Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cultural misunderstandings

Cute comment from number 5 tonight: 'For goodness sake! Americans are ridiculous. There was this one guy on the TV moaning that it was 19 degrees and snowing! He should try Scotland where we manage to cope with zero degrees and snow!'

Monday, January 28, 2019

Catching up

These two photos are taken 24 months apart. Going from eleven to thirteen makes so much bigger a difference to a boy child, than going from 19 to 21, it would seem. 

I can't help but think, looking at Friday's snap that I now have two grown-up-looking sons; the period of eight years and two months that separates their births seems to be shrinking by the day, and I can see that it'll be a few short years before they'll be out on the town together, hitting a pub or a club, looking like friends rather than brothers. 

It's so strange for me to see, as I still remember where it all began, and it feels like yesterday!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Polski Zakatek

We have this lovely little Polish shop not far from the house, in Thornliebank. We discovered it by accident when the kids were tiny. One Easter, we were looking for white eggs to paint and all the local supermarkets only had brown. We noticed that Poles love their white eggs.

Thereafter, we started going reasonably often. Léon loves their cold meat - they have a weird ham with mushroom and pickle slices in it, they have lovely lean ham and lots of great kabanos type sausages. I am a great lover of their great sałatka polska. They have unusual cream cakes, interesting beers and wonderfully exotic stock cubes - beetroot for making borscht and mushroom ones too, though I've no idea what they use them for! The kids like their fancy fruit lollipops and the older ones are fans of the garlic crouton chips and thin pretzels covered in sesame seeds. We often load up on different types of bulgur and dumplings too.

The two women who work there are always friendly and helpful and interested to hear Thomas wandering around talking to the kids in Danish - they give us that knowing smile that means you're foreign too, just different foreign.

Last week we decided to go down and stock up for the new year...

The shop wasn't open so we messaged them. They've gone into liquidation, presumably because of Brexit. 😡😡

I hate this country.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Settled status

I've been in a foul mood all day.

For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I find it offensive that my husband is being told he has to apply for 'settled status'. Thomas has lived here 17 years, he has a UK national as a wife and several UK national children. Thomas has been paying income tax to the UK government for 17 years, without missing a month, despite having no right to vote here. Thomas is nearly fourteen years into paying the mortgage for the home he owns here. Ten years ago Thomas opened a company in Scotland. We work with international clients, bringing money into the UK from abroad, but despite all of this the government wants him to apply for the right to remain in the country where his children were born and if he doesn't he will be deported by 31 December 2020 (if the government opts for no deal) or 30 June 2021 (if the government doesn't crash out of the EU).

Thomas didn't come here for a better life or for a job no UK national would do. Thomas actually earns less than he would in his home country of Denmark. He didn't steal anyone's job - well if you can find me a Glasgow resident with a computing degree, a Japanese degree, a Maths one and a linguistics one who happens to have a working knowledge of English, Danish, German, Spanish, Esperanto, Georgian, Russian, Czech, Basque, Japanese, Italian, French, Dutch, Norwegian (Nynorsk), Swedish, Schwäbisch, Sanskrit, Scottish Gaelic, Yiddish and Scots, then maybe he did, but I don't think too many folk in the Glasgow area fit that CV.

Until about 4pm, he was even getting charged to apply to remain in his home with his British citizen kids, but as of then, the Maybot seems to have withdrawn the charge for this at least, but what irks me is this idea of 'applying'. If this is something you are required to apply for, there is at least a chance you will be rejected... not everyone in this situation will have the required biometric passport - I know of many EU pensioners who have been here so long and are so old, they simply no longer have a passport from their original country. We've moved several times so don't have the required proofs of address from over the years - council tax bills, pay slips, utility bills and the likes. Thomas moved here in good faith nearly two decades ago, started a family and is now being threatened with deportation from his family if he can't meet the requirements brought in retrospectively as the result of a referendum he was denied a vote in. Moreover, I am being denied the right to follow him if he's deported as the gammon brigade have voted away my freedom of movement. You couldn't make it up!

Even if we survive this, how many EU families will be torn apart, lose their homes or similar? I am utterly disgusted by this government.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Léon and Charlotte

Léon is a mix of two kids - 85% of the time he is enthusiastic and exuberant, wandering from room to room whistling the latest concerto or ceilidh music he has been practising for his orchestra or folk group. He hums, he sings, he keeps the beat of some tune only he can hear in his head. He twitches and taps and never sits still. Music is everything. When he's not being musical, he spends hours googling what he refers to as 'fun facts' and comes out with the most incredible general knowledge any of my kids has ever mastered. I often find myself wondering what on earth he googled in the first place to learn the information on every subject under the sun. He sucks it all up like an oversized sponge. He's bouncy like a puppy, never walking but skipping everywhere. Where this approach was cute in our small house when he measured 1m25, it is a tad annoying now he's 1m70+ and lanky as a bean pole. The other 15% of the time he's 'gammoning' about some minor annoyance that no one else would have noticed but once he's got hold of that stick it's hard to fight it away from him.

Charlotte is the opposite of Léon. She's a quiet and passive sloth-like creature, never making a sound. Occasionally you hear her singing along to something in Spanish in the kitchen while cooking but only when she's alone and if you enter, she quickly falls silent. Charlotte sits still on the couch, earpods in, or just silent. She moves slowly and never bounces. She comes out with cutting, sarcastic remarks about Léon's nerdiness. Léon's music is often met with stares, huffs and calls for him to fall silent, until exasperated when he's forgotten for the third time in less than two minutes that she's asked him to stop whistling, she loses her temper and shouts at him to shut up!

Don't get me wrong - the two are inseparable and they adore each other. He was her first baby after all, but on a noise level, they are opposite ends of the spectrum.

So, when I saw this yesterday on Facebook and it made me laugh out loud... Definitely think it was written with them in mind!

When I forwarded it to Charlotte who was on the bus into town, she also laughed out loud, as did Léon when I showed him it after school.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Amaia, did you forget you were running yourself a bath, by any chance?
Ehhhhh, oops!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Not so Grinch, really

At the end of the Christmas season last year, I noticed someone on eBay had discounted their vinyl Christmas-themed table cloths. Given that was something we don't have, I went ahead and ordered one without mentioning it to the family.

Before I was due to go in for my operation, I went up to our loft and brought down all the old nappy boxes full of Xmas baubles and the likes, as I am the only one who knows exactly where in the loft everything is stored. Inside one, I had put this so I didn't forget about it.

When I pulled this out proudly to show the family, Charlotte knocked me down with the cutting comment: 'Good God, the Grinch has bought herself a Christmas tablecloth!'

That got me to thinking... Do my family consider me to a festive party pooper, and if so, why?

It is true that I find Xmas quite stressful. I want everyone to be happy and finding gifts to please everyone equally worries me as I don't want to let anyone down but don't feel confident that I have found the perfect present. Maybe that comes across as me being an unhappy gift-buyer, when in fact I am just a bit of a paranoid one. I want it to be so special for everyone that I apparently screw up by looking worried!

Then there's the tree. I like our tree but our house barely fits the seven of us so half the dining room being taken over by a Scandinavian pine forest stresses me because it makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. But where others interpret this as me being pissed off at having a tree kicking about my house, what is stressing me is in fact the size of my dining room and not my tree! I get quite S.A.D. in Scotland in winter so can't imagine how I'd cope without all the pretty lights and candles, but again, all people see is me being grumpy, once again.

I don't tend to decorate the tree itself, not because I am not interested in it, but more to give the kids pleasure. I know so many parents who won't let their kids near the tree for decorating purposes because they have a very fixed idea of how it should end up. I love the chaos we end up with every year, with sparkly shoes next to various birds and all sorts of home-made baubles from years gone by. I like that it looks like a kid decorated it because that means the kids had fun. But somehow me sitting taking photos of them putting it up comes across as me just not being very into it☹️ Who knew?

There's nothing I like better than listening to the Xmas CD on the school run all of December, but because I vetoed it once in November, I apparently don't like Xmas music either!

I happily participate in family evenings in front of Xmas movies but no one seems to notice. I even read Skipping Christmas, long before it hit the screens as Christmas with the Kranks...

I've never been a baker, that's true, but again I love to see the kids making their Danish biscuits and gingerbread houses. Thomas and Charlotte take over on that front leaving the Grinch out, as usual.

To me Christmas is more about seeing family, chatting and eating the lovely and traditional meals we serve up, both on Danish Xmas day and on the Scottish one. Everyone being together is much more important than anything else.

So somehow, I have become known as the family Grinch, even if I'm not the least bit green or evil. I'm not sure how to change their perception of that for the future.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

That Fiat

You can't get very far on this blog without noticing my somewhat irrational adoration of all things Fiat 500, or all things 'Chuggy', if you're in on the lingo... so when I refer to my Chuggy today as 'that Fiat', you know it has done something major to get into my bad books!

It started the first week in November as far as I am aware. I was in hospital so I don't know. One day on the school run, Thomas turned on the radio and the touchscreen froze on the Fiat symbol (the screen before you get the option to change radio station, jump to CD or any of the Bluetooth or phone settings.) He'd been listening to Radio Scotland the previous day so that was now the only option available.

That state of affairs lasted two weeks until he was at the garage anyway and asked the mechanic to take a look. He told him it needed a software update and said it'd cost about £50 to fix... a bit steep but nonetheless... The update didn't work (and he refused to pay for it!) It stayed frozen. The mechanic decided to unfreeze it, he could always pull the battery connection for a minute to reset it. He did and it didn't. The radio was still frozen and now, as all the settings go through that panel, the car reset itself to midnight on January 1 2000, with no way to override it. Into the bargain, as I couldn't confirm that, it was flashing on and off waiting for confirmation. 

That must have been 28 days ago, as that Fiat is now insisting it is January 28 at some ungodly hour. 😡 So I have no CD player, no Bluetooth, no phone, a flashing dash and I'm stuck on radio Scotland. Things can't get any worse, or so I thought...

Last week I was driving the kids to Braehead when the radio suddenly switched itself on. Exactly three minutes later, it switched itself off. It went on to do this a further seventeen times between Nitshill and Braehead. This was annoying to say the least and also startled me each and every time.

Surely things were now as bad as they could get? 

On my next outing into town, it decided I wanted to listen to Thomas's Christmas CD - a mix of Danish, German and Spanish carols - a bit incongruous after Christmas, but why not? I had missed a month of driving this Christmas season so wasn't completely Christmas-musicked-out, for once. However, the switching on and off had tripled so I decided to combat it by turning off the volume. Mummy 1 - that Fiat 0! Until it reset the volume each and every time it turned it back on - bastard Fiat!

Surely things were now as bad as they could get?

Sigh... nope.

On Sunday I drove Charlotte and mum to Braehead to have their iPhone batteries updated. It played silly buggers all the way over and the volume button was no longer working so I couldn't shut it up at all. I parked and turned off the engine... the music continued. I took out the keys... the music continued. I locked the car and put my ear to the window... to my dismay, this is what I could hear.

Bastard Fiat! I needed some shopping in IKEA but was forced to sprint round the aisles in case the stupid thing ran my battery down to zero in the meantime. I would have expected better behaviour from my Chuggy. It was obviously possessed by some demonic radio system and needed exorcising immediately!

I made one stop on my way home at Aldi to buy dinner and we hit the final straw. The touchscreen that had been frozen on this picture for six weeks, suddenly went white, wavy black lines appeared and it started screaming, at full volume, some hideous noise that reminded me of the sound you used to hear when you loaded a program into a ZX Spectrum from a tape deck in the 80s! And the bloody keys were in my pocket at the time! I'm literally at the stage where earplugs are becoming a necessity to drive.

So on Hogmanay I rang my local Fiat dealer and explained the whole saga. They said they could have a look at that for me, no problem. They charge a standard £100 to diagnose the fault and if I need a new radio because their software fault has crippled it, it'll be £600!!! FFS, I've owned cars that I paid less for than that. You've got to be having a laugh! Needless to say, I'll be having Halfords fit me a new bog-standard radio as soon as they reopen and my local Fiat dealership can stick their diagnostics where the sun doesn't shine. 

Hopefully by this time next week my Chuggy will be back to its usual self, and no longer possessed by demons.