August in hindsight

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I know it’s October by the time I’m finally posting this but September seemed to have flown by without me noticing it. Well I noticed it but it was a month which was too busy for me to take any time for myself. And the few spare moments I had I was too tired to focus on writing. It’s not an excuse but the way life sometimes takes over. Anyway let me start with telling you all about my August.

August was  a strange month, usually August would be the month that marked my vacation time. However this year I had my two week summer break at the end of June and the beginning of July. So my vacation was done long before most other people where even thinking about going on vacation. And the fact that the weather wasn’t too good didn’t really help either. I was at work while one colleague after another left for their break. It was a really strange situation from my point of view to be honest.

It was also the month in which my grandmother turned ninety! A very respectable age especially if you manage to do it the way my grandmother does it. For someone her age she’s doing really well. I love my grandmother, she’s such a sweetheart and we’ve always had a special connection. She’s an amazing woman and I really hope that she’s will continue on the way she’s doing right now.

Reunion

We’ve had our first ‘official’ reunion with the group from my vacation in Sardinia – I say official because this was a day planned ahead and we already had a mini-reunion at the lake near The Hague where some of us went windsurfing. Anyway this was the official reunion. It was a wonderful weekend, we went to Utrecht. A beautiful city in the center of the Netherlands. And while it is quite close to my home – about an hour away – me and some other people decided that we wanted to stay the night. So we wouldn’t have to worry about getting home. We rented a room with six people in a Hostel. If you ever need an Hostel in the center of Utrecht I can wholeheartedly recommend Stay Okay. It’s a very new – exactly one year old when we where there – Hostel which houses all kinds of different rooms and there were even families with kids and elderly people staying at the Hostel. In the afternoon we went bowling which is always a fun thing to do. Surprisingly the first round started off pretty good for me, better than expected. Not that I was the winner or anything but I wasn’t too bad.

After our bowling adventure we set out to find a spot at one of the many cafe’s for drink, and some pizza slices – something which happened at our vacation and what gave us a good laugh at this point but wasn’t really all that funny when it happened. Anyway after our pizza slices and drinks we went for a walk through the city to find our restaurant for the evening. A lovely small place which was in no way set up to host a group of 15 people but managed to do so anyway. We had a sort of tapas dinner where they made different types of small meals, not just Spanish but everything and anything. We had a lovely dinner. And afterwards we took another stroll through the city. We were planning on going out but it was still very early in the night. Eventually we ended up at Florin, which is the same place we always go with the Nanowrimo Kickoffs! The night ended at a club, not exactly one where I would have gone but it was fun nevertheless. Around three we rolled into our beds – which were luckily for us only a three minute walk away from the club.

The six of us – who rented a room at the hostel – had a very restless but fun night. Everyone slept a little but no one slept nearly enough and after a short night and a way too early shower we were sitting across from each other at the breakfast table. After the breakfast our ways split all over the Netherlands and we all made our way home either by car or by train.

Reading and writing

I’ve finally finished reading the When Woman Were Warriors books, all three of them back to back. I absolutely loved reading the books. They reminded me so much of the books I used to read when I was younger. In a lot of ways these type of books feel like they are historical novels but you know that the story is completely made up. A series of books dedicated to strong female characters! A series of books I absolutely recommend to everyone who loves to read about strong women.

And I started reading American God’s by Neal Gaiman, which is now also a television show. A lot of my friends recommended the book. So I’m really looking forward to reading it and seeing what it’s all about.

Looking ahead:

  • My parents went on their cruise vacation and they left from Amsterdam. I decided that I would bring them and pick them up a week later. So I spend two Sundays driving to Amsterdam, one of them was spend at a city beach and one of them in my hometown where we had a nice meal together.
  • Working lots and lots of overtime in September, like usual.
  • We had the NoSun Festival! Which was fun!
  • And we had another reunion!
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July in hindsight

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Vacation-time

The end of my vacation in  Sardinia was on July first, it was the day I came home very late in the evening due to some delays. My parents picked me up at the airport, they were coincidentally also on vacation and where close enough to pick me up. They dropped me off at a Hostel because it was in the middle of the night and we would drive home the next day. I’ve stayed at the King’s Inn Hostel, which is a great place if you need to stay in Alkmaar for a night and it’s pretty close to Schiphol as well. And the price is really good, of course with a Hostel you might have to share your room with strangers but if it’s only for a night I don’t really mind. However I was lucky enough that I had the room to myself. The other person who would share the room with me didn’t show up.

Concerts and festivals

Beth Hart was at Bospop, the ultimate reason for me to check out a different festival than Pinkpop – which I usually go to. Bospop is a lot smaller and with a smaller festival there are of course also less visitors. But the feel of the festival is about the same, the audience ranges in age from teenagers to people in their fiftees and sixtees. I’ve seen a lot of good performances but Beth Hart will always be at the top of my list. She was amazing!

Reading and writing

I wrote a lot during July, most of it was of course all of my posts about my vacation! About 2621 words in total, which I’m really proud of. It has been a while sine I wrote that many words. Of course I’m not counting November because that is a different month – a special month in which my writing usually goes off the charts.

I read three books these past couple of months and I wrote the review, just now already in August. But I finished the last book a couple of weeks ago, but my vacation blogs were more important to me. So here you can find my view on the ‘When Women Were Warrios’ series. Which I absolutely loved! No real surprise there! It’s about strong women … what more can I ask for.

Looking ahead:

  • My grandmother turns 90 in August!
  • I’m going on a weekend trip to Utrecht with my vacation friends! So looking forward to that!
  • Otherwise I don’t have much planned for this coming month.

Book 4-5-6 – When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson

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I started reading the ‘When Women Were Warriors’-series when I wanted to read something different. When you look through the books I’ve read these past couple of years you’ll notice that a lot of them are crime-novels.

So I started looking around and when I came across the description of the ‘When Women Were Warriors’ series I was sold. Literally, sold! I loved it, the whole idea of the book. The title alone made me want to know more about the story. I love reading about strong women and honestly how much stronger can a women be that literally be a warrior.

The Warrior’s Path – part 1

WWWW_book1‘The Warrior’s Path’ is the first part in the trilogy revolving around Tamras, a girl who’s come of age  and is brought to Merin’s house by her mother. The house of a Lady Merin who will from that day on be the lady she serves and who will be overseeing her training as a swords-woman under one of Merin’s female warriors. Or so Tamras hopes, but her dreams are squashed when she’s told that due to her petite frame being a swords-woman will be out of the question because a sword is heavier than she’ll be able to wield. And having to wield it with two hands would mean that she can’t hold a shield at the same time. To make matters worse, Merin assigns Tamras the role of being a companion. Which means that she’s barely more than a personal assistant to one of the warriors instead of being an apprentice. And in Tamras’ case not even that because the woman – Maara – who she’s assigned to is a stranger in Merin’s house with little to no connection to anyone in Merin’s house. But Tamras is not about to let herself be pushed into a corner. She fights for her place and not only her place but also Maara’s place.

A Journey of the Heart – part 2WWWW_book2

The story continues and little by little Tamras is able to gain Maara’s trust which isn’t always easy, especially when Maara’s biggest enemy also becomes Tamras’ enemy. And if that enemy is the most important Warrior in Merin’s house you know you have a problem on your hands. Meanwhile Tamras’ apprenticeship under Maara’s guidance doesn’t turn out quite as she’d expected it to be. Maara makes choices which she thinks are best for Tamras but they are far from the usual path an apprentice takes. At the same time Tamras is – unwillingly – involved in a power struggle and politics about the future of Merin’s house. A situation which becomes so dangerous for Tamras that she has no choice but to leave her home behind in an effort to safe herself, Maara, Merin and the people she loves.

A Hero’s Tale – part 3

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Tamras has fled her home and followed Maara, in an effort to save her and the people she loves. Life isn’t easy when you have no place to call home. Especially when winter is just around the corner. But Tamras is a fighter who doesn’t give up and when the situation seems extremely dire a solution presents itself.

I like reading books about strong women and this book is gathers a grand collection of strong women each in their own right. I love how Catherine M. Wilson is able to throw that many strong women into the mix without it feeling like there are too many or without being realistic. The characters in my opinion are well balanced and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. They are like real women, they might not always make the right choices. But the fact that they are flawed makes them three dimensional and lovable. And even the people like Vintel react like real people. She might be the antagonist in this story but she’s definitively not all bad! She had her good moments as well even if you have to look hard to see them sometimes.

Reading these books made me realize that I really missed this genre! Of course this is fantasy, but it has this real historical feel to it and when I was younger I loved reading these type of books. But these past couple of years most books I’ve read have been crime novels. I’ve once again been made aware that I should really change this.

These books are definitively not separately readable. And for that same reason it is difficult to review them separately. If you do you will never know what the story is about. I think that they have divided it into three parts to make it easier to read. I have read the ebooks so I am not sure about a real book but the ebooks chapters simply continue counting on. I would definitively recommend these books to anyone who’s open to my recommendations but you do have to get ready for a read because all three books are about 900 pages long in total. But it is a truly inspirational journey about making choices – hard choices, possible life and death choices.

Festival: Bospop

It was my first time at Bospop, of course I’m not a newbie to the whole festival scene but every festival is different. Although I do have to admit that this one was quite similar to Pinkpop when it comes to the atmosphere and the type of audience. But of course the music is kind of similar as well. The festival is a lot smaller than Pinkpop in size and also in the type of bands that come to perform.

This year I didn’t go to Pinkpop because I’d already seen a lot of the bands in twelve times that I went to the festival and the bands and singers that I hadn’t seen yet were not exactly on my list of need to see – yes, I’m talking about you Justin Bieber!

However by going to Bospop I was able to heal my festival-heart! In more ways than one, I got to see some new bands which I’d never heard about before. Enjoy some classic bands and of course see Beth Hart.

 I arrived at the festival terrain – of course I was wearing one of my Beth Hart shirts! That is the benefit when you work for the company which prints the t-shirts for Beth Hart! That is a total coincidence by the way and not the reason why I work there. Anyway, I was wearing my shirt and I arrived at the road which led to the parking lot but was also a road through to some town. So valets had to ask everyone whether they wanted to park or where just driving through. One of the girls walked up to my car, she laughed and said; ‘With that shirt I don’t even need to ask if you want to park! Have fun!’

The second time that happened was at the gate. The woman who checked my ticket and did the security check told me that the rest of the fanclub was already inside. It made me smile Beth Hart has a very loyal following and at one time I was in the highest ranks of that fanclub. But due to personal reasons I decided to step back. However knowing that she still has that loyal group of fans rooting for her is always good to hear because in my opinion she deserves every single speck of fame and so much more.

But lets start at the beginning…

Stevie Nimmo Trio

When I arrived at the festival the Stevie Nimmo Trio was performing and the trouble is that they opened, and I had never heard of them before. So they really needed to warm up the audience and if the music isn’t familiar that’s quite hard.

Xander & the Peace Pirates

The second band I saw was Xander & the Peace Pirates, and let me tell you about this band. I had never heard of them and didn’t know their music, so I had literally no idea what to expect. Keith Xander the front-man of the band plays the guitar and he sings. Nothing special, I hear you say and you would be right about that. However Xander was born with only one hand. So he has a hook attached to his right arm and when he plays the guitar there is a plectrum attached to the hook. The music was cool, I really enjoyed listening to it. But just imagine I can’t manage to play the guitar with two hands, let alone with one hand and a hook and have people like Joe Bonamassa and Joe Satriani admire you.

Laurence Jones

Another performance which I really liked was Laurence Jones. Obviously a very young guy but the music he plays really spoke to me. He plays the blues, which I really love. This guy sure knows how to play that guitar! If you ever have the chance to see him live make sure you see it!!! I was really pleasantly surprised, this is why I love festivals I’d never heard of Laurence Jones but I have seen him life and I’ll be sure to check his music on Spotify.

Blof

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a band like Blof in the afternoon especially when the weather is nice and warm. Everyone knows these songs, it’s a very well known Dutch band. And you can always spot people singing along, we know these lyrics. The songs are classics after all.

Vintage Trouble

What a show! That really is all I can say. This bands front-man is a true entertainer! He was literally everywhere – even between the audience at one point in the show. That is what you want to see if you go to a show!

Delv!s

The same that goes for Laurence Jones goes for Delv!s. The music was awesome, he has a beautiful voice, a rich and warm voice. He is a singer with a very bluesy voice but the music he makes with his band is also influenced by gospel, electronica and jazz. Which makes for a very pleasant combination.

The Pretenders

They have been around for almost forty years and that is what you can hear! They have made quite some classics that everyone knows and that really is what works at a festival. If everyone can sing along. I mean ‘Don’t get me wrong’ is about as old as I am, but you know the tune.

Beth Hart

It had been quite a while since I last seen Beth Hart perform live. For some reason whenever she was in the Netherlands I wasn’t able to go and I really hated it. I missed her! Because I love this woman. I think that this was my eighteenth performance of Beth Hart. So yes, I am a huge fan and I loved every concert I’ve seen so far. But this one was special!

Beth Hart was on a roll! From the second she stepped onto the stage till the moment she left. She was on fire! She looked amazing, she sounded better than ever before. She was joking around, she reminisced. She talked about the time when she thought that she had no future and how that first concert in Paradiso in January 2004 changed all of that. And I was there that first time in 2004, her reminiscing and telling us how that performance changed her life. It made me feel really emotional, honestly I had tears in my eyes. That story combined with how strong she stood there made me feel emotional.

There are so many examples of artists ( singers / actors / performers ) who struggle with the same struggles she does and who don’t make it out on the other side better and stronger!

The main difference between Pinkpop and Bospop is the size of the festival, it’s about half the size. And that is noticeable in just about everything. The tent stage and the main stage are right next to each other and the performances are back to back instead of simultaneously, which means that you can easily catch all the performances during the day. With Pinkpop they have two big stages and a tent (and maybe even a second one). With that many stages there are always choices you have to make. And things you can’t see because of the time table, which is always a shame. So in that regard Bospop was definitely better. But Pinkpop is where my heart is, I just love that place!

 

June in hindsight

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I know it has been a while since June ended in fact July has already ended and we’re already on August fifth when I start writing this. The reason for that is that I want to include my vacation in the ‘June in hindsight’ post.  There is no real reason to write a post looking back on June when I can’t include links to my vacation posts.

Hanson – the 25th anniversary tour

On June second I was able to go see Hanson for the 25th Anniversary Tour! Yes, they have been a band for 25 years and I have been a fan ever since I first heard Mmmbop on the radio. You can say whatever you want about Hanson but I love them and I still listen to there music, there old songs as well as their new stuff. To those who have no idea, Hanson has made six studio albums. And they have always been active with their own fan network, producing songs, doing tours, setting up their own beer company as well as their own festival and raising their families. These guys have been busy, but no matter how busy they have been they have alwys made time for their fans and charity projects.

I was super excited to see them once again and I’m sure that I will be there when they come back! I’ve been a fan of Hanson for twenty years! That realization makes me feel old. But what can I say it’s the truth!

Graffiti festival

Every year during the month of June there is one weekend were graffiti artists from all over the world get together in my hometown to give our bike roundabout a new look. DJ’s play music while the artists create their magic. Underneath you’ll find a few pictures of the amazing and almost unbelievable creations. This year the theme was ‘Step into the Arena’ – some of the artists took that literally.  The two gladiators in the arena are by far my favorite creation. These guys where actually spray painting themselves onto the wall as gladiators!

City trips

There were no city trips during the month of June because I had planned my vacation to Sardinia at the end of this month. You can read my complete day by day travel log here: Saturday – the meeting, Sunday, Monday – the beach day, Tuesday, Wednesday – mountainbike trip, Thursday – boat trip, Friday – the inland excursion, Saturday – saying goodbye. I had the best time at my vacation, the group I stayed with at vacation was awesome. I’ve met some amazing people! And we had a lot of fun!

As you can see June was the month I wrote the most posts about! It was an extremely busy yet very fun month!

Looking ahead:

Well since July has already happened it’s not all that hard to fill in what’s going to happen.

  • Beth Hart at Bospop! My festival heart has been healed – or should I say hart?
  • Surf afternoon with my vacation friends – or our first mini-reunion!
  • Setting up plans for a second and real reunion!
  • Spending a lot of time writing my vacation blogs.
  • Having meetings with my writer friends at the library on Friday nights!

Sardinia – July 1st

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When I started with this adventure I had no idea what to expect. But it was the best choice I could have made for myself. The people I met were truly amazing. We were a group between the ages of 26 and 49. But everyone managed to get along and we had lots of fun. We all wanted it to last longer. But July first was the day we had to go home.

We spend one last morning at the beach, we had lunch together at a restaurant. And then it was time to go back to the camp side where we had to pick up our belongings and get back on the bus to the airport.

Promises of a reunion were made and we would send our pictures to each other through WeTransfer. We did and I have now about 2000 pictures to sort through to make a vacation album, which is certainly something I want to do. Because this vacation was definitely something I want to cherish.

Goodbye Sardinia! I’ll miss you …

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Sardinia – June 30th

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Friday came around and that meant that we were going on our inland excursion. A bus picked us up at the campsite and would drive us around all day in the Province of Nuoro. Mario who picked us up on the first day and who gave us that marvelous wine-tasting was also the person who would be the guide on this trip. Marco is an awesome guy, who has a very special way of explaining things. He constantly forgets details and then gets back to them right in the middle of telling something different. Which makes for some very laughable random comments. As you can imagine we had a lot of fun and even though some of the information was very serious Marco knows how to keep things interesting.

Irgoli

Our first stop was at a small town where a lot of the houses are painted. Initially it was a way of protest mostly towards the government of Italy since Sardinia always felt left out when choices were being made that would have an influence on all Italians. It kind of reminded me of Greek Fresco’s. They where all over the town in all different shapes and sizes. And all so in different styles. Some where old while others were painted a year or two ago.

Tomba dei Giganti – Giant’s grave

One of the stops was at the Tomba dei Giganti – translated to Giant’s Grave – which sounds like something straight out of a novel. It’s not however, it’s a graveside which belongs to a civilization which long ago lived in Sardinia. The graves were build in the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization, they were collective tombs and there have been about 800 discovered in Sardinia. Which is a huge number if you think about it! Sardinia is not that big! The centerpiece is a stone a couple of meters high, the top is rounded and in the bottom there is a whole cut out. Behind it is the grave chamber, meters deep with graves on either side of the small corridor.

Monte Gonare

The next stop was Monte Gonare, a mountain in a beautiful environment we were told that once we reached the top we’d be able to see one fifth of the island. The uphill route was literally hopping from one stone to the next. There was an obvious path, but it wasn’t straight and it wasn’t easy to walk on, the path’s were filled with stones. But it was beautiful and we could see a lot of the surroundings because we rounded the mountain as we got higher up. On the top is a beautiful church, Marco opened the door but before he did that he banged on the wood. There was a beautiful, deep echoing sound. The acoustic sounded great. Once inside, one of the girls in our group sang two songs, it was absolutely beautiful. Especially because she is an amazing singer – even Marco who has been to this place so many times was visibly touched. He also asked us all to sit down in between two of the benches in the middle of the church. He closed the door so we were sitting in complete darkness. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark he opened the door on the opposite side of the church. At first we were completely blinded by the light, next we were treated to a gorgeous view of a true masterpiece. One view on heaven and earth.

On our way back we made one last stop Orosei, where we ate an ice cream and in some cases two ice creams. It was simply delicious! According to Marco the best ice cream store on Sardinia.

Limoncello tasting

Once we came back to the campsite we had time to eat and then get ready for the evening. Part one of the program was a Limoncello tasting! Yes, after our wine tasting we were now going to try five different home-made limoncello’s. We started with a regular limoncello, then we tasted a creamy limoncello (which was really good and by far my favorite). Followed by a limoncello with pomegranate, one with lemon and mandarine mixed and one with only mandarine.

And then …. disco!

Yes, disco! We ended our last night with a disco! It was so much fun, admittedly at first we all laughed about the idea but ‘cos it sounded so child-like ‘disco’. But it was the perfect ending of a very fun vacation. All we had left was our last day at the beach and our flight home.