Wear Sunscreen

An historian's view on life, love and leisure

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5 images, 5 things I’ve done in the past few weeks

 

we've moved!

I hate moving, I really, really, really hate moving. This was actually my 5th or 6th move, so by now I can probably write a book about what to do – and especially about what not to do – when you prepare to move. Anyway, we survived. Barely, but we did. Our new house has a bigger office space and it’s closer to the offpring’s school. Everybody happy. More or less.

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The day after: 9 things to do in November

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Forest of Averbode (Belgium)

Forest of Averbode (Belgium). This photograph was actually taken in July, although with pine trees that doesn’t matter does it…

Halloween and All Saints Day are over, and as I sit here eating the offspring’s Halloween candy (note to self: stop bying candy as if you have 10 children), I can’t fail to notice what an incredibly dull and generally gloomy month November is. Though I shouldn’t complain, considering it’s about 15° C warmer than it usually is. We even went out for ice cream at the abbey of Averbode yesterday. Not really something you would consider doing when winter is nearing. Averbode is our ‘go to place’ when we have friends over and we’re looking for a relaxing way to entertain them. We took the kids out for a walk in the forest and a delicious ice cream, everybody happy. Although we did get some strange looks. All Saints Day is a serious thing in Belgium, and the fact that my daughter was dressed as a ‘devil princess’ (for want of a better description) for a small Halloween party we had yesterday was clearly not to everybody’s liking… Continue reading

Expats and Belgians: living happily ever after?

The ancient palace of the dukes of Burgundy in Brussels

17th century view on the ancient palace of the dukes of Burgundy in Brussels by Jan van der Heyden and Adriaen van de Velde. The palace on the Coudenberg was the quintessential meeting place for European diplomats and a true expat heaven for centuries before it was completely destroyed by fire in 1731. Its foundations can still be visited today in the Museum on the Coudenberg.

When The Bulletin (for those who don’t know The Bulletin, it’s the first, best known and largest of the media targeting the Belgian expat community) featured the results of the Expat Explorer Survey undertaken by HSBC, the reactions on social media were far more interesting than the results of the survey itself. Many of the issues discussed on social media weren’t even part of the survey and had nothing whatsoever to do with the article featured in The Bulletin. As the comments on social media demonstrated, people are often bewildered by the culture that surrounds them, even if that culture is not so very different than the one they left behind.

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This is what a lunar eclipse feels like

Lunar eclipse of 28 September 2015

The lunar eclipse and blood moon as seen in Belgium on 28 September 2015

By now your Facebook and/or Instagram feeds have probably been flooded with photographs of last night’s lunar eclipse and blood moon.

I just couldn’t resist adding my own impressions to the multitude of beautiful images already out there.

Lunar eclipse around 3.55 a.m. on 28 September 2015

Lunar eclipse as seen in Belgium around 3.55 a.m. on 28 September 2015

Last night over dinner we debated if we were going to get up at night to see it or not. The offspring was particularly adamant in stressing the importance of the event, given the fact that she would have to wait another 18 years to see it, if we wouldn’t grant her this. Considering waiting 5 minutes is already a challenge for most 7 year-olds, we decided that she was actually right. Then again this is also just the thing we do.

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Keeping busy: what I’ve been doing in the past few weeks

Leaving the harbour of Ostend (Belgium).

Leaving the harbour of Ostend (Belgium).

These past few weeks have flown by so quickly. I finished editing a book, spent about a month travelling in July/August and have just started my own business. I don’t even know where to start…

The book I’m talking about is actually a volume I edited with a Dutch colleague on the dynastic identity of early modern aristocratic families, which will normally be published in December of this year by Ashgate publishers. If you want to know more about it, you can find details on their website. It took us about 4 years to finish it, I don’t think either one of us imagined it to take that long. Not that this in itself is an exception in academia, my husband is waiting on a publication to come out which he wrote about 8 years ago…. So things could be worse 😉

The good thing about finishing a project, any project, is the mental rest that comes with it. After I sent my final e-mail this Saturday,  I felt completely exhausted. I couldn’t think of anything else, I just wanted to go to sleep early. I’m still really tired strangly enough, but it also feels as though my head is clearing up and new ideas are slowly filling it up again. That feels so wonderful!

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