watch-owner.  

These are the stories of several people who receive their Final Notice and their very different reactions ... including a desire to get revenge with impunity.  They range from an 89-year-old resident in a retirement home to a U.S. Senator...from a benevolent widow to a crass tycoon to a noted climate change scientist.  

But in this fresh, fast-paced page-turner, their stories are all set against the all-too-recognizable backdrop of a guns-gone-wild America, and the relentless push by the NRA and their surrogate politicians to make guns even easier to acquire.

There is plenty of dark humor and political satire in FINAL NOTICE, as well as touching scenes and outright suspense.  So expect to laugh out loud, dry some tears, and bite your nails (not necessarily in that order).


And sure enough, in 1.24 seconds, Trudi had 1,620,000 results. “Here it is. California law protects us if we shoot a burglar in our home. Still, it wouldn’t help if we didn’t hear them until they burst into the room. I can’t see either one of us having the presence of mind to reach for the gun, roll out of bed and blast away. What are you smiling at?”

“At the image of you doing just that!”

“Hey. I’ve been watching Angelina Jolie and I think I can manage the moves.”

Author bio and links

“After 21 years with an airline, and 30 years in management consulting, I retired and found that my phone didn’t ring and the only emails I got were asking for money. So, since I was at my computer, I decided to write a novel.” 
This is only half the story. (Van is notoriously modest.) The author was Director of International Marketing with TWA, and an International Management Consultant – taking him behind the closed doors of boardrooms and executive offices around the world. He knows how business works, which gives the slightly “sci-fi” premise of Final Notice a realistic feel. Moreover, his two careers led him to live abroad for much of his life. After growing up in New Jersey and Florida, where he never thought much further than the length of a football field, and going to college in New Mexico, he wound up living in England, Scotland and France, travelling frequently to the Middle East and Asia. He even spent a year living in India. And his first-hand experience with – and respect for – other cultures is apparent in this book.
“Final Notice is meant to highlight, my concerns with America’s handling of three important issues: gun control (not anti-gun), ageism and the importance of immigration. The book won’t fix these issues, but there are a number of great organizations with even greater people working on our behalf to right these wrongs. Proceeds from sales of Final Notice will help support those efforts.”

Weekend away

I'm just back home from a long weekend at the coast. Although the weather didn't cooperate, it's always nice to be away for a while.

On Friday, the boiler got its check-up, so it was handy I was there already. In earlier years, we always had to ask the guy to come on a Saturday and that wasn't always possible. Everything was ok, no worries. Our heating system works fine.

My sister had some problems getting to Heist. Someone threatened to jump under a train and because of that all train traffic between Ghent and Bruges was stopped. She arrived quite late, and I felt really  hungry in the meantime!

On Saturday we went to see a fashion show in one of our favorite boutiques, and of course couldn't resist buying something! Later that evening, we went out to dine at Bartholomeus, the best restaurant in the neighborhood.

Yesterday it was raining a lot, but nevertheless we went outside for a walk. There were not a lot of other people around, but who cares? When you are dressed for the occasion, it's great to be outside, even with wind and rain!