This is a tribute to my girl, Victoria, who is turning 19 today. 19 years is a long time when you are a year away from entering your second decade. And if I think back a lot has happened – personally as well as around us. Well the world never stood still – that is true not just in a metaphysical sense.

I always believed in strong names and Victoria, you were not only named after the Goddess of Victory but also because I find this name not only beautiful but regal. Befitting you and how I wish your life to turn out – full of beauty, happiness and victory. May the Gods be on your side, and may fortune shine on you. And if it doesn’t, realise there is a lesson in that too.

Today you have woken up to the UK triggering article 50, and you have been through some overwhelming events over the years. I have not always been the best person to explain why certain things unfolded the way they did. Perhaps I was better explaining terror deeds and religious convictions than I was in making sense on some personal happenings. But you have dealt with it well and if I see your work as a graphic designer and what you have accomplished in a short time, I am immensely proud. Victoria, I love you and Happy, Happy Birthday! xxx

My girl

Just back from a weekend in the French countryside. A lot of good food, walking and some shopping. Parfait!

petit déjeuner at Le château des Ormes

a little bit of Paris …

…and other sights…

…at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

spring was in the air

weekend ended with a wonderful dinner at Monsieur Jean

The Greek word for knowledge. We probably don’t give it as much thought as the ancient Greeks, and besides it is something often taken for granted, readily available with a few key strokes.

The other day someone asked me what excites me. I didn’t dwell on the question for too long, because my lifelong passion is just that….knowledge. I have recounted the stories too many time on this blog, to yet again tell you about how come this is my craving. But ever since my first memories in front of that bookcase, I was incessantly seeking for meaning, understanding, truth. My mother was by her own account going mad with the question why?

my former library. I sorely miss you

This perpetual search takes expression in invariably two preoccupations: watching documentaries or reading Wikipedia. The former is a topic in itself, whilst the latter is something up until today I have taken much for granted. Whether a Netflix serie on the trial of OJ Simpson or William Hogarth’s serie on a Harlot’s Progress, I turn to Wikipedia at all times. So today, as I was researching the company Airbus. Before launching the page, an appeal popped up by the founder Jimmy Wales. I have to be honest, I have seen many of them, and every time I clicked away, reasoning that they have enough philanthropists sponsoring their survival. Also it’s not exactly Médecins Sans Frontières appealing for donations to field hospitals in Syria or a Red Cross campaign for the conflict in Sudan.

Yet, I couldn’t click away this time. Haven’t I enriched myself plentiful through this site? Au contraire to Google, who has profited through every search I’ve made, Wikipedia, standing second in rank in importance to my online life, has not. It was about time. Jimmy Wales and the Wikipedia team, thank you for being a constant source of knowledge and for making my life ever more interesting and exciting!

Proud to have finally contributed

…who is since a little over a year residing in Malta, was recently diagnosed with cancer in her spleen. Although we don’t have the final outcome yet, so far she has recovered well from the operation. We are keeping our fingers crossed, but so far she seems to have regained the spirit we all know her for. Go Cecile, go girl!

We miss you! Can’t wait to see you this summer

In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move. – Henry Rollins

Suddenly it’s there again – Spring. There are of course gentle signs, like the light extending into the evening, waking up to the twitter of birds (or in my case cackling hens from my neighbor). And then, like today, you find a ladybird landing on your hand in the bathroom whilst applying makeup. Whether a sign from higher powers or not, it does send good vibrations.

On that note I’m off for my first of many appointments. Let’s hope the weather, as for the feeling, is a long lasting one. ttfn

a lucky sign?

glorious view from this morning

I am not much of a dieter, as I love food. Having said that I started with a low carb diet years ago and stuck with it for most of a decade. Stopping with it wasn’t a conscious decision but in hindsight not a very good one. Not only did I gain some weight but generally didn’t feel like my best. If that was all in my mind or my body responding to increase in sugar intake, I can’t say for sure. But taking my program and training seriously, I am starting to feel the positive effects. I’m certainly less bloated, but also headaches are less frequent and energy is on the increase. And this without dieting really. Just being conscious of what I am eating and a bit extra exercise.

So here is the meal plan I have followed in the last three days along with exercise regime.

Saturday, March 18
Workout: As it was really crappy weather I stayed shy of the gym. Instead I did a short yoga session for body and soul.

Breakfast: cottage cheese, blueberries and nuts

Lunch: a really delicious duck breast, with orange gravy, broccoli and orange zest as a delicious garnish

afternoon snack: 1 protein yoghurt

Dinner: Steak and steamed broccoli

Sunday, March 19
Workout: Although the weather wasn’t too appealing I managed to get to the gym for an hour’s workout. I also beat my 500 m rowing record, coming in at 2 min 10 sec. I finished off with stoic meditation and yoga.

Breakfast: same as the day before, but nourishing nevertheless.

Lunch: pumpkin and sweet potato soup. It’s one of the most delicious soups I’ve made in a long time so recipe will follow shortly.

Dinner: I repeated Saturday’s lunch, with duck breast, broccoli and half a diced, fried apple.

Monday, March 20
Workout: lots of biking (40 min) in stormy weather saw my capillaries bursting with a not too enjoyable after effect. Nevertheless, I hit the gym afterwards for an hour’s work out. One of these days I truly deserve the star AND the t-shirt.

Breakfast: no changes since last 😉

midday snack: 1 protein yoghurt

lunch: heated up the soup from yesterday

afternoon snack: 1 apple

dinner: finished off the pumpkin and sweet potato soup. As food often does it tasted even better than yesterday!

Some time ago, over dinner, conversations floated towards art and how come I have all these paintings etched in my memory, ready to draw parallels and connections to at any given moment (and sometimes when least expecting it)? The answer was…as always…it’s complicated.

Whilst regretfully not having nurtured any artistic inclinations, art has always played a great importance in my life. It’s possibly one of the reasons my curiousity was drawn to that of the esoteric and mystique. I would look at a panting in one of many volumes we had from medieval paintings to contemporary, and I wanted to understand the story behind it.

Rewind a day or two before my dinner, and I come across, what at first seemed like a documentary, but later I understood was an adaptation of a series of 6 paintings aptly named A Harlot’s Progress. Mixing sound bites of current police investigations, it documented the life and descent of a young woman arriving in London, with little more than her beauty and virginity. Both are exploited by a Madame running one of many houses of vice in the English capital.

As I am watching the production, about Ms Hackabout (the young woman), Mr and Mrs Hogarth (the painter and his wife), I am struck by the similarities to prints I was familiar with since youth. Beer Street and perhaps the more infamous, Gin Lane. The latter became a political debate in the Houses of Parliament which led to the Gin Act of 1736. Although these prints are not referred to in the production (not sure whether to call it a film or a documentary, it lands somewhere in between), the similarities in social criticism are undoubtedly striking.

With knowledge now only a keystroke away, I type a few key words and come to the fast conclusion that it is indeed the same artist. Mr William Hogarth was something of a Dickens of his time, albeit with a brush rather than a quill pen in his firm grip.

The paintings of a Harlot’s progress are long gone, but the prints remains and made Mr Hogarth a small fortune. In fact some of the original prints are still for sale and I make a mental note to see if I can purchase them. Or perhaps they would make a nice Christmas present. Whatever list they will end up on, I do urge you to watch A Harlot’s Progress. And perhaps like me, you will consider that Hogarth used Progress rather than Descent in the title. I like to believe for the reason of affording the woman the dignity she was denied most of her life.

And if you are interested in this, I’d also recommend a series on highwaymen and other rogues in 18th century England. Enjoy!

quarrels with her protector

 

Thanks BFF for a great evening yesterday. Good food, conversations over G&T was much needed. And brilliant new place in Haarlem was discovered – The Gin Sum Club. We’ll be back 🙂

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a couple of Gin & Tonics later

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enjoyed at the Gin Sum Club

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We’ll be back :).

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good food, wine and conversations earlier in the evening

 

It’s time to account for my diet in the last few days. It seems to be paying off as the scale pointed to 59 kgs this morning. Not that I am terribly obsessed with a number but all the data points I can gather which shows progress, keeps me motivated.

Tuesday March 14
Workout: 20 min bike, 35 min cross trainer, 15 min weights (lower body)
breakfast: cottage cheese, blue berries, nuts
lunch: bolognese sauce with fried vegetables
afternoon snack: 1 pear and protein yoghurt
dinner: bolognese sauce with fried vegetables (yes pretty monotone)
dessert: homemade mango sorbet with stevia and mint

Wednesday March 15
Workout: workout with my PT Jeremy Mettendaff (check out his website LiftingLifestyle.nl). It was pretty intense, with planks, squats and rowing (so far personal best is 500 m/2.25 min)
breakfast: 1 pear (stressing for time I reached out for a fruit, consumed as I was biking off to the PT session)
lunch: onion soup
afternoon snack: 1 protein yoghurt
dinner: Bolognese sauce with yet some more fried up veggies

Thursday March 16
I woke up to a lot of muscle pain, and decided to take it easy. Thus workout was a gentle yoga session (see below video).
breakfast: cottage cheese with blueberries and nuts
lunch: cottage cheese with blue berries and nuts (lack of inspiration)
afternoon snack: 1 pear
dinner: chicken and green salad

As I am pretty sure how the rest of the day will look like, I take the opportunity to write it down, making it even more important to stick to it!

Friday  March 17

Workout: I’m planning to hit the gym later today. Most muscle pain is now gone so can’t wait for a full body workout
Breakfast: Sebastian had a day off from school today so we made scrambled eggs with tomatoes, cheese, onions and some slices of serrano ham.  With that I had a green salad (Sebastian had toast).
Lunch: Leftover chicken, some slices of apple and green salad
Dinner: steak and a glass (or two) of red wine. I try only drinking once a week now.

Well, have a great weekend my friends!

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Sebastian wasn’t too impressed to begin with but hunger overcame distrust