Gaby Book 15 ~ Friends ~ Chapter *5* Invitations

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*Chapter 5 *


The Weihnacht’s cabin was serving as a great way to distract me from my health woes and my forced bike lay off. My period had thankfully not been a protracted affair, honestly the whole thing was a nightmare, the sooner I’m back on the Pill the better. A distraction yes but I’m still aching to get back on the bike, I’m sure I’ve put on weight and some of it in places I’d rather not have.

“What do you know about New Year?” Dad asked when we sat down for dinner Saturday evening.
“New Year?”
“Seems we are invited to a bash at some castle?”
“Not ring any bells?”
“Sounds intriguing,” Mum opined.
“Apparently someone has connections in high places,” Dad stated.
“Well I don’t think it’s your sister.”
“Come on, Dave, don’t keep us hanging,” Mum chivvied.
“Your friend Sophia’s parents, Gaby.”
It came back to me then, Sophia had mentioned something about New Year last week.
“The Duke?”
“The Duke and Duchess, let’s see,” he picked up a card and read from it, “The Thun und Taxis family cordially invite the Bond family to join them for New Year at Schloss Harburg.”
“She did mention something last week,” I admitted, “so um, are we going then?”
“Up to your mother, Jen?”
“Mum’s coming over remember,” Mum pointed out.
“She can come too, I’m sure she’d enjoy staying in a castle.”
“I’ll RSVP.”
Yay, we’re going to the Taxis bun fight!

“Looks like I’m gonna miss all the fun,” Mand noted as we did the washing up, Mum had cooked the lamb chop dinner we’d just consumed, so we got jankers.
“You are invited,” I replied, “wouldn’t you rather be with your family than with a load of strangers?”
“You don’t know my family.”
“They can’t be that bad,” I proposed.
“Think Addams Family and you wouldn’t be far off.”
I hope that was meant as a parody.
“Well I think I’d prefer to be with family,” I supplied.

I was allowed to join the Apollinaris ‘cross team this week but strictly as a spectator! We were an almost three hour drive from the event which was not far from Antwerp in Belgium. That of course meant an early start, the three of us departed at six; we met up with the others at the Aachener Hof services where we had a second breakfast.
“How are you doing, Gaby?” Anita asked, “You had us all worried.”
“Fixed I hope.”
“So when are you riding again?” Erika queried.
“Don’t encourage her, girls, she’s under strict orders,” Dad told them from the table he shared with Carsten who, I noted, now wore an Apollinaris jacket similar to Dad and George’s.
“If I’m lucky about two weeks,” I supplied.
“Thought the Doctor said six weeks,” Mand opined.
“Okay, three weeks then.”
“The trip to England?”
“I won’t be fit enough to race,” I mumped.
“Getting better is more important.” Erika stated.

The fans in the Low Countries really are enthusiastic about cross, food vendors, flag sellers and plenty of sponsors, all a bit different to plugging around Markheaton Park unobserved. Mand was ‘officially’ our lap timer so I really didn’t have a role to play, I bought one of those rattle things and went to find somewhere to watch, hopefully not far from a pommes stall. I found a good spot overlooking a steep run up and staked my claim with the folding chair Carsten gave me.
The girls were warming up on the course when a familiar voice spoke behind me.
I turned to find the source, “Er hi, Michael.”
“Didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Supporting a couple of our girls,” I allowed.
“Same here, well not girls, some of the guys on my team.”
“Riding much?”
“It’s close season,“ he shrugged, “only a couple of hundred a week, you?”
“Nothing at the moment, er women’s problems.”
“That must suck.”
Don’t I know it.
“Yeah, I’ve not had so long off the bike in years.”
“Good spot, mind if I stay?”
“If you like.”

So the two of us cheered, clapped and shouted through first the women’s then the men’s. I paid but Michael fetched the frites between the events, I actually had a good time as we chatted about the summer and bikes. The men’s event finished and we each went our own way.
“Where’ve you been?” Mand asked when I reached the cars.
“Watching the races.”
“That mayo on your jacket?”
“Shit, where?”
“Ha, got you, you had chips.”
“I had chips,” I admitted.
“Anita said you were with a lad,” she fished.
“I met that Desgrange lad, you remember from the summer.”
“Oh aye, some coincidence.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Nothing,” she stated feigning innocence.
“There you are, ready to go?” Dad asked.

“Hi, kids,” Mum offered in greeting when we finally reached home not much before six, there’d been a pile up near the Dutch border so we’d diverted but then got caught in more hold ups getting around Aachen.
“What’s for dinner, I’m starving.”
There was a distinct lack of cooking smells in the house, she knew we were delayed cos I phoned when we got on the E40.
“Thought we’d eat down in Ahrweiler, I booked a table at Der Mühle for half six so get yourselves sorted, toot sweet,” she instructed.
“Did I hear something about The Mill,” Dad asked joining us from the garage.
“We’re eating there,” I offered.
“What are you two still doing here?” Mum queried, “Scoot!”

Mum drove us in her A Klasse, for Mum it was quite sedate, we stayed below Mach 2 and I only had to close my eyes once – not bad for under five kilometres! I take my hat off to Dad, he barely flinched when Jenny Schumacher did a one point turn in the tiny car park without slowing and straight into the only vacant parking slot. Yeah, they really shouldn’t let her out on the road with anything motorised.
The last time I ate here was after Switzerland, when the BC – Apollinaris partnership was announced, I think the senior team come here quite often though. That was confirmed when we made our way inside.
“Ah, Jenny, good to see you, and the family,” Eva, the owner greeted.
“This lot’ve been up in Belgium all day and I didn’t fancy cooking,” Mum related.
“That’s where we come in eh, I’ve put you in your usual corner, I’ll send Christina through in a minute or two.”
“Thanks, Eva,” Mum mentioned before leading us through, not into the function room but the smaller, cosier public bar cum restaurant.
We navigated our way to a table with a ‘Reserviert’ card on one end. We lost our coats, Dad hanging them on the hooks next to the seat he claimed.
“Nice dress, Gab!”
“Hi, Chris, thanks, Mum insisted.”
“Hi, Jenny, Herr Bondt,” she mentioned.
“You remember Amanda?”
“The English yes? We met at Martin’s party I think.”
“What have we got on tonight?” Mum enquired.
“Oops, sorry, Mama is always complaining I talk too much, the special is beef roulade with boiled potatoes and vegetables, the pasta selection tonight is lasagne, tortellini and Tagliatelle or of course the a la carte. Drinks?”
“My usual,” Mum stated, “Dave?”
“Large beer for me.”
“Radler for me, Mand, drink?”
“Cola, bitter.”
“So large beer, dry white wine, Radler and a cola,” Chris confirmed before heading off to fetch them.
“Dunno what I fancy,” Mum mused.
“Think I’ll try the beef,” Dad decided.
That sounded good to me too, “same here, Mand?”
“What were the options?” she asked in English.
I forgot she’s not exactly fluent in der lingo, “Sorry Mand, pasta, beef roulade or anything off the menu.”
“They do that Hawaii thing, you know, with the pineapple?”
“We can ask,” Mum suggested.
Christina arrived with our drinks, which were quickly assigned.
“So, decided?”
“Can you do Puten Hawaii?” I asked.
“Sure, with boiled potatoes or pommes?”
“Boiled or chips Mand?”
“Any chance of rice?”
“Rice, for sure,” Chris noted.
“Same for me,” Mum decided, “and these two want the roulade please.”
“Okay,“ she allowed, “two beef, two turkey Hawaii.”

“Oh I forgot to mention,” Mum started, “had an email, from the BBC SPOTY people, I’ve been nominated again.”
“When’s that?” Dad asked.
“Two weeks before Christmas I think.”
“Cool,” Mand noted, “the rents always watch that, I remember seeing you when you won the other year.”
Good job she didn’t remember seeing me, mind you I did go in a frock.

Maddy Bell 27.01.16

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