A Card...


Summer is here and that also means the ending of another academic year. Whilst I'm still in the middle of the stress on writing and finishing my thesis, others are nearing the end of a year or even the end of a study. Back in 2010 I graduated from high school... it sounds like such a long time ago. I'm getting old. Of course I had the whole deal at home: stressing the entire day the list was announced; crying, laughing and smiling all at once of relief and disbelieve when I was on it, and the almost instant hanging out of the well-known books-bag-and-flag ensemble out of my bedroom window. Not little after, maybe a day or so, I received a card. My first "happy graduation" card. A card given to me by a family living across the street from us. It warmed my heart and made me feel extremely happy. My first and most precious graduation card. I didn't know this family personally and yet they were kind enough to congratulate me on my graduation with a card. It even had my name on it - correctly spelled. 

Little did I know back then that my sister knew one of the children part of that family or that my mom told them how to spell my name as she told me this weekend. It was this weekend we received a little note to notify us of a graduation party that was happening across the street. A kind thought to let people living nearby know of the event and noise that is going to happen. You guessed it, the graduation party was for one of the children of the family living across the street. It brought me right back to that little moment I had four years ago. Off I went in the rain with my umbrella to get a card and share the happiness...



What a view! Brasserie Mijn Streek

When my mom and I have to do groceries or take a trip to the bank we usually go to Heerlen. It is close by and has, as a city, a far better centre than the little town we live in. Most of the times we make an entire day of it, strolling through the city, either window shopping or actual shopping, and doing errands. This also includes lunch and this time we went to a new place (for us) for it: Brasserie Mijn Streek. The name of the brasserie is linked to region of Southern-Limburg in the first half of the 20th century due to the centre of the activities in this area - the Maurits mine. Heerlen, as a city, has been through a rough period of cultural and overall decay when the mines where shut down, with mine workers and the entire city and society structured around it. In an attempt to bring it back to the city and region it was, a lot of focus has been put on its identity and therefore its history. The brasserie adds to this by not only using a play on the word mijnstreek or mining but also as mijn streek meaning my region. A lot of the items on the menu are therefore from around the region and has a "burgundian Limburg" feel to it.

What you see when you enter
The wall with old photographs of the mining period
The menu
What we had whilst waiting for what we ordered
Our ordered food
My mom and I had been in the mood for soup; she opted for a zucchini one and I for an French onion soup... YUM. Mom also got some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and she even liked the salad that came with it. Usually she orders without it or just let it be. Whilst we were waiting for our food we got a basket filled with slices of bread, extra virgin olive oil, homemade tapenade and butter. It was so good! We either dipped our bread in the olive oil or put some tapenade and butter on it. My French onion soup, although not as good as the one in Paris go figure, was really good. I didn't even need to have dinner until after I arrived home from work at 21:30. Next time I will definitely get the zucchini soup because I had a taste and it was great. I even think you can eat that one cold. The menu was made of old newspaper-like material and you could take it home with you so I did. Obviously. In addition to the lovely food there was the cool setting of the brasserie as it was situated on the fifth floor of the Glaspaleis. We sat outside to enjoy the view but had to get inside once it started to rain.



Pinkpop 2014: Monday

This post will continue from last one's which you can read here. Monday. My second and the final day of Pinkpop. At first I was doubting whether or not I wanted to pay the extra money for another day, see here, but eventually caved and bought a ticket for the Monday as well. There was only ONE act I had to see and am I glad I went. Two days is just too short. That, I will say. Also, it ended cold and wet, but more of that in a minute. The act I just had to see that day was Kodaline, a band from Ireland who apparently where part of the line-up last year. Back then, I only listened to them a couple of times - if one of their songs happen to come across whilst I was listening to the music on my phone (I have too many songs) -  so I missed them last year at Pinkpop. Somehow, I started to appreciate or really discover them and now I have listened to them a lot. The performance was great and my friends were so kind to tag along as I sang and moved along to every single song. At one point, a really tall man came to stand before me and I was like no way. I do not want a repetition of the Bastille concert where I could hardly see anything the entire concert except for the encore. So, I moved to the side and sang even louder.

Entering the main area
At one point, a cloud passed over and raindrops started to fall. Even when the cloud was gone and the sky was blue which was very odd but oh, so good. The weather had been very Summer-like the past few days and that kind of weather is just too hot when you visit a festival. I mean, 26 degrees Celsius is nice when you can relax, eat ice cream and sit down in the shade once in a while. Those same degrees when you wait for an act in the midst of sweaty people and when you yourself are in constant sweat-mode... yeah, not so much. The second day was even hotter with 32 at its max. Insane! Fortunately it all felt just like one big wave of heat to me during that entire weekend, but in general it was hot. Quite some people left early because they just couldn't bear it anymore including some of my friends. Completely understandable. Heat was predicted for that weekend and as a result, more stands with free water where supposedly acquired. Odd enough, I found maybe one or two stands more than the usual number. Plus, you were able to get water at the normal drink stands, for one ticket. So weird...

All this didn't matter once Stromae hit the 3FM stage. When Kodaline finished we decided not to stand or sit with the rest of the crowd at the front. Simply, because of the temperature. Lemoncoolers were proclaimed and a spot was found to sit and wait. More and more people gathered for the performance by Stromae and once he started... Wow. Just wow. This guy and his group of men with matching outfits can throw a hell of a party. If only I excelled in French. He even spoke some words in Dutch which was funny and captivated the crowd with his amazing dance moves, acting and singing. I desperately wished I could rewatch it, alas I have not found a recording... yet.

Stromae on the 3FM stage 
the alleged lemoncooler bby Oxfam Novib and cheese fondue for dinner that day 
Once the fun and entertainment was gone it suddenly seemed to hit everyone how hot it was that day. Queues to get free water or just drinks were long. Traffic lines of people trying to move and find some shade were formed. It went a bit crazy. At this point some of the group just couldn't handle it anymore and so we said our goodbyes as we joined in one of the smaller crowds near a stand of free water whilst Biffy Clyro was playing on the main stage. I could enjoy and focus on that instead of all the sweaty people that were rubbing against me as we got nearer and nearer to the free water stand.

The last act I saw before all hell broke loose was Avenged Sevenfold. Surprisingly, I knew quite a lot of the guitar riffs that were used in their songs. Did not expect that. If only my mind for music was as great for all the things I should know and remember. But then I wouldn't have enough space for music. Towards the end of their performance dark clouds started to form and a general awareness arose that rain was coming. Not just rain though, but a storm as it grew darker and darker. In light of the catastrophic events that happened at Pukkelpop festival in Belgium a couple of years ago, extra measurements were taken by the people of the festival. We, the visitors and audience were told to sit together in groups on the open fields and to stay as close to each other as possible whilst trying to cover yourself either with a poncho, a coat or whatever. It took quite some organization to get all the people who were in the front section of the main stage - waiting to see their ultimate band Metallica - out of that section and in the clear with the rest of the public.

When the dark clouds started to form and approach
We were trying to make use of the time and quickly use up all the food and drink stamps, something I regret afterwards... As soon as we had our food we turned around and I immediately told Emma, a friend of mine to put on her jacket and find the others. It was suddenly very dark. Upon finding the others, we just sat on the ground and wrapped a large ponchos around our almost entirely bare legs. Thirty minutes of rain, rain, wind, lighting, thunder and oh yeah rain that soaked us all. Waiting was all we could do as the storm was raging on. I must say that the organization behind the festival did a great job in handling a situation like this. Lighting had struck twice, but as far as I know nobody got hurt. A red weather alert was set for the province of Limburg typifying severe weather conditions. Afterwards, we found out that the storm had hit Belgium and Germany at a much more devastating rate and thus we were lucky that it had "passed over the festival." Yes, it was cold. Yes I could not breathe if I did not turn my face the other way. Yes, I was soaked through and through, but it was the best position we could be in at that moment. Honestly, we had a great time sitting there on the ground trying to save our purchased food a lost cause and just laugh and make jokes about the insanity of the whole situation. Looking at people in the weirdest combinations to try and stay dry, looking at the sky and "ooooh" and "aaah" with everyone else as lighting washed over again and again, reporting how the rain had not soaked through our shorts and jeans yet and so on.

The storm was over and Metallica was ready to start. We gathered what was left saving and checked our phones as we predicted the amount of missed calls we were about to see. Surprisingly, the amount of missed calls and messages was at a minimum in my case. My mom had to be really brave and hope everything was okay or thought that I would try to reach her myself as this is not something she would normally do. After having reached everyone it was time to find everyone else that we knew were at the festival. The only goal after being reunited with the rest was beating the cold. From huddles, group hugs and tea to squatting and attempting to dry our clothes in the wind it was time to move more to the rest of the public and get ready to see Metallica.The coldness didn't help at all so I did what I always do: headbanging and moving to the songs. No movement meant instant regret as my whole body shook when the wind passed by. Metallica as well as the Rolling Stones used the "by request" concept for their performance i.e. people were able to vote on the songs that they wanted the band to perform. Next to this, they had two fans who each could introduce the next song and I believe the audience who were standing at the sides of the stage could even be the back up singers at one moment. One thing that was a bit off for me was when the band members were put enlarged on the big screen behind them. I don't know why I didn't think it fitted the performance since other screens on the sides and halfway across the field are put  there for the same end but it was just too HD and reminded me of an set-up that would be used for a boy band ensemble.

Upon retrospect, I don't think I would have done it any other way. Yes, Metallica wasn't so high on my priorities list of acts to see at Pinkpop, but I knew I would regret not seeing them or whoever was going to be the closing act. Yes, even whilst I was freezing. All in all, quite a special Pinkpop this year. The first time we weren't able to go in full and started with being in constant sweat-mode and ended with being freezing cold.



Pinkpop 2014: Sunday

The time had finally come... Pinkpop! I had an amazing time with my friends as always even though it was only two days instead of the usual three. The first day felt really strange to miss, unnatural almost as I was getting groceries with my mom that day for instance. Luckily, some of my friends and I had a back-up plan involving a BBQ party and blowing bubbles. I apologize in advance that these posts can be quite long as I wanted to give the full rundown of how the days were. For this reason, I also divided the intended one post about Pinkpop into two, logically dividing it per day. I hope you enjoy!

The best and fastest way I could capture the bubbles with my phone
Day one was the day where most of the acts where lined up that we wanted to see. We started by seeing Limp Bizkit perform a couple of songs and getting the alleged lemoncoolers by Oxfam Novib. Whilst I can usually walk around with this drink for three hours or so, it was quickly gone. Guess I just craved for that deliciousness. After that it was time to get into the front section of the main stage to see the first main act on our schedule: the Kooks. The Kooks were great. Needless to say, almost all the acts I will highlight in this post are amazing in my opinion. Prepare yourself for some repetition. The lead singer, Luke Pritchard, was well energized and I just cannot figure out how he was able to keep his energy and happiness up the entire performance in his all-black outfit. Yes, with full-on jeans. Their music wasn't really something I would listen to when I was younger except for a few of their songs. Over the weeks leading up to Pinkpop I re-listened to everything they had put out and I must say, I really like it. I was a tad sad however, that we didn't have an awesome choir to accompany the band with the song 'Around Town' as they did on BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend.

Group shot of the lovely people I have spend the entire festival with
The Kooks had finished performing and upon leaving the front section I decided to take a stroll through the entire festival to see what I wanted for dinner as well as to catch something of Rudimental's performance on the 3FM stage. Rudimental is not a type of music I normally listen to, but upon excitement of my sister thanks sis! and listening to the entire line-up beforehand made me cross paths with their album 'Home'. An album, I've found, I cannot listen to as a whole, but does contain a handful of great songs. One big downside of the performance: the sound. The performance was great as well as the music but the volume and audio didn't come across  and as such the performance lacked a certain umpfh. This has more to do with the technicians than the music artists as you will also read with the next act.

Ending up with a baguette filled with lettuce, grilled chicken, cucumber, tomato's and sauce I didn't manage to head back to the front section for the next act on the main stage, Ed Sheeran. *Insert sad face* Instead, I looked up some of the rest of the group who were nicely seated on the grass in the big crowd of other people relaxing and taking in the atmosphere. On one side I regret not having stayed in the front with the rest, for the audio was terrible. Halfway across the field and all the way to the back, you could barely hear anything. Such a downside. Never have I had to downplay Pinkpop for its distribution of sound, but that's two times in a row now. Really hope it'll be back to normal next year. Ed Sheeran, however, was amazing with his live-recording tricks. Most people tuned in where we sat once he started playing 'I See Fire' and of course THE ending 'Sing.' When that song hit I had to laugh out loud for I knew this is where he would just go off stage leaving the people behind thinking whatnot as they repeated the OooohAooowhOoohAoowh-part. I feel you crowd. The first time I saw it on TV I was like WHAT and now you just don't come back?

On of our friends, Silvana, surprised us by having our group photos from last year added to the Pinkpop wall. Apparently, people were able to upload photos of the festival and somehow we managed to actually be on the wall. Such an awesome surprise and so cool!

My awesome edit skills... AHUM
And a close-up of both photos that were up on the wall
Up next on our schedule of acts to see: Paolo Nutini. I had seen him the last time he was part of the line-up, but never caught up on listening to his music after that. Upon seeing this performance, I definitely have to change that. He was accompanied by a major group of people, all with their own instruments and dare I say he seemed even more in his element than last time. And looked great as well with his messy hair.The song 'Iron Sky' is one that has been stuck inside my head ever since and well... just listen to it. Better yet, watch it here along with all the other official recordings of some of the acts at this year's Pinkpop here.

Paolo Nutini was followed by the Editors on the main stage, a band I have seen a couple of times including their performance as opening act for Muse. Our first intention was to watch with the rest of the crowd but ended up doing various things such as a needed bathroom visit, refreshing ourselves by drinking water and passing the merchandise which led to purchasing a Bastille shirt. Upon arrival that day I noticed that Bastille oddly enough, as they played the day before, still had a shirt at the merchandise stand. Having seen them two times already, last year at Pinkpop and their concert at the HMH, I was thinking whether I should get one or not. A friend of mine, Aranka, was kind enough to ask the day before yes she was able to go three days whether I wanted one and I declined. Seeing the shirt hanging made me reconsider. Maybe it was a sign, who knows?
The Bastille selfie. One of many. 
And more selfies
John Newman was the only act playing in the tent - the Brand Bier stage - which was unfortunate. I couldn't imagine how hot and sweaty it would be in there if it was already warm outside. Smart enough, Pinkpop situated a big screen above the entrance of the tent so people were still able to catch the performance. A smart addition that I hope will be part of the festival from now on. Whilst I wasn't able to catch the performance as we were gearing up to stand in the line to get into the front section of the main stage for the Arctic Monkeys, I did rewatch his 3 on Stage session in the famous green container which you can view here. I wish I was among those few people who were in the container.

Yes, I only took a picture once they were done. I enjoyed it too much to think about it during their performance. 
The final act, headliner and personal favourite of today: the Arctic Monkeys. Obviously, the effects of the lights and decor etc. only had its full impact once the sun went down, but the performance was awesome. Like the Kooks, I didn't listen to the Arctic Monkeys that much when I was younger, just a couple of songs here and there. Upon hearing their new album 'AM' I fell in love with their music and re-listened their entire discography. My favourite song of the new album is 'Arabella' followed by 'Knee Socks' and luckily they played both. We were standing in the front section on the left and I think we made a mistake standing where we stood as the audience wasn't really going along with the performance. I especially was surrounded by people who seemed to be only interested in capturing the songs on video and taking pictures. I always have a love-hate relationship with these types of people. On the one hand I am very grateful since if they did not capture everything I wouldn't be able to rewatch and rekindle the experience I had at that moment. On the other hand, I just cannot understand how you're able to enjoy the performance that is happening right there in front of you. There also seemed to have been a discussion going on among the public. Either they hated the performance because the band didn't interact with the crowd, like Kings of Leon last year, or they loved the band and the performance and thought the crowd was bad. I sort of fit in the last category, as I loved the band and their performance. There was interaction with the crowd, although minimal. Not every person standing on that stage loves to be the centre of attention and some if not most just want to play music. As for the crowd, I believe we were standing near the wrong kind of people. My sister was more in the front and she stated that everyone was going crazy, so I guess it was just a hit or miss as to where you were standing. Nonetheless, the Arctic Monkeys were a great headliner for Pinkpop and I already made a pact with a friend of mine, Bonnie, to go to a concert of them if they happen to play near us some time in the future.



The love for impromptu happenings


The idea for this post resulted from this tweet I posted last weekend. Trying and working again and again to continue with my thesis has been very difficult. Thus, when I had a complete free weekend in sight I took the opportunity and decided I would spend it only and entirely on studying. As you can see, it failed. Instead I spent almost an entire day at Mediacité, a mall in Liege that happens to have a Primark. Oh yes, it was on. The next day I urgently had to go to Heerlen, because the SIM card did not fit in the new phone my stepfather got the day before. After getting ready as quick as I could - to catch the earliest train possible when I heard that I had to go and the thought that the sooner I got back the faster I could actually get started with studying - I was off to Heerlen. With an hour to fill before the train to return departed I received a call that my brother wanted to shop in Heerlen and was getting ready. In sum, I had planned an entire weekend for studying since I did not have to work or had other plans and this resulted in a shopping weekend. This has been happening a lot lately. See for yourself:

ALL the items I got from Primark
Relaxing in the sun 
A little something to try out whilst watching BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend with a friend
 (From my Instagram account) an afternoon at "Mount Pinkpop"

BUT as stated I love it. Little impromptu things like this just make my day. Whether it's walking all the way up "Mount Pinkpop" to have a picknick, getting an ice cream and enjoy the sun, getting together to watch a festival that is being broadcasted on tv or shopping sprees as the ones just mentioned. I love it.