Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Overview

The year is almost over, and I just want to give you a quick list of my favorites of 2013.

My favorite exhibition was the Malevich exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. You have this month to visit it, in February it will be gone.

The television series I liked the most on television was Once upon a time (I liked it even better than the 4th series of Downton Abbey) and on DVD I was caputured by the 1982 adaption of Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews.

My favorite books of 2013? I will not give you the full list here, that can be found on my bookblog A corner of the library, but I will give my numer ones.

Number one in fiction was Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and my first choice for Non-fiction is Millenium by Tom Holland.

I loved visiting Rome last year and I am afraid I won't be able to go there this year, but perhaps I will visit other places (London for a few days, perhaps?) We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Quote: Lao Tse

Understanding other people is knowledge, understanding yourself is wisdom.
Lao Tse (Chinese philosopher, 6th century BC)

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Some ideas for the day after Christmas

Here in The Netherlands we have two days of Christmas. This always makes dividing days between different familymembers a lot easier! Often, I spend one day with family, and one day by myself, just enjoying myself and relaxing.

If you also want to spend some quality time alone, you can always read a good book. A lovely book for the holidays is The gift by Irish writer Cecelia Ahern. It is all about the importance of family and spending time with the people you love. Busy businessman Lou Suffern helps a homeless man and gives him a job. Gabe ends up helping Lou see the importance of family. And although it was Lou who gave Gabriel a job, it is Gabriel who gives Lou an even greater gift; more time with his family.

If you are very literal and logical you may not like her books, but if you do not mind amazing tales with a dash of magic, you will probably love this book.

Another great way of spending some time alone is with a stack of great dvds. I have some series here I plan to watch this vacation.
On the right you see series 1 of Once upon a time. The second series was just broadcasted on Dutch television, and it is one of those series I wanted to have at home. The other four series all have one thing in common: David Tennant. I personally think you can never have enough David Tennant. Broadchurch, Casanova, Spies of Warsaw and The escape artist are the ones I have and no matter which one I'll pick, I am sure I will enjoy it very much.
However you want to spend your holidays, I hope you will enjoy yourself as well.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy these days, however you might celebrate them.
To get you into the mood here is one of my favorite Christmas songs, although it was never intended as a Christmas song. Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

New name

I really like notebooks...
I have been thinking about the future of this blog and if I want to change things and if yes, what I would want to change. It is always a good thing every now and then to evaluate things and see if you are still happy with them and if you are not, what you can do about it.

I decided that I like the way this blog looks, and I will not make changes in the background, the colours etc. (I think it is all rather cute and I like to keep it that way.)

The frequency of posting will also stay the same. On Sunday I will have a quote as usual (just not today!) and during the week one or two posts on different topics and subjects. On the whole I am quite glad with the posts that I publish here, so there will be no major differences here. Although I do not think blogposts about fashion or interior design will appear again in the new year. It turns out that is not really my thing. The focus will be even more on the places I visit, the photographs I take and sometimes art, artists, films and television series or books that spark my interests.

The name was a bigger problem, somehow 'Bettina's impressions' did not work for me anymore. Finally I decided to change it. I love notebooks and this blog has become some sort of notebook for me to write about the things that inspire me and about my impressions. Hence the new name:
Impressions notebook.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cleaning the balcony for the winter

This weekend the weather was warm enough for me to finally clean up my balcony. I did not do anything since the Summer, so it was high time. I needed to throw dead plants away and clean the pots. I will clean them again in Spring when I want to plant new plants, but most of the dirt has been cleaned now.
Funnily, although it is half December, some plants haven't got the message, it seems. For example my Bougainvilla is dapper holding on with one flower, and my Snapdragons and Daisies also are blooming like it is not almost Christmas.
 One very brave Bougainvilla

 Clean pots, drying in the wind and wintery sun.

 The Snapdragons and Daisies, still in bloom.

 Clean pots and saucers again, drying. I really like terracotta pots, they are cheap and look great.

This is what is left over of the herbs. I hope they will survive the winter.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Quote: Cicero

You have to weigh arguments, not count them.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman writer and statesman, 106-43)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Modern art in old places

The Forum Roman in Rome is quite old, but last year they placed modern art in these ancient surroundings. The contrast made an impact and I really enjoyed seeing this wonderful combination of old and new.
People reading, sitting on these blocks

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Quote: Nelson Mandela

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela (South African statesman and a great man 1918-2013)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Art in unusual places

You can find art in unexpected places, or even see art when it is not supposed to be art. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

First Sunday of the Advent

Today is the first Sunday of the Advent, the name for the time before Christmas. It is a time of 'going back to basics' and of setting your priorities straight again.
Iconic are the four candles that get lit, every Sunday an extra one will be lit. I always make my own version of this and I really like having it on my coffee table again. A visual reminder that the light is getting nearer.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Beautiful swans

Swans are such gracious and elegant creatures, but their large feet and wings also make them quite impressive. Here is a family of swans, the two children alsmost grown-up, but still in their youthful outfits of greyish feathers.
Somehow this reminded me of The Beatles, crossing the road

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Sometimes, a small thing can bring back load of memories. I was looking at some images on the internet and I found this painting by Bellini of the Madonna con Bambino. I saw that paiting in a church when I was in Venice and the momet I saw the image on internet I was back in Venice. I remembered everything I did that day, I remember exactly what the church looked like and most of all I remember how I felt when I saw this painting. It is so beautiful and the Madonna is so serene here, it speaks straight to your heart.
This is how powerful beautiful art is.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Quote: John F. Kennedy

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.
John F. Kennedy (American president 1917-1963)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Near the water

Water and water-features alwayws catch my eye. I love the plants on the banks, waving in the wind. And I like fountains and funny art. Combine them all, and you get this:

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Quote: Einstein

Logic brings you from A to B. Fantasy brings you everywhere.
Albert Einstein (scientist 1879-1955)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Autumn flowers

It always amazes me how beautiful nature can be, even in the autumn when most of the flowers are gone, the remaining ones still look great. These photo's were taken before the 'great storm' that hit The Netherlands and most of Europe two weeks ago and most plants still had leaves and flowers!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Finally: season 4 of Downton Abbey

Lady Mary and her son George
I have been waiting a long time, as have other fans, but the fourth season of Downton Abbey is finally broadcasted on Dutch television. I really love this series and I hope this new season will be as good as the other three.
I already know there is some drama ahead, but I also hope for some lovely moments, like a new love for Tom or perhaps even a new love for Mary? (although it might be too soon for her)

Anyway, the first episode was broadcasted last Saturday and I really enjoyed it. I loved how Tom went to Carson to help Mary and although she resisted at first, Carson is the one who can reach her. I forsee trouble with the new ladiesmaid for Her Ladyship, that girl was nothing but trouble the first time and I think she will stir up trouble again.
And I am not so sure about the relationship between Edith and that other man, but I cannot wait what will happen between Rose and the Jazz musician!

The rest was equally great, helping mrs. Crawley getting over het grief by making her help others was genius, Thomas (I cannot help it, I sometimes like Thomas) making sure that nasty Nanny went was amazing.
In short, I cannot wait for next Saturday!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Quote: Heraclides

He who expects, gets what he expected. He who hopes gets what he did not dare hope for.
Rome, photograph made by me in 2009
Heraclides (Greek philosopher 390-310)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Steve McQueen 1930-1980

Today it is 33 years ago that Steve McQueen died. His fans still love him, and honour his memory.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Militairy fields of honour

Graveyards and cemetaries are strange places, full of sadness of course, but sometimes also places of strange beauty. Places where the dead and the living come together, the living to remember the dead, and also to be reminded that one day their lives will also end.

Particularly sad are militairy Fields of Honour, where soldiers are buried in neat rows, with similar headstones. Sometimes with their names, date of birth etc, sometimes only with 'Unknown soldier'.
Here in The Netherlands are a few Fields of Honour. Many soldiers from other countries died here during WWII, died to liberate us.

Two weeks ago I visited such a Field of Honour, and I was glad I could pay my respects.

Italian soldiers. both from WWI and WWII

Russian soldiers

Soldiers from The Neterlands, Canada and New Sealand

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Quote: Anonymous

I travel for the sake of coming home again.

Photograph made by me, Rome 2009

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Malevich exhibition in Amsterdam

Kazimir Malevich is the example of Russian avant garde art. He was born in 1878 and was trained as a painter in Moskow. He was a traditional painter, but more and more he became influenced by modern ideas. He took these ideas and made them his own. His work became abstract. His white on white series is the ultimate abstraction, there is nothing more that can be left out in such a painting.
At the end of his life he went back to figurative painting, closing the circle.
Malevich did not only paint, he was also a teacher and a huge influence on the next generation of painters in Russia, and the world.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam has the largest collection of Malevich works outside of Russia, and now there is an exhibition that is even grander, with works on loan from museums in for example London and Thessaloniki. Over 500 works from Malevich and his contemporaries are gathered here.

My mother and I visited this exhibition last week and it is beautiful. Malevich makes me happy, I cannot put it any other way.
The exhibition is put together very well, and you can see how his work changed. It is almost impossible to believe that all these works came from one and the same painter. It was absolutely amazing.

If you have the chance: go and visit, the Malevich exhibition can be seen until February. (5 euro additional fee)
Here you see how Malevich's work changed, from being influenced by French painters like Monet, to cubism and becoming more and more abstract and back to painting figuratively at the end of his life.

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