Tuesday, 9 October 2018

New Bonsais

In September last year I told you about the new Bonsais I bought and how I hoped to keep them alive by replanting them into a new pot. (whole story here)

Well, I can tell you those two Bonsais are doing great, and I felt like I could handle more Bonsais.  Last month, my friend and I visited a Bonsai-nursery. This was absolutely amazing.

First of all the Bonsais there were beautiful. Such high quality and they all looked very, very beautiful. Immediately you could see the amount of attention that went into each little tree. Secondly, the people were very friendly and so incredibly helpful, it was a joy to visit them. We could walk around in the greenhouses and pick out a tree we liked.

There were very expensive Bonsais (everything between 100-3000 euro's), but they also had Bonsais fit for my budget! (around 50 euro's)

It was hard to find, since there was so much to look at and they had so many beautiful Bonsais, but finally, when I saw this one, I knew it was the one for me.

I took it home and it looked wonderful next to my other ones. The next day I was at the garden-centre and there I spotted a very small Bonsai, for just 15 euro's. I feel a bit more secure now in my ability to keep it alive, so I bought it.

At home, I created a place for all the Bonsais on the wicker chest that is next to my sofa.

Now I can see all the Bonsais and enjoy what they look like. I really like how there all different plants and I think they are all beuutiful in their own right. And it is a great feature in my living room! (and there is even room for one more, in the future).

Friday, 5 October 2018

Eva sleeps, Francesca Melandri

After World War I the region of South Tirol was taken from Austria and given to Italy. The people who lived in this mountain region were not asked, but suddenly they were considered Italians.

When Mussolini came into power, there was a strong emphasis on Italy and Italian language. South Tirol was now called Alto Adige, the names of the places were changed to be more Italian and speaking German was forbidden.

When Italy and Germany became allies just before WWII, many inhabitants wanted to leave the region and move to Germany. And when the war ended, some of them came back, but nobody ever talked about why people left or what the reasons were for staying behind.

During the fifties and sixties, the region of Alto Adige felt discriminated and wanted more rights. They felt the Italian state should acknowledge the German language and their different culture. Just like in many other regions in Europe at that time, there were groups who thought that violence was the way to accomplish this. Of course the state responded with violence and this lasted several years.

It is against this background that Francesca Melandri's book is set. This is her debut novel and she wrote two other books since then. She is very good at using a piece of Italian history that is not that well known, and use it for her story.

In this story, Eva is the daughter of Gerda. Gerda's family is firmly rooted in the Alto Adige region and has experienced many of the situations first hand. Gerda was a beautiful young lady when she became a kitchenmaid in one of the large hotels and she works herself up to being a chef. This was not easy, since she was also pregnant without being married. (this was in the sixties)

Later she gets into a relationship with Vito, a police officer from the south who is stationed in Alto Adige, but the political situation is not right for this kind of match and Gerda breaks it off.

Now, Eva is a grown woman, and she gets a message from Vito, who is now an old man on his deathbed. Eva takes the train and journeys through the whole of Italy to Calabria, to see the man who was closest to a father than any other man.

The book alternates the story of Eva in the train and the story of her family and everything that happened.

I like how Francesca Melandri always puts her characters first, and although there is a lot of explaination about the (political) situation and the historical background, this is necessary for the understanding of the story.

It is fascinating to see what happened, and I must confess I did not know much about this. Eva sleeps is a well written book with a beautiful story about a fascinating part of Italian history. The only thing I did not like as much was the ending, as it felt a bit rushed. And I would have liked to know more about Vito, since he was by far the most sympathetic character in the book!

Original Italian title: Eva dorme
Published in 2016

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Summer turns into Atumn

I saw all this beauty when I went for a walk last week (one of the days with sunshine, not when it was pouring with rain!). Lovely to see the last remains of Summer, but already some traces of Autumn.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Summertime, all the cats are bored, Philippe Georget

The title of this book immediately caught my eye. Summertime, all the cats are bored is a French thriller, and it is the first in a series. There is no Dutch translation, so I read it in English.

It is set in Perpignan, in the south of France, near the Spanish border. Here works Inspector Gilles Sebag and he has a difficult case to solve. A Dutch tourist has been kidnapped and it seems that there is somebody with a grudge against Dutch female tourists.
But Inspector Segag realizes that there is somebody who is playing a clever game with the police.

This book is published as French-noir and I can see why. There is something in the atmosphere that reminds you a little of Philip Marlowe. On the other hand I also felt some Maigret, but can also be because it is the French police.

I loved the atmosphere of this region, and I really liked Inspector Gilles Sebag. He is a balanced policeman, who also has a life beyond his work. The case is not too violent or overly gruesome and interesting enough to keep me guessing.

The only point I found a little disapponting is that the Dutch angle is not very strong. A few more details could have helped here, like proper last names (Braun and Verbrucke are not very Dutch), and for example the kidnapvictim thinks of her hometown, but the town itself is never named.

But on the whole I really enjoyed this book and I am glad I have the next two books in the series already in my bookcase. These are Autumn, all the cats return and Wintercrimes. (I think there will be at least four books in this series)

Original French title: L'été, tous les chats s'ennuient (2009)

Friday, 21 September 2018

Paris can wait (2016)

Paris can wait tells us the story of Anne, the wife of a film producer. They were in Cannes for the film festival, but now he is going to the set of his new film, and she wants to go to Paris.

Unfortunately she cannot go by plane, since she has an ear problem, but a friend of her husband offers to drive her to Paris.

Only it will not be the shortest trip, but one with attention for beautiful locations and towns along the route, and of course plenty of time for good food!

I read a lot of critique about this film, that is is without chemistry or that is has no dept at all. I do not agree. Is it a light movie, yes, but it is also charming and fun.

I liked the chemistry between Anne (Diane Lane) and Jacques (Arnoud Viard), and I liked how there was a little flirting, but nothing more than that. This is not the story of a passionate love affaire, but a trip to find back some love for life. To take the time to enjoy and to watch and to truely see something.
Anne (Diane Lane)
Anne is a amateur photographer, and I enjoyed how they inserted her photographs into the movie. The scenery is wonderful and all I wanted was to be in that car with them!

If you want a story with a lot of layers and a complicated plot, this is not the right film. But if you want a charming and light film, set in beautiful France, celebrating life and friendship, than this is a good choice.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Doors in Trastevere

When I was walking through the neighbourhood Trastevere in Rome, I saw all these amazing doors and I began photographing them.
So here are a few Impressions of doors in Trastevere!

Friday, 14 September 2018

Odilon Redon: a unique artist

Bouquet of wild flowers (1905)
A few weeks ago I saw an exhibition about the French artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916). I did not know much about him, but I was bown away by what I saw and how beautiful his work is.

He was an avid reader and a good violinist and he was inspired by both literature and music. He made lithographies by works from Baudelaire and Fontaine, was inspired by the opera's from Wagner, but he also had a lot of interest in science.

When he was younger, he made very dark lithographies, that he called his noirs. Later in life he switched to pastels and oil paint.

His work is still and almost dreamlike, but you can feel there is an extra layer in his work, these are not superficial little drawings.

I really loved it and I am glad I was able to see the exhibition before it closed. It can now be seen in Copenhagen, Denmark: Odilon Redon, La littérature et la musique

Pegasus, (1895-1900)

Chimera (Fantastic monster) Tadpole (1883)

Church window (1908)

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

White houses, Amy Bloom

I know a bit about president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we always cover him in the historylessons about the depression, the New Deal and of course World War II. I know he is the only president who served three terms, but I knew little about his personal life. I only knew his wife Eleanor was also a social reformer.

White houses by Amy Bloom takes a closer look at the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor. It seems their marriage was not the best. Franklin had numerous affaires, even with his secretary, but Eleanor also had a lover.

Her passion was for the journalist Lorena Hickok. Lorena worked herself up from a poor girl from South Dakota into a respected journalist, and she and Eleanor met in 1932.

This was the beginning of an affair that lasted years.
Lorena even lived in the White house at a certain time, as 'Eleanor's best friend'. It seems that most people knew what was really happening, but nobody asked and nobody said anything outloud.

Amy Bloom begins her story in 1945, when Eleanor and Hicks (as she is known), meet again after a couple of years of not speaking to eachother. Franlin died and Eleanor must find a way through her grief. And we have flashbacks to what happened in the previous years when Eleanor and Hicks were in love.

I like how Amy Bloom managed to give us an unsentimental insight in a not very well known piece of history. It is well written and interesting and also a bit sad, because a happy end for them is of course not possible.

Published in 2018

Friday, 7 September 2018

Impressions from Rome (Summer 2018)

In the first week of August, I was in Rome for 5 days, and I loved it as much as I always do. So here are a few impressions of the most beautiful city in the world!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Summer vacation wrap-up

Goodmorning! It has been a long time, but the Summer vacation is over and I am back at blogging. I hope you all had a great Summer, mine was very good!

Just quickly, an overview in numbers:

Things I did:
- Books read: 19
- Series and television: Carnivàle (2 seasons), The Americans (season 5), The Frankenstein chronicles (2 seasons) and numerous episodes of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, making the team. The reruns are shown on Dutch television now and I love it. Cheerleading is not a Dutch thing and I must confess I always thought it was just silly. But this show has given me new respect for these ladies and what they need to do to become a cheerleader. And I like how there are all so very nice, unlike in some other reality-series! So, I can say I am a DCC fan!

- Exhibitions: 2
- Dates with friends: 4

- Citytrip: 1. (5 days in Rome: 15 works by Caravaggio, 4 museums, 5 churches, walked 44.2 km/27.4 mile and I bought one amazing handbag)

- new items bought for the schoolyear: 5
- new clothes: 1 raincoat, one wintercoat, 2 blouses, one pair of shoes, 3 tops

- bookcases: 12
- study: 1
- windows: all windows inside and a few outside
- fridge: 1

Other stuff that I only have time for during the holidays
- dentist appointment: 1 
- hairdresser: 1
- annual check-ups: 1 car and 1 cat. I took Silvia to the vet for her check-up, and I am happy to say she is completely healthy. I was worried since she seems skinnier, but she is still the same weight (2.5 kg, she is a small cat). To be sure they did some bloodwork, but that was excellent. So she is just an old little cat, but there is nothing to worry about.
She was very angry with me, since the vet needed to shave her neck a little to draw some blood and now she has a bald patch in her fur. Silvia was not amused!

As you can see, I did not have any time to get bored, and I must say I did have a good vacation. I do feel it went by very fast, much faster than I imagined. Right now, I am on the second day of the schoolyear and tomorrow I will see my students and then it will be like the vacation never happened.

I do feel like blogging again and I will continue with my schedule with one or two posts per week (Tuesday and Friday). Coming friday I will post some photo's of Rome (something to look forward to)
Bijschrift toevoegen

Friday, 20 July 2018

Summer vacation 2018

Hurray, the Summer vacation is finally here! And is has become a little tradition to celebrate that with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe. I love her, as you know.

I am also anouncing a little vacation here on my blog. I will come back in September, with new inspiration and energy.

I hope you all have a great Summer! For now: all the best and I will hopefully see you again in September.

Friday, 13 July 2018


In Dutch, this plant is called Berenklauw, or Bears claw. A much nicer name than Hogweed, I think! We have a lot of them in my province and in the city I live in and they are actually considered a pest, since they overgrow all other plants and it is not an original plant for this area.

I do like them, and I think they are excellent on photographs!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

2x The Kennedys (tv series)

I am very interested in the Kennedys, and I know I am not alone. There are many books and films and series about this fascinating family.

A while ago I discussed three series about the Kennedys (here) and recently I saw two other series.

These are The Kennedys (2011) and The Kennedys, after Camelot (2017). These were made after the books by Randy J. Taborrelli. The books (I am reading them at the moment) are quite good.

I really liked the first series, made in 2011. I know some historical mistakes were made, but on the whole I really enjoyed watching it.

It has eight episodes and I like how there are flash-backs to the past, the dealing of old Joe Kennedy and the first steps on the political field by John F. Kennedy. It gives you a better understanding of the history of the family and how the boys were raised.

I also like most of the actors very much. The problem is that for me Martin Sheen is the best Kennedy (I think I even prefer him to the real JFK!), and every other actor who plays JFK must at least be in the vicinity of Martin Sheen.
Well, Greg Kinnear does a very good job. He has the accent and the way of speaking, and looks enough like JFK to make it very watchable.

Barry Pepper plays Bobby Kennedy and Tom Wilkinson plays Joe Kennedy and I think they both do an excellent job as well.

There is the problem of Jackie Kennedy, who is played by Katie Holmes. But more on that in a moment.
So on the whole, series one is good and decent and if you are willing to overlook a few historical mistakes, you can really enjoy this.

In 2017 there was the second series and I recently watched it.

It picks up at 1968, at the moment when Bobby gets shot. After that, we have three storylines. First there is Jackie who marries Ari Onasis and who must try to find a life for herself and her children. Then there is Ted Kennedy who must come out of his brothers's shadows and in the end there is John, Jackie's son, who also needs to find his own way.

And oh my god, it is very, very, very bad.

The first problem is Katie Holmes. She is in my mind not a good actress. There were some later scenes where she was not horrible, but that is the kindest I can say.

I feel that in the first series she only got the job because she has a pretty face, but not because she can deliver a good Jackie. In the second series she has a lot more screentime, and it is very clear she is not good enough for this job.

Her accent and  the way she speaks are nothing like the real Jackie, and her hair is an even bigger mess.

The second problem was Matthew Perry as Ted Kennedy. If possible, Matthew Perry is an even worse actor than Katie Holmes is. He is terrible in every scene he plays.

A good actor, even when he does not look like the person he or she is playing, can make your forget that. Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks nothing like Henry VIII, but I believed him in The Tudors (we will not go into the historical mistakes in that series at this moment). My point is that Matthew Perry did not make me forget he was Matthew Perry, not even for a second.

The final problem was that the storylines were not interesting at all. Jackie and her marriage to Onasis was done badly, the death of Mary Jo Koppechne was dreadful to watch, the ending was weird and in the end I did not care for all of them at all.

So frankly, this second series is not really worth watching.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Classic beauties in Amsterdam

There is a new exhibition in the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam. It is called Classic beauties and it is all about the neoclassicism in the 18th century.

They were digging in Pompei and Herculaneum since 1738 and the beautiful sculptures and artwork that were found inspired a new fashion, people in the 18th century were interested in all things Classical.

Rich people made grand tours through Europe and especially to Italy, to admire the ancient monuments and artwork.

Artists like Canova made new statues, inspired by the Greek and Roman statues, but tried to improve them, making them true perfection.

I am not really fond of the 18th century and this is not my favorite part of history, but despite that I enjoyed this exhibition more than I thought I would. It is not a big exhibition, but the statues, especially those by Canova, are very impressive and beautiful.
The exhibition Classic beauties can be seen in Amsterdam until January 2019

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A sunny morning

This weekend I went out on my bicycle, the weather was amazing and I really enjoyed my little bikeride. The sun was shining, the lake was blue and there are also plenty of quiet lanes to walk or ride.

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