Friday, September 27, 2019

Tow bars

My daddy taught me to drive when I was 17. He gave me pieces of advice I've tended to stick by, like if you see brake lights go on ahead, brake gently then check why. He gave me other pieces of advice that I ignored from the outset, like never use a car wash, it could damage your car - sorry I'm too wee to reach the roof of a people carrier and too lazy to wash a big car in the freezing winters in Scotland! Another piece of advice I remember from the 80s was never buy a used car with a tow bar. That one, he explained was because a used car with a tow bar had more than likely belonged to a caravan enthusiast so the engine/clutch/gearbox could have had more than its fair share of wear and tear. It wasn't a hard piece of advice to follow as used cars with tow bars are about as common as used cars with automatic gear boxes in Scotland. When we arrived in Denmark, however, we noticed more than 50% of used cars seemed to have tow bars, even Smart cars and wee biscuit tins like the Citroën C1 have tiny tow bars. Curious... We found a good deal on a (as the kids refer to it) bogey-coloured Cactus, but it had one of those offensive appendages... What should we do? Almost all cars this size have them.

Then I started to notice why! Here's the window of our equivalent of B&Q. From Ikea, to the equivalent of B&Q and even the 24hour Tesco, to every larger petrol station, you can rent a trailer free of charge to take your stuff home! You give them a deposit, you take home your goods and then you bring your trailer back for the deposit! No delivery charges, no hassle, as long as you have a tow bar! Isn't that a smart idea?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

More cheap trips


So, Three and Five are off today to Norway taking the ferry, returning on Sunday night via Sweden and Saga's famous bridge to play a viola/violin concert tour with their new band (though Léon was more intent on packing his football stuff as he'd heard rumours of them being allowed to play football in their free time against some Norwegian kids). This is the £98 foreign school trip I mentioned a month or so ago. I am a little alarmed at how unfazed my nine year old seemed to be to skip off into the bus without looking back! I know she had her big brother along and is still wee enough she felt it necessary to pack her stuffed llama to sleep with, but still - couldn't she at least look vaguely upset to leave me?

And, last night I was at school for a meeting about the end of Veflinge primary school trip. Anna had just completed her primary schooling in Scotland and had thoroughly enjoyed her week in Lochgoilhead last May. The opportunity to experience it again, only this time on Bornholm island was one of the ways we managed to sweeten the pill of the different school system, which meant she wasn't moving up to Léon's school till next summer. 

And talking of pill-sweetening... we paid £240 for the Scottish end of primary trip and we were informed last night that the Danish one costs 400DKK (£47). The actual programme is almost identical, other than the fact that the Danish one involves a longer bus trip and a ferry, as it is on Bornholm, a Danish island situated between Sweden and Poland. As if that in itself wasn't good enough, they also added that the PTA would be covering the 400DKK. I thought at first, given I am still new to living fully in Danish, that they were saying they were keeping the cost down to 400DKK by having the PTA subsidise the rest but, nope - the only cost to parents is the pocket money you choose to send them with! That in a country with average salaries of £35K, rather than Scotland's £25.5K.... Hmmm.

The more I live here the more frustrated I get by the Scottish model. It is so much easier to look at countries who speak the same language to gain a model for how things could be done, when in fact, there are so many small countries within a couple of hours flight, where we could learn a lot, if we just took time to breach the language barrier.