Farewell 2011… Hello 2012…

by Rob on

So at the end of the year it almost custom to look back at past year and pondering a bit about it all. Overall I can say that has been a good year, which doesn’t mean that no sad or bad things did happen.

Most sad thing that happened this year is of course that my mother passed away April this year. It is something that is still often in my thoughts.

What was a strange emotional experience was the funeral of my mother on Friday 8 April and that I signed the next Monday the papers to buy the apartment that I was renting already for about a year. This Monday was 11 April. This date was chosen a bit with a reason. It was the my birthday of my father who already passed away many years ago. I thought that my mother would like that idea as a little respect towards my father. I have spoken with my mother about it and she indeed liked this a lot, not knowing that she would not live through that day herself.
It was here that Sanne came with a comforting thought. She said that I was the only one of my mothers children that was not settled down completely. My brother and sister were married, found a place to live and even have their own children. Sure, I had Marion at my side. Found a good job. The only thing missing was a place that I could call really my own. With the appointment for signing the mortgage-papers and the property transfer of the apartment to me I was settled down as well. And that was, according Sanne’s thoughts, that everything for my mother was good now. All her children had found a place in their lives. My mothers work was done…
Neither Sanne or me know if this all is true, but it is sure a comforting thought and one that I still carry with me…

So yes, this year I became the owner of an apartment in the town of Heemskerk. I have to admit that before moving here I thought that Heemskerk was somewhere in the province of Groningen.
It is not very big apartment, but more then enough for 1 (some times 2) persons. After staying more then a year in a room in Amsterdam, it is good to have a place of my own again (but not a bad word about the room in Amsterdam, the kind landlady always made sure everything was okay. And it solved for me during that time a big problem).
I really like the apartment. It has a wonderful wide view over this part of the town of Heemskerk. On a clear day I can see on the horizon the cranes of the Amsterdam harbour. In the evening it is a wonderful display of lights.
There is a nice balcony where you can sit in the summer enjoying the nice weather. I find important to be able to go outside and with this balcony it is possible to sit outside… have there lunch or dinner… read a bit… or just enjoy the view and the weather.
There has things to be done to the apartment. And most important is a new kitchen, but as what I want is very expensive. So I have to safe money for that.

Most important of course is my relation with Marion. It seems impossible to me, but it is getting better and better. With the passing away of my mother, she showed very clearly that she is also there for me in bad times. It was a great comfort to have her at my side during that time.
And I know that in the eyes of some people the relation we have is weird, but more and more it proves that this is for both of us the best. Committed to each other and yet room to be independent and freedom to move around (to avoid confusion here, we don’t have an so called “open relation”… in this relation we are committed to each other).
For me (and I know this goes for Marion as well) it’s like a puzzle where more and more pieces find a fitting place. And it is wonderful and great pleasure to work together to on this (maybe never to complete) puzzle.

The days out with Marion we also very enjoyable. Burgers Zoo (where we went together with Sanne) was great. And so where our visits to Maduro Dam and Madame Thussauds (among others). Our trips here in the neighbourhood to Uitgeest, Zandvoort, Castricum, Haarlem, Amsterdam and such were also very nice.
Of course I have to mention Cirque Stilleto this year Januari in Haarlem (with Ellen ten Damme). It was my way to say thank you to Marion for those nice years together. And in August we saw Ellen ten Damme again in “Het Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam.

Work is also going well. Still enjoy a lot to work in the team where I am part of. Maybe for next year we should have a little more team events again. Would be nice to have as group some fun again outside of the company as well.

This year I also bought some nice things as a new computer (a real speed monster) and a very nice Pioneer media-set (BluRay player and speakers included). And I continued to decorate my apartment and that is of course a job that will never finish.

As I already said, overall it has been a good year. And I feel positive about the coming year…

So all the best wishes for 2012!!!!

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by Rob on

Today Marion and I returned home from our small holiday on the island of Schiermonnikoog…

And yes, we had a great time there. The nature is beautiful, even this time for year. So we made long walks. Talked a lot and enjoyed each others close company.

I think that is very important for everyone to take now and then some steps away. To look from some distance at everything that is going on. And how could you do that better than with the one you love so deeply next to you. When I look at it all, I am rather happy how everything is going. Sure, there some small things that could be going better. But those are not really important and one should have something to improve, now don’t you?

And yes, even with the cold weather… we did swim in the sea. I have to admit that at first I was a bit hesitating, but after Marion made clear that she wanted to do this, I could not stay behind. So we did swim in the sea. Of course not to long, because even once you are in the water you don’t feel the cold any more, your body is cooling down. Also it is very important that when you are out of the water you get dry as fast as possible again.
I am proud of this achievement and I fully admit that the “kruidenbitter” (Dutch herbal liquor) tasted extremely well once we were inside again.

Every day breakfast on bed by the one that was awake first (which was mostly me :) ). Fun was also doing the cooking together. And of course the cleaning of the dishes afterwards (no dishwasher there).
The long evenings talking, listening to music and reading were just as wonderful. Of course this with some wine, beer or “kruidenbitter”.

It was a wonderful “break away” holiday. I had really a wonderful time and we both agreed that we should do this again.

A few pictures… I just realized that didn’t make as many pictures of the island as I normally would have done. Must have been something with the nice company *WINK*


(Credit map Schiermonnikoog: Eilanden Info)

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Just a hour or so and then…

by Rob on

Just an hour or so and then Marion and I will leave for Schiermonnikoog. For those that are not familiar with Schiermonninkoog, it is the smallest populated island north of The Netherlands. The nature is beautiful there and around this time of year it is rather quiet there. It is not allowed to bring a car with you to the island (and that is for some people a reason not to go there… for me it is even more reason to go there).

We stay at the eastern part of the island, there it is even more quiet. No mobile phone there (and so no internet). Just like last year our holiday in the France Pyrenees. Only Marion’s parents and Sanne know how to reach us in case something serious happens.

Anyway, today Marion’s parents visited us. They will keep an eye on my apartment and look after my birds and plants. That is always nice to know that someone is taking care of this kind of things.

Marion’s father is, just like me, a lover of a good whisky. And he brought me a present…

A 16 year old Glenlivet Nàdurra. A very fine single malt whisky. “Nàdurra” is the Celtic word for nature. That already shows what is so special about this whiskey. It is created in a very nature friendly way with pure ingredients. One of the things is that is non-chill filtered.
This special whisky contains 59.7% alcohol and that is more as a common whisky has.
I know that this is not a cheap bottle of single malt… and I am looking forward to taste it when I am home again from our little holiday.

It is time to grab the last things and to get on our way to Schiermonninkoog…

(Credit photo: Rob)

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And then it was Christmas again…

by Rob on

And suddenly it is Christmas again… I like the atmosphere of Christmas, but apart from that it has no real special meaning to me. Sure, I am happy that they days are getting longer again, but not more than that. It is more an enjoyable day to spend with someone close to you.

Marion is reading on the couch while enjoying a good glass of wine. And I work on my blog. The sound of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on a nice volume finds its way through the apartment. And it is good this way.

Today I prepared for Marion and me quail (“kwartel”). It is the first time that I prepared quail, so I better do it the first time for Marion and me alone. We always have to laugh when something really goes wrong (and there is always something in the freezer when it turns out not wise to eat :P). But when you have visitors you want everything to go well.

Miranda, my chef cook friend, always tells me that good preparations are the half work. Especially when you make something for the first time… and for once I listened to her (just kidding, I always listen to her good advices)…

As first I fried some small pieces of bacon in hot pan without butter or oil (bacon has enough oil itself). Added some fine-cut chicken filet, grounded nuts, some raisins, thyme, salt and pepper.This all I friend for about 5 minutes.
The friend mixture I used to fill the two quails. Another good advice here from Miranda to make sure I had special oven wire for the quail. Normal wire will burn in the oven and it should not contain any plastics that can melt.
Finally I wrapped the two quails in bacon.

The inside of an oven scale I buttered with real butter. The two quails went into the scale. I filled the scale with the left over of that what I used to fill the quails. On top of that fine-cut carrots and unions.

The scale was placed for 45 minutes in the oven on a temperature 220 degrees. Meanwhile I prepared some small potatoes (with peel) and as vegetables a mixture of carrots and snow peas.

And the two dishes were ready…

And even when I say myself so, I tasted very good!!!

Tomorrow Marion’s parents will come to Heemskerk. They are always good company. And later in the evening Marion and I will leave for Schiermonninkoog to spend some nice quiet days in a house we rented there (in the very quiet part of the isle). I am really looking forward to that… no mobile phone, no internet… just relaxing and enjoying!

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Hare fillet

by Rob on

Time to prepare some good food for Marion and me again. And to make up for the last weekends I decided to make something special.

As starter I made a beef carpaccio. On the beef some rucola, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Over it a dressing made of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, pesto, honey and pepper.

As main course hare fillet, medium baked. Just some pepper and salt after baking it for some minutes on a high temperature. The stew that I served with it I made earlier today. A good stew needs a long time to get really tasteful. The stew was based on beef, but because it would be served with hare, the beef was in small pieces cut. The mashed potatoes where also complete home-made and mixed with a little parsley. And of course some short fried oyster mushrooms!
As wine I served Château La Grave 2006, this is a wine that goes very good with many kinds of game.

As desert some nice cheese. There were three different cheeses: Munster Marikel, Roche Baron and Camembert Rustique. To this a glass of a very enjoyable cognac “Camus Ile de Ré”.
This is very nice way to end a dinner. Chatting while enjoying this cognac and cheese. We sat so almost for an hour together. I love this.

Even if I say myself so, this dinner was very tasteful. And yet, it was not very hard to make. The stew and mashed potatoes needed their time. The rest was rather fast ready. As Miranda always says, the preparations are half of the work.

Now leaning back and watching a nice movie together…

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And as the weekend passes by…

by Rob on

Finally a normal enjoyable weekend without unexpected unwelcome things happening. Not feeling ill (just my throat still hurts a little).
Slowly everything starts to get back to normal. There is new LED projector clock. My BluRay player is back and is working as normal again. Only thing to be done is repairing of the kitchen cupboard. Maybe next weekend…

Marion is asleep on the couch. She was tired, which was not really strange because it was close to 3:00AM this morning before we went to bed. So after a nice evening together she started to fall in sleep all the time. It was kinda sweet to watch, so after a little I made her lay down on the couch and with in minutes she was asleep. Of course the nice temperature in my apartment, the soft music and three glasses of a good cognac helped to that. And that gives me some time to write something on my blog again.

The Christmas Tree is up already. There is some other Christmas decoration in my apartment. First Christmas cards arrived. It always bring a nice atmosphere and enjoyable mood. And I really like it how it feels now in my place.

Just sat with a glass of bock beer listening to the music and watched Marion sleeping on the couch. Such a sweet sight to see.
Maybe it is a nice idea to make a small walk when she wakes up again… Some fresh air might be good. But for now she is still asleep and I will sit here. Enjoy my bock beer, listening to the music and watching her sleeping….
Who said life was bad?

This is one of those weekends that may take a long time to pass...

(Credit photo: Rob)|

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Glad it is back!

by Rob on

A few months ago I bought a “LED Projector Clock”. A small projector with a LED lamp inside. In the projector is also a clock built and the LED light displays through a lens the clock on a wall. I really loved it. It gave such a nice atmosphere…

According the description the LED lamp should be able to burn 40.000 hours. But not the one I had, because it suddenly died. I wrote to the company where I had bought a mail and within an hour I had mail back telling that of everything would be taken care off. All I had to do was returning the LED projector. And so I did…

I was a bit disappointed when some days later I got a mail from them telling me that they would return my money. No explanation why or whatever.

But I didn’t want my money bank, I wanted a LED projector clock back!

So I started to search the Internet and on webshop I had used in the past I found what I wanted and just for a few euro’s more as the old projector clock. There was not much needed to convince me to order the projector clock :).

This weekend it arrived and when I took it out of the box I had to laugh. It was exact the projector I had before, only now the name of the webshop as brand. I didn’t care, I was already very happy to have one back.

And oh Sanne, thank you for placing the projector back on its spot. Marion and I loved to watch you reaching and stretching get it on the right location…. And no complaints, you wanted it yourself to do it :P

(Credit photo: Rob)

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