Check mate and about cactuses

by Rob on

This weekend Sanne was visiting us. For those who don’t know, Sanne and Marion are already since they went to school very close friends. And nowadays I am happy that I can also call her a very good friend of mine.

Sanne and I share a passion together: Chess.

Now several years ago Sanne asked me to help her to raise her skills in playing chess. In the past I played chess on competition level, so that is why she asked me. So I did.
Over the years Sanne turned into an opponent to be reckoned with. Something I really like, because that makes a game of chess so much more interesting.

(Click on the image to zoom in)

So when Sanne visits us, mostly we will sit down for a game of chess. And so we did yesterday evening. So while Marion enjoyed herself with a good book and a glass of excellent wine, we played our game of chess. It was a good game, exciting to the end. It looked for the longest time that Sanne would sweep me from the board, but then she made a small mistake and everything changed. I was able to restore my defence and opened a new attack. The result was that I could force Sanne to a check mate. But this only because of this small mistake she made and this is exactly what I like about the chess game: Nothing is set until the very end.

When Sanne and I play chess, we agree on forehand on a reward for the winner. If I would have lost, I would wash and clean Sanne’s car. But luckily I didn’t lose and now Sanne will be my guide on very early morning photo-trip into the “Haaksbergerveen” (The “Haaksbergerveen” is a large and beautiful moor in the eastern part of The Netherlands and Sanne knows her way very well around there as she lived for the most of her life almost next to it).

(Click on the image to zoom in)

Also Sanne bought a small gift. She overheard me saying that I needed a new plant for on the coffee table. She also know that I always liked cactuses and nowadays they are quite popular again. So when she saw the this scale with cactuses at a local store she bought it for us. And I have to say that I really like it. It looks very nice on the coffee table.

And so we had a very nice weekend with the three of us. Of course we did a lot more than only playing chess. We had dinner a very good steakhouse here in town, we made a nice long beach walk and we had many laughs together.

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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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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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As I already have told before, I really love the chess game. I believe I also told here before that I have played chess for several years on competition level.

For the last time I am playing chess with Sanne (a common friend of Marion and me). Sending each move by mail, text-message or Skype. Basically I have learned Sanne to play chess. And she is a clear example of a student who becomes better as the teacher. Yes, she has become a very good chess player and that makes it a challenge to play with her. That is making things of course interesting.

This weekend Sanne was visiting me to play some games of chess. Playing on distance and exchanging the moves by text-messages or something like that is fun. But it is so much better to sit in front of each other and play the game real-time. I can enjoy this so much. The long silences while studying the situation on the chess board. The carefully over thinking the consequences of a move. I love it.

Both games we played were great games. Real challenges that needed a long time to complete… as it should with a game of chess.
I liked it that we both won one of the two games we played. The game of Friday night I won, but I really have to admit that is was a though game. Sanne’s defence were strong, her attacks clever and well thought over. Just by a trick I won. She thought I made a mistake and missed a change for her to take my queen… but it was not a mistake, but a well calculate move to would lead to make her king vulnerable and that gave me the advantage.
The game we played yesterday evening was maybe even more spectacular. Both our defences were very strong. With teases and pokes we tried to the other to provoke an attack, but none of us reacted on that. But with all this I created a small weak spot in my defence and Sanne took fully advantage of that. That was the beginning of the end :-). Very well-played!!

It is always funny how many people react when I tell them that Sanne will stay at my place while Marion is not here… and even worse, she will stay overnight here! I am pretty sure that many think that just friendship between a man and a woman is not possible when one of them is a relation with someone else. Nonsense in my opinion. Sanne and I are the proof of that. People should not always think the most bad of something.

Anyway, I had a very nice weekend with these chess games. And of course the walk with Sanne’s “Drentse patrijs” along the beach was also very nice. We agreed that we should have this kind of weekends we should have more often. And we will!

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Life is there… to play chess

by Rob on

During Easter is Sanne, a very good friend of Marion and me, staying at my place. Sanne is always a welcome quest. She is fun to have around, good to talk with and always helpful.

Already some time ago when Sanne was also here at my place, she noticed my old chess board standing beside the couch. She asked about it and I told her that when I was younger, I played often chess. Even on competition level.
Sanne knew the basic rules of chess, but she would love to learn more about it. So we took the chess board and chess pieces and sat down to have a closer look at the game.

It was fun for me to be busy with chess again. And Sanne loved it and really wanted to learn more about the game. So we decided to play “chess on distance”. We both placed a chess board in our living rooms and sent each the moves by mail, text messages of things alike. I think I can say that we both enjoyed playing chess this way. And thing is, Sanne is a very good student. She picks things up very fast and was soon a good competition for me, which I really liked.

But now with Sanne here in Heemskerk, we decided to play some “normal” games of chess.

With some nice snacks, a good red wine for and Sanne and for me some beers, we played yesterday evening two games of chess. The first was stalemate and the second one was won by me. Both games we more than challenging. And I only won the second game because I managed to recapture a queen.
As said, a great way to spend the evening. I enjoyed it very much.

Another nice thing is that Sanne brought one of her dogs around (a “Drent”). So apart from the normal walks that dogs needs, we also will go (if the weather allows it) one of these days for a nice walk to one of the beaches around here. Fun for dog and human :-)

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Life is there for… 2013!!!

by Rob on

And then suddenly it is 2013…

Last year I had basically only one new years resolution and that was not to throw as much food away as I used to do. I really managed to do that.
I take a bit more care of the amounts of food I buy. Which can be a bit hard at times, because mostly through out of the week I only need to buy food for one person and many things are not available in packages for one person (weird as you realize how many singles there are nowadays). Sadly you can not put everything in the freezer and apart from that, my freezer is pretty filled up.
I try to save things I used for a dinner and are left over to use in other things I will prepare. Some times that works, some times that doesn’t. But the amount of food that I have to throw away really dropped and that is a good thing.

Without any doubt I can say 2012 was a good year. Nice and good things happened. For Marion and me not many real bad things occurred. They only real sad thing that I can remember is the passing away from Marion’s aunt in March. Apart from that, we went to visit nice places and did a lot of fun things. And I think I can say that our relation with all its strangeness (according to some people) has become even more solid.
Our deeply valued friendship with Sanne has even become stronger, against what all doom thinkers predicted. And yes, I haven’t forgot your hateful words… or were it words of jealousy? Whatever, I am happy with this friendship. Sanne has proven to be a good friend who is there when needed, always willing to help, loves to do fun things and shares interests as chess and photography.
My photography hobby has been taken to a new level since I bought a new camera (the Nikon D300s). I hope to be able to buy some nice lenses to it, but then again, there is still so much more that I want and/or need… and it all costs money :P. Anyway, I made nice pictures at the Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam), at the different dunes and beaches around here (Heemskerk, Castricum, Wijk aan Zee, Zandvoort) including one time with heavy storm, “Forteiland” (IJmuiden), Bad Bentheim (Germany), Leipzig (Germany), Scheepsvaart museum (Amsterdam) and many other places.
And experimenting with black/white photography, which I recently started to do, is a lot of fun. Another part of this hobby that I share with Sanne and Marion. Much appreciated!

Yes, all with all 2012 was a good year.

There is one thing I hope to be able to keep up, my refusal to judge people because of a group they belong to. And with group I mean race, origin, religion, reputation, political background. sexual preference and so on. I always try to judge the individual person and not “the group” he or she belongs to. It is so easy to blame a group, while maybe just a small part of that group is really acting against your opinions or what is acceptable for you.
As people may know, I don’t agree with religions (and yes, I have turned into an absolute atheist). Specially the Catholic Church often “makes my neck hair raise” (not sure if that is English expression at all :P), but that doesn’t mean I dislike every catholic out there. Far from that, I know catholic people I respect a lot. But this demands a certain respect from both sides and luckily that happens a lot with common people.
So when I meet someone out on the street, I will not judge this person on his race, religion or the other things I mentioned before. I will judge that individual on my personal experiences with that person.
Yes, this does mean that at times I run into a stone wall. But on the other side, I got to know some awesome people because of my way of acting in this and that makes it worth while.
I think this is recently a bit more in my mind because a discussion I had with someone about this. But this is not a new years resulotion, it is just the way I am :-).

I want to work more on my blog again, that I have done the last months a little less than normal. But then again, I had always those periods that this happened. So no real new years resolution there.

So in the end I think my only real new years resolution will be not to write 2012 when I mean 2013 (and normally that happens a lot to me during the first month of the new year) :-).

A very good 2012 errrr… 2013 to all of you!!! *WINK*

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Although I was born in the city of Amsterdam, I spent the most of my live in a town called Haaksbergen. Haaksbergen is a town in the eastern part of the Netherlands. My parents moved from Amsterdam to Haaksbergen when I was very young (I was around one and a half years old). I have dear memories of this town. But every time I visit Haaksbergen again, I am surprised how fast a town can change. But at the same time so many memories are still bound to so many things.

One of the thing I was very curious of was if the house that belonged to my mother was still untenanted. I was told that after my mother passed away the house has been empty for a very long time, but not anymore…

New people are living there now. Of course, that was bound to happen. It would useless to let the house stay unused. But somehow it is a little weird to realize that after the house been more than 30 years in our family, there now other people living there.
Anyway, I hope that the people who are living there now (seems to be a Cassandra and Paul) will be happy there. The house is maybe older, but it is big. A very large living room, a nice kitchen, 3 large bed rooms, a smaller bedroom, an attic and a nice garden. And the price they asked a year ago for it, was even below what I had to pay for my apartment (which makes the differences in house prices and their site very clear).
Of course it brought back memories of my mother who passed away last year. So I was very happy that Sanne and Marion were with me there.

But there are also many nice and good memories around that house.

There were these small passages between the houses. They were used to give access to the sheds, but also were meant as an escape route in case of fire. As young kids we played there a lot. You could run around there. Play hide and seek. Climb on the roofs of the sheds (which wasn’t allowed of course). Great memories.

We also visited “De Wilder”, a beautiful “tropical swimming paradise” (as they call it). I used to swim there a lot. And I have to admit, it is much nicer than the place where I always go swimming in Heemskerk. But I am not complaining, I am happy with the location there. At least it has also those “herb baths” and a sauna close by.

The swimming made us hungry and it was about time to have lunch. “Grand Café Centraal” is a great place for a lunch. They have some awesome sandwiches with fried egg and ham (and other stuff). Apart from the wind, the weather was nice. So we had our lunch outside on the terrace. There you have a wonderful view on the Pancratius Church, a Catholic church. I am an atheist, but I do like churches as historical buildings very much. And the Pancratius Church is really a beautiful building.

After lunch we made a walk through the center of town. Well, call it a ride down the memory-lane. Because that was exactly what it was. As said, a lot changed and at the same time a lot is the same. One thing I really like about Haaksbergen or Oldenzaal (as I know now since last Friday) or even Enschede (although that is a city) is a nice center of town with cafes, restaurants, terraces and such. A nice place where it is on sunny evenings very neighborly and convivial.
Sadly Heemskerk has nothing like that. There is a square in the middle of town with shops around and just 1 small terrace and that is it. There are some terraces spread over town, but there is no “social center” of town. A pity that is. If there would be have something like that, we would go to town a lot more often as we do now.
Luckily Alkmaar, Haarlem and Amsterdam are close by to make up for that.

One thing I really like about Haaksbergen is that there still so much is left of it’s history. Just look around and you will see it.

Our walk brought us to the Bergingsvijver, just outside Haaksbergen. As a boy I used to swim there, but swimming is not allowed here anymore (might be dangerous for health and such). Also I did here my first (and last) attempt to fish. I already found out that fishing is nothing for me. And no, I don’t believe the story that fishes don’t feel pain (and even if they wouldn’t, all the stress it causes to them). Never touched a fishing rod again and that is good this way…

At the isle in the “Bergingsvijver” that you can reach by a bridge we found something nice. We had to look at it for a little before we saw the idea behind it…

First we thought that the text was mirrored, but that was not the case. It was Sanne who said “Look into the water”. And she was right, in the water the reflected text was normally readable… “Oplossen in hemel en aarde. Niet verdwijnen” (“Resolve in air and soil. Not dissapearing”). We pondered a bit what they could mean with that and we all had our own thoughts about it. Anyway, I really liked the idea.

Back in town we went to “De Markt 2”, the place were I went so often in the past. Sanne did leave us there while she declared with one of her funny faces that Marion and I should have the rest of the day for us alone. Silly girl… she know she always welcome with us, but yet it was appreciated.

Marion and I enjoyed some beer and wine on the terrace of “De Markt 2”. We sat there for a long time. Talked, laughed, chatted with other people. It almost felt as the old times. The atmosphere was very good.
At a certain moment it became really cold outside. So we went inside of “De Markt 2”. As it was more then about dinner time, we ordered something nice to eat. After we finished dinner, we went to the bar to have something more to drink. I enjoyed it a lot and so did Marion. We had lots of fun with the people at the bar, the people of “De Markt II” included. Somewhere the feeling of “being home” came up to me…. This is what I missed so much.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my apartment. I love my job and the people I work with…. But if only those darn Noord-Holland folks would be a bit more as those from Twente….

Ah well, it was a great weekend. Something I needed, so this we do a lot more… (and yes Sanne, next time you can stay with us at “De Markt 2” :P).

All with all, a weekend to remember!!!

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Yesterday Marion and I planned to visit Amsterdam. Not with a specific goal, but just to enjoy the city again. When Sanne heard this, she told that she would love to come along with us. And as Sanne is good company, why not. We agreed that we would meet at the “Amsterdam Centraal” (the main railroad station of Amsterdam). At the restaurant we drank some coffee and cake before going into the city.

One thing I really like about cities as Amsterdam is that typical old stone streets. The old buildings… the narrow streets. You can almost taste and feel the history there. I love to walk through that kind of streets. And it was very clear that I was not only one who enjoyed it.

At Dam-square we sat for nice long time on terrace. The sun was nice (as we were sitting out of the wind). While enjoying beer, wine and some snacks the conversations were nice. And of course it is always fun to see all those people wander by. It is fun to observe them. There are strange people walking this earth, that is for sure (and maybe I am the strangest of them all :P).

Of course the two ladies wanted to visit “De Bijenkorf”. “De Bijenkorf” is a very big luxury store that offers a wide range of items (clothes, cosmetics, books, movies, toys and much more). There I bought for Marion a nice bottle of parfum (“Rose The One” by Dolce & Gabbana). I also bought two CD’s (Genesis “Foxtrot” and one with the best hits of Earth & Fire).

And then happened what I was a bit afraid of… Sanne and Marion wandered on to the department for women’s clothing. I showed character and stayed for 30 minutes with them. After that I decided to go somewhere else (all of course normally talk though with them). And to be honest, I think they were happy that I left them alone there.

I went to the other side of the street to the Kentucky Fried Chicken and had some chicken wings while waiting on the ladies. It was more then an hour before they arrived and both of them were carrying a big bag with things they bought. We had together dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken… all three of us just love that place!

Afterwards we walking without any hurry back to station and made our way back to Heemskerk. Sanne came along with us (she stayed for the night with us. You can sleep very well on my couch).

Tired as walking most of the afternoon we decided to take it easy for the evening and we thought that watching a movie would be a good idea. Just that day I received two BluRays that I had ordered… “Green Lantern” and “I, Robot”. We decided on “Green Lantern”, a movie with great special effects. The audio effects of that movie are just awesome. And of course was made it even more nice, was that the Green Lantern was one of those superhero comics that I just loved to read when I was younger.

All with all a nice day again…

With this post I am also trying what Kristin (a colleague of mine) suggested for the name change of my blog (I wrote about that recently). I will look for some time if I like the the titles of the articles in this way. And if I do, I will rename my blog to “Life is there to…” :)

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by Rob on

Congratulations, Sanne! This was an awesome game of chess. More checkmate then this you could not get me :-).

I really enjoyed this game. It was a balanced and challenging game. Until the very end it was not clear who was on the winning hand. And I think we both gave each other some very nice surprises.

I take my lose as a gentleman and as said, next time when I am in Haaksbergen I will do the windows of your apartment!

I will keep the reward for winning the next game of doing the windows of my apartment (they really need to be done). So please choose the reward in case you win! :-)

The board is set up again. I am expecting your first move :)

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A game of Chess…

by Rob on

Yesterday, after the walk Sanne and I made on the beach of Zandvoort, back at my home, we chatted a bit. Poor Marion… she is of course often the subject of these conversations *WINK* . For those that don’t know it, Marion and Sanne are long time friends. They know each from the time that they went to school together and are really close friends who stand which each other in good times and in bad times. And I am glad that through Marion I got to know Sanne, who I consider now as very dear friend as well.

Anyway, Sanne noticed the chessboard that was standing against the side of the couch. She said that she would like to challenge me for a game of chess if she hadn’t known that in the past I played for some years chess on competition level. As it was for me very long ago that I played chess, I really liked the idea. I told Sanne that I am way off the level that I used to play and that I would love to play a game of chess with her.

With the first game Sanne made a made a fatal error in her opening moves, which leaded to a quick checkmate on her side. I explained where she went wrong and what she could have done to prevent the swift checkmate situation.
Luckily Sanne was not discouraged by this first defeat. On the contrary, she was wanted to do better. And so she challenged me for another game. And this time it went a lot better. She listened very well to the advice to take the time before making a move. Get the complete view. Try to see what the other is planning to do. And try to predict how the other will react on your move. And most of all, and this is the hardest part, try to think ahead.
As said, this game went a lot better. We played for close 3 hours. I loved it, two people concentrating on the chessboard between them… the silence of the room… only the breathing could be heard (… and of course my Zebra finches at times *LAUGH* ). And no, I didn’t forget that I was the host, so I served beer and snacks *SMILE* .
It was really a nice and challenging game. Where Sanne really gave me some hard times… I did win, but not as convincing as the first game. And I liked the challenge Sanne gave me during this game.
After the game I showed her how she was very close on a checkmate on me, that I only could prevent by offering my queen. Sanne already wondered why I gave my queen away…

As said, it was an excellent game!

Sanne told me that she would love to play more often chess with me. Something I would like too. But it shouldn’t ruin evenings when Marion (and others) are around. So I came up with the idea to place chess “on distance”, meaning that we both have set up a chessboard at our homes and that we transfer our moves by mail, text-message, MSN/Skype or whatever means we can use. This way you can concentrate on a next move when ever you have time. You can even think more and longer on a move, which might make the game even more challenging and exciting.

Yesterday we played already a new opening of a game here in Heemskerk. A very nice opening, if I may say so. I just mailed Sanne the moves we made so far (I will need a chess notebook again!). She said that she would buy tomorrow a nice looking chessboard and chess pieces that she can put up in her living room.

It is nice to play chess again *SMILE* . And Sanne, let me know when you are ready for my next move…

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