When I was growing up, during the summer months, we would be host-families for European students. As a family with four children in it, it was an easy income for my mum and, as we couldn't afford to go abroad, a great experience to meet teenagers from Italy, Spain, France, Romania, Germany, Holland, Norway, and sometimes Japan too! At one point we nick-named ourselves United Nations!
After a few years, we progressed to hosting the teachers on these trips and one year we had a gentle, German giant come to stay with us. He was actually training to be a high-school teacher and this was good experience for him. Now he was at the time, only a few years older than me and a real laugh so I will admit to temporarily developing a small crush on him. This quickly dissipated when he lived with us for his gap year overseas as part of his studies. Nothing can put you off a man quicker than living with him.
The summer after he stayed with us for a year, he returned to stay with us for the usual three weeks of the summer and it coincided with my birthday. We had a barbecue to celebrate with my friends and he did what he does best: MAGIC!
This was well over 10 years ago and, although mum stopped having foreign students soon after, we have remained in contact. Every Summer he returns to now lead the trips with his students and even though they stay over 50 miles away, he always comes and has a meal with the entire family. From the first time he stayed with us, he has seen our family grow to include two husbands and three little ones. He has settled down and got married a few years ago.
His magic has developed, he now does shows for children and is really good at it. Last year, my nephew was captivated by his magic, and has spent the entire year declaring that if something is broken we must call 'The Magic Man' to fix it!
Last Monday, The Magic Man visited for the evening again. This year to my mum and dad's new house. With him on the coach he had brought three suitcases: one for his clothes, two of his magic tricks. He treated us to a brilliant magic show which lasted an hour! In the end, I had to stop him as I had no more space on the Flip Cam! As usual, he had us all captivated, and while I know how he does a few of the tricks because he has either shown me or practised them with me, there were some that are a complete mystery to all of us!
Unfortunately, this may well be the last year that we see him for a few years. Happily for him and his wife, they are having their first child and he probably won't do the trips again for some time. We may be able to visit him in Germany in the future, but for the meantime we'll have to stick with e-mails, texts and Facebook! It's lovely to see how we have grown up together and created our own families now.
I'd like to leave you with an extract of the magic show so you can appreciate The Magic Man.