OK, now I miss LA

I can deal with not living near the beach anymore and not surfing every day, but I just hate it when it’s still dark when I have to get up, such as now, and as it will be the rest of winter. In LA it was just always light at 7….much easier to get up..


The week of 6 – 12 October was a bit mental. I’ve been running to and fro to get to work, a concert, to my dance class, a party and to the Belgian Ardennes to recover from it all. So on Monday I travelled from Leiden to Tilburg to work there as we had a paper due on Friday and it was just handier to be in the same building to do this. On Tuesday I travelled from Tilburg to Rotterdam for the Queen concert, on Wednesday from Tilburg to Leiden to pick up some stuff and go to my dance class (and I just needed the exercise) on Thursday I only travelled between Etten-Leur and Tilburg. Worked til 3, got up again at 7:30 to go to Tilburg on Friday, worked on the paper, got most of it done before my professor’s inaugural address at 16:15 (well, 16:45 in the end because of some organisational complications). The address was great by the way, you can find it here by the way (it’s in Dutch but it has cool animations). After the drinks I finished up the paper (with help from Steve), submitted it (it’s not perfect, but hey it’s something) and around 22:00 we made it to the party somewhere in Tilburg (actually at a really cool place, we just had trouble finding it because of course we’d forgotten to take the address and look at a map beforehand). After some well deserved glasses of wine, some dancing and gossiping I ran back to the train station to catch the last train to Etten-Leur. Around 02:00 I fell asleep, only to wake up again at 08:00 in order to catch a train to Vielsalm in the Ardennes where my parents and my youngest brother had rented a holiday home for the week and I was joining them for the weekend. The train journey took me via Liège, which has a beautiful new train station, and through gorgeous forests. It was good to be away and relax without a phone or internet, and just have time to read a book and sleep. Which I did plenty, on Saturday night I fell asleep around 22:00,  I woke up briefly at 10 the next morning but fell asleep again until noon and after a lovely walk in the woods I had a little nap again on the sofa. After which it was time for some splashing around in the swimming pool again :).

The past week was a bit crazy again as well, as I of course had to come back from the Ardennes, although my parents drove me to Liège so that saved me 2 hours on the train or so. Two days later I was on the train again to go to Antwerp for the yearly meeting of my research group and the Antwerp and Ghent Computational Linguistics groups. So on Wednesday Steve, Sander and I left Leiden train station at 07:19 to make it to Antwerp before 10 but unfortunately we missed our connection in Rotterdam, and then our next train was delayed too so we were 1.5 hours late…The meeting itself was cool. It was held at an old nunnery that was turned into a conference centre + hotel. Lots of cool presentations. My presentation went pretty OK, although it would have been better if I had actually prepared it. The thing everyone looks forward to at ATILA though is the social programme. This year there wasn’t only a great dinner, but we also went bowling for a few hours :). During the lunch hours I also managed to go out and walk around Antwerp again for a bit, as it had been ages since I’d been there (we used to go shopping there when I still lived in Brabant).

Right now I’m in Leiden again, yesterday my brother Hans came to Leiden with me and we went out to dinner at Djebena, a cool little Eritrean place where you get to eat with your hands. It was a bit fortunate that my tennis class wasn’t on, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to go out to dinner there, and actually I wasn’t looking forward to alternating between hitting balls and wiping my nose because I have a terrible cold…Today we went out into town and we baked muffins and tomorrow we’re going to the natural history museum. We’d actually meant to go to see Tropic Thunder this evening but I found out that cinemas actually won’t let 16- in on a 16+ film even though this rating is an advice (cinemas can get sued if they do let them in, since when does advice mean law?) Anyway, we’re fine, Hans is actually working on his website now 🙂

Queen still rocks

On October 7 I got to see Queen + Paul Rodgers (basically 1/2 Queen and some other good musicians) in Ahoy in Rotterdam (thanks to a colleague still having a spare ticket). I’ve always liked Queen, although I was a bit skeptic at first, I mean, Freddie Mercury mainly set the tone, but Brian May and Roger Taylor are still great musicians and the songs are still great, so it turned out to be a great night out. I reckon Mr. Taylor and Dr. May must have thought that people who would normally go to a cover-band’s performance to hear some of these songs might as well go to them, because who could cover their songs better than they can themselves?

I thought Paul Rodgers did a great job. I think it takes balls to sing these superwellknown songs to an audience that still has the original band members in mind (judging from the vintage shirts), but he had made the songs his own and he has a nice style of his own, more of a storyteller than a drag queen (I mean that in a good way!) I would say. The solo performance (well, with the audience) of Love of my Life by Brian May was goose bumps inducing, as well as Bohemian Rhapsody with May and Taylor playing their parts along with Freddie’s voice while he was projected on the big video screen above the stage (no need to start yelling like the Freddie fan in front of me though). Another highlight was Roger Taylor’s skillful display of drumming on a double base, very cool. I should do these things more often 🙂