Puglia

Puglia in the fall

Ciao, ciao,

Come stai?
Spero che stai bene, molto bene!

I have been here for a week now, to enjoy the Puglian food, the sun, the quiet way of life and to work in the yard a bit also. My friends Habiba and Marie – who took most of the photos – joined me.

If I think of it, I have never been here in the month of October. The first five days, the weather was very nice, we could still sit outside by the pool. But now it is getting more changeable, temperature is dropping and we get more rain. I started working in the yard, cutting the hedges of rosemary and lavender. I also did some crochet.

While walking through the yard I discovered new fruit – it has always been here of course, but I never saw them cause they are ready to eat in October. You know kaki? Here’s a photo, they are so juicy and sweet.

There are plenty of gorbezolli and the pomegranate are shiny and ready to be picked.

All the beautiful little towns are easier to visit now, less overwhelmed with tourists.

We went to the coast nearby, at Santa Sabina. Did you read the book by Paolo Giordano ‘divorare il cielo‘ (it is not translated in English, I have read it in Dutch). It is an amazing novel, and parts of the setting is right here, at Santa Sabina. Also the area of Ostuni is part of the book.
The beach was deserted and there was a lot of wind, but so peacefull.

We discovered a few nice restaurants, I ll share them here with you. Coffee and more is located in the middle of the centro storico of Ostuni, it is great to sit outside in the little yard, under the trees. But then they have a nice terrace with view on the sea. One evening we sat inside, and that was cosy too. The homemade pasta ‘Enigma’ is delicioso.

Taverna della Gelosia stays one of my favorite restaurants in Ostuni. I ate the risotto with red beet!

Daughter went to the Masseria Salamina  a few weeks ago. We didn’t get in there anymore, but this is certainly also a must-do!

We cooked a lot at Casa Vita, all the ingredients are here to make all kind of yummie meals.


Casa Vita is the ideal spot for yoga, on the roof or at the patio.

Did I tell you we have six cute babies here? They are born under the olive tree, and now start hopping around the house. They are too beautiful: three white ones with clear blue eyes, two striped ones and one shy black one with orange spots. I wanna give them italian names, like Giulia, Matteo, Leonardo, Francesca… All ideas welcome!

Well, I will come back in the Spring, for the month of April. That is the plan, one month to paint, work in the yard, prepare everything for the guests next Summer.

To be continued.

Arrividerci, Sophia and the six cuties

Interior happiness

A day in Antwerp

Hi Everyone,

It has been a long time, indeed.

What have you been up to?
Back to the pre-Covid-routine?

I must confess I find it hard. One of the advantages of the lockdown was the quiet weekends. And although I long to see a lot of friends again, I do not want to be pushed into crowded weekends again.

What great news here?
The website of Musa is finished!

You can have a look at www.musa-antwerp.com. Daughter’s boyfriend designed it. And my friend Marie took the photos. And… friends and family were used as models.

At the beginning of July we had a Dutch TV station (a program on travel) come to visit. Well, that was fun. I will show you some photos from behind the scenes:


The short movie will be shown at the end of October. Stay tuned 😉

Last week two friends and I went to stay at Musa. We had a great visit, just enjoying the time at Musa, in our lovely Yala room.


But of course also tasting the great treasures of Antwerp: shopping, dining out, sightseeing…


We had a delicious – really, so good!!! – dinner at the Indian restaurant Mission Massala. They serve great cocktails too.

There are so many good restaurants in the area of Musa, just to name a few:
Tamo, Thai food
Mampoko, classical Belgian food
Ferrier 30, Italian cuisine
Bar Palmier, a wine bar that is linked to a quite original restaurant, L’épicerie du cirque
Le John, a chic high level classic kitchen restaurant, serving biological wines.
Fiskebar, yummy fish dishes
Bananaleaf, less fancy but really good Indian food

Just ask if you want more info! I’ll gladly do some pre-tasting for you.

Would you like some nice spots for coffee? Here you go. We had afternoon coffee at Buchbar (coffee and books, that’s my place) and breakfast at The Soul.


These are charming, too, plus in the neighborhood of Musa, and they all serve delicious coffee:
Charlie’s
Mirlo’s

So book your stay at Musa and enjoy the City of Fashion, and much more… Next time we’ll go to the Fashion Museum, and I will keep you posted.

Don’t forget you can also give me ideas and tips on a visit to Antwerp.

Cheers!

Sophia

Interior happiness

MUSA

How are you all?

Started this year in good spirits?

I hope you and your family and friends are in good health! About a year ago I was still planning a job fair for newcomers, that in the end was cancelled due to Covid. Since then I have been working in a totally different area.

What’s up?

What am I up to? Still pretty busy with getting that business started. Which one? Renovating a house in Antwerp and turning it into a cosy place to stay. It was a long process getting things changed and finding all the furniture and decoration material.

Oldest and his girlfriend are living in the house and will start a B&B somewhere in Spring.

Renovating, a pleasure or a nightmare

Indeed, we have had some bad luck.

  • the tiles fell of the walls in the bathrooms
  • we had to hire a contractor to renew the bathrooms totally
  • many leaks on all spots possible
  • we started painting in the beginning, and had to restart anew after the works
  • the wallpaper we ordered had different colors, solution: order at another company

Actually, nothing went right the first time.

But I enjoyed the decorating part, like choosing the tiles for the bathrooms and kitchen.


I made new curtains for the room at the second floor, dark green, it looks well. I am still looking for fabrics for the first floor. I was thinking of a velvet in terracotta or a pinkish color. What do you think?

But this will be another challenge, since the ceiling is over 3,5 meters high. This is on the planning the coming weeks. Luckily I have my ‘catsistants’ to help me in this chaos.

 

Musa, the name

The little yard has a tropical look, which we want to take into the house also. We have been moving the plants around, to find a perfect spot for each of them. Musa is the name for banana plant. It also means ‘Muse’, so yes, it is a hide-away, where you can find peace and inspiration.

You want to take a look?

Tropical vibes can be found throughout the house. But each floor has his own unique look.  They aren’t totally finished yet, but here’s a sneak preview.

First floor


Second floor



The Studio





  

When to book?

Check our instagram, @Musa_Antwerp for the updates
We will open in April.

Love to see you in Antwerp soon,

Sophia

Stories

What keeps us going

Dear Readers,

How are you?
Are you still working? From home now?

It has been a while, yes. Summer has passed easily, and this very special – I wanted to say “horrible,” but I believe we (my family and I) are still lucky – year is coming to an end. Usually I write about my volunteer projects or cultural excursions. But most of these came to an end.

Has your life changed a lot in this past year? Do you see positive things emerging from this lockdown and being limited in your social life?

I’ll just tell you about a few things that kept me going.

Wonderful Things

I was still able to see one exhibit! About a month ago we went to the exhibition of the photographer Tim Walker . He is so much more than a photographer. His photos emerge in his very creative mind, going back to childhood memories and fantasies. It takes a huge team of models, hairdressers, builders, screenwriters, make-up artists, etc to build up the scenery he has in mind. “To me, a photograph is far stronger when something is suggested rather than defined. If you define it there is nowhere for your imagination to go.”, Tim Walker said.

Walker used the garden of earthly delights by Bosch as an inspiration and made his own versions.
Bosch through the eyes of Tim Walker - Style has No size
Jeroen Bosch terug in Noordbrabants Museum: met dank aan fotograaf Tim Walker - Museumkijker.nl - Museumkijker.nl
Jeroen Bosch terug in Noordbrabants Museum: met dank aan fotograaf Tim Walker - Museumkijker.nl - Museumkijker.nl

The photos look like fairytales. What grabbed my attention also is that his models are very specific in their looks and facial features. The most intriguing part to me was the movie at the end. He remade a short film based on the fairytale of Hans Christian Andersen “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.”. Walker’s version centers around a tin soldier and a knight falling in love. You should go see for yourself, if the lockdown has passed 😉
MORE POST — TOM CHICK

Touching Stories

We can escape the daily life by wandering through the magical photos by this extraordinary photographer – and this feels good – yet, we cannot neglect the anxiety and absurdity of the times we are living in now.

The most difficult part is that we have all those rules to limit our freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I agree to them all, and they are necessary. But still, it is a challenge to not be able to hug, to see our family and friends. Certainly people that live on their own are susceptible to loneliness.

Yesterday on All Saints Day the sky was gray. I decided to walk to the bakery, to get some fresh air. When I was almost there, it started to drizzle. An old lady with a rollator passed the other direction. She looked at me and said:
– It is starting to rain!
– Well, I hope you are almost home
– Yes, I am, I live just around this corner.
– Luckily, you have had some exercise and fresh air then.
I continued walking, but she definitely wanted to continue talking.
– I make long walks, three times a day. I have to do this or I go crazy. I have a lot of sorrow inside of me, and I need to let it out somehow.
I stopped. Not asking now would be selfish and indifferent.
– What happened?
– My grandson died, last summer. He was twenty six. He was living together in Antwerp with his girlfriend. Yes, he had to take medication for this disease, and he forgot to take it. I am not sure how it exactly happened and if this is what caused it. My daughter cannot talk about it. I think she is hiding things from me. She lost a lot of weight, she’s only 45 kilos. You know I have this rattan little table that is normally in the yard. I put it inside now. On this table are all his photos. My daughter also printed out some pictures from Facebook. He was so popular. And active, never stayed silent. When he died he was wearing this sweater with “Stay Calm” on the front. My daughter couldn’t stand the fact that he was put into a coffin. So he was cremated, just on a wooden shelf. His scouting friends spread the ashes over in the river, combined with many rituals. They wrote a song for him. They put many things near this spot at the river. I would like to see it. But I can’t due to corona. Today is All Saints Day, I would like so much to go there, to see this, to be with him.
They only told me about it later, when he had died already. He was in a coma for four days. I couldn’t go see him anyway, I know, but still. Most of his organs were no good anymore, because of the coma. Except for his lungs. They were giving to a twenty three year old girl that had been on a breathing machine for a year. She made it now. We don’t know who she is. We cannot find out. At least, she has his lungs and is still alive.

By that time I was shivering from this story and the rain.
– It is so sad what you have been through, it is good you are able to talk about it. But I must go now, or the bakery will be closed.
– Oh dear, I am so sorry. You know what. I live at number twelve, if it is closed, you come to my house, I can still give you half of a bread.
– That is very kind. I will do that!

I rushed to the bakery and the woman that helped there was talking on the phone. I saw she was having difficulties to end the conversation.
– So sorry, that was my daughter, she cannot stop talking. Thanks for waiting.
– No problem at all. How old is she?
– Six and she cannot keep silent!
– That is a wonderful age. I hope she keeps on babbling and never stops.

Beyond Borders

Our project on the newcomers in this country has also been put on hold for a while. We still had plans to go to the schools so the newcomers could tell their own story, and so we would create more understanding. Because if one issue has left the news because of corona, it is the catastrophe of the refugees. Not totally, excuse me.  One story I still found in the newspapers: the one of the Iranian family with three young children that drowned on their way to England. The youngest was one.

Plus we have already begun interviewing people. We hope to make a small documentary. A little over a month ago, we drove to the other side of Belgium to meet Abraham and Merhawit, the beautiful couple from Eritrea. They met each other in horrific circumstances: in a Lebanese prison camp. They met there, were separated again and were reunited one year later in Europe. They married in Belgium. Now they are the happy parents of a beautiful boy. Marie made a birth card.

MUSA

This kept me really busy physically. I have been painting, sandblasting floors, decorating, choosing tiles, finding contractors… And still, we are not finished.


Musa will be a place to stay, for a few nights, in an old house in the museum-area of Antwerp. You can find us on Instagram  @ musa_antwerp. I’ll write more about the progress in a next post.

Please take care
of yourself,
and of others,

Sophie

Interior happiness

Terrazzo

Hello dear readers,

How are you? Back to work?
Slowly getting into another rhythm again, after the lock-down?

We were lucky. After two years of looking for a new coffee-table, ours was eventually delivered a few weeks ago. I loved the design of terrazzo, but it was so hard to choose: colors, patterns. Last year we bought two new chairs – pink! – they’re called Little Tulip and my friend from Homepage helped me choose.

As you know by now, I have a bad allergy for boring interiors – and since I am making confessions here anyway, I might as well tell you I’m allergic to boring people as well. Don’t feel offended, I do not mean you, you wouldn’t be reading my blog if you were boring 😉

Sorry! Still have a hard time to focus (yes, yes, if I was a child now, I would be labelled with ADD) So, back to interior choices. Colors make me happy, flowers too. I like the design of terrazzo a lot. First I wanted more pink in it, but that would have been too much with the chairs. So this type has so many different shades of green, terracotta-pinkish and the base is off-white. It matches perfectly with the rest of our interior. It was a good choice!  The foot is lacquered white. The table is designed by my niece.

We all are very happy with the result. The table matches perfectly with the rest of the interior, a mix of colors, materials and of course all the plants. The living room is finished, cosy and comfy. Decorating is what I love to do.

What do you think?

But! I am not finished with decorating, nono. One of the most fun things to do these past months in lockdown, was scrolling and searching online for ideas and putting them on the Pinterest board of our new project. What is it about? It is again in the tourism business, but here in Belgium. I will do the decorating part, with the help of the family. To be continued 😉

So long, Sophie

PS: a sneak preview