The holidays

It’s almost become a tradition that I tell about our holidays here on the blog. But as the blog has developed away from the very personal it seems progressively awkward. Anyway, I promise to make it brief and with a digression or two…

We started in the UK where there was another Bar Mitzvah in the family, the fourth and so far last. Just like at the Bar Mitzvah two years ago, I took a picture of the rabbi’s legs. And no, it’s not the rabbi on the left. It’s her on the right.

 

We enjoyed a little time in London, I even found time to meet with some of my lovely Twitter-ladies, described elsewhere on this blog. We also fitted in a bit of shopping…

Off we flew to Switzerland to spend a few days in David’s flat. The weather was gorgeous, so we enjoyed a lot of time on the balcony and David and Dane also went swimming in the lake. Our first mission was to visit some friends who we met in the UK, but who have since moved to the south of France. They live in the most gorgeous house in Provence and we spent four lovely days with them.

As those of you who know me well will know, we, like so many other from the middle classes, have a penchant for Tuscany. We’ve been there 4-5 times before but still chose to go again. We’d rented a flat at an Agri Turismo place which was quite nice, but not fantastic. As we’ve seen most of the sights more than once before, we took it rather easy and spent most mornings leisurely at the pool. One of the highlights was a visit with my old friend Helle Tesio and her husband Alfredo. We go more than 30 years back. Helle took us to Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda where she teaches advanced Italian cooking to groups of agri-tourists. I so want to go on that course!

Unfortunately, towards the end of the holiday, Dane got ill (something that practically never happens), and he was really rather poorly. So it was a long journey home where it, to sort of further the misery, rained constantly between Genoa and Geneva. It turned out that what Dane had was the flu, which he generously passed on to David and me once we were back in Coppet. So a few days were torn out of the calendar.

At friends in Provence, France
Best ice cream in Tuscany
Lizard caught in a glass (released min's later)

Fattoria del Colle, Trequanda

Siena wedding. Rather romantic.

San Gigmignano in the sunset

Dane and I are back now in Denmark where it is gloomily wet and only warm when the sun is out and where our basement was flooded once more. I’ve had the wood burning stove lit already!

Today I was reminded of our trip to Australia in 2008. The reminder was a talk about cake. When we were there, we were rather surprised by their consistently excellent coffee *flat whites* and the ubiquitous banana bread which is served warm with butter. When we came back, Dane asked me to bake it and I baked a random banana cake. It wasn’t right. Baked my way through numerous banana cake/bread recipes before I found one that Dane could approve of. So I baked one today. Here’s the recipe:

Banana bread

* 265g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour

* 40g (1/4 cup) plain flour

* 1 tsp ground cinnamon

* 140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar

* 125ml (1/2 cup) skim milk

* 2 eggs, lightly whisked

* 50g butter, melted, cooled

* 2 overripe medium bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush an 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 opposite sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang.

2. Sift the combined flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Place the milk, eggs, melted butter and banana in a medium bowl, and stir until well combined. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.

 

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Dutiful parents…

… as we are, we tried to do something meaningful with Dane over the holidays. Possibly the best bit was finally getting up in the London Eye, which we’ve been talking about and meaning to do ever since we came over here. It was David’s birthday, so we wanted to combine something enjoyable for him with something enjoyable for Dane. They have a pretty good queuing system for the London Eye – first you queue for less than 1/2 hour to get your tickets. Then it says on the tickets, when you have to report back to another queue. After that it’s only another 1/2 hour. For us it was perfect – there was just time for a nice lunch a bit further down the river. Here are a couple of pictures – luckily it was sunny, but with ominous clouds, which lend quite some drama to the pictures.

London skyline with some bad weather coming
While we were still waiting
While we were still waiting

Later on we wondered around London for a few hours. I wonder if I’m quite normal. The two shops in London, which I feel I soon know inside out are the Apple Store and Hamley’s. Shouldn’t it be Harrods and Selfridges? Or Waterstone’s?

But since inside photographs from those two shops would probably be rather dull, here’s a picture from an encounter Dane had with two nice, elderly gentlemen in New Bond Street.

Its Roosevelt and Churchill in case you were wondering...
It's Roosevelt and Churchill in case you were wondering...

More pictures, also from Halloween and bonfire night here.

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There’s still hope!

Here’s a very happy story from the real world:

When we were on our holiday on the south coast we spent a day in Portsmouth at the Historic Dock Yard. Unfortunately Dane forgot his purse with (too much) money in it, in one of the museum shops there. As we were deliberating our options at home, the phone rang. It was a nice lady from the Surrey Wildlife Trust. She had had a call from a police station in Portsmouth that a purse had been found with a membership card to the Surrey Wildlife Trust in it. On it was Dane’s name, so the lady went on to the membership register, found us and called. She had a name and a number for the PC at the police station. I called the number several times but couldn’t get through. In the meantime we were back home, so I sent an e-mail to the main police station in Portsmouth. I got a reply from another nice lady with the name and phone number for an other PC at the local police station. It turned out that this particular police station is under the MOD (ministry of defence) and thus can’t be found on the Internet or in the phone book. There I spoke to another lady who could confirm that the purse had been found with all contents still in it, but alas, there was no way she could send it by post – not even using some of the money in it. It would have to be picked up by us in person. Portsmouth is quite a distance from here, so I asked if it would still be there around Christmas time, when we were planning to be back. She confirmed that and I resigned myself to being happy that the purse was found at all. It means a lot to Dane – it was bought in the Blue Mountains in Australia and it had a picture of himself and his best friend from Denmark in it.

A few days later the nice lady from the Portsmouth central police station sent me another e-mail to ask if the problem had been solved. I told her yes, but that we’d have to go there and pick it up in person. She thought that was rather annoying and asked if I would mind if she went down there and picked it up herself and then sent it off to me? If I’d mind??? You gotta be kiddin’, I could not believe anybody would be that kind. As it turned out, she could not pick it up, because she wasn’t a PC. So what did this lovely woman do? She got one of the police officers at her station to go and pick it up for her! And then she sent it – registered mail – to us.

Dane was thrilled to bits! And so was I. Isn’t it lovely that there are still people who will go out of their way to do a little something for others?

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3 things & 5 days in Wales

Sheep

Climbers

Consonants

 

We had five lovely days with David’s brother Peter and his significant other, Frieda. They showed us all sorts of things, medieval castles, one of the worlds biggest mazes, a stunningly beautiful hidden valley, climbers clinging to the rock wall and an exceptional National Trust garden, the Bodnant. As it is obvious from the pictures, the weather wasn’t very good. But since it wasn’t really bad either, we’re not complaining.

We’ve taken quite a few pictures and mine are already uploaded with comments. See here. Look towards the end of the set.

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A family holiday in pictures

We only had weather like this one whole day. Trust me that we enjoyed it from breakfast on the terrace till stargazing on the beach at night. This picture is taken from the front door of the family summer house, just to give you an idea. We’re in Pagham, Sussex.

 

David caught a mackerel and ate it!

Linda is showing off her wellies! Low tide and high winds.

 

Notice the “door steps”. When the tide is high, it really is. The road along the harbour is flooded on a daily basis! This is Bosham, Sussex.

Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows is just the cure for a rainy day!

We went to Portsmouth and toured the Victory, Admiral Nelson’s ship at the battle of Trafalgar.

 

The plaque commemorating that Nelson fell here on this exact spot and a view heavenward, where you can get an idea of the weather conditions!  We can really recommend Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a day or two out – also when the weather is good! We had a great time!

And here’s what we did when it just poured with rain (there wasn’t room for anything as prosaic as playing cards in this picture, but we did play a lot of Canasta and Estimation Whist):

(don’t bother burgling us – we always sleep with our Iphones and most of the gear isn’t ours anyway…)

 

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