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This week I am writing the blog from Surrey in the UK because while I am here at mission control there is a triple celebration.
First of all, my beautiful Spanish niece Estela has a birthday. Estela is the eldest daughter of my equally beautiful (and very fit) sister Helen. Helen carefully manages her time between teaching aerobics, having babies, running a home and a private transport service to the local schools. Although she has lots of aerobics customers she does not need any more transportation customers; she has seven of her own. It would be impossible to keep all of these activities going if she was not incredibly organised – in fact she is so organised she managed to make sure that child number seven was born on Estela’s birthday. No more dolls required! Estela has the real thing to play with. So we have a double Duggleby birthday celebration in Spain; Estela and Adam (he is in the photo sitting on Estela’s knee).
While Helen tries single handed (well not quite single) to make sure Spain has its fair share of the Duggleby genome we had another multiple birth celebration at RiskBuster’s mission control in the UK. ‘Herman’, a very tasty creation, was conceived a couple of weeks ago and within 10 days found himself given rise to a further eight offspring! Who is Herman? Well his formal title is ‘Herman the German Friendship Cake’. He was conceived as a batch of sourdough/yeast which was lovingly cared for by his Mummy (in other words he was regularly stirred and had various bits of cooking stuff done to him while he fermented). His ‘Mummy’, Gladys, is a bit shy so I promised no photos of her, just of her ‘masterpiece’.
Then Herman was split into 8 portions and handed over to teams of RiskBusters who did yet more cooking stuff, and baked their baby Hermans into lots of highly imaginative cakes (by adding various different bits of cooking stuff). At the end of all this the RiskBusters paid lots of dosh to sample them and we had a voting competition to determine the best Herman (with categories like prettiest, cleverest, tastiest, sniffiest and other such artistic stuff). Needless to say all the money went to charity. Here are some picks of Herman’s conception, the arrival of the babies and their christening (just before being eaten – remember the bit in the Duggleby History page about the Brits descending from being cannibals!)
You probably haven’t guessed it but I am not very familiar with cooking stuff; after 5 years in my place in England I still need to remove the Polystyrene packaging from the inside of my oven. If you want to find out more ‘technical’ details about making your own Herman I suggest you type “Herman the German Friendship Cake” into your search engine. Not only is it a super way to get people mixing (literally) but it was a good way to get the RiskBusters to part with their dosh for a good cause. In addition to Gladys a big thank you is deserved by Mildred who managed the promotional activities and counted (or better said ‘guarded’) the dosh.
I suspect you can hardly wait for the next blog entry……
After a very hectic week in London at Mission Control with the ‘RiskBusters’ I was certainly ready to escape to the Alps on Friday evening. This was my first weekend excursion to the European mountains since the end of last October and as I stepped onto the flight it felt like I was going home. I was just about to put my bag into the overhead luggage compartment when a friendly voice from behind greeted me with: ‘Back from South Africa then – did you have a good time?’ It was one of the more hardy commuters between London and the Alps: one that didn’t escape to the south at the first sight of snow. This friendly greeting only served to reinforce my feeling of homecoming.
The welcome continued after I landed and I went to pick up my hire car – Ah Mr Doogelbuy (one of the name spellings you will not find in my ‘Duggleby’ history page), I have something special for you. The lady is always so nice that I just can’t bring myself to tell her that I actually prefer the small cheap cars….. I am trying to minimise fuel consumption!
So within minutes of stepping off the plane I had picked up my ‘Panzer’ from the VIP parking area and was heading down the Autobahn trying to just gently ‘caress’ the gas pedal. After about 40 minutes, in the direction of Salzburg, I was in sight of the mountains. Suddenly a shooting star shot over the Autobahn in front of me! If there was any sadness left after my departure from Sunset Rocks last week the European gods were working hard to make it evaporate.
20 minutes later I found myself trying to manoeuvre the Panzer into my modestly sized garage. Fortunately the inbuilt parking sensors screamed at me as soon as I got too close to the walls. My neighbours had installed solar powered garden lights along the path to my front door. The path follows a mountain stream which runs by the side of the house. Somehow the pretty fairy lights and the sound of the water cascading over the waterfall just added to the magical atmosphere. The sky was free of any clouds allowing me to clearly see a carpet of stars twinkling above. Before long I had settled into my bed with the curtains wide open so I could fall asleep gazing at the stars.
Dawn broke much earlier than in the UK so after a very short lie-in I was quickly up and inspecting the apartment to see what had changed since I left. Everything was perfect: all the IT systems sprang into action (and more importantly the fridge and the kettle!). Before long I was listening to BBC radio via the i-Player and my screen players were re-playing my various photo collections. I may be something of an international gypsy but I do like to keep in touch with the UK music scene (and the British humour). At lunch time my younger son who lives nearby came over to pick up the socks which Daddy had purchased over in England. Both children prefer to get their socks and undies from a well known UK store. We enjoyed lunch in the garden of our ‘regular’ restaurant which overlooks the mountains. Although it was the middle of March the temperature was an incredible 20C (and certainly much warmer in the direct sunlight).
The Chef came out to greet us with the almost obligatory ‘nice tan!’. He served up his latest speciality ‘Baeren Salat’ and we chatted about the weather. A few little personal niceties can make lunch so memorable! One of the simple reminders why, despite the challenges, I rush from work each Friday evening and fly half way across Europe.