Around 50 kilometers North of Birmingham, in the county of Shropshire (West Midlands), lays a small idyllic English town called Beckbury.

Beckbury has a special meaning to me. It was the first town outside The Netherlands, where I travelled as 17 year girl (almost 18!!!) alone, without my parents or anyone else. It was also the first plane flight that I made alone (not knowing that so many would follow).
Maybe nowadays that is nothing special anymore, but more as 30 years ago it was.


So what had a young girl to do all alone in Beckbury?

Earlier that year I have been on a holiday to the Egypt with my parents (beautiful country, although with the current situation there not a choice of mine anymore). There I met an English girl from my age who was staying there with her parents as well, Kathy was her name. Kathy and I spent during that holiday a lot time together. And so Kathy and I became friends.

At the end of that holiday Kathy and her parents invited me to come and visit them in England. And of course, as you most likely already understood they lived in the town of Beckbury. Later that year I visited Kathy and had a wonderful two weeks at her place. She and her parents really made me feel welcome. They proudly showed me around in their hometown and the surrounding area.

Kathy and I sent for a long time each other letters (e-mail was not commonly around yet). But as it happens so often, the time between the letters slowly became longer and longer, until no letters were sent at all any more.

 St. Milburga's Church, Badger Lane, Beckbury

And then suddenly a few weeks ago a mail arrived in my mailbox informing if I was the “Marion from Haaksbergen who spent a holiday in Egypt and visited Beckbury to meet the girl she met in Egypt”. Well, that was me! And of course this mail was sent by Kathy!.

By pure coincidence she ended up on our weblog and wondered if I were the Marion she knew from the past.

Kathy is married now and mother of three fine children (two girls and a boy, which is already married himself).
Seems she made her dream come true and is now working as a biologist for a governmental organization. Already when I first met her, she had something with languages.

The Seven Stars

It was a big surprise when Kathy told me that The Seven Stars still existed. While I stayed in Beckbury The Seven Stars was the pub where we stayed almost every evening, played pool and teased the guys of our age. I am pretty sure we left some guys behind with *coughs* “hurt feelings”. Yes, we were young and mean! :-)

Recently I had to be for my work in Birmingham. Kathy and I met for dinner. It was very nice to meet again. We had good laughs about our evenings at The Seven Stars. The nice walks we had in the surroundings of Beckbury.

We remember well our visit to the city of Telford. Such a wonderful place for two girls to wander around. Well, under the secure eye of Kathy’s father that is :-).

Crooked House

And oh, The Crooked House in Dudley! Kathy’s parents took us there. It is the most amazing and weird pub I have ever seen (and I have seen some since then). The Crooked House was built in 1765 and was originally a farmhouse. During the 1800s, mining in the area caused one side of the building to begin gradually sinking. The building was condemned as unsafe in the 1940s and was scheduled for demolition. Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries purchased the pub and rescued it by making the structure safe using buttresses and girders so as to retain its lopsided appearance.

Once inside your brain tries to correct everything you see to that what ought to be normal and it will show a different truth. Things you see standing straight, aren’t standing straight. A ball on the floor seems to cheat gravity and rolls upwards a floor, but it is your brain that is fooling you, the floor is really going down. Such an amazing place!

Iron Bridge

Of the places that Kathy and I visited back then, there is one place that should be mentioned: Iron Bridge. The Iron Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England. Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, and was greatly celebrated after construction owing to its use of the new material.
The photo of the bridge is a postcard that I sent to my parents during my stay at Kathy’s place.

It is stated that the Iron Bridge is the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The Iron Bridge Gorge Museums made already back then a big impression on me. The museums that tell the history of industry were awesome to vist and when I look at their website it has even become more awesome.

So why I am writing all this about Beckbury and the highlights of the surrounding area?

Well, on very short term Rob and I will fly to England. We will visit Kathy and her family. For sure we will go to The Seven Stars. But also The Crooked House and the Iron Bridge Gorge Museums we will be visiting.

We both are already looking very much forward to it!





Satelite Map: Google
Photo St. Milburga’s Church : P L Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photo The Seven Stars : Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Photo Crooked House: Chris Baker

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My ethnic origin

by Rob on

The result of the DNA test came in and, as I already expected I am on this matter boring: I’m 100% North and West European. No exciting branches into Africa or South America (a pity, I would have liked that). No touch of Greece (now that would have been a real bonus, but alas). Just West and North Europe, meaning The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France.

So the stories about Gipsy blood from South Europe in our family line? Not correct. Fully disproven now.


This is what is said about the North and West European ethnicity:
“The population of Northern and Western Europe mainly includes German, French, and Dutch people. This region has been influenced by significant historical events including the formation of the Catholic Church, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Industrial Revolution. Imperial conquests and the age of colonization have spread Northern and Western European peoples across the globe, with significant populations across the Americas and in parts of Africa and Oceania. The area is the birthplace of Western culture, including innovations in art, literature, philosophy, and scientific methodology that have become standard around the world. In particular, Western Europeans take food very seriously. European culinary practices and dining etiquette are highly developed, with artisanal wine and cheese-making, pastry baking, and cooking having been elevated to an art.”

So as said, I am a boring European according my DNA.

But there was also something not so boring, based on my DNA a match to a 1st line niece, which is confirmed by the an ancestral surname (and one other that I know is in our family tree). I will disclose any names or anything alike here (yes, you know that I am a privacy freak :P). How cool is that?
And to make it even less boring, there were now 4167 DNA matches with other, more distant, relatives. Very interesting indeed.

I might dive deeper into this all. It is very interesting indeed.

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Far Cry 5

by Rob on

End of March the game “Far Cry 5” was released, a game that I was really looking forward to. But sadly at that time I was without computer (remember that my old computer died completely?). But when my new computer was in and after basic configuration was done, I bought that game through Steam.

The story of the game is simple, a religious heavy armed sect controls Hope County, a fictional county in the state of Montana, United States, and is the main setting of Far Cry 5. Your task as deputy is to free Hope County from this sect.

Sounds simple, but it you will find quite some difficulties on your travels around. If it are not the sect members that are causing trouble, then it are the bears and the other animals that are after you.

Far Cry 5

While playing the game you will do all kinds of quests (and side quests) that should lead to the downfall of the Seed family, who lead this sect. The quests vary in many different tasks, from freeing outposts and helping captured citizen to stealing back trucks.
The difficulty of the quests also varies from easy to some that will include several deaths. You can hire NPC’s (None Player Characters, so characters controlled by the game) or play together with someone who also owns the game. The later is what Marissa and I will be doing a lot after we mastered the basics of the game.

Far Cry 5

Weapons come many different kinds. From shotguns and assault rifles to crossbows. And side of that, many kinds of grenades and Molotov cocktails. For now my favourite combo is the sniper rifle and an automatic handgun. And oh, let’s not forget the metal baseball bat :-).
If understood correctly Marissa goes more for the shotgun!

Far Cry 5

There are many ways to travel in Far Cry 5. Of course, there is always the option to go by foot.
But by car, squad, boat, helicopter or plane may be more effective and certainly more fun.
When driving you are able to use your handgun. It is so much fun to kill sect members when you are racing over the streets. Just driving over them is always on option :-).

But it is good to remember that what you can do, the enemy can do that as well. So an attack from a helicopter or air plane is very possible…

Far Cry 5

And then there are these moments that you think: “Did I really see that?”. You look again and yes, you really saw that… (Remember the game is for 18 years and older, this is not without a reason).

Car Cry 5

And oh, I didn’t shoot the bull or the cow :-).

The graphics of the game are really awesome. Of course the new graphic card in my computer helps with this, but without good graphics in the game the graphic card won’t do anything.

I will place some pictures of some in-game landscapes that I really like.

Car Cry 5 Car Cry 5 Car Cry 5 Car Cry 5 Rob
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There are things that you never hope will happen, but last week one of these things happened. Someone of our group was targeted and photo’s of her Facebook Timeline were copied into a fake account. For what reason? I don’t know and basically I don’t care. The account is not active no more and that is the only thing that counts.

To who of the ladies in our group this happened is not important. She is already shocked enough about this. Basically, we all are. Emotions within our group go from unbelief to anger.

How could this happen as all the photo’s were “friends only”?
First, what could be that one the “friends” was not as trustworthy as was assumed.
Or one of the friends doesn’t have the security on Facebook as tight as it should be and specially for Facebook goes the “as strong as the weakest link”-principle.

On request I checked, together with the people in our group, all the Facebook configurations and changed it where needed. Specially the privacy settings got a close look.
The result was that friend lists got cleaned up to people who one can trust. Photo’s got cleaned up, many photo’s were removed from Facebook.
As last all the profile pictures of the ladies in the group were changed into a photo or picture of something else.

Miranda was the only exception in this as her profile picture is the only photo of herself on Facebook. She has only her Facebook account to see what the others of our group post and to react on that.

For the same reason I have placed our weblog in “maintenance mode”.
For the members of the group who had there a photo of themselves as avatar-picture, I replaced those with a picture of their zodiac sign (not that anyone of us believes in astrology or anything alike, but it is a bit of fun this way).
With the help of the others, we scanned through the content of the weblog (thank you for that). Although at times there is written about private subjects, there were only a few articles that we declared “private” (so only certain registered members can read them).
With knowing this I will set our weblog to “public” again.

Within the group we will discus if we can do anything more to prevent things like this.

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