De egel

Mijn favoriete kortverhalenschrijver en poëet moet wel Toon Tellegen zijn. Er is niemand die zo’n zware onderwerpen zo licht kan doen lijken en voelen. Soms denk ik dat hij de enige is die de wereld een beetje begrijpt én ze kan omzetten in begrijpbare woorden en vatbare metaforen. En nog op een prachtige wijze ook. Hieronder een klein fragmentje uit Geluk bij een Ongeluk.

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Ik wil één ding vaststellen, dacht de egel op een keer. Onomstotelijk vaststellen. Zo vaststellen dat niet het meer ongedaan kan maken. Ook niet als de olifant er precies bovenop valt, of als de neushoorn erop afstormt, of als de beer het opeet, of als de aardworm het verstopt, of als de wind het beetgrijpt en ergens wil bezorgen waar niemand woont.
Ik sla het met honderd spijkers aan mijn muur, dacht hij, en ik schrijf het op mijn spiegel, ik kras het in mijn tafel, ik snijd het in de stam van de wilg, ik roep het in een gat in de grond en maak dat gat gauw dicht zodat het daar altijd blijft hangen, ik zorg ervoor (maar hij wist nog niet hoe) dat niemand het vergeet…
Hij bedacht nog veel meer, urenlang, tot de zon onderging en het donker werd in zijn kamer.
Totdat hij niets meer kon bedenken en zachtjes bij zichzelf zei:… dat ik gelukkig ben.
Hij knikte. Hij voelde zijn wangen gloeien.
Het was stil, overal om hem heen.
Hij voelde zich plots heel eenzaam, zo eenzaam als hij zich nog nooit had gevoeld
Dat ik óók gelukkig ben, dacht hij toen.
Hij ging in bed liggen.
Dat wil ik vaststellen, dacht hij. Toen sliep hij in.

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May ’17

Here are my favourite snippets from the past month.

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Getting a new exotic plant for our bedroom
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Cocktails at the food truck festival in Brussels
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Reading outside on our little patio with candles at 11 PM (!)
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This picture perfect home desk set-up. Pretty in pink.
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Having breakfast in bed together
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Baking cookies on an extra day off
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Pulling out the summer dresses on our city trip to Lisbon
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This explosion of colours as I drop this Lush bath bomb in a hot bath
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Visiting the Open M exhibition during lunch at work
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Prepping for Lisbon
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Searching for edible flowers on a foraging workshop and walk
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Accidentally ending up in the Pride parade at the Stock Exchange in Brussels. And also sunny days.
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Finally getting to visit the Helen B shop in Ghent. How cute, right?
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The cool architecture of the Tour & Taxis building 
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Pretty flowers
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Healthy granola and my cool new mug from Helen B.
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The Steve McCurry exhibition
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Sipping lattes, eating cake and watching people. Life can be simple sometimes.
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This rooftop view over Brussels that makes me dream of New York.
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Visiting my friend Lena at her new abode in Hulst, Netherlands
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Lying on the grass to enjoy the sun

Can’t wait for June. What’s your month been like?

Love,

Silke

Lisbon

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a little trip down south to experience the colourful city that is Lisbon. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and while it’s going to be hard top pick the best parts, here’s some of our favourite parts… :)

On our first day, we went to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an old monastery in typical Portuguese style belonging to the UNESCO world heritage. It’s located in a part of Lisbon called Belém. I honestly believe that if you’d give me a book and a nice drink, I could spend all day there; reading, watching people, enjoying the scenery.

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In Belém, we skipped the long queue at Pasteis de Belém because we figured it was a tourist trap. Instead, we spent our time roaming around the severely underrated botanical gardens, Jardim Botanico Tropical.  Really, it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves, with only a few street cats lazing around and a peacock or two (three, four,…) crossing our path. If you’re an exotic plant lover like me and you love to discover hidden nooks and crannies in parks, this is your place. We felt like we were in a different continent.

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On our second day, we went to Castelo de Sào Jorge, the main fortress built on one of the seven hills that form Lisbon. It overlooks the city and the Tagus and the views do not disappoint. It’s hard to move away from the edge and stop taking pictures of the abundance of colourful houses.

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To many of the disadvantages of visiting the city built on that many hills, there is one major plus side: there is a multitude of viewpoints spread across all neighbourhoods in the city. One of my favourites included the Miradouro Portas do Sol. Sipping cocktails while overlooking the tiny streets of Alfama makes for the ultimate summer holiday vibe.

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Our third day in Lisbon took us a little bit outside the city. We’d booked a small group tour to Sintra, Cascais and Cabo da Roca. If we’d known how little time we got in Sintra, we’d have probably preferred to spend a whole day there and just skipped Cascais. Cabo da Roca was worth a visit though. Plus we were thinking the view on Pena Palace would be a best from the Moorish Castle just across. Maybe next time?

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Cabo da Roca is the most Eastern point of Europe and that means it provides anyone daring enough to look over the edge with magnificent coastal cliff views. Again, wish we could have spent more time here instead of Cascais, which was a disappointment.

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Another cool place with a little bit of an edgy vibe is LX Factory. This market is located in an industrial area between the centre of Lisbon and Belém. All shops are located in old factories. Hipster central, pretty much. My favourite included a book store (no surprise there, right?) that was set up in an old press room. Also, do not, I repeat, do not skip the Landeau chocolate cake. I still have dreams about it sometimes. From there, it’s only a short walk along the Tagus river to the cozy harbour, Doca de Recreio de Santo Amaro.

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Other than that, we spent most of our time roaming around the city, enjoying a multitude of things that are easy to find in Lisbon: eating pasteis de nata, sipping cocktails, photographing and admiring the azulejos and not minding getting lost in the small, colourful streets of the city.

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Also, one golden advice: download the Uber app and use it in this city! It’s the cheapest, easiest way to get around. We tried the public tram system, which was more expensive and waaaay too crowded. Your burning thighs will be grateful. The hills are no joke, take walking shoes (with a non-slippery sole preferably).

Are there any other places in Portugal that we need to put on our bucket list?

Love,

Silke

The Art of Choosing

“Choosing is losing.” It’s what I always presumed to be the truth. A truth that seemed to be reaffirmed by the fast-track society we live in nowadays. We are confronted with decision-making daily, all in order to achieve a richer life, where “more” equals “better”. From the clothes we wear tot he things we eat and the programs we decide to watch on TV, choosing has become an identity determining full-time job. And as if this decision-making isn’t arduous enough, society expects us to do it fast. There is no room for doubt or reconsideration; we’d have to decide yesterday rather than today. This leaves us bewildered as to whether there are still choices to make at all. Really, hasn’t the decision been made for us?

Careful consideration has become an ancient concept that people no longer choose to apply. Society expects us to know precisely what we want and who we would like to become, yet many of us are left behind, clueless. There is no time to be unsure or cautious because time is money. If we don’t make up our mind soon enough, we are left behind, doomed to become the outcasts of our society and communities.

Don’t get me wrong, having choice is a luxury, but when both ends of the choosing feel like losing, with FOMO chasing us down every path we choose to take, it often doesn’t feel like it. So, society tells us: choosing is losing. I used to be the person afraid to miss out everywhere. I’d want to be at different places at the same time. I’d want to meet different people at the same time. All this to the point where I’d be unhappy either way.

What I’ve realised is that it is not, though. When fruit famers grow fruit, they choose which branches to keep and let go of other pieces in order to maintain the quality of those that they chose to keep. To choose one thing and lose another means knowing what you want. It’s choosing quality over quantity. It’s choosing time over money. It’s choosing happiness over resurfacing doubt. Sometimes saying no to someone means saying yes to yourself. So choosing isn’t losing, it’s winning.

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