Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Be Prepared To Rough It

Sometimes I surprise myself by being prepared. As my children will tell you, my memory is not the best in the world and often time I forget to prepare for events.

However, I was prepared yesterday and did not even know 7 months ago I would need to be prepared.

I packed an angel food cake mix in the shipment that came with me to the Middle East.

Every time I go to the grocery store, I look in the cake mixes to see if they have angel food, but they never have.  Thank goodness I was prepared!

You may or may not know this, but our family has a tradition of angle food cake baked fresh and served on your birthday.  We even have a funny story about how this became a tradition in the H family.  Once at Christmas, I videotaped my dear mother-in-law telling my husband how this tradition was started when he was a young boy. Now that BSB is expecting her first baby and Tudy is no longer with us, having this videotape is even more valuable.

Family traditions are very important to us.  It gives us a foundation to know where we came from, and to realize how much we care for each other no matter what happens in our life.  Family is always there.

Yesterday was D’s birthday and I baked my special cake that traveled 7,000 miles for this one day. Not much of it is left this morning.
I guess I should have taken a picture before it was cut.  It may not be pretty, but it was tasty.
The big challenge baking an angel food cake was getting it to bake in our oven. The oven is not even close to being accurate for temperature. You have to guess if it is the temperature you need. On top of that, the temperature marked on the oven is in Celsius not Fahrenheit. 

I purchased an oven thermometer that helps, but the temperature can easily spike over 425 if you turn it up too high and then drop to 200 when you turn it down just a little bit (Fahrenheit).  Every time I bake in the oven, I have to watch the food very carefully or it will burn.  Burning food is a specialty of mine because I tend to be distracted while I cook so watching the food becomes an even bigger challenge. (All my kids re laughing at this. – I always burn the bread at holidays because I am not paying attention to it.)

I invited a few of our US friends to join us for dinner and we walked to the Ritz for a wonderful evening in their special restaurant, Primavera.

The Ritz is all lit up for both Christmas and Bahrain National Day which is December 16.
Palms outside the Ritz.
It was a lovely evning. The restaurant overlooks the beach and pool area of the resort. They have used their wine collection to create some of the walls inside the restaurant. The walls of wine can be opened to select your wine.  I guess you would say the restaurant is a large wine cellar.  It is very impressive.

Our wine was excellent.  And, at the end of the dinner the wait staff serenaded D with “Happy Birthday to You” and a special bottle of Moscatel Ora for dessert.

A birthday toast.
As we left the restaurant they gave the ladies roses.  It really was quite nice -- pricey, but nice and certainly a great way to celebrate D’s birthday.

After dinner, our group walked back to our flat and ate cake with vanilla ice cream (another tradition). The cake was well worth the challenge. And, I am extremely glad I was prepared. 

Another tradition carried on for another year  --  even in the Middle East!


Scottish Pub Crawl Without Boots

My boots are in storage in Delaware.  Who would have thought I would need them while I was living in the Middle East.  But, I sure wish I had them now.

We just spent 4 lovely days in Glasgow, Scotland.  Lovely is not referring to the weather. My hands and my feet nearly froze every time I went out. It was 48 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius with scattered showers.

They spared no cost for the decorations at the Glasgow airport.  Really??? What were they thinking?
D had business in Glasgow so I tagged along.  It was great fun even though there was only 6.5 hours of daylight each day.  Sundown is at 3:45 in the afternoon this time of year.  That took a bit of getting used to.
Street scene at 4PM.  Shopping was in full swing.
This pic is of a street named West Nile.  WOW!  Didn't they name a virus after this street?
Our hotel was in the heart of the City Center and only a couple of blocks away from D’s office so we could walk everywhere.  The first day I walked for almost 5 hours.  It was awesome and I found a plethora of wonderful sights.

Not sure these painters would make it for safety at D's company.
The city was all decked out for Christmas with strolling musicians. There was a full band on one corner.  Here are a couple of videos of all the merry making.

Every night there were holiday parties going on all over the city.  All the restaurants were completely booked and this caused a bit of a problem.  On our last night, D and I camped out in a pub.  We had pints of ale with fish and chips for dinner.  It was a lot of fun.
We gave these two guys the award for the WORST Christmas sweater.  These kinds of sweaters were all over the place but these two were proud enough to model them for us.
Came all the way to Scotland to drink Virginia beer????
Ale available on every corner!
Our self portrait inside the Anchor Line spirits house. This was the by far the nicest bar we visited. 
One of the highlights of the trip was a climb to the top of the MacIntosh Lighthouse. 
Dusk (3PM) from the Lighthouse Tower designed by MackIntosh.
One of the Tea Rooms we visited designed by MackIntoxh.
Looking down inside the MackIntosh Lighthouse.

We were leaving the hotel at 4:50 AM (we had a very early flight home) and a group of ladies were just coming in from their party.  I asked what they were celebrating and they said, “It is Christmas of course.”  I guess I have never seen this much celebration in advance of Christmas.  The cabbie even said it slows down for New Year’s Eve. 

We had a lay over in London’s Heathrow for just a bit on the way home but we did not leave the airport.  As I was sitting in the British Airways Lounge, I thought once again how lucky I am.  The lounge overlooks the runway and a large number of the planes sitting at their gates. What an amazing life to travel and enjoy our global community.
MackIntosh in the airport.  He was everywhere.
Inside structural details of Heathrow as seen from the British Airways Lounge.  It was very impressive.
Reading the London newspaper, it occurrs to me maybe the US crime rate is not so bad after all – the London paper was like reading a tabloid filled with the most outrageous crimes.  WAIT – I am reading a tabloid.  It just looked like a real "news" newspaper.

A big snowstorm is coming in behind us. Thank goodness we won’t be in Scotland then. Now we are on to our way to our 6.5 hour flight back to the sandbox. Everyone here in England has on boots, but mine are no where to be found.