Bee hotel update

I promised an update on how the bee hotel bookings fared.
Well, every hotel has currently 1 to 2 holes that are filled up with mud/sand. That's not a lot.
The ones I hung near the stables were however already filled the day after. And those silly bees insisted on making the little mud pies on the stable doors. So we have about 5 of them not residing in the hotel.
My guess is I put the hotels up too late this season. And some of the shrubberies with early flowers died because of the very late frost. All my lovely smelling skimmia froze, I need to take them out.

Also, we've had some guests in the spy-hole in the front door. A threesome of paper wasps have been there for about two months now, steadily building their little paper hive.
They're not agressive, they don't mind us opening and shutting the door. They're not flying into the house by mistake.
We've decided to let them stay for as long as the door remains there, we will be replacing it anyway together with the new windows.


Let's just skip Spring then?

See, I thought we would skip spring this year and go on straight into summer. Yay! I'm loving this sunshine.
Mind you, I am stuck indoors studying for my finals, but just seeing the sunshine makes me ok. Mouser is looking for all the right shady spots to lie in, poor Kitteh is shedding hairs. Wonder if any fur will be left over once the spell of good weather has passed. I've been giving grooming sessions so all the hairs stay outdoors.
I'll leave you with a picture of Mouser -in the shade of a bush that didn't survive the winter- enticing me into another stroking/epilation session.


Remodeled church excursion in Maastricht (4)

Before reaching the next remodelled church, we strolled around the narrow streets. I was straggling because of my poor back condition and paused to stop and enter buildings that looked inviting from outside. I must say, these University buildings, they're very big on covering courtyards with glass.
I stumbled into the ICIS building (International Centre for Integrated assessment and sustainable development). What an agreeable space the court yard is. Even in the Nieuwenhof building the common room had a glazed roof.

Last on the list was the Dominican church, now a bookstore. It is the text book remodeling project that always shows up in glossy magazines, along with the Kruisheren hotel.
We were not disappointed.
Again, a very different atmosphere going from blazing sunlight to the slightly muted atmosphere that still clings to church buildings, even though it is a shop with people bustling in and out and a cafeteria located in the choir.

I've noticed how everyone in the group tended to sink their voices to the level of a murmur. Very strange that a building can have that sort of an impact on behaviour.
I'm sure we're all very good mannered, I know a lot of people can't even be quiet even in a church that is still consecrated.
Again here was opted for the placing of a big boxy thing in the length of the nave.

It's a steel construction holding books, staircases and some little information desks. Again, this construction can be removed if the whole space of the church is needed in future.
From the platforms one can overlook the rest of the church and the murals on the ceiling. It is actually pretty busy, people going in and out all the time. Notice how some grave stones were still in place and the polished concrete floor was placed around it.

In a side chapel, where a cosy corner has been made, the rabbit Nijntje got the place of honour among the children's books.
In the place where the main altar used to be a cross shaped table has been placed. Alas, we didn't have time to get some coffee and cake (oh my how those cheese-cakes looked absolutely delicious!). Again, some lights in the chandelier didn't work and I got all upset again.

Oh, and books on architecture are to be found on the first floor.
Anyway, after this very brief trip to Maastricht, we were all very happy to have seen some examples of remodeling.
I would love to see more of these projects in Belgium, but as things stand, we're lagging behind a good 20 years or so.
There's plenty of stuff to be done here, hundreds of parochial churches are empty as we speak and hundreds more are to follow. Strange how remodeled churches are still some kind of taboo over here.
But things are slightly changing. It will take a while, hopefully not too long, or unused churches will begin to fall down of their own accord.


Remodeled church excursion to Maastricht (3)

Next up on our list was the former Kruisheren church and adjoining monastry. lt was heavily restored around 1912 and had been empty for about 20 years before being turned into a 4 star hotel. The nave and apsis now double as reception, lobby, dining area and wine cellar.

The kitchen is very clumsily located in one of the cloister wings around the inner court, and service has to make its way up all the tiny, steep, tricky steps to get to the top floor of the big boxlike construction in the middle.
Our professor called it a 'design-hotel', I'd rather call it a 'boudoir-hotel', it had that kind of Malmaison feel to it.
Which incidentally, he didn't know at all. Meh, these academics really don't get about.
Or they get really cheap hotels for digs when lecturing abroad.

Anyway, we entered through a glitzy copper funnel, which is supposed to be womb, a the side of the nave. The reception desk is to the right with a towering glass lift giving access to the rooms located on the first and second floors and the restaurant on top of the box construction in the nave.
Sunlight filtered in through the west windows and livened up the space.

We proceded first to take a look at the court yard, which was a huge contrast compared to the dark and serene tone of the interiour of the church. The court yard was (clumsily) paved with white stones and reflected so much sunshine that the eyes had to adapt for quite some time.
It was not a very welcoming or relaxing atmosphere, it could have been a real green garden. Shame. Even the permanent stone furniture lacked something.

We went back to the nave and strolled around the big boxy thing. Underneath is a dining room for private meetings that can be closed off, one wall is the wine cooling installation. In the apsis there is a bar with boudoir-like seating.

Some lights worked into the floor around the bar were broken, also a LED strip to mark the step was defective in one area. It's a force of habit, I can't help but notice these things.

The toilets were also very interesting, with one side of the cubicle in see trough glass. It has a biblical inscription on it to reassure you no one can see you do the business.
"And the eyes of them were both opened. And they knew that they were naked: and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen 3:7).

To be continued...


Remodeled church excursion to Maastricht (2)

After we were turned out of the Frior Minors church in Maastricht we proceeded along the remnants of the city wall to our second remodelled
chapel at the site of the former Nieuwenhof convent. It is now used as an auditorium and part of the University College of Maastricht.
We were spoken to when we were about to enter the building.
Professor: 'There is a woman behind a counter there, she will probably want to see some legitimation.
Act as if you are students who come here every day.
Don't look at her and just keep going. Then turn right once you're inside. And hide your camera's you all look like tourists.'

We made it to the door of the chapel and then noticed the paper stuck to the door: 'Panel in progress'.
The professor opened the door as silently as possible and gestured we could go in. An inspirational mosaicked doormat said "EERBIED" (deference) as we crossed the threshold.

We had a little wait in the apsis (completed in the year Columbus discovered America; 1492). It has 5 beautiful stained glass windows. I managed to take a few pictures, the sun outside helped to light them just enough.
The nave ceiling is from 1665, which is obvious judging from the shape and style compared to the rest.
Then we heard some applause and students filed out of the building.

We had the room to ourselves and I managed to take some pictures and some of my fellow engineering-architect students commented on the construction materials used.
Then it was time to move on to yet another remodeled church.

To be continued...


Remodeled church excursion to Maastricht (1)

On Monday we visited a couple of remodelled churches in Maastricht.
Me and my five fellow students got into the professor's car and headed toward Maastricht, just across the border.
He just managed to avoid running over three cyclists before we got to the car park.
The first church, the Church of the Brothers Minor currently the provincial archive of Limburg, was closed (as I had told him before we left), but he didn't seem to believe me.

The gate was open however and we got as far as the courtyard before we got turned out.
A lady, who was smoking a cigarette, spread her arms shouting: 'No, no, you can't go in. Were closed on Mondays.'
Professor: 'But we've come all the way from Belgium with some students to visit the former church'.
Lady: 'No, sorry.'
Professor: 'Does so-and-so still work here?'
Lady: 'Yes, he does.'
Professor: 'If I would ask you to fetch him, could we then look at the church.'
Lady: 'No.'

Professor turns his back to her and speaks in loud voice: 'This is so typically Dutch. All these little rules and they sticking by them. If we were in Belgium, they would have let us in just for a quick peak inside.'
Then we proceeded to the front of the building, where they did some post-modern crazy thing. It's to remind us that the old city wall used to be there. If you spun round you could see it. Not sure what the hideous toilet was doing there.
But I suppose if you gotta go, you gotta go.
It was such a lovely day, the view down the alley with the terrasse reminded me of little pretty Aiges Mortes in the Camargue.

To be continued...


Row of food

Kitteh doesn't like the munchies very well, unless I feed them by hand or make it into some kind of game.
Sometimes I just throw them and then Mouser jumps at them as if they were mice or something.
Now I had laid them down in a row through the kitchen toward the kitteh-bowl.
Mouser fell for the old routine.
And then I got that look: 'There. Pleased now, are we?'


No points for guessing what it's supposed to be

Middle and Youngest Teen™ are here to celebrate Dr Livingstone's fiftieth this weekend.
They've finally shied away from their quit selves and turned up with a special comedy frying pan.

Hilarity ensued this morning when the suggestive eggs were on the plates and we started to set the table.
Needless to say the vegetarian Teen was not going to have Cock's Fresh with suggestive sized eggs.
Even if it had two yokes in the right place.


Enchanted with Disenchanted Night

I found a parcel in the letter box today. It was all in one piece and dry!
I had ordered Disenchanted Night. The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century by Wolfgang Schivelbush together with Neumann's Architecture of the Night.
It took quite some time to get here, but fortionatly it did not end up in a ditch somewhere as I thought a rancorous parcel delivery person might have chucked it there.
Anyway, the book is an entertaining read, and has its social contexts set down firmly, which I very much appreciate.
I also chuckled at the dedication: "[...] and with special thanks to Capers Rubin who helped so much in the de-Teutonisation of this book.".


From the Archives: An evening with Luc Tuymans

Last year, around this time I wrote a post on a talk Luc Tuymans gave at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels.
Somehow the post never made it to the publishing stage. I found a draft of it, it's short and sweet and clearly indicates what kind of vitriolic mood I was in when I got home.
Here goes:

Title: Luc Tuymans in Bozar

Yesterday evening Luc Tuymans spoke at the Bozar in Brussels. Luc Tuymans speaks all the time. He loves the sound of his own voice.
But I had to fork out 6 euros just for the privilege of the Tuymans gospel.
He was late turning up of course. He probably couldn't get his massive swollen ego out the green room doors.
Anyway. Half of the audience lapped it all up. The maestro speaks. I think the other half was just as annoyed as I was.

In his own words: 'I do not like populists. I'm not a political artist. I'm not a historical painter.'

The only great thing about this evening that I was strolling around in my beloved Brussels once again.
I managed to marvel at Poelaert's Palais de Justice and be amazed at how the Royal School of Music still looks like it was bombed just the other day.