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November 2018

Interior happiness


How are you today?

No colds? I am still enjoying mine 😉

But let me take you to Glasgow. We took the train from Edinburgh, which was quite easy, a train every 15 minutes. The trip only took forty five minutes and guided us through the undulating countryside of Scotland.

Susan, our dear Scottish friend we met in Puglia, was waiting for us at the station. We drove through the city to get a first impression – all positive! – and then had lunch, tea and carrot cake and mainly caught up with each others’ life stories. In the evening Susan took us to a great Asian restaurant Opium.  We didn’t need to choose–Chef Trevor just made us an elaborate choice of dishes, all delicious! Not only was the food lovely, but Susan had brought her friends and we laughed a lot. They asked how we enjoyed Edinburgh, and we told them the people were so kind up there. We immediately got the response that people from Glasgow are far nicer. We agreed! There is definitely some competition between those two cities.

The next morning, we were very lucky again: a clear blue sky. Susan drove us to a whiskey distillery, Glengoyne, just 14 miles north of Glasgow, on the scenic A81. Entering the buildings I had the impression that the mere fumes were already making me drunk. (This might, however, have been the long term effects from the night before). The guide was very talkative and knew the whiskey making process by heart. I only frowned at her explanation that we couldn’t take photos because our phones might explode. I couldn’t take my camera out either. What I have remembered most from the process: patience is essential.

Our progress is measured not in years or decades – but in centuries.

The part I loved most was the problem of the evaporation, once the whiskey got in the barrels. Depending on the quality and taste you want to obtain at the end, the whiskey stays in the casks for many years. But a big part disappears, because of “The Angels Share”: they blame the angels, who drink it at night. So in Scottish heaven you find the happiest angels ever!

In the photo here you also see the different colors the whiskey gets, and how the level diminishes over the years (that’s to show how much you lose):

There are two ways to give whiskey a rich, appealing color. One is absurdly time-consuming and expensive. The other is easy: add a few drops of caramel at bottling. We choose the harder path.We start by selecting our own oak from the forests of northern Spain. We then insist it is dried naturally by sun and air for three years. When it’s ready, each hand-built cask is filled with sherry in Jerez, and left to absorb its rich color and flavors for up to three years. Only then are the casks ready to be emptied and delivered to our Highland distillery – some six years after they started their journey. These casks are then filled and over the next 10, 15, 18 years, the clear spirit takes on the rich gold, amber and copper tones naturally from the wood.

After a little tasting, we were on the road again. The wrong side of the road ;-), I could not get used to this. If I ever need to drive on UK or South-African roads, beware! We stopped at a loch to have a coffee.
A few stops along the road.
And when it was nearing dark, we were very lucky we could still enter the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. which closed at four pm. So we had a marvelous late lunch or early dinner: mussels from the Loch and a spicy scallop pasta.

Our last day, Monday, we started with an elaborate breakfast Рfresh scones, my favorite Рat patisserie Fran̤oise. It was a typical grayish day. We walked through the walls of the University, had a quick chat at the reception desk. Maybe Youngest will finish his studies here. But he first needs to learn a wee Scottish though.
There is a students habit of putting traffic cones on the heads of all statues.
Then Susan guided us through the Art Gallery, a magical red brick building. There were different exhibitions, about the history of Glasgow, as well as medieval Dutch paintings and much more.

In the 1800’s Glasgow became a world center for industrial manufacturing and export. With the development of the iron and steel industries the city grew famous for heavy engineering goods as locomotives and ships. Household and luxury goods were also made and exported.

I loved the explanation with this painting. First try to make a guess yourself!
The painting is called “The Doctor’s Visit” by Frans van Mieris the Elder in 1657: “The pale woman in this painting is suffering from lovesickness – a medical condition thought to be cured by reading the Old Testament, which is lying open on her lap. An elaborate-dressed doctor takes her pulse. He points to his head, indicating that her affliction is ill in her mind. Doctors were sources of humor at the time – ‘quack’ doctors (for the Dutch speaking, we know the word ‘kwakzalver’) were thought to fool their patients with false and theatrical  diagnoses.”
We ended our trip with a great lunch at an Indian restaurant. Susan drove us to the airport and it was time to say goodbye. She promised us to visit Belgium soon!

Have a great weekend! Sophia


Interior happiness


Hello everyone!

Have you ever been to Scotland? We hadn’t. Hubbie and I both had a bad cold when we left, but we managed 😉

First on our list was Edinburgh. We had a direct flight from Eindhoven to Edinburgh, which made it quite easy. In the airport we took a tram to the city. Our hotel was on Princes Street, in the center of town. What a lovely surprise when we looked through the window of our hotel room – it was dark by then.

With advice from the hotel manager we went to the Kilted Lobster, just a small, cozy but not glamorous, restaurant. They use only sustainable, organic and local ingredients, and part of the proceeds go to social projects. On top of all this, the food (mainly fish) and wine were delicious!

The next morning we both weren’t feeling too well, but the clear blue sky made us feel better soon. We decided to start the walk on the famous Royal Mile. This mile-long road in the center of the old city earned its nickname when it was used by the king to travel between the castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  In between, on the cobbled stone road, you still find a lot of worthwhile historical places to visit.

The castle is situated on Castle Rock, a reddish rock from a long extinct volcano. It played an important role in Scottish history, as a royal residence, military stronghold and as the British army base in Scotland. What can you see here? It is just wonderful to walk around, enjoy the magnificent view of the city. In the 16th century Great Hall with beautiful carved wooden paneling there is a display of armor and weapons from over the centuries. In the tower (no pictures allowed) the crown jewels are displayed. What I found interesting too were the Castle Vaults, to witness how prisoners over the centuries were treated.

Saint Margaret’s chapel,  the oldest remaining building in Edinburgh from 1130

I hate tourists with selfie-sticks, they always get in my way 😉

Prisoners chambers

We slowly walked down the cobbled stones of the Royal Mile and stopped for lunch at a idyllic tea-house.

We walked further up to Holyrood Palace, residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Really a must-see, you get an audio-guide with all the interesting stories. Unfortunately no photos were allowed. It is beautifully preserved, and since a much of the furniture from over the centuries remained there, you feel as if you are catapulted back to medieval history. But I was happy not to be back there; Queen Mary’s life story was not the most pleasant one.

In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her mother sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 but died the following year. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch.

In 1565, she married her English cousin Lord Darnley in order to reinforce her claim of succession to the English throne after Elizabeth’s death. Her jealous husband restrained the pregnant queen while his henchmen murdered her Italian secretary, and favorite. In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, the Earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility. Mary brought an army against the nobles, but was defeated and imprisoned at Lochleven, Scotland, and forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James.

In 1568, Mary escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth initially welcomed Mary but was soon forced to put her friend under house arrest after Mary became the focus of various English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow Elizabeth. Nineteen years later, in 1586, a major plot to murder Elizabeth was reported, and Mary was brought to trial. She was convicted for complicity and sentenced to death.

Next to the Holyrood Palace is the Abbey, where you can only see the remains, but still, an impressive view.

We headed back to the city center and walked through Princes Street Gardens, once a river, now a beautiful park in a valley.

By the time we came to the hotel, to pick up our luggage and head to Glasgow, I was too sick to travel anymore. So we stayed one other night – me sleeping. The next day we made it to Glasgow, more on next post!

Have a great day, Sophie

Interior happiness

Rebels in Brussels

No, let me get you out of your wondering: the rebels weren’t us. Disappointment. I should be a rebel more often ;-), I am always too ready to please everyone.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day in Brussels: a clear blue sky, such great food and coffee hot spots, an intriguing exhibition… And of course, being able to catch up with Daughter. Since she moved out of the house to go live with her boyfriend we really need to plan to see each other and talk. It was her birthday and I surprised her with a day in our capital.

On the train I gave her a schedule with addresses she had to look for.

Tich was the first, a concept store, annex coffee bar and vegan lunch place. It was very spacey, and the almond cappuccino and homemade waffles tasted marvelous.

Then off to the next spot, which was also located close to the Koningsplein (King’s square): the exhibition “Revolutions, records & rebels” at the ING Art Center. It lasts till March 10th 2019.

What was it about?
It is about the fascinating time period 1966-1970:
In the US the desire to act out against the Establishment can be seen as a reaction to the stultifying boredom of 1950’s suburban living, with the nation’s young people united in rejecting their society’s conservative values. In contrast, British youths of the time had grown up in a climate of austerity, surrounded by the devastating effects of war.
On both sides of the Atlantic, the young wanted to change the world, adopting a new original, flamboyant and at times utopian lifestyle. Far from being a uniquely Anglo-Saxon reaction among the intellectual elite, it quickly spread to all levels of society on the European continent. This evolution was accompanied by a rise in recreational drug use that intensified perceptions and opened the way to creative experimentation in music, art, film and literature.

All levels where the revolution broke through were visible in this exhibition: music, art, interior design, fashion, first steps of ecological awareness (young people who decided to live together in nature, in recycled houses and refused to eat meat). Lots of graphic design was exposed, on vinyl records, posters and advertisements.

The revolution was also a big struggle for women’s rights, homosexual rights and afro-american rights.

This exhibition was first shown in London and now brought to Brussels. What is interesting is that they added a parts of local design and fashion too.

Just go see and listen.  Put on your headphones and immerse yourself in the sounds of the musical icons of the era (The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell).

Lunch was delicious, a friend advised us this trendy, cozy vegan restaurant, Oficina. In fact, you could also eat fish, so lots of choice.

Afterwards we still strolled through beautiful Brussels, shopped in the Antoine Dansaertstraat. It is inspiring to see all the decorations, the original interior.

Urban therapy

Labelchic for biological beauty

What a gorgeous day and for your information: we started at Central Station Brussels and walked the whole day, which was certainly doable (more or less 10 km in total). Enjoy your day!




Interior happiness

Touch wood

Even een extra berichtje, op vraag van enkele lezers. Op zaterdag 1 december verkoop ik deze houtblokken/tafeltjes bij de Yvestownfair, Slinkerstraat 95 in Lommel (België). Allen welkom!

groetjes, Sophia

Hi everyone,

How are you doing?
Do you like to work with wood?

I do because it is natural material, and you don’t know what the result will be… Definitely unique. And I love the feel of wood.

In one of my first posts I already told you the process of how I made these wooden side tables. I still had a few blocks drying in the shed, still with the bark on. They were dry by now, and the bark came off easily. I now sanded the sides as well. The top and bottom really took time to get them smooth, but hey, patience is good. And I love this slow process, it makes you calm down too ;-).

So I got therapy and new – even wider – side tables.

Here are the pictures. You can read the step-by-step list in my former post. But if you still need more info, shoot! If you are interested in buying one, send me a pm.

Have a lovely day, Sophia

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