Friday, 29 September 2017

Wrapping up September

September is almost over and I thought it would be nice to look back at this month, and to look forward to October.

Back to school
School began again in September and within a couple of days it felt like there never was a Summer vacation. Although the first weeks are always especially hectic, things are getting back to their normal routine and things are okay. I like most of my groups and my students, and that is the most important thing.

I want to get healthier and in a better shape, and a few weeks ago, I joined a gym! And I am very proud of myself for going there twice a week, as scheduled. I did not skip once, not even the morning when I had a terrible headache. I go on Saturdaymorning and Wednesdaymorning, and although I often do not feel like going, I do feel good once I am doing my round in the cardioroom and later at the fitness equipment, and I feel super after I am done!

I loved
The flowers I got. A couple of weeks ago I told you about the flower-workshop I did and that you could subscribe to getting a beautiful bunch of flowers deliverd to your house each week or every two weeks, just as you prefer. Well, in September I got my first flowers, and I loved the combination. I got the small bouquet, but this was more than big enough for my dining table. Lovely colours and some very special and unique flowers.
I have changed the water twice and took away a few flowers that were not fresh anymore, but this bunch lasted 2 1/2 weeks!

Books and films
I tried not to buy any books this month, but of course I failed. I bought a very beautiful Dutch novel that is set in 19th century Russia and that I loved very much.

I also bought a cookbook by Tessa Kiros, about the French kitchen.
I really like her cookbooks and I could not leave this in the shop. So I bought it. I will tell you more about it soon.

I did not see any films in the theatre, but I did watch the series The Kennedys on DVD. More about that later as well!

Looking forward to in October
There will be some very nice things for me in October. There are at least three exhibitions I want to go to. The first one is in the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam and this will be a special one, since I became a friend of the museum and I will have the chance to see the exhibition before regular visitors do. Not just me alone of course, but all the people who are friends of the museum are invited. The exhibition has paintings from Dutch 17th century masters, that were collected by the Russian tsars. Some of these paintings come back to The Netherlands for the first time in 300 years!

The Van Gogh museum also has a great exhbition lined up about Dutch painters in Paris, and the Singer museum (also a favorite of mine) had an exhibition about modernist paintings. I think all of these exhibitions will be very beautiful.

And I am very much looking forward to my little trip to Nice in France in the vacation. I have never been to the south of France, and I hope for good weather and a lovely city to explore

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Beautiful Groningen

A couple of weeks ago I visited a friend in the city of Groningen. This is also the city I was born, but my parents left there when I was three years old.

Groningen is an old city, with plenty of history left. I asked to see a few of the many 'hofjes' Groningen has. In the Middle Ages and in the ages after that, there was no social welfare state, and if you were poor, sick or a widow, it could be very difficult to survive.

Wealthy people in the cities built hofjes, with houses for a specific group of people (the poor, widows etc).
Often the rules of living in a hofje could be very strict, with restricted visiting hours, no alcohol and regular church going, but it was usually a whole lot better than living on the streets.

Nowadays most of the hofjes still excist, but everyone can rent a house here if they want to, and there are also no rules about visitors or going to church. Some of the hofjes are open to the public and it is absolutely lovely to see these quiet little places in the middle of a busy city. If you visit a hofje, you are asked to respect the privacy and the quiet of the people who live there.

But we also visited a beautiful city-park, and a garden that was designed in the 18th century.

And of course we saw the most famous church in Groningen, The Martini tower, or 'the old grey one', as it is often called.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Last try with my Bonsais

I love Bonsai trees and over the years I have tried many times to keep a little Bonsai tree alive. The problem is that they are often sold at the gardening centre in really small pots, so it is very hard to give them water. Usually the trees are dead within just a few months.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend's house, who had the most beautiful Bonsai trees, all in excellent condition. Her secret was that she planted them in new, bigger pots after she bought them. This solution is so simple, I cannot think I did not think of it before, but I decided to give it a try immediately.

I bought two new Bonsai trees, one without a pot, and one very small one in a very small pott. I also bought two new pots and special soil for Bonsai trees.

They now look lovely in their new pots, but it is the last time I will try working with Bonsais, if this does not work, I will never buy another Bonsai again!
Setting it up in the living room

A new pot filled with new and good soil.
 The little Bonsai is almost ready to go in. 

Two beautiful Bonsai trees, and I hope they will live!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

See what I have done, Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty wax
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one

Some crimes, however long ago they were committed, still spark people’s curiosity. Lizzie Borden is one of them. I recently saw a very entertaining pulp series on Netflix called The Lizzie Borden chronicles with Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden who kills familymembers and neighbours without batting an eyelash. 

And a couple of weeks ago I also picked up this new novel. It tells the horrible story of the murder on Andrew and Abby Borden. Abby was Andrews second wife and he had two daughters with his first wife, Emma and Lizzie.

On August 4th in 1892 both Andrew and Abby were murdered brutally with an axe.

Lizzie was arrested, but since the jury did not think a young woman was capable of a crime like this, 
she was acquitted.

There were several theories of who was quilty. Was Lizzie the murderer, or perhaps the maid Bridget, or was it a stranger after all, or did Emma have something to do with it?

In See what I have done Sarah Schmidt plays with the different theories and makes them into one story.

She tells of the almost claustrophobic atmosphere within the house, of two sisters who could not live with each other but also not not without each other. And both of them had their problems with their parents. Andrew refused to spend money on his family and Abby was deeply unhappy.

Sarah Schmidt managed to write a very interesting story, where the language took me a few pages to get into, but after that I found the way she uses words makes the story even stronger. It is a very physical book in that respect. 

It is not easy to write something original when so much has already been written about a case like this, but this is certainly an original and well written book that I really enjoyed.

Published in 2017

Friday, 15 September 2017

Modern art in Porto

Porto is such a wonderful city with a lot of history, but it also has some great modern art in the streets!

This one can be seen in the garden of the Serralves museum

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A farewell to Summer

I saw these beautiful bright flowers on my way to school on the first day after the Summer vacation. After six weeks school started again and my life of leisure is over!

We did not have a very good Summer in The Netherlands, a few very warm days and a few good day, but for the rest it was rain and wind all the way. And the past week it was even worse, on Friday all of my students were soaked to the bone because of the heavy rains.

So I think we can say goodbye to the Summer and look forward to the autumn. Yes, in The Netherlands that usually means rain and wind, and even more rain, but it is also the time for warmer clothes, closing the curtains earlier in the evening and light a few candles to bring some light into the darkness! The perfect season for reading while you sit on the sofa under a blanket, with the rain against your window and the lights turned on.

If things are horrible outside, you must make your home even more warm and inviting. The Dutch word for this is 'gezellig', roughly translating as 'cozy', but that is not completely right.
Here is to a very 'gezellige' autumn/

Saturday, 9 September 2017

What am I reading?

Lately I cannot really review books here, since I read a lot of French and Italian novels (in Dutch translation of course) and a lot of these books do not have an English translation.

But I also have a few new English books lined up, so here is a little mix:

Just read
I just read these two amazing French novels. The first is:
Entre ciel et Lou by Lorraine  Fouchet. This is an absolute lovely book, a feel-good novel about a widower who must honour his late wife's wish to make their grown-up children happy.

The other one is a very chilling thriller about a Parisian husband and wife who need a nanny for their children, but before they know it, the nanny has wurmed her way into their lives.
This book is called Chanson douce by Leila Slimani.

I hope there will be an English translation of these books available soon, because they were both very good!
Reading now
These are two of the books I am reading at the moment:
My non fiction is a biography about the photographer Diane Arbus. I saw the movie Fur with Nicole Kidman and although I did like this (very strange) film, I do realize it is not really a good portrait of this interesting woman. I have not read much yet, but I am very curious to read on.

The other book is a pocket I bought for just eight euro's, and this I have been reading in the bus on my way to school this week. It is very interesting and a great read. I would never be able (or dare to) walk a trail like this, but it is fascinating to read.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Museum of Enkhuizen

Enkhuizen is an old fishermen's town, and it has loads of history. Near Enkhuizen is an open air museum and this is a lovely place to visit. Here they have old houses that show how the people in the 19th and early 20th century lived. It is like a real village, with an old fashioned baker, a postoffice and a school.

A few weeks ago, on a beautiful Summer day and my father's birthday, we visited this museum. Here are a few impressions.

You pass Enkhuizen by boat to go to the museum

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