Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Autumn


The weather has changed very quikcly to cold and rainy with a lot of wind. The mornings are dark and cold and the evenings are dark and cold as well. I am just so grateful I have a warm house to come home to every day.

But I do enjoy the amazing autumn colours like I do every year. These are two trees near my house. I love these gorgeous reds and golds and oranges. It would have been a better photograph with a little sun, but you cannot have it all!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Exhibition: The Dutch in Paris

Paris has always been the centre of the artworld and many artists from outside France came to Paris to learn new techniques or be inspired by new ideas. In Paris you had the Academies and the Salon, thé place to get noticed and to sell your work.

Already in the 18th century, Dutch artists came to Paris. Some of them became very succesful, like Ary Scheffer, who came to Paris when he was only sixteen years old, but who never left. He was even succesful at the French court of king Louis Philippe!

And in later years many others came, like Johan Jongkind, Vincent van Gogh and Kees van Dongen and Piet Mondriaan
.
The exhibition The Dutch in Paris 1789-1914, that is shown now in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, shows their work.
Notre Dame de Paris, vue de quai de la Tournelle, Johan Jongkind 1852
It shows how the Dutch artists were inspired by Paris and the busy life in the city, but it also shows how the influence worked both ways.

Johan Jongkind became a friend of Claude Monet and Monet saw how Jongkind painted his skies in loose and swirling paintstrokes, using light colours. This inspired Monet in his Impressionism. And Vincent van Gogh on his turn was influenced by Monet.

Another great example is George Breitner who saw the dansers Edgar Degas painted, and introduced this subject in The Netherlands.
Ballerina, George Breitner, 1884
It is beautiful to see in the exhibition who these painters took their inspiration from eachother, in subjects, technique and use of colour.

Not all of the Dutch artists lived in Paris long, but even if they only stayed a short while, their work was very much influenced by the capital of art, Paris.
Boulevard de Clichy, Vincent van Gogh 1887
The exhibition can be seen until January 7th, 2018 at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Before the fall, Noah Hawley

Sometimes something happens and a lot of people are involved in that situation. Their lives came to the point where they met, coming towards point zero. The interesting question is how they all came to that point and could it have been avoided?

In Before the fall a little private plane crashes. Two people survive, the others, passengers and crew, are all dead.

Scott is a painter who never had a lot of success, but now fate is smiling at him. His agent wants to talk to him and there is a chance of an exhibition.

A friend of his, Maggie Bateman, invites him on the plane with her family, because they are also leaving for New York.

But just a few minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the sea. Scott and the little Bateman son survive and Scott manages to swim miles to the shore with the little boy on his back. He saved the boy and is a hero.

Only people want to know what happened and why the plane crashed. Was it something one of the crew-members did, or was it a terrorist act? David Bateman owned a right-winged news-channel and his prime anchorman is looking everywhere to put the blame, and he focusses his attention on Scott.

But it could also be the fault of the other family on bord, the Kiplings. Because Ben Kipling was a millionaire who made his money by never letting moral stand in the way of a good deal and whose trading with enemy countries was under investigation.

Before the fall explores the different lives, up to the point of all of them meeting in the airplane. But it is not a thriller and the why of the crash is never the point of this novel. All the different lives and their different points of view are the really important thing. 

I loved the character of Scott, who is an artist who makes very interesting paintings and the descriptions of some of this paintings add another layer to the story. I think you can say that greed and having no moral and no heart is put against a person who tries to be a decent man, even after he finds himself in a situation he can almost not control.

I read this book on my way to Nice, (not the best thing to read while you are in an airplane), but despite that little thing I really enjoyed this book. I thought the different lives were well written and it was very interesting to see all those choices that made them reach point zero.


Published in 2016

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The flowers of Nice

The climate in Nice is very mild. When I was there during the last week of October, it was still warm enough to walk outside without a coat. I loved to see so many beautiful plants and flowers in Nice, it made the place even more magical!

I do not know the names of all these plants, since I am sure some of them do not even grow in The Netherlands.
But their bright colours made a huge impact. Amazing!







Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Wrapping up October

It is hard to believe we are already at the end of October. Somehow this month raced past me, and I can almost not believe we only have two more month in 2017.
But here are a few things from this month!

What did I read?
I read a lot of good books this month. I will not list all of them here, just a few to give an impression. I read two very good Italian novels. One by Paolo Cognetti and one by Sandro Veronesi. Both books have not been translated into English. But the book by Paolo Cognetti had a great cover in the Dutch version. I love a book with a good cover.
Italian title and Dutch title: The eight mountains
I also read a book with the letters of the artist Camille Claudel. She was the apprentice and later lover of the sculpture Rodin. She had a very sad life and her letters reflect that. Very powerful.

As you know I read the new novel by John Boyne in one day. Really good. I reviewd it last week: HERE
And on holiday I read a thriller by Robert Goddard which was alright and good fun, but which also turned out to be the first of a trilogy, and I am not sure I liked it enough to read part two and three as well.

The last book I reads this month was Before the fall by Noah Hawley and I liked it very much. Perhaps I will write a review here, but if that happens it will be next week.

What did I see?
I discovered the series Penny Dreadful on Netflix and loved it so much, I decided to buy the DVD set, so I can watch it whenever I want to. The series falls into the horror genre, and usually this is not my cup of tea. But in this case I loved the strong acting, the way the different horrorstories were mixed together very cleverly and I really enjoyed how it is not about guts and gore, but abour character development. It is probably not a series for everyone, but if you can get past the horrorlabel, there is much to enjoy here. With Eva Green, Timothy Dalton and Josh Hartnett and many others.
Josh Hartnett and Eva Green in Penny Dreadful
What did I do?
Completely unexpectedly I was asked to join a schooltrip to Paris, as an extra teacher. I loved being in Paris again, although I was exhausted with the care of 72 students on just a few hours of sleep each night. But still, it all went well and that is always a good thing.
Paris (oktober 2017)
And just a week later, I travelled again. I went on a holiday to Nice, in the south of France. I had never been there before and I was curious to see how I would like it. It turned out, I loved it!! Nice had lovely sunny weather (I could walk outside without my coat), it was not too busy and it was the perfect mix of France and Italy, with a strong Russian connection.
I wish I lived in the 19th century and was rich enough to spend an entire Winter there!
But I had a lovely couple of days and it won't be the last time I visited.
Nice (oktober 2017)
Looking forward to in November
November will prove to be a good month as well, I hope. I have some amazing books lined up. I am still reading The years by Virginia Woolf (somehow I never manage to read a Woolf book very fast!).
My Dutch version
I am also reading Notes from an exhibition by Patrick Gale. I became a fan after I read A place called Winter, and this book is just as engaging. I also love the blues on the cover of this book. 

I have a few exhibitions I would like to visit this month. I had planned to visit at least two in October, but somehow there was no time for that. Coming Saturday I will be in Rotterdam to see an exhibition that is devoted to the role of the cat in the arts! (yes, I know, wonderful).

For the dark winter evenings I have the DVD with the new series of Maigret. I must admit I never really cared for the old series of Maigret, but somehow this new version with Rowan Atkinson as the Parisian police inspector Maigret ticks all the boxes for me. So I will be enjoying this I think!
Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

Friday, 27 October 2017

October impressions in Paris

Last week I was lucky enough to visit Paris again. This was completely unexpected, but due to circumstances, I was asked to come as an extra teacher on the schooltrip for the third form (14-15 yo). Imagine running around Paris for four days with 72 students and five other colleagues. It all went well, but I must admit I was exhausted when I came home.

I usually do not have a lot of time to make photographs when I am on a schooltrip (too busy watching those kids), but I did manage to snap a few! Not always the most typical sights of Paris, but these things caught my eye.

Sunset

Sacré Coeur

Along the Champs Elysées

In Versailles

Palace Royale

Signs of autumn


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The heart's invisible furies, John Boyne

Last Sunday I read this book, and I could not put it down, so I read all 600 pages in one day. But it really is that good.

It is the story of Cyril Avery, who was handed to his adoptive parents by a nun. His biological mother was 16 and not married, a huge scandal in Ireland in 1945. The priest called her a whore in front of everybody, and her parents threw her out.

Cyril had a strange upbringing, his adoptive father Charles tells him all the time he is not a real Avery, and his adoptive mother Maude is a writer who despises her readers (popularity is vulgar).

It all changes when Cyril meets Julian, and from that moment a life-long bond is formed. Julian is outgoing and charming and will grow up chasing every skirt in Dublin. He is everything Cyril is not, and soon Cyril realizes that he feels more for Julian than just friendship. But he also knows he can never tell somebody about these feelings.

Being gay in Ireland in the fifties, sixties of seventies was not easy. It was seen by most people as unnatural and shameful and for most people it was also a crime. As one doctor tells Cyril; 'You cannot be a homosexual, since this does not exist in Ireland'.

He finally moves to Amsterdam where he meets the love of his life and together they move to New York during the eighties, when the AIDS epidemic was at its height.

When Cyril finally comes back to Ireland, he must face the consequenses of the choices he made and he must try to get some peace with himself.

The heart's invisible furies is an amazing book. It condems the hypocrisy of institutes like Church and Politics, but also celebrates how ordinary people can who mercy and love and understanding. And fortunately for Cyril he meets a lot of these people. He has his share of misery and heartbreak, but there is happiness and more family for him than he could ever have hoped for.

I love how this book made me laugh outloud with the sometimes absurd dialogues, but also made me cry at some points. Despite the subject it is not a difficult or depressing book. It is heartwarming, funny and almost epic. I loved it.

Published in 2017

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dutch masters coming home

Flora by Rembrandt
The Russian tsars loved the Dutch artists of the 17the century. They bought paintings by Rembrandt, Van Hals, Potter and many more. These works form an imporant part of the permanent exhibition in the Hermitage in Sint Petersburg

Since October 7th some of these paintings have come home to the Netherlands, for a special exhibition in The Hermitage museum in Amsterdam.

Over sixty paintings can now be seen in Amsterdam, seven of them by Rembrandt. This one, Flora, is one of them.
Many of these Dutch paintings have come home after more than 300 years in Russia, and they will stay in Amsterdam for eight months.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cookbooks by Tessa Kiros

I love to read cookbooks. Of course, I use them for recepies as well, but I like a book that is more than just a list of ingredients and cookingtimes etc. I like a story, atmosphere and loads of photographs. Both of the food and other photographs thay convey the mood of thcookbook.

I have quite a few amazing cookbooks, but I feel I am very fortunate to own three cookbooks by Tessa Kiros. 

What sets these cookbooks apart from most others, is how absolutely beautiful they look. Two of these are gorgeous hardovers with absolutely amazing photographs.

On my shelves I already had Venezia, Limoncello and Linen water but recently I bought a third one, Provence to Pondicherry.

Venezia: Food and Dreams (2008)
This books is all about the magical city of Venice. I have visited Venice twice and I love the atmosphere. This book oozes that atmosphere. It has beautiful photographs of Venice so you feel like you are actually back there, but also of the ingredients and the dishes.

Venice is a city of water, so there are a lot of recipies with fish, but also recepies for risotto, pasta and desserts. Some typical Venecian dishes are in this book, like the spaghetti al nero di sepia, the black spaghetti with squid-ink.

Limoncello and linen water (2012)
This amazing book is more general Italian. I already wrote about it earlier (HERE), and I still love it very much. It is a book I often pick up to read, especially if I am feeling blue! It really lifts your spirits.

Provence to Pondicherry (2016)
This book is not about the Italian kitchen, but the French kitchen. And what I really like is how it goes from the South of France and Normandy to other parts of the world that once used to be a part of the French colonial empire. The kitchens in Vietnam, Guadeloupe, Réunion and Pondicherry all took something from the French kitchen, but also added their flavours into the richness that is the French world-kitchen.

Again, a beautiful book with amazing photographs, and mouthwatering recepies.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Knocking on the door

Some doors I saw during my city-trips in the past years.
Bologna, May 2017

Groningen, 2017
Rome, summer 2015

Venice, Summer 2016

Berlin, 2015 (not a doorknocker, I know, but still beautiful)
Paris, August 2017

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.

Proud
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.

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