Thursday, 5 March 2015

A day in Antwerp

Rockox House
Yesterday, Karin and I went to Antwerp to visit the Rockox house and museum. Since the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp is on repair, part of their collection is shown in this house. So who was Rockox? He lived in Antwerp from 1560-1640, born into a wealthy, bourgeois family, and studied in Leuven, Paris and Douai (a town in north eastern France (I had to look it up!). Married to Adriana Perez, who also came from an old and wealthy merchant family (of Spanish origin). During the first half of the 17th century he was an important figure in the political, artistic as well as in the social life of Antwerp. At one time he was a mayor. He gained an exceptional reputation as a patron, antiquarian, humanist and numismatist (the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects; had to look this up as well; thank you Wikipedia). Interested in the arts, he commissioned, and hereby supported the local artists, including Rubens. He also was a benefactor of the poor. When he died he requested his house to be sold and to benefit the poor.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Brief History of the Celts by Peter Berresford Ellis

A while ago I visited an excellent exhibition of 'Vikings' in Tongeren in Belgium. While checking out the museum shop I found this interesting book about the Celts. We are full of admiration for the Romans who were so ahead of things in a lot of areas. Well, to my surprise a lot of things the Romans did, came from the Celts and was adapted by the Romans. Now we know!

At the start of the first millennium BC, a civilisation which had developed from its Indo-European roots around the headwaters of the Rhine, the Rhone and the Danube suddenly erupted in all directions through Europe. Their advanced use of metalwork, particularly their iron weapons, made them a powerful and irresistible force. Greek merchants, first encountering them in the sixth century BC, called them Keltoi and Galatai. Later, the Romans would echo these names in Celtae, Galatae and Galli. Today we generally identify them as Celts.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Monday morning

Monday morning again. At least it is a sunny day and I was already out for a walk. The weather changes so quickly here, so it is better to seize the moment.

The Snow Drops are getting braver!

This is not from the garden, but birthday flowers
from a friend! Aren't they lovely!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Book swapping - new books

Well, it seems I was too much into the problems with the Google+. I apologise to all of you who are pestered with my 'add to circles', probably too many times. Hopefully, now it works all right. So, I simply forgot to tell you what books I swapped. Here they are:

Sashenka by Sebastian Sebag Montefiore. I love his history books, I have two that I have not yet read about Stalin and Jerusalem. I read the book about Potemkin which is absolutely fascinating. Could just not stop reading.

Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. I have read one of her books before, and I liked it very much. Of course I am a fan of Bones, and this series is based on Reichs' books. A must read that it.

Daughter of Fire by Barbara Erskine. This is one of these 'connected reading' book. I am now reading, hope to finish by tonight, a book about the Celts. this book there is a chapter on female queens of the Celts time, Cartimandua. Just when I am reading this book, I stumple upon this fictional book by Erskine. Fantastic!

Kristin Lavransdotter by Sigrid Undset is a classic which I have not yet read. So it is about time and I was really happy to find this book.

The Untouchable by Gerald Seymour rings a bell. I think I have read about this book on one of the many blogs I am following. Seems like a great suspense novel.

Looking forward to read these books one day. They are competing with all the other books on my TBR shelves!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Book swapping evening in Brussels

Every last Wednesday of the month there is a book swapping evening in a restaurant in the outskirts of Brussels. Karin is the energetic lady behind this initiative. I was there for the first time this Wednesday and was impressed. Quite a big room on top of a restaurant (very convenient if you are hungry after your book hunting!), filled with book cases and books orderly sorted by language, fiction and non-fiction and books for kids, dvds and cds as well. You bring some and take some.

I had gone through my book shelves and left around 25 books, and found six new ones. One I gave away to a friend, so I came home with five books. My husband was very happy!

Karin to the left, with a customer.
There were quite a few people who looked around and you heard - as always in Brussels - a lot of different languages from the rather big international community. This will be a recurring event for me. I will get back to you later on. Karin has promised that I can make an interview with her, to get the background to how it all started.

Me, Google+ and technicalities!

If you are already in my circles and I am in yours, and still you get a new request from me, please have patience. I am trying as best I can to organise things with my blog, myself and everything around me. The problem is, that the more I organise myself, the less organised I feel! I have now registered with so many 'tools' to help me in blog and life so I am totally confused. It takes time to learn how to use them, and I suppose I don't need five different type of calendars to keep me in order...or maybe I do?

Google+ to start with. I discovered that I had three different accounts, and the one I wanted to use was not used at all, because my circle for 'The Content Reader' was directed to somewhere else where there was no action.  Hopefully, now everything will be all right. Fingers crossed. I almost got a fit when I tried to log in to my blog after deleting the two Google+ pages, and it was not available because there was no Google+ profile. Well, luckily it was easily filled in and blog was back!

I found a web-site with 300 awesome free things to use for bloggers and other wild animals on the web! I probably downloaded half of them (just joking!). Some of them found their place under my bookmarks. Mostly for photoshopping photos without Photoshop and similar tools. Once going through them I deleted most of them. It always sounds so good, but of course it is not suitable for everyone. I think I have to downgrade to just the necessary things and try to learn how to use them.

My idea is also to try to improve the layout of my blog. What will happen there is still to be seen and might turn into nothing. All of a sudden I don't get an e-mail when someone leaves a comment, which makes it difficult to follow. I am not aware of doing any changes to the comments. Furthermore, old comments pop up automatically, when I publish a new post???? Strange things are happening.

So, if there is a little bit of turbulence around 'The Content Reader' in the near future, you know the reason. Maybe have to rename the blog into 'The Confused Blogger'!

Happy blogging all of you and I will soon be back with some more positive posts.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

My friend Malin gave me this book some time ago. It is by one of my favourite authors, Joanne Harris and she never disappoints you! Her books make you feel good and are always a pleasure to read. Often they tell a story about people a little bit special, and which have a past that affects their present life.

So also in this book, where Framboise Dartigen returns to her childhood home in the small village of Les Laveuses in France after fifty years. She grew up here with her mother, brother, and sister during the war. Here is the origin of the secret that has hung heavily over her and her siblings their whole life.

When their mother died she gave what little she had to be divided among the three siblings; the older brother Cassis inherited the house, the older sister, Reine-Claude, the wine cellar and Framboise herself received a photo album or more like a journal, and a huge truffle in oil. It seemed that she got away with the least valuable stuff, however, as the story evolves we realise that she made the big win.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Books coming my way!

Friends of mine were sorting out old books and kindly asked me if I wanted some of them. Never saying 'No' to such a request, I went through the books and found some very nice classics.

I have read Gone With the Wind, but none of the other. So, extending my TBR shelves with 17 books!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Valentine card history - continuation

Last week I wrote a post about the background to the tradition of sending Valentine cards. If you remember, it is said, that the first Valentine card was sent in February 1477 from Margery Brews to John Paston. I can say that I was quite surprised when I started my Future Learning course with the University of Leicester on England at the time of Richard III, and looking at documents as sources to learn more about history, the name Paston turned up. Yes, it is one of the many Johns in the family that received this Valentine card from Margery Brews. They later married so the outcome was a happy one. Here is the text of what turns out to be two letters or cards (from The Project Gutenberg).

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Top Lists of 100 best novels of ...

There are a lot of lists of the 100 top best novels of different kinds. Rose City Reader provided two; one from Modern Library and one from Erica Jong (female writers). Interesting books on both lists, so I decided to check whether I had read any of these important books.

Not so  far, I am afraid to say:  from the list of female writers I have read 12 and have another 4 on my TBR shelves, which means they will be read soon (haha?!). From the other list I have read 17 and have 12 on my TBR shelves. You can see here which the books are (green read and blue TBR shelves). And the rest...are there to be read too! One of these days!