Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Scottish Summer

In the 16 summers I've spent here, this is most definitely the hottest, sunniest, wonderfullest. It's not just that there are good days between rainy days, no, there's weeks of sunshine. There were summers where our BBQ did not manage to make a single appearance, now, it's becoming the staple ingredient of evening meals (ok, mostly weekends). Usually, a sunny day is so unusual that all has to be done to make the most of it, now we can take it easy and relax knowing that there's at least another week like this ahead of us.

Today, I've been in the Scottish Atlantic for the first time ever and thought it was pleasantly warm. The difference to what it usually feels like to dip your toes (and usually no more) into the Atlantic is quite astounding.

We had plans for the day but the kids knew what they wanted: Beach. And since everyone seems to go to Troon (and we'd never been), this is where we went. It occurred to me that 2 years ago I travelled first by plane and then on a 7 hour train, followed by a one hour ferry journey to see a similar scenery, when actually, the scenery is just a 1 hour car journey away. And of course, having the Arran mountains as a backdrop makes it particularly special.

Sandy beach, mudflats, tideways to splash in, and lots of memories of Foehr and marvelling how we have grown. Dad burried in sand, crabs and shrimps caught and released, water channels built and the tiniest sand castles too.

This summer may be one in a generation, but man, how good can Scotland be if the sun is out.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Who's the German?

There are some things that still surprise me when going between my country of living and that of origin.
  • At supermarkets, you need to weigh the produce yourself. I'm so used to the untrusting way of the Tesco that I keep forgetting.
  • At the breakfast table, in a restaurant etc, there is often no option of tap water. In fact nobody drinks it. At all. It's the land of Sprudel (carbonated water), which comes in glass bottles. We don't like carbonated water, in fact, my tonsillitis throat doesn't like any type of carbonated drink, so just as well we brought our refillable bottles. The restaurant owner wasn't happy, because it's really really rude not to order bottled water (carbonated) with your meal.
  • People take condensed milk in their coffee. The oddity of this is striking. I don't think I know another country that does this, although borderland Belgium also offers condensed milk and no normal milk. On the plus, the coffee itself is good. And there's my favourite incarnation of coffee, the Latte Macchiato, which is painfully missed in the UK.
  • As a consequence of the above, many places do not have plain milk available, the drink of choice for the kids, and the stuff I, unlike most of my compatriots, put in my tea.
  • When you ask for tea, you are presented with a choice of about 50 teas, only one of which is what is commonly referred to as "tea" in the UK. Even my description of "black tea" (which used to work) rendered a Blackberry flavoured black tea.
  • Right before left. I totally get why my beloved doesn't get it. It is rather hard to get, really, The UK traffic system is much more intuitive, and I have to actively remind myself so as not to cause an accident.
  • People are so in you face direct. I mean, I've known this for a while, and I know that I've been described likewise. But but but, I'd never dare to moan to a stranger or complain in the right on fashion that I overhear on a constant basis and that makes me blush just for hearing it. On the good side, I found it rather sweet that the hotel staff shared her rather horrid day with me with absolutely no intention of implying that I was part of making it a hard day.
  • Homeopathic medicine. I'm not a great fan of "alternative" medicine because in my mind it either is medicine (i.e. has a proven clinical effect) or it isn't. I'm happy to take plant based products of course, but that stuff they gave me for my throat is most clearly absolutely not doing anything and the price tag for this placebo was rather high. It would also be nice to tell me it was homeopathic before I bought it so that I could make an informed choice and say no thanks.
  • Paracetamol however is the devil incarnate here and will kill you for sure, and I've already overdosed and just waiting for my liver to pack it in. But of course, I'm not allowed any other painkillers because, shock horror, I'm breastfeeding (for a total of 10 minutes a day only, surely I can have something to help me through the day???? Something that's a real medicine???? Please????)
  • German school satchels (that term doesn't actually cut it, they are called "Ranzen" and are square boxes on a child's back, usually obscuring most of the body mass of a first year child) are even bigger now than they were in my day. My notion that it would be nice to totally label my child the odd German one out for the sake of satisfying my sentimentality came to a sudden halt at the price tag of, wait till you hear, Euro 150. For a school bag. Yes, it's well made, branded and lasts for the full 4 years of German primary school, but come on, that's still 30 quid a year?! And of course British kids don't have to carry all their school books and exercise jotters around with them so there's no bloody point anyway to Cubling having one of them. "But I want to look like a German school girl so that everyone sees I'm German!" She protests, and I'm not sure if I should be happy or deeply concerned by this sudden portrayal of German patriotism, kindled by what I'm sure is usually better known as consumerism.
Clearly, I've become a stranger here.



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