Tuesday, January 11, 2022

End of the blogging break?

For only the second time since I began this blog back in 2006, I seem to have blogged fewer than 100 days last year. I think, for the first half of the year, that was probably because I was concentrating on my more quirky Contemplating Denmark blog, where I managed 60 posts in just three months, but it too fell away by the summer. 

So, why have I fallen off the wagon? I'm not 100% sure. I have still been writing, but it has been more for me and for my kids (and their kids) to read hopefully one day in many years time, than for the world. 

I remember many moons ago, when dad was still alive, discussing what blogs were for. Dad and I loved the idea of rambling into the void, whether or not anyone was reading us. Mum, on the other hand, couldn't understand. She thought it was somewhat like publishing your personal diary. But I didn't agree. Blogs are for many things, but the deepest and most personal aspects of life never really make it onto here, so blogs are more of an anti-diary. So, maybe Covid dragging on and on-going health issues have led to a year of deeper thinking and therefore less publishing.

Last summer saw another health scare in my life, after 2018's 56-day+ ovarian cancer episode, I thought I had earned the right to a few years of peace on that front... silly me. In April, my annual mammogram showed some microscopic micro-calcium deposits along the insides of my milk ducts. That didn't sound scary to me, but apparently it can become worse than scary if left in situ so they whipped me in and removed all my milk ducts on the right side. They then remodelled the other side to match and that led to many months of physio. I can now report Danish NHS food is 100 times better than Scottish NHS foodπŸ˜‚

There have been several plusses: 

  • clothed, my boobs now look like they did in my 20s (though naked, I look like I have taken on a shark in shallow waters - no more skinny dipping for me, I suspect)
  • going from an E to a B means no more backache 
  • they signed my left-hand boob up to the mammogram programme that ends at age 80 because of my history 
  • (there's nothing left in the right-hand one that can go wrong apparently, which is possibly another plus?!)
  • talking to consultants and physios for six months has been great for my Danish - I might still struggle to explain what haircut I want in the local salon, but I can hold a full-on consultation on breast health and physiotherapy, in fact I could even give a lecture on the subject!
  • given I'd had the other scare 2 years earlier, they did a genetic check on my pathology from here comparing it to the report I had sent from Scotland to check that my three daughters (and niece) are not at any increased risk and that all came out fine
I think I'll refrain from illustrating this post with a pic! Bet you're relieved!

Once it was all done and dusted, I asked the consultant what she thought had caused the calcium to form. Her answer amused me somewhat:

You can never tell, she said, but it's a problem that often occurs when you:
  • have never been pregnantπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
  • have never breastfedπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
  • drink too much alcoholπŸ˜‚πŸΈπŸ·πŸ₯‚
  • smokeπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‡
Given I score about -99% on all counts, being a non-smoking, (almost) non-drinking person who has birthed a football team and fed them for over a decade, she was left scratching her head, but at least I got a bit of a laugh!

Covid hitting the world two months after we moved to this house and then last summer's shenanigans have not been great for our integration here. I assumed by now I'd have at least a part-time job out of the house, rather than the lonely freelancing of the last few years, and I'd have a host of new friends. Instead we've been holed up for so long, I can barely remember what socialising is. Thomas is turning 50 in five weeks time and I sat down to draw up a guest list for a potential party... only to realise that we know almost no one within driving distance, especially on a Tuesday night! Ho hum. I guess I should get to work on his 60th instead, as we might be back to normal by then!

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I am hoping that in 2022 I will find myself a little more often in the blogging saddle. Fingers crossed.

Friday, December 03, 2021

One for posterity


When you know you're parenting right πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ 

Amaia : Mum, do you think there's anything I could ever do that would make you disown me? 
Me : Yeah, you could tell me you'd voted for Boris Johnson!πŸ˜‰ 
Amaia : (laughing) Come on mum, I meant something realistic! πŸ˜‚

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Easirent Edinburgh Airport

I've been hiring cars several times a year since the spring of 1992. I have never before felt compelled to write a car hire review however... 

Because of Covid, many of the car hire places in Edinburgh airport are not operating as usual. Seeing that the Copenhagen flight gets in exactly an hour before the car hire companies shut was a cause for concern therefore. I rang ahead and asked what their policies were concerning delayed flights or other issues. Easirent assured me on the Tuesday morning that that would be no problem. If I could see already in Copenhagen that I was delayed, then I should ring up and let them know to wait, otherwise I should ring on arrival and they'd send down the shuttle bus no problem, but whatever the issue, they assured me they never closed if they could see on their booking form that someone was coming for a car. They sounded perfect, so I booked with them... Next time I'll remember to ask the name of the person doing all the promising...

Our flight touched down exactly on schedule but Brexit means delays at customs and passport control and further delays at baggage handling. Half an hour before Easirent's closing time, I rang to alert them we'd be cutting it fine but no one answered. I rang non-stop till five minutes before their official closing time to let them know I'd be between 5 and ten minutes late. Mr Jobsworth answered and told me he would be closing at half past on the nose, booking or no booking. I explained calmly the assurance I'd got from his colleague four days earlier but he was less than interested. I explained I needed to get to Glasgow and then Newton Mearns, that I had tired children and numerous cases with me and that an eight day booking was a significant amount for his company. He hung up on me. We rushed to the shuttle bus and over to Easirent, assuming we might just catch him. And we did. Thanks to a lovely shuttle driver we got there at breakneck speed and arrived before he'd even closed up for the night. The guy on the desk told us he was not interested, he was closing and we could do what we liked. We pleaded and begged as he chained the car pound up for the night. The shuttle driver begged on our behalf and told him he'd report him, to no avail. Thomas took out his phone and tried to take a time-stamped photo of the man locking up for our official complaint and the guy ran at him wielding his fists, till the shuttle driver, LΓ©on, and I stepped between them to keep him safe. All this in front of our 11 year old child!

The shuttle guy offered to drive us to McDonald's or a hotel and eventually drove us back to get the night bus to Glasgow. He was an absolute star of a man. The night bus to Glasgow costs £50 when you buy in advance, but fully £70 when you have to buy on the day and we'd to wait an hour to catch it. Finally dropped in Glasgow at 3am, we had no choice but to get a seven seater Uber out to my mum's as there were no trains or buses for nearly four hours and the kids had been up 22 hours at that point.

£105 down, physically threatened and with no hire car for the week or to get us back to Edinburgh for our flight home, we ended up forking out another £105 to insure me on mum's car for the week but that left us with just one five seater for seven people so I had to drive every trip twice meaning I had almost no time left to visit the friends I haven't seen in nearly two years.

All in all, I would say that Easirent in Edinburgh airport is by far the worst renting (if you can call it that) experience in all my car renting years and in all the countries I have rented. If you aren't willing to stay open when baggage or a flight is delayed, that's absolutely fine, but say it upfront so people don't book with you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rip-off Britain

I know the Tories love to line the pockets of their friends but my god this Day2 PCR test nonsense takes the biscuit. 

Here in Denmark we kindly offer tourists free PCR tests, done in person and available within about 15km of anywhere you happen to find yourself, including airports, border points etc Charlotte needed three tests while she was here for various reasons, Marcel and Milly took two each - one to get into Germany and one to go back home.

The UK currently requires you to take a PCR test two days after arriving in the country, fully vaccinated or not, but there are no free tests on offer. You click on the government website and it offers you tests starting from £2 per person. Not too dire, so you book your flight. Then four days before your flight you click to book your test and of course the first one on the list says they have none of the £2 tests left but are, funnily enough, willing to send you a test for £68 per person. You go onto the second on the list and as if by some miracle the same happens. You then go through the first forty on the list and every single one of them has the same message - Cheap tests sold out, tests start at £68 or £70, and the tiny little test that fits in a tiny little envelope somehow requires £10 in postage per test! Because you couldn't possibly stick five in one envelope if you could charge £50 in postage instead, could you?.

I would sympathise slightly if I thought these were in place to make the UK a safer or more Covid-free place, but these tests are sent to your home/holiday address, done in private and returned to the lab in the post so there is no way of knowing whether the passenger has completed them or if they have asked a friend or relative to scrape their nose, mouth or wherever. These tests serve three purposes as far as I can see. Firstly to line the pockets of labs that have been okayed by the government, secondly to pretend to the public they are keeping the UK safe, unlike their abysmal performance throughout the pandemic and finally to hack off the foreigners so they stay away... I'm sure that will be great for the economy going forward.

I, for one, won't be caught out like this again. Next time I want to see my mum, I might just fly her to Amsterdam or the Canaries instead of wasting £350 on bogus Covid testing. Then I can use my money to boost some other economy instead. Grrrrr!

Oh and this all means by the way that I may be in the UK Mon-Fri next week, or I might just take my £350 and bugger off somewhere nicer and more tourist-friendly instead!

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Paris marathon

Marcel's done a lot of charity work over the years, from building irrigation systems in India, to volunteering in charity shops and soup kitchens and giving up his time to paint vulnerable people's houses free of charge.

His latest offering seems to be running the Paris marathon (he's never run a marathon before) for a cancer charity. So if anyone fancies rewarding his hard work and training, here's the necessary link!