“SOS Snowbell”

by Sanne on

14 March this year, a new Suske & Wiske album was released. The title of the album is “SOS Snowbell” and is album 343 in the series.

SOS Snowbell

According the official Suske & Wiske-site the story line of the new album:
“John, the nephew of Sidonia, flies on a beautiful day at the kitchen window. He turns out to be changed in a goose! He begs his friends to go with him to his village in Alaska. The magic book of his lovely wife Snowbell has become after many years active again and has Snowbell in its power. The book forces her to turn the people in the village into animals. This way, they give it their souls and let the power of the book grow. It is its intention to change itself into a man, what would give it unlimited power.
Suske, Wiske and their friends leave right away to Alaska to save Snowbell from the clutches of the magic book and its magic spells. But then they are obliged to destroy it and that shows to be an impossible task”

Again, a very good “Suske & Wiske” book. The story line is pleasant to follow and the plot of the story more or less unexpected. Of course there is a lot of humour in story. Personally I think this is one of the better albums since the move to the new style. The new style is something I really had to get used to, but now it is finding its place.

Rob, don’t buy this album. I have read it by now and will give it to Marissa. She would like to read as well and she told me that she and Richard will be visiting you soon. She will bring the album along for you, so you can add it to your collection.

It was a nice read :-)

Publisher: Standaard Uitgeverij
Source citaat: Suske en Wiske op het WWW

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A change to my weblog…

by Rob on

Something will change

Until now the articles on my weblog were written by myself (and every now and then an entry written by Marion). This will change. I have given editor rights to Marissa and Sanne, so they can publish here articles here.
On their own request they want me to review their articles before these are published. Not really needed for me, but if they like that it is fine with me.

Marissa and Sanne are both close friends of Marion and me.

Marissa is a niece of Marion (daughter of her fathers youngest brother). She is working at law firm that once belonged to Marion’s father (who is now retired). Beside her work she is studying laws, which is a great effort to do.
She is, just a me, a gamer (I always call her my “gaming vriendinnetje”). In multi-player games we often team up and this not without success.

Sanne and Marion know each other from the time they went school. They have been close friends ever since. Over time she has become also a close friend to me.
Sanne is working as an teacher at a public school. One of her biggest passion is Tae Kwon-do, a martial arts form she is really advanced in.

Welcome ladies, I am looking forward to your contributions.

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Some time ago Marissa (Marion’s niece and my gaming-friend) were discussing the games we placed in the past. And so I told her about the first real online game I ever played: Ultima Online.
As I played this game a very long time, there were many stories and facts to tell about it. Ultima Online is based on the old standalone games series of Ultima.

By all the details I told Marissa she got curious about the game. So I did the only thing I could do to show her really the old game and that was re-activating one of my old accounts (this account was created in 2001). I showed her around in the game (one has to love fast Internet connections and screen sharing :P). And yes, the graphics are not like modern games as Everquest II or even Grand Theft Auto V. But Marissa was impressed by how detailed the game was. And even I forgot about that.
Running into a dungeon made me realize how hard this game is compared with modern games.

To keep the story short: The Ultima Online-virus got hold of Marissa… and I have to admit, I was captured by it as well again. And now my 3 old accounts are active again. Dimrost picked up his swords again (Dimrost was my main character). Marissa felt in love with Femke, the elven paladin archer on the oldest account (extremely effective and deadly when played well). Sadly Dimrost and Femke are on the same account, so they cannot be play together (you can only play one character of an account at the same time). But on one of the other accounts there is a necromancer called Lucifera who can team up nicely with Dimrost. And yes, they rock and die a lot… as said, this games is so much harder as many of the other games we played together.
The crafters have picked up their jobs again… mining, lumberjacking, carpeting, tailoring, alchemy, tinkering, blacksmithing and more.

We have placed three houses close to each other on the location where I had in the past my house. So it is almost a small village. One house a dedicated as meeting place and the other two are for crafting and storage. For now the three house are kinda empty, but that will change over time. Decorating houses is a real art in Ultima Online.

There has been many changes to the game during the years that I was away. New lands and dungeons were added. Existing dungeons where changed and updated. New races and professions were added. New monsters are roaming the lands. There are new animals to be tamed (one of my main characters is a tamer).

It also nice to show Marissa all the places through the lands, the secret passages and places to see…. And of course the places were not to go (at least not alone). Marissa was in for an surprise when she ran into the dungeon Hyloth and found herself surround by dragons, an occasion her character did not survive. Luckily I could free the place with my tamer and her white wyrm so Marissa could collect the items from the corpse of her character.

It was nice to see that people still meet at the bank of Britain to chat and have fun together. It was a real surprise that some of the old guilds are still around.

The game has not lost its magic and it feels good to be back again.

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Bram Hijmans trail

by Rob on

In 2012 Marion and I made a bicycle ride into the dune-area and we discovered a wonderful small path leading us through the forests. This path was called the “Bram Hijmans-trail”. We had a very enjoyable time over then (see the article A nice bicycle trip… about that).

I learned that Bram Hijmans was a composer from Heemskerk who lived from 1932 to 1996. But when I later tried that find the trail that was named after him again, I failed. I asked quite some people, but no one could really point to it again. Even Google gave only a limited result when searching for it and that what was found did not gave the location of the trial.

Until some days ago, when two persons gave me the information I was searching for. One was a colleague who found on the Internet a PDF with a walking trail that was leading along the “Bram Hijmans pad” (the PDF even contained a map).
Almost at the same time someone from a social media site told me that I just had to follow the “Hondsbosseweg” (which can be found on Google Maps) and that would lead me directly to the “Bram Hijmanspad”.

Yesterday was a very warm day, so we waited until the temperature was bearable again. Marissa and Sanne (who were visiting us) joined Marion and me on our trip bicycle to this “long lost” trail. We made a small detour through Heemskerk and Beverwijk to show Marissa and Sanne some of the nicer things to see around there.

As the map showed and as I was told, the “Hondsbosseweg” leaded indeed directly to a very path that could be very well the trail we were looking for. But as I saw this very old direction sign, I knew we were on the right location. I could remember this sign very well.

While we followed the trail walking next to our bicycles (bicycling is not allowed there) we saw some very nice sights. And even with Heemskerk and Beverwijk really close-by, you got a feeling there to be somewhere in the middle of very big wild reserve and for many kilometres no one is near. I like that feeling. And so did the ladies when I mentioned this to them.

And then finally the complete confirmtation that this is the “Bram Hijmanspad”…

A said, we all enjoyed this little trip into this wonderful area. As Marissa remark, so different as the forests in Twente. She couldn’t find the old oaks and such where she is so used to. But according her it was wonderful to wander here around.

I think I will come here more often and enjoy the area and all that is close to there.

When I bought this camera (Nikon D300s), Marion gave me a GPS module (I still love it very much). And as the GPS module was turned on, I will now always be able to find back the “Bram Hijmanspad” (each pin on the map represents one or more pictures taken on that place).

Back on the normal roads, I realized that it was from there where we were a little trip to Wijk aan Zee. I suggested to the ladies that we go there for some food and drinks. The idea was welcomed very positively as we all were hungry and thristy.

We ended up at beach pavilion Timboektoe. A very nice place to be. After dinner there (although it was already late for dinner), we stayed there rather a long time. The conversation was good and we laughed a lot. Time flies when you are having fun…

Well, another great weekend….

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Nice company and a nice dinner

by Rob on

This weekend Marissa, a niece of Marion, and her friend Tanja stayed with Marion and me at my place. Marissa loved the idea that I am living so close to the sea. As she told me it was for her some time ago that she made a walk along the beach. Of course she was welcome at my place and her friend Tanja, who I have meet some times before, as well.

Apart from all the fun and nice things we had planned for the weekend, something else came up during the last to weeks. As Marion and me, she loves to play online adventure games (so called MMORPG’s, Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). She plays World of Warcraft. I knew this and I have been teasing a lot by telling her that Everquest II (the MMORPG that Marion and I play) was a lot better then World of Warcraft. In the more serious conversations we had about this, it turned out that Marissa was getting a little tired of World of Warcraft. Her clan was dying and she couldn’t find another clan she felt comfortable in. She started to dislike PvP (Player versus Player. the fighting and killing among players themselves). And yes, PvP often attracts jerks.
I told her how these were in Everquest II. That made Marissa already enthusiastic and after seeing some screenshots she really wanted to get to know more about Everquest II.

Anyway, Marissa and Tanja arrived here Friday evening by train. I picked them up from the railroad station here in Heemskerk. Back at my apartment we waited for Marion to arrive. We chatted a bit and had some tea and coffee. After Marion arrived and she had a shower, we did go out for dinner at restaurant Halfweg. Marion and I have been here before, so we knew it was good. It is rather close to where I live. I assumed that the three ladies had enough travelling for one day. The dinner was indeed very good again.

Later that evening while Tanja was chatting with Marion, I showed Marissa a bit of Everquest II. She loved the graphics of the game (which are indeed a lot better then of World of Warcraft). She was amazed by the activity and kindness of the guild where I am part of. No way that someone could force PvP upon you (at least not on the server where we play). The enormous content that the game offers. The rich lore. The houses that you can own decorate in every way you want. At certain point Marissa made the remark that she really would like to switch World of Warcraft for Everquest. She was very serious about that (I did check that).
I, and also Marion, liked the idea to have her playing Everquest. So we bought online for Marissa the Collector Edition of the latest expansion of Everquest II (with digital download). I never seen someone so fast cancelling a subscription for World of Warcraft and create a new subscription for Everquest II.
During the weekend we helped her in some lost hours to help her with the first steps in Everquest II and made sure she made a good start there.

Marissa really the streets of Qeynos, one of the mayor cities in Everquest…

The castle of Queen Antonica Bayle…

The player decorated houses…

Early Saturday morning I waked up by some noises in the living room, where Marissa and Tanja slept. As I heard them talk softly and look through the cupboards in the kitchen, I already had an idea what they were doing. And I was right, they made a very nice breakfast table ready for us. With warm breads and croissants from the baker near by. Eggs, tea, coffee…. everything was there. Marion and I really appreciated this.

Saturday morning we all went for a walk on the beaches north of the town of Castricum. The weather was awesome and it was very enjoyable to walk along the beach. I always love to see the sea and I know that I am not the only one.

In the afternoon the three ladies went shopping in Amsterdam. I wisely stayed home. I have my experiences with Marion and shopping in Amsterdam :P. And this way I could do some things I still needed to do.
The ladies had a great time in Amsterdam and the well filled shopping bags showed that they had been successful. I don’t even start to wonder how much money they did spend :).

Being lazy and tired, we watched a movie in the evening. “I am Number Four” is a good movie. In short the movie is about aliens living here on earth how are hunted by other aliens who occupied the homeworld of those they are hunting. Lots of actions and special effects. Lots of humour. I liked it. And the movie just needs a sequel.
Of course the movie we enjoyed wine, beer and some very snacks as chicken wings, “kroketten”, French bread with garlic butter and more of such.

Sunday morning we all slept kinda long. Very often I go Sundays for a swim. And so this Sunday the four of us went swimming. It was fun… but to be honest, a man alone against 3 women… it is not fair (but still fun).

As so often on Sundays I made a nice dinner. But cooking for 4 persons is something else then cooking for 2. Specially by preparing the meat…

The meat was a very fine kind of beef (something like a steak, but then of a special breed of bovine). It was baked very shortly in some oil until all of the outside was nicely brown. After that it was wrapped up in aluminium foil and placed in the oven for 20 minutes on a heat of 180 degrees Celsius. It was very soft and nice of taste.
The sauce on the meat was made of fine cut oyster mushrooms, flower, fried unions, pepper, milk and cooks cream. Some shortly fried oyster mushrooms were place on the meat before putting the sauce all over it.
The mashed potatoes were home made. To give it a very nice taste shallots and thyme were added. And on top it after serving some parsley.
A mixture of kinds of lettuce was enriched with a dressing of honey, mustard and little oil.
Also a mixture of fine cut eggplant, zucchini, tomato paste, unions, red paprika, salt, garlic, thyme and olive oil was added. This mixture was shortly cooked it all was nicely warm.
To make it all complete some apple sauce with cinnamon was added.

As said, it was all very tasteful. Specially the meat was very nice (and so it should, it was not cheap at al). I was wasn’t dissatisfied at all.

After dinner everyone helped to clean up again, so my house was all tidy again. Some coffee and tea and then the time arrived to bring Marissa and Tanja back to the train to would bring them home.

Although I had great weekend that I enjoyed a lot, I was happy that we could spend the Sunday evening just with the two of us. Some moments together are just as important! But Marissa and Tanja are always welcome again. They are really good company!

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