Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ready for sleep-overs

While Jan was battling some virusses, I managed to finish the painting in the spare bedroom. It's all ready for guests now, so who feels like coming over? I promise to add some more color in a dark floor (to do later) and some colorful bedsheets/curtains/pictures etc to make it less white.

In between the other works the last weeks we've also managed to transform the few square meters of bathroom & toilet floor from a hidious old and cold tile floor to a warm modern cork floor. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Made in Belgium: Will Tura

20 years ago it was Turalura on tv, a tv program honoring the carreer of 50 year old Will Tura.  Rock artists were bringing covers from him on tv, which was very interesting because it's a totally different type of music. Will Tura's carreer started in the 60ies and brings Flemish chanson but explores sometimes other styles such as gospel, country, folk and even rap once. In 2004 I was one of the members of a mega-choir of 5000 singers bringing gospels for the charity campaign 'of Damiaan' (against lepra) starring Lea Gilmore and Will Tura. I must say she has way more gospel in her than he does :p.  But over all those decades he has contributed so much to our music legacy that he has been named Knight and he sang live at the funeral of our previous king. Some songs are simply part of my childhood.

20 years ago tonight it was the first Turalura and I remember watching it silently in the sofa, not knowing what to say much at home as we had just gotten the news that day that my grandmother had passed away unexpectedly.  And so I sad there watching tv, trying to let the news sink in while my parents were mourning and had to start making practical arrangements.  Somehow I still remember exactly that it was Dec 28 and that it was Turalura and now I often link Will Tura to that event.  This year there was a 2nd Turalura event for Will Tura's 70th birthday.  I must say I like their interpretations much more than the originals which aren't quite my type of music. 

I mis je zo


Het kan niet zijn

Vlaanderen mijn land

Turalura - Hart van Goud by Arid

Turalura - Het kan niet zijn by Will Tura and Triggerfinger

Turalura - Je liegt by Daan

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas to you all

I wish you good time with your family
I wish you a good laugh with the things the kids are saying
I wish you an overload of good food prepared with lots of love
I wish you several days to recover
I wish you a beautiful church service if you care to attend one
I wish you cosy decorations
I wish you a little blanket for in the sofa
I wish you some time to watch a cheezy christmas vacation afternoon movie
I wish you some time to sleep in
I wish you yummy left-overs to enjoy
I wish you a burning fire place
I wish you some candles to stare at

I wish you great holidays with your loved ones, some moments to enjoy & treasure

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some thoughts after 540 days without government and 2 weeks with a government

  • Isn't it pure democracy when a (resigning) government is only supposed to execute measures & take care things get done but not make any decisions themselves but leave that up to the parliament? Isn't that in fact the ideal situation rather than a problem?
  • If a country has 7 governments/councils each with their own authorisations & power due to the federalised structure of the nation...the country doesn't fall apart right away if one government is missing.
  • Maybe that's the only advantage of having different election dates / periods for the different levels of government: some are still up and running when others fail.  Yet they do fail because so many governements with different election dates also provide constant election stress & profiling
  • It is amasing how (seemingly) effective a government in the background can run when they do not need to be in the spotlight anymore (and cannot make a lot of new decisions)'s amasing how the public opinion can switch from "they can't do it" to "thank god they are keeping this country running after all". 
  • We must have excellent civil servants & ministries that kept the country's federal departments running through an economic crisis without a panic.
  • Is there a strategy behind negotiating all night until the morning....then going to catch a nap in order to pick up the discussions again in the evening?  I assume fatigue makes you easier to give in....and there's less stress for statements in the next news edition or the effect of a potential leak going viral through twitter is smaller.
  • It takes experience to negotiate effectively....the fact that so many "new" negotiators were around the table has not done us good.  The fact that apparently the negotiators already knew they'd not become an exectutive in the new governemnt and therefor wanted to pinpoint every single detail on paper yet either  (but it should increase the speed of execution now).
  • It's amasing how much we've all complained about not having a government.....then how much we complain that the new government wants to take action too quickly or rushed.
  • ...either that or the unions simply have been impatiently waiting for some government to action against, since within 2 weeks of the new government, we had a national strike against a needed pension reform.
  • The first struggle in the government negotiations were North-Flemish-Dutchspeaking against South-Wallonian-Frenchspeaking.  The budget negotations struggled over left socialist over right liberal contrasts.  The current strike discussions seem to polarise over different generations.  We seem a quite polarised society.
  • Some processes apparently can't be shortcut without social negotiations with the unions. 

Music For Life 2011 finale

Well no matter how much I find the whole campaign has become a little too much hyped & too much show ....I can't help getting chills when seeing compilation films like these that give such a nice overview how all over the country people all ages & interests have set-up actions for Music For Life. So heart-warming. 
No wonder we broke the record again 7.142.716 euro .  No wonder wonder the radio & the red cross is engaging themselves for setting up another charity campaign next winter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Made in Belgium: Isbells

In these dark days, soft melancholic music seems very appropriate. So it's time to introduce Isbells to you all. While they are currently working on their second album, this group from Leuven won the music industry award for best newcomer 2 years ago.  Their fragile sound was very refreshing on the radio.


As long as it takes

without a doubt


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Music for Life 2011

In the last 6 years it became a tradition that Studio Brussel  organises together with The Red Cross a huge charity campaign just before Christmas. Following the example of the Dutch "Serious Request" campaign (and other glass houses in Switzerland, Sweden and other countries) , 3 DJ's lock themselves for a week in a glass house without solid food  and present a week round music at request for which you pay for the charity cause of the year.

The Glass House has been hosted in Leuven, Ghent and Antwerp over the last years and the campaign grew bigger and bigger each time:  landmines, malaria, HIV orphans, ...lots of different causes got supported.  Each time the actions became a hype and you could not escape "Music For Life": politicians came on prime-time tv quizzes 'for life', the regular popular late-night show has become a 'glass show for life', competing radio stations have an emission 'for life', schools bake cookies 'for life', companies have a Christmas party 'for life'...whatever we do the week for Christmas is 'for life' and raises money for the good cause. 

For some incomprehensible reason Studio Brussel has decided that this year will be the last Music For Life.  As a closure they have built 3 glass houses, one in Leuven, Ghent & Antwerp again and the DJ's get moved each time to a different city after 3 days.  Don't ask me what the added value for the campaign is to justify such an extra logistic cost except the brand image of Studio Brussel?! It made me think of a radio emission 'Interne Keuken' I missed (but caught up partially online) on which Linda Polman told about her book 'De Crisiskaravaan': on the moral of help organisations that are forced to buy their access into countries from corrupt local forces and need to market themselves and the crisises they support for their own existance, .... Very shocking, real and sour food for thought. A book I want to read, yet I am afraid it would make me too cynical.

Anyway, the last Music For Life is currently in full swing with special news paper pages attributed to it to report how the whole region is once again mobilising for one and the same good cause just before christmas.  People are car washing 'for life', pulling moving carts 'for life', having sit ins 'for life'...all because we do give a shit ....that too many children die of diarrhea in eg Nepal due to lack of proper sanitation.

My optimism yesterday that I could combine painting in the Ardennes, grocery shopping , driving back and forth and going to see the free concert 'for life' of Selah Sue all in the same afternoon failed miserably . But I did make it at the square for the last half an hour that Music For Life was broadcasting from Leuven before the DJ's stepped in a glass little moving van to ride from Leuven to Ghent across the country (with all the necessary media attention along their road of course).

 When you see the whole circus it's become, maybe it is good that the yearly hype will get stopped. And yet...yet I also truly like how for once we all mobilise for the same cause.  Music For Life reaches people that probably would not have helped another charity and will next year probably only occupied with Christmas shopping.  The good thing is that Music For Life also supports background problems that might not otherwise get all of this attention ....Diarrhea in Nepal is not truly top of mind of world issues, right?

So I'll miss #MLF in the coming years, not only because they bring a week of the best music ever....I hope some other organisation jumps in the void next year and manages to get us going again, maybe differently and in a lot smaller scale but nevertheless.  Because charities , whether we hate it or not, also must market themselves and there's an opportunity available next years in Belgium.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Outside white...inside white

The snow outside worked I tackled the room this morning and gave it a first primer of white.


In one weekend Jan and his dad achieved the change of a guest room room into a slightly smaller room with a new sliding door;  2 new walls  and room for a closet under the stairs as well as a new little hallway with staircase to the attic and new sliding door giving access in the hallway!  And the new walls have already wall paper on them ready to paint....except for the last square meter because we ran out of glue because obviously you must always run out of something for the last square meter.

Whaaaaa success, never thought we'd progress this well. yippeee.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stairway to heaven?

Today had some big works on the agenda: a new staircase to be built in our guest room giving entrance to the not yet developed attic yet.  Jan & my father in law went at it at an amasingly speed : new opening in ceiling, doorway opening in hallway, staircase, sliding doors in both hallway openings....all in one day. Hurray for my men!!! They rock, don't they?

First snow

10 cm was the prediction in the higher areas of the Ardennes....Fortunately I changed my plans yesterday and drove up early before the snow.  Lucky me, because last night we got a full 23cm over here. The local ski-hill could even open up!

So I woke up to a winter wonderland ....gorgeous, but a bit painful to shovel the long driveway together with the neighbours, although a fun social activity too :). The neighbour dogs had a ball and weren't as incognito as I would have thought whereas the cat disappeared in the piles of white fluff to snuff curiously everywhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My little nest

Slowly I gain some consciousness in the morning waking up from the depths of my sleep. When I reach out to snooze my alarm in protest of the abrupt & unwelcome ending of the night, I become aware of the coolness in the rest of the room and retreat quickly back in the cosy warmth of my little nest. My soft mattrass in which I can sink comfortably until it gives me firm support and the duvets well tucked under my back.  I can feel the position of the rest of my body which has not moved in a while and which is relaxed and comfortable and where my pillow & mattrass reflect my own warmth nicely.  Just perfect, no need to change anything, just dosing a little without guilt.

Those stolen moments before getting up, in the silent dark world, enjoying the cosynest of my own perfect little nest can be pure joy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Made in Belgium: Venus in Flames

It's been already quite a few years ago I belief that I saw Venus in Flames performing in the popular late night tv show De Laatste Show. I remember clearly that I liked it quite well and made a mental note to remember Venus in Flames.

I always remembered but in honesty I do not often come across. Despite 3 albums and tours through Belgium and the Netherlands, Venus in Flames is not a generally well-known group to the wide public. Yet I heard the group around singer-songwriter Jan De Campenaere last week again on the radio and once again it struck me as nice music. I don't understand why he doesn't get more airplay & bigger hits. Anyway, a bit of surfing learned me that he is recording a new album at the moment that will get released in 2012.

Land of Dreams


Right Here

Save me

Monday, December 12, 2011

Made in Belgium: the Music Industry Awards 2011

Last weekend the Flemish music industry, the media & public elected their favourites again and awarded the Flemish music talents.   Always a good showcase on the abundance of good music we have in our little country!

So here are the awarded artists for the last year (with a link to my blog posts if I have featured them already in my Made in Belgium series, so you can revisit them)

Milow:   Award for Pop, best Live Act and best Male Solo Artist.
Indeed, I think when travelling it is Milow which I hear most often abroad on the radio. He's doing well in the international music scene and surely deserves these awards!

Arsenal:  Award for Dance/ Electronic music.
Ah their sunny sound always brings me in an excellent mood!

dEUS: Award for Rock/Alternative   & best musician (= Mauro Pawlowski)
I really should be able to update my 2-year old since their last record sure proves they are still the kings of the Belgian rock-scene!

Christoff: Award for popular music

No, no hyperlink....not much chance that any of the nominees in this category will show up in my blog. I want to like the music a blog about

Bart Peeters: Dutchspeaking music
It should be no surprise for you all that I heart Bart Peeters since he's been featured regularly enough on my blog. He rules!!!!

Dez Mona: Artwork

Raymond van het Groenewoud: award for Auteur/Componser
As a lot of tweets claimed: Raymond should simply get all awards. We probably don't even realise his full talent

Gotye: best video clip and hit of the year.
told you so!  Discovery of the year....May he stay for long with us as he's good company :)

Selah Sue:  Award for best selling artist, best female solo artist and best album
Holy cow, what an achievement at such a young age but totally deserved.  You rock girl.
Hooverphonic:  Best group
In 2009 I wrote that they have not been able to match their album "the magnificent tree" anymore and that they were looking for a new singer. Well I should sooooo update that post since Noemie joined the group last year and since then they have wings again.  Oh yeah, they are present again all over with their own renewed sound.

Intergalactic lovers: award for break-through
yes I promise they'll get a post dedicated to them soon!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


More to come next week!

Sunny but freezing

A year ago Belgium was already (quite exceptionally) covered in snow. So far we only get to enjoy the freezing temperature in the Ardennes which results in a delicately white frozen landscape in the mornings. 

When the sun comes out only the icicles around the little creeks remain.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Made in Belgium: Selah Sue & Tom Barman vs. The Subs - Zanna

It's Christmas time again....since 7 years time for the charity action "Music for Life" from radio Studio Brussel & the Red Cross where famous radio DJ's lock themselves in a glass house for a week without solid food presenting 7/7 24/24 live  radio  while the entire country goes crazy in actions to collect money and pay for the music played all week. Unfortunately this well be the last year Studo Brussel is organising Music for Life :(.

Themesong is Zanna, which you can buy for this year's theme "Dhiarrea in Nepal" . I sure like it. (the song, not dhiarrea of course) (because we do give a shit).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Di Rupo I

It took another couple of days before the 6 involved political parties had approved the negotiated agreement at their congresses and another 20h marathon negotiation to divide the different minister responsibilities over the parties...but we finally know our new government that will get sworn in tomorrow at 3PM.

How strange, we'll have to get used to the idea! A real government, gosh what will our neighbouring countries need to joke about now? We'll become so boringly normal again.

For the first time in my life-time, Belgium will be led by a Frenchspeaking prime minister: Elio Di Rupo. He had to promise to improve his knowledge of Dutch as that's quite a sensitive topic. The fact that he's the son of poor Italian immigrants and openly gay is not even important enough to get a lot of media coverage. Some things in our society are simply right ;)

And while the country was waiting for the final white smoke, the international press followed the shaving of Koen Filet. He's a well-known journalist, who (together with some other celebs) stopped shaving his beard out of protest for the lack of progress in the government negitiations.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Planning & measuring

The last untouched room in our weekend place is ready for a serious make-over, this time with some structural changes.  We will not be bored over the next weekends. 

I can already proudly declare the house finally 100% styrofoam free :) . And there's another bag of old wallpaper to be brought to the container park :).  Yippee