Friday, January 31, 2020


Don't even speak to me today! There are no words to explain how utterly bereft this whole pantomime is making me. Tonight at midnight (my time) my country, the one I love and call-ed home, ceases to exist. Tonight at midnight everything I have done with my adult life becomes undoable by my fellow UK citizens. Half my countrymen have decided that the way I lived my entire adult life is illegitimate and unacceptable. I have studied at university in Italy and Germany, I have worked in France, I have married a Frenchman (and divorced him) and I have married a Dane. Both my husbands also happened also to be half German, so I've had a French father-in-law, a German one, I've had a German mother-in-law and a Danish one. I have French nieces and Danish ones. I have lived and studied in Denmark too now. My German mother-in-law lived in France. My Danish in-laws live in Italy. My daughter is talking about possibly moving to Spain... Not acceptable, nope! Don't dare befriend those nasty foreigners and move abroad. That is no longer acceptable!

Today, I am more than sure that the single greatest gift I gave all my children was a foreign father and therefore a second passport. Their freedom to live, study, work and love all over Europe, as I have done, continues into tomorrow morning, while that light goes out for their friends, their cousins, their family, even their mother. I escaped in time to get an EU residence permit but the middle years of my 50s will no longer be a time for slowing down, relaxing and enjoying my growing family, they will now be filled with anxiety as I continually look behind me until the day comes in 2025 when I can again apply to be an EU citizen. And I am utterly distraught to think of my daughter's uni friends who are studying French and Spanish with no right to go there after uni and my younger kids' ex-classmates who are currently working their way through the education system with a much-curtailed future ahead of them.

I cannot imagine being on UK soil today... even here I can barely breathe. I can't actually imagine setting foot there again, though of course I love my family dearly. I want to teleport my old uni friends Linda and Gillian here today and spend the evening hugging them and crying together because I know what this means to them - we lived together all over Europe and those were the best of times. Gillian's kids will not have the opportunities mine still have, and yet they have done nothing different to mine. And for what? So the little Englanders can wave their union Jacks and taunt our nearest and dearest with their childish rhetoric. I am so embarrassed for them.

I even find myself casting my mind back to my dear friend Sheina, who died many years ago now, because I know she too would have been inconsolable tonight. Remember the Freiburg Bierfest, Sheina? I'm sure you do... Tonight, I will lift a glass and toast you too, wherever you are now.

I want to sit and drink with my 'breast friends' too. I know how awful this all is for my dear friend Karen too - as an academic, this is doing nothing for her university's future or for the research people like her want to be involved in. Nor is it great for her daughter who is just back from a year in France.

Today I sat in my adult education class with every nationality under the sun - there are nearly 25 in the class and almost no duplicate nationalities. And do you know what? It is fascinating and they are all lovely and there isn't one person in that room I wouldn't do anything I could to help. Some are young enough to be my kids, some grew up behind the iron curtain, some fled the bombings in Syria. We are all different and fascinated by our differences. By discussing them, we can become friends. The world is not a frightening place when you open your arms to others, it only becomes that way, when you close your door, and tonight I become homeless, as my country's door closes. Tonight and for the next five years, I will be a citizen of nowhere, until one day I become a citizen of Denmark, but in truth, my country has always been and will always be Europe. And that is why I could not have stayed behind for the shitshow.

Tonight I also want to bus over Marcel and Charlotte and hold them tight. They only exist because I was allowed to fall in love with a fellow EU citizen. None of my kids would be here without freedom of movement, so the future generations of kids like mine will simply cease to exist. I want to kiss and hug them because I know now how precarious their existence actually is. The Marcels, the Charlottes, the Léons, the Annas and the Amaias of the next generation will never be born. And that makes the UK a smaller and darker place.

So if you'll excuse me, I'll now go and hide under my duvet till some time after my birthday, by which time I expect I may need to come back out and eat, but please, just don't talk to me today.

In the meantime - here's a wee song I learnt when I was in France - that's what Europe means to me. I'd rather listen to that than today's news.

Here are the lyrics:

Bien sûr, ce n'est pas la Seine 
Ce n'est pas le bois de Vincennes 
Mais c'est bien joli tout de même 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Pas de quais et pas de rengaines 
Qui se lamentent et qui se traînent 
Mais l'amour y fleurit quand même 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Ils savent mieux que nous, je pense 
L'histoire de nos rois de France Hermann, Peter, Helga et Hans 
A Göttingen 
Et que personne ne s'offense 
Mais les contes de notre enfance "Il était une fois" commence 
A Göttingen 
Bien sûr nous, nous avons la Seine 
Et puis notre bois de Vincennes 
Mais Dieu que les roses sont belles 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Nous, nous avons nos matins blêmes 
Et l'âme grise de Verlaine 
Eux c'est la mélancolie même 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Quand ils ne savent rien nous dire 
Ils restent là à nous sourire 
Mais nous les comprenons quand même 
Les enfants blonds de Göttingen 
Et tant pis pour ceux qui s'étonnent 
Et que les autres me pardonnent 
Mais les enfants ce sont les mêmes 
A Paris ou à Göttingen 
O faites que jamais ne revienne 
Le temps du sang et de la haine 
Car il y a des gens que j'aime 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Et lorsque sonnerait l'alarme 
S'il fallait reprendre les armes 
Mon cœur verserait une larme 
Pour Göttingen, pour Göttingen 
Mais c'est bien joli tout de même 
A Göttingen, à Göttingen 
Et lorsque sonnerait l'alarme 
S'il fallait reprendre les armes 
Mon cœur verserait une larme 
Pour Göttingen, pour Göttingen

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Aldi, Newton Mearns

Wee heads-up to my Newton Mearns mates: be careful if you're out shopping down in Greenlaw village. Someone opened my mum's handbag and removed her purse in Aldi on Tuesday without her noticing. They have CCTV footage of the theft but that's cold comfort. She now has the hassle of cancelling all her cards, driving licence, dealing with police and not having any way to pay for anything for the next week etc. Lowlifes.🤬

The only good news is that she'd just given all her cash to my nephew for his birthday last week, so all that was in her purse (now she's cancelled the cards) was a ticket to a Cliff Richard concert this autumn. Hell bloody mend them - I suspect it won't be exactly what they will have been hoping for! 😂

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Shitty new passports

The girls's new passports just turned up. Ten days to go till the lunatics finally take over the asylum and still, they have decided to make the new ones a little sadder and more insular. I feel my wee multi-national girls have been cheated.

I'm so glad they still have another option to keep their ability to work, study, travel, live and love all over our beautiful continent, rather than being isolated on a nasty little inward-looking island. I hope, by the time their next renewal comes around, the government back home will have begun to come to its senses.

Monday, January 20, 2020

All my little uprisings

When I lived in Italy in '86 one of my flatmates was in a fairly unhappy relationship at home, so took her summer school in Perugia as an opportunity to have some no-strings-attached romantic fun... She first tried chatting up our middle-aged, rather sleazy landlord Elio, after some fun there she moved on to an Iranian bloke whose name I can't remember, followed by Gavin from England and finally Frank from Bremen. Frank became a bit of a fixture in my flat for the latter half of the summer and early autumn and one thing that made me laugh was the fact that Frank had got it into his head that the word 'offspring' was in fact 'uprisings' - I guess he remembered it was some kind of preposition followed by some kind of upwards-directional verb. Whatever went through his head, no matter how many times we all corrected him, he persisted in talking about mothers and their little uprisings all autumn. It still makes me smile today whenever I hear that word, so in dedication to my long-lost German acquaintance, Frank, here is a rare photo on Christmas day 2019 of all my little uprisings. 😂

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Need a name

Léon is very sweet. He's fully taken to his new life and is trying very hard to embrace everything as a true Dane. Last week he bounced home and pointed out he had noticed on his walk home that almost all the bigger houses around here have names: there is, of course, Rugård, which our street is named after, there is also Damgård, Banggård, Hjørnegård and several more. The thing they all have in common is the gård as they are old farms, so given our house was also once a tiny farm, he's decided it also needs to be X-gård. He thought long and hard about it then decided the obvious name for him to give our house is Hyggegård, because, to him, life in Denmark is just epitomised by hygge! I'm sure I'm going to come home some night to him painting it in Gothic script above the archway into the house! Love that boy!😂

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Days 2 thru' 4

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Just keeping a picture diary here of progress with the 'annex'. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Still love a typo

Saw this in Ikea last night - please someone pay me to proofread stuff, you know you want to!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Winter lighting

Aha! I was right. My theory from back in November turns out to have been spot-on. There are two separate things here in Danish culture - there's the Xmas tree which goes up in the ten days before Xmas and comes down the first week in January as we Scottish people might expect and then, completely separately, there are garden lights that first started appearing just after the clocks changed on to winter time and are still about now after all the Xmas trees have been abandoned. Here's my neighbour's flagpole tonight.

I'm now only waiting to see if they simply hang about till the days get longer around my birthday, or if they stay up fully till the clocks change back to summer time!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Day One

Today marks day one of the great conversion. When we moved in here we had not only a 70-odd m2 garage but also a further garage and tool room that was even bigger and a barn of the same size.

Given we also have a big enough driveway that we have managed to have all Thomas's work colleagues round at the same time with their cars, we decided we could dispense with the main garage and convert it into a kind of spare/extended part of the house, not only so the two older kids could have a room to call their own, but so we could house our crazy numbers of books and have people to stay in the summer (or whenever). This garage is larger than the upper floor of our house in Kinloch, so adding it is no small thing - it will take the living area up to about 300m2 (almost double what we had in Scotland - 162m2). Not to mention, both it and the main house are bungalows with proper roof space, so should we one day win the lotto, we can actually double the size of our house! So, this is going to be an on-going feature, but today is perhaps the last time, in our time of residence, that our garage is going to look like this!

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Ten year challenge

I saw lots of people at new year uploading 'ten year challenge' photos, because we'd changed decade. I decided against that. I didn't find my forties to be a particularly stress-free decade and 41 definitely looked a lot better than 51. However, having taken a photo on Xmas day of me and all my kids together, I realised how seldom I am in a photo with all five as I am the family photographer, so I thought that ten year challenge might be more fun - let's face it: the kids have changed even more than me so might detract from my aging process! So here goes😁

All of us in 2010.

All of us last week.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Passport renewal in Brexitville

The girls have been registered as Danish nationals since they were eligible - that is to say Anna became a Danish citizen upon our marriage when she was 14 months old, and Amaia has been Danish since birth. For some reason, children born abroad to a Danish father are not allowed to be Danish (unless the rules have changed in the last ten years) unless their parents are married. In fact, that was the primary reason Thomas and I married. We were a bit long in the tooth otherwise, or I was at least...

Anyway, that means that for the last decade both have been running on two passports - their UK one and their Danish one. Each has been renewed in turn - the Danes showed no interest in their UK one, the Brits previously simply asked if they had another, then issued the new UK one as soon as they received the photo with the usual 'I certify this looks a bit like X' guff on the back.

This time, when I filled out the online forms, it said Anna was old enough to sign her passport so could self-certify, which is new for us. Amaia on the other hand is still under twelve (the age a UK passport holder is required to sign - it is different in Denmark as both girls signed previous passports despite only being six when they were issued) so required a friend, not relative, who had known her at least two years, who was a UK resident and UK passport holder to confirm her identity. Obviously this is possible for us as we've not long left, but I wonder how I'd have fulfilled this requirement if I had moved away when she was a few months old and lost contact with home - she would still be eligible for a UK passport, but finding someone to confirm her identity would not have been a given. So, there must be many a British child out there who is finding it rather difficult to get the passport they are due. Who would have thought this UK government would make it difficult for ex-pats to get a passport?!😡

And that was when the fun began. I asked my sister from another mother, Linda, to help out. She was happy to, especially given she had done her neighbour's child two months ago so knew it was simply a case of okaying a photo and providing her own passport number and job title... or so it was with the UK-based child who lives below her... Suddenly Amaia's passport application morphed out of all recognition. First Linda was asked to confirm the photo and give her passport details - all well and good, then she was asked Amaia's date of birth, which she only knew roughly so had to ring me. She was then asked Amaia's current address, my date of birth, my place of birth, Thomas's date of birth, Thomas's place of birth, then Amaia's place of birth, then to confirm she knew me to be Amaia's biological mother! (Seriously!) I swear they stopped short at asking my bra size or whether Thomas sleeps in PJs or naked. I mean to say - it really helps to have goooood friends if this is the number of hoops they have to go through to help you out. I am seriously beginning to wonder if the UK is trying to make it so hard to get a passport when you live elsewhere or are a dual national, that they hope non-residents will simply find it easier to drop that second nationality in the long run. If that is what they are counting on to rid themselves of us, they aren't reckoning with the level of our stubbornness!

Over and above these issues, there is no longer an option to pick up at a consulate the way my older kids did with their French passports last year, and there was also no option to have a relative pick them up or receive them in the UK but the compulsory surcharge to have it sent to your foreign home address in the EU is nearly £20 per passport. So, despite a child's UK passport costing £58.50, these came out at £75.86 each, for just five years!

Finally, their last hoop is that they want me to photocopy both sides of every page in the girls' Danish passports ('whether they are blank or not') and send them a paper copy of that along with their current UK passport before they can get to work on their new ones.

Sixty-four sheets of A4 and two passports in a special delivery envelope. That isn't going to be cheap either. Sigh, grrrrr!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Passport renewal

In my house we have twelve passports. That could go up to thirteen if Thomas manages to regain his German one (which his dad signed away when he changed nationality when Thomas was ten) and even fourteen, in five and a half years time when I become eligible for a Danish one... Passports are expensive little buggers though, and this morning I've found out that they are more expensive if you need them to courier them abroad - £75.86 for a child's ex-pat passport, and that is without factoring in that they want me to send over their current UK one and a photocopy of every page (and it states 'including any blank pages' 😡) of any other passports they hold, before they will make a start on their application!

There are some odd rules, I have to say. Anna is fine, at over twelve, she can self-certify her identity with a signature, but at ten Amaia has to have a fellow UK citizen verify hers (which is odd given she already had to sign her Danish passport which she last got renewed at the age of six!) So the full rules state that the certifier needs to be a UK citizen with a UK passport, living in the UK and not related to Amaia. Given Amaia is eligible for a UK passport because I am a UK citizen (and she was born there), these requirements are odd. Had I flown here with her at birth and never returned, no one in the UK could fulfil these requirements, so she'd not be able to get a passport till she was twelve. And it's all a bit over-complicated, given she is recognisable from her old photo.

I also think the cost is a bit steep for five years. Already the standard £56 is more than the adult price for the equivalent duration. I would definitely be tempted to start using only their Danish ones, if I didn't think our current fascist-in-chief might use that as an excuse to deny them their citizenship at some point further down the line.