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In The Forest

Term break is almost over again and of course I didn’t finish everything I wanted. However, spending time reading and going for walks in the forest, is important too. Here are a few pictures I took during the walks, just because I like them. Carpe diem and all that. :D

It’s a beautiful day…

The sun is shining



“Shooting stars”


On the fence?

A Moon jigsaw

Set in stone

Stick figures

I’m your Venus!

Astrofest 2015

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With the sun over the water on a train over a bridge, with music in my own bubble, I can almost cry at the beauty of life. I kid you not. It was one of those breath-taking big orange ball sunsets, of which I couldn’t have taken a picture that would do it justice, while I was on my way to Astrofest for the 8th time. Steven and I met in Hook of Holland, where we had dinner in the harbour before we boarded the ferry. On the other end, there was a coach to London instead of a train, but it was a smooth trip and I even remembered the route to the venue from Kensington High Street.

I had forgotten my tickets to Astrofest, but the lovely organisers remembered I had been a speaker a few years back, so there wasn’t a problem. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful weekend. Steven and I first paid a visit to Robin from Canopus books. He gave me an awesome book, which I started reading right away (I will show you the book later). Then we met up with Graham and the boys had a look around all the astronomy toys. We said hi to Emily and Dave, Mandy and Ian and we found Todd lurking around the stalls too.

The pub we usually go to for lunch had changed their interior a bit, but it was still a lovely place and it was another cosy gathering of friends. Old and new. (Tom, it was great to meet you and I’m looking forward to catching up over Skype soon). Unfortunately we missed a few talks, but the venue was packed nonetheless. I especially liked the talk about Rosetta’s Comet and how it showed us the anatomy of the ‘duck’ (and that it would float on water too). Another very important mention was Asteroid Day (and I loved how people were asking about Brian, while he’s still touring of course).

A personal highlight was the lovely women at the stand of AstroCymru. They sold beautiful astronomy jewellery to support their work of visiting schools to teach kids about our planet and what else is out there. Steven (and I) especially loved their ‘down to earth’ box, in which they kept real fossils. I held a real vertebra of an Iguanodon dinosaur and a real meteorite. Steven, being a dinosaur fan, told the lady a few facts she didn’t know yet and I loved her enthusiasm!

Before we went for dinner, I had checked into the nearby hotel (where three men complemented me about the bag my mum had made, ha ha). The evening gathering was lovely too (not in the least because Annie gave free massages to us all). We managed to find a cosy pub, with a funny guy serving us and it was concluded that this was all we needed on a desert island. All in all, it was truly great to be over for Astrofest again and I already look forward to the next one!

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We took the ferry out

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Aw. Teddy bears on the road in Kensington.

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That’s okay, Central Line, WWRY has closed anyway.

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Lovely view from our hotel

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Me and the lovely Robin from Canopus Books

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Reading from my new book (more soon)

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Holding a real Iguanodon vertebra!

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And a real meteorite!

Lucie did a great job!

My pal Brian was sort of there anyway.

Steven and I captured by Graham.

The boyriend.

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Lunch with the Galaxy Zoo gang

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Dinner with the Galaxy Zoo gang

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Including weird faces…

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And free massages!

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The beautiful astronomy jewellery

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Bye London!

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Clouds from the other side, flying back

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The Dutch shore in sight.

Queen and Adam Lambert rock Amsterdam

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With the boys from Queen; Roger Taylor & Brian May, backstage

Of course we had tuned in on New Year’s Eve too and I had looked forward to the gig at the end of January even more. Because of course I would go to see my pal forever when he and his band would come to my neck of the woods. I knew ‘the new guy’ was great too, because I had already seen them in London back in 2012 and even though I hardly pay attention to what others have to say about this collaboration, I do have to admit I liked seeing so many enthusiastic comments on social media.

My vision? They. Were. Stupendous! Brian’s Dutch was better than I even knew (“Zingen jullie mee… with Dr Brian May”) and I LOVED how they did ’39 this evening. Besides the guitar solo (gawd how I love Last Horizon) and the guitar cam, I thought another highlight was Roger’s A Kind Of Magic. And I think I fell in love with Adam when he talked about keeping the music alive. He very much does that, in his own unique way, with a lot of respect to Freddie and it fits so well with Queen. And he is just good. Period.

Other highlights included the drum battle with Rufus Taylor, Lap of the Gods, Save Me and Who Wants To Live Forever. It was a sold out gig and I actually knew a couple of people who were going too. I went on my own though and I stayed the night in Amsterdam too. As per usual, I didn’t take a lot of pictures during the gig or even afterwards, as I tend to enjoy concerts better when not looking through my tiny camera screen. Here are a few shots though, to remember the beautiful day.

Aren’t we lucky to live in this day and age where great musicians like them Queen boys are touring still! I had Lap of the Gods stuck in my head the whole weekend, which was fine with me. It was also great to finally meet Roger (I usually don’t ‘kiss and tell’, but him thinking Hanny’s Voorwerp was some kind of fart from God, was too funny not to share). And I hope both Brian and Adam feel better. What an amazing job they did. Cheers, guys!

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Awesome combo.

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Yes, ready!

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Some of the audience… hi!

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The curtain

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Brian doing his thang

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What a show!

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The Trucks (well one of ‘em)

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My weird but wonderful hotel

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The time machine shower in the middle of my room

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While having breakfast

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Another lovely view

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On my way to the station

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And here it is

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Amsterdam Set List, thanks to www.brianmay.com

Lecture in Dordrecht

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Finally I gave a lecture for the stargazers in lovely Dordrecht! I say ‘finally’, because I think my Dutch Galaxy Zoo pals Arie and Jan (from Astroblogs) had already mentioned this when I met them back in the beginning of the Zoo. It took for André to ask me again on the Achterhoek weekend though: thanks for that! And also special thanks to Maarten for arranging everything so perfectly (really)!

The venue was lovely and so was the audience. (And the hotel/restaurant we paid a visit to prior my talk). It was great to see old friends again and to meet some new ones. Steven and I also both went on a tour in Jan’s antique car and we had a look in the observatory. But perhaps most memorable was meeting the lovely Marah, who showed me a picture of her solar system made of oliebollen. She had seen me on telly recently and she’s a keen amateur astronomer herself.

So I had a lovely evening. Thanks again to everyone in Dordrecht! We will be back soon…

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The water tower restaurant/hotel

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The presenter

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With André, Jan and Arie

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In the observatory

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Catching up before the start

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Doing a magic tric?

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All the cool things in the Zoo

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Answering questions

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With the lovely Marah! :)

Valentine’s Holiday

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Officially it’s the carnival break, but even though I live in Limburg, I usually skip that tradition. I never really did Valentine’s Day either, but it is nice to get Fifty Red Roses, of course (and I did surprise Steven too). Mostly I’m just glad to have the week off though. I am very happy with the new job, teaching English, and I’m also pleased to say another exam week as a student myself was successful (I thank you all). But now it’s time to catch up. On work (I should’ve put “holiday” in ironic quotation marks, I guess), mail (I will answer yours soon), on music… and also on showing some pictures here of a couple of events I recently paid a visit to…

(Some of you already noticed on twitter; I have one of those necklaces with which one can spell their name. I know it’s for twelve year olds, but Steven bought it for me – as a joke – and I decided to wear it anyway. I used it to spell the events I went to recently, so these give an indication of what I should still blog about…)