Robby and Jessie met me at Munich airport on August 30th. We went straight to Lochausen, on the western fringe of Munich, where Robby lives in an old farmhouse next to the church. (The bells drive him mad!) Robby and Claudia’s hospitality was absolutely fantastic: both Jessie and I felt totally at home, and were wonderfully comfortable.
The next day Robby had to work, so Jessie and I went into Munich. As I piloted her around, she kept saying how ‘grand’ and ‘formal’ everything seemed. But in the Peterskirche, she suddenly saw that a lot of the stucco putti are actually giggling. That won her heart! We stopped for a glass of beer in the Marienplatz, hoping to see the Rathaus clock do its thing at 4 pm – which it didn’t . (At certain hours, bells play tunes and figures come out and dance about.) But Jessie’s first taste of Hacker-Pschorr Münchener Hell made a big impression: she found the half-lire glass huge, and the taste very different from anything she’s used to. And the effect was immediate: she started looking for her glasses, but I quietly pointed out that she was wearing them!
On the way back to the station, we walked through the Old Botanical Garden, where Jessie saw an earthworm struggling on the cement path. She picked it up, scraped up some earth in the flower bed at the side, planted the worm, and poured water over the spot ‘to make him happy’. That’s Jessie all over!
On Thursday, Robby took us to the Deutsches Museum, which charts the industrial history of the area. In the mining section, Robby wanted a photo of me ‘driving’ a lift-shaft machine. We waited ‘til the coast was clear. I climbed over the chain, leapt onto the seat and grabbed the controls. Robby clicked, and I leapt off again before the next visitors arrived. Such fun!
On Friday, Robby had to work again and Jessie wanted some quiet time, so I went into Munich by myself. It was wonderful just to be back in my favourite city, and I had lunch at the Andechser am Dom, where I first ate on Easter Sunday in 1971. It was just as good as I remembered! I went back for a nap before the others arrived. First came Ben – clearly a young whip-maker of great promise. Then Mario arrived, closely followed by Ralph – and finally Stefan. With Claudia as well, we all went off to an excellent Chinese restaurant.
There was great excitement on Saturday at breakfast in Robby’s kitchen. The weather was hot but overcast: just right! Robby had devised a programme that challenged everyone, both advanced and less advanced, and I think we all learned a great deal. I certainly did! But there were moments of great silliness, too. Robby’s demonstration of ‘the right way to crack a whip’ has to be seen to be believed! It could not be more wrong, and he looks like he’s going to strangle himself! But after more than six hours of genuinely hard work, we were all tired, so we returned to base for a rest, and then the barbecue Claudia had prepared. Alas, it started to rain – not hard, but enough prevent us eating outside; but it was great!
On Sunday, we reviewed what we’d learned the day before in Robby’s garden – and for Jessie, Ralph and me there were more lessons on Monday morning. But then, it was off to the airport for me. An utterly fabulous few days. My huge thanks to Robby and Claudia – and to all the others, too! One couldn’t imagine a better group of people, and I feel I’m building some great new friendships. Robby says Jessie will return to Wisconsin a different person. I know I’m a different person thanks to Whip Basics in all its aspects. Shall I tell you that Jessie has given me a nickname? ‘Skull-hammer’! (Robby even let me try his authentic Book of Eli sunglasses, to fit the role. Ha!)
And three more photos. First, Jessie and Ralph in Robby's kitchen:
The World Command Centre for Whip Basics:
And finally, Mr Whip Basics himself, at breakfast:
'Less is often more!'