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!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Future Learning - Richard III

I have enrolled in an on-line course with Future Learning at the University of Leicester. The theme is England in the Time of King Richard III . The course will explore 15th century England through archaeology, history and literature. You will also learn how people lived at the time. It also includes the discovery of his grave and the reburial that will take place in March. Just started today and since it is on-line it gives the participants an opportunity to exchange views and ideas. Just great. I still think you can enroll if you are interested (see link above).

Why Richard III? Well, it is a story where real life exceeds fiction. He has a very bad reputation to his name, and it is only recently that the research about his life and deeds has produced more diverse views. And you know what it is like sometimes when you hear a name or a place. Once you hear it, it keeps popping up all the time. With Richard III it started with Josephin Tey's The Daughter of Time. A detective trying to solve the riddle who murdered the princes in the Tower. You can read my review here.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentine tradition!

Valentine Day celebration goes back many years. Already in the Medieval Ages the saint Sankt Valentine was celebrated. Nobody really know which Valentine is referred to, but the Catholic church started to celebrate a saint by that name, already in the 5th century. According to one of the several legends, Valentine was a christian living in Rome in the 3rd century. He was put in prison by emperor Claudius II, because he had ignored a law that forbade anyone to wed young couples. Before his execution he managed to smuggle a card to the prison keeper's daughter, whom he was in love with. According to legend this is the first Valentine card. He also is said to have picked flowers to give to the lovers that he wed, and from there comes this tradition.

During the Medieval times the Valentine day was a feast for young people in love, especially in France and England. There the custom of writing love letters was established. From 19th century and onwards there existed pre-printed Valentine cards. They were often decorated with silk and laces. The oldest Valentine card is from 1477 when Margery Brew sent a greeting to her beloved John Paston.

My Valentine treat

Valentine is not something we really celebrate. However, with all the 'halo' around it you can't escape it. I was surprised by my husband with a lovely bouquet of roses. That does not happen often so it was a real treat.

Since the sun was shining I bought some lovely tulips the other day. I just love tulips.

And...yesterday's dinner guest came with a lovely bouquet of flowers as well!

So, for this Valentine the house is full of flowers! Isn't that wonderful?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Daytrip to Antwerp

This morning the sun was shining for a change, so I decided to go to Antwerp, to visit a few more museums and churches. When I got closer I realised that Antwerp is grey and no sunshine. Hmm, should maybe have stayed in Brussels. However, later in the day the sun came out. Here some photos from the day.

From a private collector's museum Mayer van den Bergh. Lovely paintings and other collections. There were even some paintings from Brueghel (older and younger).

The Library

The wall paper of the library. Fantastic!