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Showing posts from October, 2014

Thursday outing to Tongeren

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Today I went to Tongeren in the Limburg region of Belgium, bordering the Limburg region in the Netherlands.  This is the part which the Romans once conquered. In the Gallo-Roman museum is a temporary exhibition on Vikings! It was absolutely fantastic.  There is also a permanent exhibition of development of man from the beginning of times to the Roman times. Very interesting indeed. More will come on this outing. Just want to say that I actually managed to buy a book as well! What's new? It is The Celts  by Peter Berresford Ellis.  I am looking forward to read about these peoples who conquered Europe at a certain time. And...which culture we still enjoy today! A separate post about my visit to Tongeren will come.

Book swap evening - or not!

Got dressed and ventured out in the rainy, dark evening to drive to this event. When I finally found the restaurang and a parking, the waiter told me that it was last week! WHAT! Last Wednesday of the month! Ok, when I started to think rationally, I remembered that it is the school holidays this week, so that is probably why. Had to head home with my bag with 24 books. So much for coming home with fewer books that I went out with! I hope I didn't fool anyone of my Brussels friend to go there. If so, I AM REALLY SORRY! Next time.

Book swap evening

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Every last Wednesday of the month there is a book swap evening in Brussels. You can bring your own books and hopefully find some new. I have sorted out quite a heap of books, mostly English, but some Swedish. I promised my husband that there would be less coming in as was going out. You have to give a little bit of breathing space to your book cases as well. Here is my pile: I see that there are some elephants on the pillows behind. It does not mean I would need an elephant to carry the pile...a handy man would be all right! I fear though I have to carry them myself. Let's see tomorrow if I found some replacements. For those of you in Brussels: if you are interested, it is taking place at Le Chapelier Fou 190 Chausse de la Hulpe Watermael-Boitsfort between 17.30 - 20.30 Maybe see you there?

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

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This is the fourth book in the Outlander series. I don't think I have to give more details on this series, since it seems to be one of the most popular for the time being. Even more so after the first 8 episodes of the TV-series from Starz. I am also a big fan of both the books and the TV-series. I am not really into time travelling, or at least I did not think so. Maybe I have to change my own mind now, especially after having read two other books/series about time travelling and loving it; A Rip in The Veil by Anna Belfrage and The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. In the Outlander  series the time travelling takes the story to another level. I still think the first book is the best. Maybe because there is where it all started, the idea and the story was totally new and it was exciting. Not to say that the other books are not...they are! Some spoilers here for you who have not read the book so stop here. From book three Claire and Jamie leave Europe for the

America, the Promised Land

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Ready to go? Recently, I have visited two exhibitions that has the same theme; emigration or immigration, depending on from which view you see it. The exhibitions tells about two ship lines that carried people who wanted to leave their own countries in search for a better life in America; The White Star Line and The Red Star Line The White Star Line This exhibition is about Titanic , the most famous ship of the line and the most tragic. The exhibition is now running on the last month here in Brussels and I visited it on Thursday. It was very interesting. Although you think you know most of the things about this disaster, it is another thing to see items from the boat, personal items from people lost and interiors of how it looked like on the ship. There was also a scientific part with information on how the accident happened and the story of how the wreck was found. The Red Star Line This is a permanent exhibition in Antwerpen and tells the story of this line which was fou

The Rubens' House - Antwerp

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If you are visiting Antwerp and are interested in culture, you just have to visit the beautiful house of Peter Paul Rubens. Rubens was born in 1577, in Antwerp. However, to study classical Roman and Italian Renaissance art, he spent eight years in Italy. He liked it so much there so he hardly wanted to come back to Antwerp. But alas he had to. In 1610 he and his wife Isabella Brant bought a house and a piece of land in Antwerp. He enlarged the house and gave it a flair of an Italian palazzo. If you can't go to Rome, take Rome with you! He had himself assembled an internationally admired collection of paintings and sculptures at the house. Here he also produced most of his work. Even on a slightly, clouded autumn day the garden was beautiful, and you can imagine it in the summer. The audio guide takes you around the house and all the paintings and other art work. The paintings are explained, here are also the wonderful, gilded wall papers, absolutely amazing (again!). I pass

A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift

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This is also a review for the Historical Fiction Challenge at the Historical Tapestry . This book started out good. Elspet Leviston is living with her father in London, helping him out with his lace business. We are talking London, 1609. One day her father comes home with a young man that he introduces as her half brother, Zachary Deane. The father always wanted a son who could take over the business, and is now eager to introduce it to Zach. However, he is not very interested. His main goal is to get some money and go to Spain to learn the craft of a swordsman. Elspet, who is the one really knowing the business from all angels, see that she is ousted. Mr Leviston sends Zach to a European tour to learn the business, meet their colleagues in other countries from where the lace is bought. Zach has his own agenda and deviates rather quickly and goes to Spain and starts his apprentice as a swordsman. Unexpectedly, the father dies. Unexpectedly, for all involved, the father leaves all

The Art of Printing

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I was visiting Antwerp the other day. Wanted to look around a little bit and find out more about this interesting, medieval city. Looking around for interesting museums to start with, I found the Plantin-Moretus Museum. Turns out to be much more than I could ever have bargained for. The museum/house tell the history of one of the greatest printer-publishers of all time. It was founded by one of the first ‘industrial’ printers, a brilliant, self-taught man who only Gutenberg himself could beat. His name is Christopher Plantin (ca 1520-1589), from Saint-Avertain, near Tours, in central France. He was the most important printer-publisher of the time, and one of the great pioneers of Western civilisation. Countless are the publications he printed in the fields of humanism and the sciences. Christopher Plantin, was the arch-typographer to Philip II Spain, and in the mid 16th century he transfered his well-known printing office, called The Golden Compass to where it is situated today, i

Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson

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I really just stumbled on this book and it was so exciting and thrilling, I could not really put it down. I am registered for receiving information on e-books by Bookbub . The offer either free or very cheap e-books in various categories. This was the first one I bought for 0.88 €! And it was so good. It starts with Gwyn finding a hidden letter from her dead sister. Since it is already on the first page I will quote it here: I'm so scared. He knows! And God if my sister knew I've been screwing her boyfriend she'd kill me anyway. Why in hell did I get into this whole situation? I've got to tell someone or I could end up dead ... like the last one. The look in his eyes when he told me about her was totally unreal. I don't think he was making it up, but he could have been, just to scare me. Maybe the best thing is to leave. Hope he calms down and forgets about it. Not likely, if he found the box. I've looked for it everywhere, and someone was in the house messi

Cook & Book

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When you look at Pinterest you often find fantastic pictures from the most beautiful book shops in the world. Most of the time they are too far away from us all. However, we have one in Brussels, which I have also seen on such a site. I am planning an article for our Swedish paper here in Brussels, so Karin and I set out last week. As you might guess from the title that the shop is also a restaurant, or many. Each room in the shop is dedicated to different kind of books (cooking books, travel books, comic strips, music etc) and differently decorated. Just sit down where your mood takes you. We went for the travel books, and in the middle of the room is a caravan, where you can also sit an eat inside. The food is nice and as said the surroundings inspiring. Comic strip area Inside the caravan After lunch we went over to the other shop. Yes, it seems there are two, which Karin told me. I was always sorry that they did not have any books in English! Well, here they are, tog

Brussels and its history (part III)

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We are now going further downtown to the Saint Géry district. We start at the Rue de la Grande Ile. Unfortunately, we don't see any traces of the Great Island today. It vanished when the River Senne was turned into an underground canal in the 19th century. Instead the city built a line of grand boulevards in its place. The city planners wanted to give Brussels something of the grandeur of Paris. At the opening the mayor said that he had 'replaced the dangerous and dreary river with the most important and arguably most beautiful boulevards in our city.' Baudelaire was not impressed when he visited Brussels and grumbled something about 'the sadness of a city without a river.' If you live in a city you have to put some extra work into surrounding yourself with greeneries! Aren't they lovely?

Angels - Messengers of the divine

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This is a book about angels and the perception we have of them. If they exist or not, has really to do with what you believe in. They are nevertheless present in our culture today. Just look at all the movies and songs about angels. Angels are connected to our faiths and are present in the stories from the three monotheistic religions; Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Today when we live in such a technological society, we seek more of our spiritual self and there they also have a place. The angel world is very complex and there seems to be many angels, millions in fact. I think most people think of angels as good, but this is not always the case. We talk about a ‘guardian angel’ or a ‘revenging angel’. They can also be either feminin or masculine.

The Professor by Charlotte Brontë

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This was a read for the Brontë Reading Group here in Brussels, which met yesterday evening at the restaurant "Carpe Diem". This is Charlotte Brontë's first book and it was not printed until after her death. The publisher, and other persons as well, thought it was not good or appropriate as it was and wanted to change it. However, Charlotte refused. It might be that some editing took place then, before printing it. As usual we had a lively discussion. This is always the case when we have different views. Some loved the book, others didn't, some said it was ok. Some thought the characterisation was not good enough, others thought it was. If you have read Jane Eyre  and Villette  you recognise things from this book that she used later on. I found a lot of the descriptions of the city was rather clear here, not mistaken it for anything but Brussels. In Villette  she has written around it a little bit more. More discretely in a way. Here is a short resume of the story

Monday morning!

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It is Monday morning again. I understand that it is Columbus day in the States so there is a day off. For all the rest of you who have to work, have a nice work week. Autumn is coming to Brussels, Belgium, with all its wonderful colours. This year we have had a fantastic summer and it has gone over into a rather nice autumn. Something like every other day sunshine and blue sky and every other day cloudy and rainy! Today it is time to the sunny day. Hopefully, also tomorrow since I am going to Antwerpen for the day to have a look at the history, fantastic buildings, art, the house of Rembrandt and much more. Report will follow. I just want to share a couple of nice autumn pictures with you. It is my neighbour's tree, but is the first that catch my eye when I look out of the bedroom window in the morning.

Nobel Prize in Literature 2014

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So, once again, it seems that the Nobel Prize in Literature comes as a total surprise. It went to French writer Patrick Modiano. He has already won several prestigious prizes around Europe. I have never heard of him before, but the funny things was, that Lena from the Book club, the other day suggested a book by a French author. Just checked with her...and, yes, it is him. She found a review of L'Herbe des Nuits  and a recommendation to read. I don't know anything about his books, so here is what it says on Wikipedia: Modiano's novels all delve into the puzzle of identity, of how one can track evidence of one's existence through the traces of the past. Obsessed with the troubled and shameful period of the Occupation—during which his father had allegedly engaged in some shady dealings—Modiano returns to this theme in all of his novels, book after book building a remarkably homogeneous work. "After each novel, I have the impression that I have cleared it all away

The Disappeared by Ian Crofton

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We all like a mystery and when the mystery is a real one it is somewhat even more exciting. The only thing is, you don't get an answer in the end. This is a book I found at the Book Festival last week. It tells the stories of 35 historical disappearances from the Mary Celeste to Lord Lucan. Some of the stories I was familiar with, but most of them I had not heard about before. The more familiar ones are; The Princes in the Tower, Mary Celeste, Agatha Christie (although she did return), Amelia Earhart and Raoul Wallenberg. The stories concern armies disappearing, lost people in wars and dictatorships, air planes disappearing, explorers and so forth. I have chosen one of the stories about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who disappeared during a flight in 1944. He is also a writer so I think it is appropriate. Saint-Ex, as he was called by his friends, was a writer, poet, philosopher and pioneering aviator. He actually disappeared twice, but returned the first time. It was in 1935 that

Brussels and its history (part II)

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Last time we talked, I left you at the old city walls. Let's continue our walk and hopefully discover something nice. Maybe to start with a picture of Brussel's bike contingent. These kind of bike stations are all over the place, which is a good thing. I have not tried them yet, but should! So we are on our way up to the Cathedral and on the way I pass by the bikes and the MAES truck. MAES is one of the Belgian beer brands and they are just delivering to a wonderful bar in the neighbourhood called;   Café à la Mort Subite. It was designed in 1910 by Paul Hamesse, who created a neoclassical interior filled with marble columns, tall mirrors and flower paintings. The owners have been the same since the 1920s. They sell their own beer, La Mort Subite,  a cherry beer. Yes, that exists here in Belgium! For a 'I don't like beer' person like myself it is great. I can drink this one. 'La Mort Subite' means 'sudden death' or 'death on the spot'.

The Classics Spin #7 - Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

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I managed just in time to finish this book today. I feel happy since I have missed a lot of deadlines lately. Book No. 17 on my list was Nausea  by Jean-Paul Sartre. I find it very difficult to give a review of the book. It is probably for someone that know much more of the philosophical world than I do. But, I will make a humble try! First of all, what is it all about? This was Sartre's first novel and according to himself, the best of his works. Sartre was an existentialist and his life's studies and research. This you realise when you read the book. The main character, Mr. Antoine Roquentin, a historian lives in Bouville (a fictional seaport town), where he is trying to write a book about an 18th century, French, political figure. During the winter he is taken over by a sort of sickness he calls nausea. It effects everything he does. He looks at everything around him, how people look, what they are doing, how the trees look, why they are blowing in the wind, the waves of t

Brussels and its history (part I)

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Times pass quickly and I just realise that I have been living in Brussels for 17 years, and I can't boost that I know a lot about the city of Brussels. Being residents in a suburb to Brussels, we hardly venture into the city, except for working, and luckily for me, not anymore! I have therefore decided to take a day every week, or every other week, depending on my schedule, to go down-town and look into the history, discover the nice, old, small streets, cafés, restaurants, bars and all the other things I have missed during the years. I need help of course. It comes in the form of a book called " Brussels for Pleasure, Thirteen walks through the historic city " by Derek Blyth. Derek is a former journalist and has spent many years in the Netherlands and Belgium, and written several books on the art, architecture and history of these places. He has a web-site, My Secret Brussels , where you can read more interesting things about the city, and also join one of his gui

Boekenfestijn - Festival of Books

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Sometimes it is good to venture downtown, like I did yesterday (more in another post). Sitting on the metro, lifting my head from my book (Nausea by Jean-Paul Satre, yes, you need to lift you head from this text from time to time!) and saw this poster for a Boekenfestijn/Festival of Books out at Brussels Expo. Free entrance for the coming days. Since I never had time to visit these exhibitions before, and they are normally crowded during the weekend, I took the opportunity this time. I parked the car and found my way to the right hall. There are 12 halls, and at this hall I had parked. Turned out not to be too long to walk. Coming into the area, you can hardly call it cosy. A raw, high ceilinged building made out of betong. They had marked off an area for the books and the hobby material which they also had. You were not allowed to take any photos (why??) so my description have to be enough. Being a multi language country you find at least books in Dutch, French and here also in E

Cabaret!

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My friend Lena had managed to get tickets to Cabaret  at the National Theatre in Brussels. We were there yesterday and had a fantastic evening with the wonderful songs from this musical. I have only seen the movie version with Liza Minelli before and that was many years ago. It is always fantastic to see the musicals live. The musical is based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin  and tells the story of an innocent american, coming to Berling in the 1930s to write a novel and all the various people he meet there. It is semi-autobiographical, and contains several short stories on the life of people he met in pre-Nazi Germany. It was made into a musical in 1966 and filmed in 1972.