Monday, 30 July 2007

Hasselt Beach

We live in East Belgium, about 250km from the Belgian coast but every year for two weeks, the beach comes to us. Or more precisely to Hasselt, our nearest big town and the capital of Limburg Province.

Hasselt Beach website

* 20 July - 4 August 2007
* 4000m2 of sand, a stage, food and drink, huge bicycle parking area.
* Free entry every day from 11.30, evening price 2-5 €.
* Beach football and beach volleyball tournaments
* Kids Karaoke
* Cocktail parties, after work parties
* Hippie Night
* Pirate Island for the kids
* Latin Dance Night
* Erotic foam party (don't even ask).

On the Beach??
Alongside the Hasselt Kanaalkom (canal): real living palmtrees, beachbars, various tents, a large sun terrace with chairs, showers, a waterbed, sandpit, bouncy castles...

In 2006, Belgium experienced abnormally high temperatures reaching the all-time high of 36.7ÂșC on 20 July. Unfortunately, this year we have had far too much rain and even cool weather. However, not to be beaten by a spot of rain, the Hasselt Beach organizers just erected a massive cover over the 300m2 dance floor so that the party could go on. The children's party was postponed until Saturday 4 August.

Now where is my bucket and spade...

Hasselt Beach photos on Flickr

Sunday, 29 July 2007

"Would I Lie to You"

Angus Deaton is back on BBC with a new team quiz programme in which three celebs on each side have to make statements and the other team decide whether it is true or a lie.

It is a good light-hearted comedy and it is a pleasure to have Angus back as host with the same level of humour and sarcasm he was known for on "Have I Got News for You."

Wendy Richards ran a launderette in "EastEnders" for 20 years but claimed that in real life, she does not know how to use the machines. The other team could not believe this. Someone quipped, "William Shatner does not know how to pilot a spaceship". Wendy was telling the truth.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Big Brother - Charley has gone

Thank goodness Charley has gone.

The girl is deluded believing that the public love her. She heard cries of support and love whilst the rest of us heard boos. 85% of the public vote evicted her rather than Tracey.

It is interesting to note that she is employing a Freudian defence mechanism in refusing to acknowledge the truth. She has such a high opinion of herself that she cannot admit any variation from that image or else risk the fragility of her self-esteem.

She attacked to the last. When she heard the boos from inside the house, she told Tracey that they were also booing her. When interviewed by Davina and shown the argument with Brian, she blamed him for attacking her and being pathetic when in fact he had considered her as his friend and was hurt by her unprompted attack. Charley was more concerned with how she looked in a clown costume.

Davina asked her what was next for Charley. She replied, "Maybe anger management". A very good idea but only the start of what she needs unless she wants to go through life being known as a "super bitch".

The press love a baddie so no doubt the publicity will start, the interviews will be never-ending and she may well make the first million pounds (as predicted in a poll this week) from this season's Big Brother, simply from the initial press. Someone predicted a regular column in Heat magazine. What a perverse society where money is paid to someone to keep reminding us what an unlikeable person they are. Personally, I would rather read stories of people who are making a positive contribution to the world, people we can emulate and use as role models.

Big Brother T-shirts, caps and other merchandise

Fun Big Brother items for sale on

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium helping people make positive change.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Today was a good day

Today was a good day.

First, my son had his friend to sleepover which was the first sleepover here.

Secondly, my son and I worked on his Doctor Who site. He plans to be an Internet Millionaire and this is his first venture.

Thirdly, we anticipate that Charley will be evicted from the Big Brother house.

Antonia Stuart-James

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Thoughts for the Day

1. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
2. If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all.
3. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
4. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water.
5. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
6. Business conventions are important because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
7. No one has more driving ambition than the boy who wants to buy a car.
8. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 AM. It could be a right number.
9. No one ever says "It's only a game" when his team is winning.
10. I've reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.
11. Be careful reading the fine print. There's no way you're going to like it.
12. Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos and perky silicone filled breasts? (And RAP music will be the Golden Oldies!)
13. Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than in a Yugo.
14. After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Big Brother - Charley must go

Charley might make interesting TV viewing but her volatile and rude nature is insulting to other housemates who also have to cope with homesickness, boredom, sharing limited space with strangers and constant filming.

Charley might think she is an "It Girl" but quite honestly, I cannot see why anyone would want to spend time in her company, unless of course she is quite a different person with her friends.

She seems unable to avoid confrontation and deliberately picks arguments about nothing. Instead of a few cross words, it becomes a slanging match where she refuses to listen to the other person and must have the last word. She picks on Chanelle decrying her appearance when in fact the girl is very attractive, both to look at and in her personality. Charley is making Chanelle doubt herself. She must be centre of attention showing how insecure she really is. She accused Gay Gerry of having sex with young boys which made him explode and I thought he was going to lay charges of slander.

Big Brother have repeatedly had to warn her to cool her behaviour and consider the effect of her words on her housemates. Little arguments and differences of opinion are inevitable amongst a group of strangers forced to live in the same enclosed space for weeks on end but while debate and discussion is healthy, with Charley it always becomes personal. She made Brian cry the other day because he considered her his friend until she attacked him. She has taken to calling everyone "pathetic". Actually, the shoe of pathos fits her.

A couple of times she has shown remorse after the argument but never apologises. We even saw tears the other day but I think this was just a tactic ahead of Monday's nominations and it did not work.

In this week's nominations for eviction, 6 out of 10 nominated her and also her friend, Tracey. Given that they did not nominate each other, that means that 6 out of 8 want both of them out.

She faced fake eviction two weeks ago. Now she must really go and I hope the media humiliate her, not make her into the star which she so craves. The crowd booed her when she enterd the house, there was no reaction when she was fake evicted (crowd held up signs saying "This is a fake audience") although she later lied to the housemates saying they had cheered her and there were several boards in her favour. She contributes nothing in the house, does not work and name drops continually. Who really cares?

Read the latest news from Big Brother on the Channel 4 website.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

"Guarding the Queen" - The Grenadier Guards

Last night we were treated by ITV to the second of three parts of a programme "Guarding the Queen" showcasing the Grenadier Guards whose job it is to guard the Queen and her palaces whilst at the same time being fit and ready to enter into battle wherever they may be required. At the moment that means active tours in Afghanistan. The Grenadier Guards are the most senior infantry regiment in the British Army and they are also one of the oldest, celebrating their 350th anniversary last year, during which time there have been ten kings and three queens.

We saw the Guards parading in their bearskins and winter dress of thick blue coats which are exchanged for scarlet red jackets in the summer. The then Home Secretary David Blunkett chose a slight change of colour for the jackets requiring an expense of £300,000 to hand-tailor new jackets. Question: How does a blind man choose a new shade of red? The difference between the old and new was certainly not obvious on our TV.

The Guards prepared for the State Visit of the Prime Minister of Ghana and also for the Queen's Birthday Parade. The new musical director prepared the playing of both anthems to finish at precisely the same moment as the Queen's carriage came to a halt. Such precision and such attention to detail is admirable. There is no sloppiness in the British Army. It must be right and it must be perfect. The Queen is the first to notice anyone slightly out of step or with a poor fitting uniform.

Regimental Adjutant Conway Seymour, a Grenadier for 46 years, says: "Of all the great heroes, there's none that can compare with the British Grenadiers." He reluctantly retired after being the fourth generation Guard in his family. The men put on a special musical march for him including "Auld Lang Syne" which nearly brought a tear to his eye. Although band musicians, these soldiers must also be fit and took part in the same drills as the soldiers preparing for active duty.

The Changing of the Guard continues to be one of Britain's top tourist attractions. As the Guards prepared, their Commander told them their orders would be obstructed by cheers of tourists and their sight by camera flashes.

For those chosen for active service in Afghanistan, it was a period of intense training and preparation. We saw them in a mock battle against the Taliban. The aim of their mission will be to assist the Afghan National Army in defeating the Taliban. By stabilising the country they hope to win over hearts and minds and reconstruct a nation ravaged by war. Over 50 British soldiers have lost their lives there with hundreds seriously injured so the stakes are high.

The message was that they had a job to do although privately the troops must have mixed emotions, especially at the point of no return when they collect their battle uniform and supplies.

My friend's daughter is joining the Guards shortly with an anticipated tour in Afghanistan so the programme was of personal interest.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium helping people make positive change in their lives.

LBC Radio - London's Brightest Conversation

Whilst in the London area last week, I listened to LBC Radio in the car on 97.3. It was interesting to listen to stimulating conversation on a wide range of topics including:

- Words or expressions you mistakenly believed to have a different meaning.
- Sharing names with famous people.
- Should parents work to demonstrate work ethic to their children, even if better off on benefits?
- Scams.
- If you can see the sun and the moon at the same time, does that mean that parts of the world cannot see either?
- If planets were formed by explosions, how come they are pretty round and smooth rather than odd-shaped and jagged?
- Books you have read even though you did not enjoy them and considered them a waste of time but having started, felt you had to finish.
- The DaVinci Code.
- The UK and Russia tit-for-tat over diplomats.
- Lee Mead's debut as Joseph in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat".
- Boris Johnson standing for Mayor of London.

I am delighted to find that I can listen to LBC 97.3 on-line at, on Sky TV and on Digital Radio in various parts of the UK.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Cream Tea in Alfriston, Sussex

A cream tea is one of the quintessential delights of English village life and Alfriston, Sussex is a lovely village in which to enjoy such a tea.

Forget the diet. A cream tea consists of two homemade scones, jam (raspberry or strawberry are best), clotted cream on top of the jam, a slice of cake such as carrot cake, passion fruit cake or chocolate and a pot of tea per person. The tea should be leaves of Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Assam, not a supermarket teabag.

We enjoyed our cream tea in Alfriston after our visit to Drusillas Park, just a mile or so up the road. It was around 5pm but Moonrakers at the far end of the village were open until 6pm so we enjoyed our tea overlooking the village green and church. How English! All we needed was a cricket match to watch.

See my photos of Alfriston on Flickr.

See my blog on a visit to Drusillas Park and my photos of Drusillas on Flickr.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

Our Visit to Drusillas Park, Sussex, England

As always, my children enjoyed their visit last week to Drusillas Park which is a park zoo with small animals to appeal to younger children. Small visitors can stamp their books when they sight specific animals and take part in the "Zoo Olympics" which means comparing their performance with that of animals. For example, shouting as loud as a... (surprisingly there are animals which are noisier than my son), running as fast as a ...., weighing as much as a..., jumping as long as a ... etc.

There is a farm section with pigs, cows and goats with an informative description of how milk goes from the cow to our table. Children can even milk a cow, actually just plastic tubes on a pretend cow's udder.

Animals include monkeys, lemurs, walibis, guinea pigs, crocodiles, meerkats (kids love looking through the plastic dome to be at the same height as these animals), servals, beavers, otters, prairie dogs, llamas and the less attractive bats, bugs, spiders and snakes but they can easily be avoided.

Children who celebrate their birthday at Drusillas can enjoy the special treat of feeding the penguins.

There is now a special resident at Drusillas: Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, Annie and Clarabel, Cranky, James, Diesel and of course the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hat. When the zoo owner, Laurence Smith, advertised for a male Fat Controller, he was told that he could not specify either male or fat in his job description. How ridiculous! The Fat Controller has been a well-loved character for generations and he must be both male and fat. Visitors can ride with Thomas and his coaches from Tidmouth Halt Station.

Very small children will love the real rabbits and guinea pigs on Teletubbies Hill.

On the educational front, Drusillas sponsor a village in the Maasai so visitors can find out about life for these people and walk through a "mud hut". In fact, there are lots of educational areas suitable for tying in with Key Stages in schools.

If the children have any energy left and the grown-ups need a rest, there is an excellent play area suitable for children from the smallest toddlers upwards and cafes alongside for refreshments and rest.

One thing I particularly like about Drusillas is that it is not overly commercial. When we visited LegoLand, after we had picked ourselves up off the floor from the shock of the entrance price, we were bombarded with toyshops and food concessions every few yards which of course results in tears and complaints if not more money is spent. Instead of enjoying LegoLand, children complain about what they did not receive. Drusillas is a pleasure to visit. The entrance fees are reasonable and the toyshops and food areas are few and far between. There is an Explorers restaurant at the entrance and a couple of places in the play area, all of which charge reasonable prices for a good variety of choice. There are three toy shops and they can be avoided although prices are reasonable so cheaper token presents can be bought as a souvenir of a happy day.

Finish the day off with a round of Jungle Adventure Mini-golf, a paddle in Explorers Lagoon or more jumping around on the bouncy castle and don't miss the kookaburras and pheasants on the way out.

See my photos of Drusillas on Flickr.

There are lots of special appearances throughout the year including Scooby Doo, Postman Pat, Shrek, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Fifi and the Flowertots, Tweenies, Wallace and Gromit, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider-Man, Fireman Sam and of course Santa.

Drusillas Zoo is on the A27, between Brighton and Eastbourne, Sussex.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

Delay at Calais Car Ferry Port

When travelling by ferry from Calais to Dover on Friday 13 July, we were delayed by 1 hour, 40 minutes by UK passport control at Calais. Apparently, of the 10 available windows, only 4 were manned, of which 2 for trucks and 2 for private cars. Six lanes of traffic including trucks and coaches had to narrow and cross-over to reach the respective windows causing such a delay. The French staff said they had asked the UK passport control to open more windows but either staff were not available or they did not wish to do so. Whatever the cause, we did not appreciate such a delay.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Growing melons

My older son is fascinated by the growth of his melon plant which he has grown from one of the melon seeds in a fruit.

Bolderberg "Little Train"

Just before the end of term, my little boy's class were taken for a ride on a road train around the local village. They drove past our house so he was able to show his schoolfriends where he lives and needless to say, all the children had a lovely time.

Antonia Stuart-James lives in Bolderberg, Heusden-Zolder, Limburg in Belgium

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Hypnosis on Big Brother

When Brian entered the house, we were told that "he likes to dabble in a spot of cosmic ordering and reckons he can self-hypnotize". Typically for British media, this was presented with a hint of scorn.

Well, Brian might come across as a bit thick but at least his thinking is taking him in the right direction. Cosmic ordering, if practised properly, may well take him from his present job as a data-entry clerk to something bigger and better. For more information, find out about "The Secret".

The Secret DVD

This week we were shown how he hypnotizes when he practised on Gerry and Amanda. Unfortunately, he counted forwards to take the person deeper and backwards to wake them up which is the wrong way round. To take the person deeper, count backwards which causes confusion to the conscious mind and so gains access to the subconscious mind. Counting forwards to wake the person reintroduces order which signals to the conscious mind that it is time to wake up.

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

"Thirteen Days" - Cuban missile crisis

We watched a riveting film about the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 when the then US President John F Kennedy faced a nerve-wracking escalation as the Soviets built up a presence of nuclear missiles on Cuba, all within striking distance of 1000 miles within the USA. The world came so close to disaster.

The film stars Kevin Costner, one of my favourite actors, who played the part of the President's aide, Kenneth O'Donnell.

"As Hollywood history lessons go, Thirteen Days is riveting stuff. You may find yourself wondering what might happen if reality presented a repeat scenario under less intelligent leadership." - Jeff Shannon,

Antonia Stuart-James is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium.

Genesis in Brussels

I discovered the magical music of Genesis in 1976 when watching "Silent Movie" in the cinema and Genesis' music came through the walls. I borrowed a couple of LPs from a friend and started appreciating this music, so different to The Osmonds for whom I was still a teenybopper just one year earlier.

In Brussels, I saw them in concert for the first time in 1981, one year after "Duke" was released and the same year as "ABACAB". Again in 1983 after "Genesis" and then in Wembley Stadium, London in 1987 for the "Invisible Touch" tour. The cynics said that Genesis were has-beens and would never sell enough seats for three nights in a 100,000 seats stadium. They were wrong. They sold out four nights.

As well as outstanding, intelligent music Genesis were known for their lights show, especially during "The Cage" from "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (1974).

Sadly, Genesis split up in 1992 then reformed in 1997 with Ray Wilson as lead singer after Phil Collins had left. This album was a flop and Genesis were destined to be a memory leaving just their albums to be played again and again.

Well this year they delighted us longstanding fans with the "Turn It On Again" tour through Europe and the USA. Their main concert in London will be tomorrow at Twickenham Stadium but I decided to see them at my local arena, Stade Baudouin in Brussels on Sunday 24 June.

What can I say? Genesis were truly outstanding. Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford might be 56-57 years old but lacked no energy, especially Phil who was as fun and outrageous as ever. He is quite rightly considered to be the best drummer in the world and when out the front, leaves the drumming to Chester Thompson who is part of the touring line-up.

See my photos at Flickr

"Genesis are an English rock band formed in 1967. With approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide, Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording "artists" of all time." (Wikipedia)

My favourite albums are "Trick of the Tail" and "Duke".

The unofficial 2 CDs of each concert are available from The priced $30 per set.