I was there!

Utrecht… and a surprise

by Rob on

Marion suggested some weeks ago to go sometime to the city of Utrecht again. Utrecht is a beautiful city to have a good walk, visit some shops and enjoy some good food.
I found this a very good idea and so we planned already a few weeks ago to go there today.

As we do very often, we went by train. No stress of the traffic, no being annoyed by other folks on the road, no parking problems and wine or beer by a dinner is no problem at all.
Marion suggested to bring along my camera, because Utrecht is, as said, a wonderful city.

Once we arrived at the central rail road station of Utrecht, Marion pulled me in the direction of Starbucks, because she wanted badly some coffee.
Maybe she really wanted coffee, but that was not the main reason to go to Starbucks. Because on the moment we walked in I saw to my surprise, Marissa and Richard sitting at a table.
It was so obvious that this was all planned this way. But Marissa and Richard are good company and more than welcome to join us on our visit to Utrecht.

After enjoying the coffee and some chatting, Marion suddenly said that we had to hurry a bit to get the next train.
At that moment I was really confused. What next train? We were already where we had planned to go.
I was just told to come along and so I did, wondering what was going on.
We got on the train in the direction of the Hague. Marissa explained that we just had to the next station in another part of Utrecht. She opened up her handbag and took out 4 tickets for “Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition”.

I was so pleasantly surprised.This is so typical Marion. I mentioned a long time ago, when this exhibition was announced, that I would like to go there. I almost forgot about it, but Marion didn’t and planned this day together with Marissa and Richard (Marissa is just as me a Star Wars fan). Really awesome.

Fun fact: When I was driving yesterday home with a colleague and I mentioned that we would go to Utrecht, his first remark was about the Star Wars exhibition. And I told him that we would not go there, but that we would visit the city itself.

Star Wars

The exhibition was truly awesome. For someone like me (or as Marissa) who really love the Star Wars sagas, this is wandering through a daydream. Maybe what it made even more special is that many of items that were on display were actually used in the movies.


I have learned many things about Star Wars that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that eyes of Yoda where based on the eyes of Albert Einstein, to show great wisdom. And that his name was created by playing around with words. It also seemed that George Lucas and the people he worked with had trouble with designing the way Yoda would look.
Also I didn’t know that Jabba the Hutt was first a character that walked on two legs, instead of this super sized snail. And there were 3 persons in the puppet of Jabba to make him move in a natural way as possible.

Star Wars

There was an audio guide available. I must say that it was one of the best audio guides I have seen at an exhibition or museum (and I have seen some by now).
When you got close to an item that was covered in the tour, the device started to play automatically (you could also recognize these areas by markings on the floor).

It described in a very good and understandable about what makes the identity, covering some scientific and biological background. There was really something to learn. And all of course in references with the Star Wars stories.

Han Solo

To make it even more interactive, every visitor got a bracelet. Throughout the tour the bracelet could be used to store the result of questions that would determine your Star Wars identity.
I became the most cuddly creature of the universe, an Ewok Jedi. Marissa a human princess (of course). And Richard a Wookie mercenary.
And Marion? She complained that we always call her evil and so she answered all the questions in the most evil way and became indeed a Sith Knight :-).

Star Wars

The exhibition was really awesome We all enjoyed it very much.

Afterwards we had dinner together at restaurant “De Zwarte Vosch”, a place Marion and I knew already. A very nice restaurant to be with friends.

And then the time to say goodbye again. Marissa and Richard travelled back to Twente, while Marion and I moved back to North Holland. But it was a wonderful day well spent!

Trooper Star Wars Star Wars Fighter Rob
Expo Utrecht - Star Wars Identities The Exhibition
Restaurant De Zwarte Vosch

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by Marion on

Europe has many wonderful cities, but some are really special. These are beautiful cities as our own Amsterdam, but also Vienna and Prague. And for me the city where I am right now, Leipzig.
I have been here now several times for my work and two times together with Rob (as extension of a working week here for me). And Rob has here been also once with a friend for an concert. But I have strong urge and desire to be here soon together with Rob again.


Leipzig is the largest city in the federal state of Saxony. Leipzig has been a trade city since at least the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The city sits at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important medieval trade routes. Leipzig was once one of the major European centers of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing.

Since the reunification of Germany, Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of some historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure.
But still you can see in Leipzig a very modern new building next to an old dilapidated ones. It is an unique sight and I never have seen it as in Leipzig.

Trivia fact: The “Grote zaal van Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam” was based on the great concert hall of the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, destroyed during the Second World War. This in terms of design and materials used.


Leipzig is such a beautiful city to make long walks and enjoy the old and new buildings you can see all through the city. There are small architectural wonders.
There is a lovely, very modern zoo. This is still one of the places that I would love to show Rob.
There are some great shopping malls with shops for everyone. And lets not forget the many very nice shops at the Hauptbahnhof.
Also this is the city for concerts, for modern and classical music. But specially here I love to go to classical concerts, it is like the whole city is breathing it. One day I will be taking Rob to a piano convert here. He will be wearing a smoking and I a very nice gala-dress. And we will have a very special evening together. One of my own little silly dreams.


Leipzig is one the cities that owns a little part of my heart.




(Credit photo’s: Marion)

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Artis, zoo of Amsterdam

by Rob on

Yesterday Marissa, Marion and I visited Artis. Artis is a zoo located in the city of Amsterdam. The weather yesterday was extreme nice, which added greatly to the mood of our visit. Because of the good weather it was also quite busy at Artis, but luckily not too crowded. It was very nice to wander all over the zoo, sitting down at some places to enjoy a certain view. Have something to drink at the right moments. Or a ice cream or a nice snack.
The ladies gave me a compliment that managed to share my attention between them and my camera in a good balanced way. At time when I have my camera with my I tend to focus to much on my camera. I think that the recent trips to Greece helped to find the correct balance in this.

On this page you can read about the history of Artis, which is a interesting read as Artis is old zoo. When you look around during a walk over the zoo you can see that the zoo is an older zoo. But luckily it is also very visible that they are very busy to change a lot to to the benefit of the animals.

I think I made some nice photo’s during our visit to the zoo. Please find below the photo’s I like best. You can click on the photo’s to see a larger version of the photo.





(Credit photo’s: Marissa & Rob)

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Amsterdam EXPO is no more….

by Rob on

At times I like to visit exhibitions and museums. It is a great way to expand your knowledge about all kind of subjects like history, art or biology. And some exhibitions are just great fun. One of the places I always loved to go for exhibitions was the Amsterdam EXPO (Amsterdam South, at the so-called “Zuid-As”). It was a museum for traveling exhibitions.

Just today I thought it would be nice to visit a museum or exhibition in one of the coming weeks. So I looked up which exhibition there was currently at the Amsterdam EXPO. It was an unpleasant surprised to read that Amsterdam EXPO was closed. Not temporary, but permanent and this already for some time. The organisation went bankrupt because there were not enough visitors to the exhibitions.

I think this is a big lose, because the exhibitions that were displayed here were understandable for everyone and not for just a small audience.

Below the exhibitions that I visited at the Amsterdam EXPO (the 3 pictures where made by me).

It is an pitty indeed!

Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures (Ran from 29.11.2012 – 05.05.2013)

“Tutankhamun, His Tomb and His Treasures recreated the treasures from the time of the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Three of the chambers found in the Boy King’s burial tomb were identically reconstructed based on sketches and notes made by Howard Carter and images taken by Harry Burton, the expedition’s photographer. These chambers displayed reproductions of the most sumptuous objects including jewels, amulets, cases, chairs, weapons, a sensational golden chariot, enormous gilded shrines and, of course, King Tut’s famous death mask.

The replicas were produced by the best Egyptian craftsmen and approved by internationally renowned scientists and Egyptologists. Multimedia presentations allowed visitors to delve into the religious and cultural traditions of ancient Egypt. Ninety years after its discovery, Tutankhamun’s tomb was revealed once again, allowing visitors to relive the moment at Amsterdam EXPO.”

The Art of the Brick (Ran from 29.05.2014 – 26.10.2014)

“Hailed by CNN as one of the world’s 10 must-see exhibitions, The Art of the Brick featured over seventy-five sculptures created from more than a million LEGO® bricks. A fun-filled exhibition for visitors of all ages, The Art of the Brick welcomed everyone from LEGO fans to art lovers.

Created by US artist Nathan Sawaya, the LEGO® brick sculptures on display were all original, life-sized pieces ranging from a six-meter long T-Rex skeleton constructed from 80,020 bricks to some of the world’s most famous art works by Da Vinci, Vermeer and Rembrandt transformed into 2D and 3D LEGO sculptures. The exhibition even boasted a Play Zone where visitors of all ages had a chance to explore their creativity using the iconic bricks”

Giants of the Ice Age (Ran from 27.11.2014 – 01.03.2014)

The mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, woolly rhinoceros, cave bear and cave lion – see ‘the Big Five’ of the ice age right here in the Netherlands. For 30,000 years, these giants roamed the country’s prehistoric wilderness. Now they’re returning to Amsterdam. The adventure is almost here!

The exhibition features the original skeleton of a woolly mammoth exhibited for the first time in Europe and a variety of remains and fossils dating back tens of thousands of years. It also reveals the sad story of baby mammoth Lyuba, who was trapped in a muddy river bank and left behind by her herd. As the best preserved mammoth ever found, she has provided scientists with a treasure trove of information. An exact replica of Lyuba is on display as part of the exhibition.

(Credit photo’s: Rob)

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Today I visited the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam again. Yes, I have been there before. But the Hortus Botanicus is one of those places that you (well, at least me) keep returning to. Every part of the year makes the Hortus very different.
I went there alone today. Marion is away for the weekend. And this was okay, because I had a certain goal for my visit at the Hortus. I wanted to use my macro-lens (a Nikkor AF-S Micro 105mm 1:2.8G ED) to its full extend. So it was good to be alone, so I could fully concentrate on my camera (and don’t get me wrong: I love to have Marion around, but then I will be easily distracted :p).

Okay, first let clear up the common misunderstanding that with a macro lens you can only make really close to the subject of the picture. This is not the case. As this lens has a fixed focus, it is all about the distance between the camera and the subject.
Anyway, during my visit at the Hortus my macro lens has been 95% of the time been mounted to my camera.

one of the nicest things about macro photography is that you often see things that you didn’t noticed when just looking at the subject. Of course the magnification is here an important reason for this. But also having a not changing image you can concentrate on is in my opinion an explanation for this.
Anyway, just has you learn to see thing through photography, you learn to see details by macro photography.

Of course is a place like the Hortus Botanicus with all the plants, flowers and trees just perfect for taking macro pictures. There are so many things there that are great for a macro shot.
Some times I almost feel as an sniper: Make your body as stable, aim carefully, take a deep breath and let it go, stop breathing for a moment and take the picture…. :-).

Anyway, I had a great time roaming around at the Hortus Botanicus. Made almost 750 pictures. Many nice pictures and even some that I really like!

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“Recreatie-vijver” Haaksbergen

by Rob on

This weekend Marion and I made a nice walk at the large pond just outside Haaksbergen known as “De Recreatie-vijver” (The Recreation Pond). But folks from Haaksbergen will most likely know it better as “De Bergingsvijver” (The Storage Pond).

This pond is artificial and was created in 1975. The goal of this pond was to store water in to prevent the flooding of the nearby streets. Hence the original name “Storage Pond”.

In the years that followed it turned out that this pond had also a very high recreational value. In the winter people came there to skate. And in the summer it was very nice to swim and to fish. The area is also wonderful to wander around. As the pond is rather deep, it turned out that swimming was too dangerous and is nowadays forbidden.
But still it is good place to fish. There are even some fishing spots created for people with a physical handicap.

The surrounding now more like a park. Big trees, bushes and nice lawns to saunter around on and seats to take a break

Many different kind of birds can be found around the pond. One of the two islands in the pond is normally not accesable by humans to offer an safe breeding spot for these birds.

Although it is nowadays forbidden, it was here where I as a young boy learned to swim. It was also one of the very few places where I fished (if I remember well, I fished twice in my life and once of those two times here at “De Bergingsvijver”). And it was of course a nice place to hang around with friends on warm days.
Marion also had memories of swimming here when she was young. She also remembered that as a young girl she took “her lovers” there. But she assured me that not much happened then apart from some shy kisses.

It was nice to walk there with all the memories coming back. Is it not awesome that we still have so many new things to tell each other?

“De Bergingsvijver”, or lets use its current name, “De Recreatievijver”, is now part of a big area meant for recreation. There are sportsfields for soccer, hockey and athletics. One can play tennis. The old “Oosterdorper” watermil is there, as is the old park “Het Scholtehagen”. There is modern swimming paradice. And a very good steakhouse.

I really can enjoy it to visit these places of the past. They bring back memories you almost forgot that you had them. Specially when you can share these memories with someone special.

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Some weeks ago Patrick contacted me and told me that he wanted to go concert of Moya Brennan. She and Cormac De Barra would perform in Paradiso. And well, Paradiso is not that far away from where I live.
The name Brennan sounded familiar to me, but I could not place it. When Patrick mentioned names as Enya and Clannad my interest was wakened. He was convinced that I would love it. I think Patrick kinda knows what kind of music I like, so I trusted him

Patrick arrived last Sunday in the end of the afternoon. Always good to see my old pal again. I have been bragging about the spare ribs we have over here, so I to proof my claim I ordered yesterday spare ribs for us. And he had to admit that these spare ribs are pretty good.
Our plan was to go by train to Amsterdam, but when we checked the website of the railroad company, it turned out that they were working on the railroads and that we had to face delays while travelling with the train. So Patrick suggested to go by car. Normally you would not thinking of going by car to a city as Amsterdam. But Patrick told me about these special parking places outside the center of Amsterdam where you can parked you car 24 hours for € 8,00 and have free travelling by public transport into the city itself. Great stuff which might be handy for Marion and me when go to Amsterdam and are not sure we will catch the last train back to Heemskerk.

Moya Brennan, born Máire Ní Bhraonáin, also known as Máire Brennan (born 4 August 1952), is an Irish folk singer, songwriter, harpist, and philanthropist. She began performing professionally in 1970 when her family formed the band Clannad, and is now widely considered as the “First Lady of Celtic Music”.

Cormac de Barra is a harpist, singer and television presenter. They (and the others of the band of course) play some wonderful music where two harps have a very important role. The kind of music they play is Irish folk music, which I really like.

I hear often people claim that they love to listen to the France language. Well, I don’t. But then again, I just love to listen to people talking or singing in the Irish language. And even I cannot understand a single word of it, it just sounds wonderful. One just can hear how rich and full of history this language is.

While listening to the music, I wondered more than once where that bass guitar was hidden. By carefully watching I learned that a bass guitar can learn something of a harp. What a bass sound a harp can make.

Very nice where the explanations that were given about the songs, often told in way one had to laugh about it. I really liked that. Also you could the way they exchanged smiles, laughs and jokes that they were really having fun with what they were doing. Something that adds to the quality of the performance.

Afterwards there was the opportunity to have CD’s and such signed. Apart from that having a signed CD is nice, I always like the contact you can have with the artist you like (hence you wouldn’t want to have a CD with her/his music). Moya and Cormac took their time to talk a bit with people. Really nice.
As I really liked the music and the performance, I bought 3 CD’s of them (including their latest CD “Afinnity”) and they were so kind to sign all 3 of them.

And oh Marion, these are 3 signed CD’s…. *grins evilly*

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I really did forget about this…

Before Marion left for her yearly break to Hawaii, we had a nice Sunday evening together in Amsterdam. First we had dinner at a very good steakhouse of who I sadly the name forgot. But the main attraction of the evening was a performance of “Faun”, which was in “De Melkweg”.

“Faun” is a German pagan folk band, Faun incorporate medieval instruments and themes along with a contemporary electronic musical sheen, founded in 2002 in Munich. Marion really likes their music and it of because of her that I got to know this band. And I really have to to say that also can enjoy their music very much.

Their performance was really awesome. And it was great to see how much Marion enjoyed their performance. Marion normally doesn’t go along that often to concerts, but this was one she really didn’t want to miss. And I was happy that we could do this together before she left for 3 weeks.

As Marion owns already some of their albums, I bought an older one… and had it signed :P

After the concert we made a nice long walk through Amsterdam, before we went back to Heemskerk. Back home we did spend some time together, until we had to go to bed. After Marion needed some sleep before she left for Hawaii….

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Every now and then some of the folks of the team where I work in go somewhere to have some beers together, often combined with a good dinner. It is good to share time with your direct colleagues outside the company and have some fun. And of course other colleagues are welcome to come along if they like to.
In the past we often went to the Irish bar Mulligans, which was always fun. But it is good to visit other places as well. So this time we went to , a beer cafe in Amsterdam.

“De Zotte” is a nice place to be. Their collection of beers is very nice and I enjoyed some of the triple ones. And I saw the others have some very interesting beers. So there were enough beers for future reference.
One of the very nice things I like about this kind of evenings is that the conversations end up on very surprising subjects.

I cannot speak for the others, but I really enjoyed the steak I had at “De Zotte”. It was good and just as a medium steak should be. Same could be said about the Irish Coffee I had afterwards.

I love to drink some beer, even stronger beers, but luckily I know when to stop. As said, I love to drink some beers or a good whisky, but it not worth to me to feel bad next day or have a hang over. So I stopped with the alcohol and switched over to cola.

Like I said before, “De Zotte” is a very nice place. But it was so busy there yesterday, that at a certain moment all the noise of the talking people and the music made it hard for me to follow the on going conversations. Seemed I was not the only one. So the last of us (Menno, Gerben, Tom and I) moved to a more quiet bar at “Het Leidseplein”. There it was much better to have some talk and discussions.

Anyway, Tom and I left close to midnight to catch the last train in the direction of Heemskerk and managed to prevent that we had to walk from Uitgeest to Heemskerk (what happened some time earlier). But it was a nice evening spent with colleagues.

Once home, I found that Marion was already asleep. And right she was, no reason to stay up as it was very unclear at what time I would arrive home. To my surprise Sanne was already there as well. I expected her to arrive today, but a good friend as Sanne is always welcome at my place. Both of them were already deeply asleep, so very quietly I also went to sleep.

On a side note, yesterday it was women’s day… but today is my women’s day. Tonight I will have 4 women here staying at my place for the night (Tanja, Marissa, Sanne and Marion)… Oh what? That isn’t the meaning of women’s day??? Oh darn… :)
Anyway, the 4 ladies are going today to Amsterdam to shop and I stay very wisely away from that, but I wished the weather would be better. It is raining and that is not very nice for shopping I think. But I am sure the four of them will have a good time in Amsterdam.
And for tonight I will take care that there is something nice to drink and some good snacks around. It will be a nice evening. I am sure of that.

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I already talked here on my blog about the Hip Hop/Rap artist Blaxtar (who is also my colleague Kevin). Although his music style is not completely mine, I am very impressed by the things he does.
For example he is the man behind poetry concert “Spoken”, where text-writers, poets and other people who do magic with words present there own work on stage. There is room for questions to be asked. A very nice initiative!

Some time ago Kevin was telling about one of the next “Spoken”-performances and mentioned that Ellen ten Damme would be there. Anyone who knows me a little bit knows that I think that Ellen ten Damme is a great artist and that for several reason.
At concerts it is often not allowed to use good camera’s (DSLR’s and such). So more out of fun than serious I asked Kevin he could not arrange that I could take my DSLR along and make pictures of this performance. To my surprise he said straight away that he could.
Well, that was great, because that was still one of the things I wanted to do: Making pictures with a decent camera at an concert!!!

Tom (also a colleague and interested in photography) was also interested in this and for Kevin it was no problem that he would come along. Tom is good company, so that was okay for as well. Another advantage for me was that Tom has a nice collections of lenses. And as we both own Nikon DX camera’s, I could try some his lenses as well (which is nice because I am planning soon to buy a new lens for my camera).

Apart from Ellen ten Damme, also Ad Visser (youth hero for me because he presented way back the music program Top Pop) and Jörgen Raymann (who has a great sense of humor, but also seems to have a clear opinion on matters) performed. At least these were the artists that were known to me. But Unorthadox, Manu van Kersbergen and Eva Cortes made their presence on the stage.

The performance yesterday itself was awesome. It was great to watch these people and present their own work. A lot respect for them and the way they can handle words. Many true words were said, but there was also enough to laugh about. A combination I really like. I would highly recommend this poetry concert to anyone who love the written (and in this chase specially the spoken) word.

The taken of the pictures was not easy… little light and movement. So a very high ISO value was really needed. I had a look at the pictures I made. Some will go directly to the recycle bin, but others need a little work on them and then make it in to nice pictures. Good thing these pictures were taken in RAW (a special picture format that allows many corrections to the picture). But that will be a lot of work, which is of course not a problem as I knew that on forehand.

As I agreed with Kevin, I will wait on his okay and then I will post here some of the pictures I made yesterday. He wanted to discuse this with all that are somehow involved. Very understandable.

But as I already expected, Ellen ten Damme was signing CD’s and such. I hadn’t her last CD signed yet, so this was the opportunity. As it was not really busy, there was some room to talk. Ellen could remember me from visiting her concerts, but she had not expected me there. I explained that ended up there because I knew Kevin. And because of that we also talked a little about the work I do. Nice.

So Marion…. there it is. Another signed CD *grins*

And no, Ellen doesn’t have to worry (see below). A new show or a new CD and I will be dropping by :-)

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