Πάντα ῥεῖ – til Fyn fra Skotland

bogense photo
Photo by fugzu
Brexit kan virke meget underholdende, hvis man sidder trygt uden for Storbritannien og spiser popcorn, mens man følger galskaben i fjernsynet. Når man bor herovre, er det slet ikke sjovt, skal jeg hilse og sige. Der er slet ingen klarhed over, hvad fremtiden vil bringe, eller over, hvor hård eller blød Brexit mon bliver. Og den skotske førsteminister, Nicola Sturgeon, blev tydeligvis skræmt af catalanernes uautoriserede folkeafstemning, så det er meget usandsynligt, Skotland kommer til at stemme om uafhængighed igen inden for de næste fem år.

Vi har fået nok af usikkerheden. Vores lille firma kan nok ikke overleve en recession af den størrelse, der nok bliver en uundgåelig konsekvens af Brexit, og vi frygter også, hvad den dårlige økonomi vil betyde for uddannelsessektoren og sundhedsvæsnet m.m. Vi flytter derfor nu til Danmark.

Jeg har fået job som seniorkonsulent ved Dansk Sprognævn i Bogense med start den 1. april (hvilket også er den dag, Sprognævnet flytter til byen – 29. marts er sidste dag i København). Jeg flytter naturligvis nogle få dage før den dag, men Phyllis og børnene følger muligvis først efter en måned eller to senere (afhængigt af Brexit).

Marcel flytter i stedet fra Edinburgh til London, hvor han har fået job hos Lloyds pr. 1. september, og Charlotte er midt i sine studier ved University of Glasgow, så hun flytter på kollegium der, men Amaia, Anna og Léon flytter alle med os til Danmark.

Vi har fundet et midlertidigt sted at bo i Bogense, men vi skal naturligvis have fundet noget permanent så hurtigt som muligt. Vi pønser lidt på at bosætte os i Morud eller Veflinge (se kortet ovenfor), da vi godt kan li’ det område og der er en god skole. Det vil også gøre det lettere at pendle til Odense, hvis Phyllis nu finder et job dér.

I den forbindelse vil jeg da gerne bede om hjælp fra mit danske netværk. Er der nogen her, der kender nogen, der kender nogen i Odense eller på Nordfyn, der har brug for en skotte, der har en MA i fransk og tysk (og noget italiensk), kan forstå dansk (men ikke tale eller skrive det så godt endnu), og som har arbejdet som leksikograf og ordbogsredaktør i det meste af sin karriere? Hun har læst sproglig korrektur på engelske tekster for KU og SDU, og for år tilbage arbejdede hun et år som engelsklærer i Frankrig.

Tilbage til Skotland: Her er alt kaos – huset er fyldt til randen med flyttekasser, og vi har hundrede ting, vi skal nå at ordne på meget kort tid. Jeg håber, vi når det. I særdeleshed håber vi på en udsættelse af Brexit (eller på, at Mays aftale godkendes), da vi umuligt kan nå at sælge huset før den 29. marts.

Det bliver spændende at flytte til Danmark, men det bliver naturligvis også hårdt. Børnene og Phyllis skal meget hurtigt blive meget bedre til dansk, og vi flytter til et område, hvor vi ikke kender ret mange. Og det er ikke sjovt at skulle efterlade to voksne børn, Phyllis’ mor og øvrige familie i et andet land – og især ikke, når dette land snart rammes af Brexit.

Πάντα ῥεῖ (“alt flyder”), som Heraklit sagde. Da jeg flyttede til Skotland, regnede jeg ikke med, det var permanent, men da jeg blev gift med Phyllis, ændrede det sig, og vi gik begge ud fra, vi skulle blive i Skotland. Det virkede også så oplagt for få år siden, at Skotland ville vælge selvstændigheden og prøve på at blive et normalt, nordisk land inden for EU, og nu bliver skotterne i stedet smidt ud af EU mod deres vilje. Jeg aner ikke, hvad fremtiden vil bringe. Jeg håber blot, vores flytning til Fyn i fremtiden bliver noget, vi ser tilbage på som en god ændring. At forblive i “Brexit Britain” ville jo også være en ændring i sig selv, blot en dårlig én af slagsen.

Πάντα ῥεῖ – from Scotland to Funen

bogense photo
Photo by fugzu
As an EU citizen, Brexit has always been a personal worry. I’ve never considered it particularly likely that they’d frogmarch us all out of the country on the 30th of March, but the UK Home Office would just love to extend their hostile environment to EU citizens here, making it difficult to rent or buy property, get a job or access the health service. It’s also clear that Scotland won’t gain control over the powers necessary to prevent this anytime soon.

Brexit will be disastrous in so many other ways, though. The country is already losing large numbers of companies and individuals (including lots of NHS employees), and this will cause a huge recession even if Brexit gets cancelled tomorrow. The NHS will get worse. Universities will get much more insular without access to Erasmus (the programme that allows EU students to study here and Scottish students to study abroad for free). Products in shops will get dearer, less plentiful and less interesting. Politically, Brexit and its consequences will dominate everything for at least a decade, no matter how it ends, and this will prevent the country from solving all the very real problems facing people here.

Phyllis (my wife) and I cannot see how we can keep our company afloat under these circumstances. And we worry a lot about what it’ll mean for the three wee kids (aged 9, 11 and 13). Will they get a worse education than their older siblings? Will they have to pay university fees? Will they be unable to study abroad? And if they all emigrate after graduation because the economic prospects are dire here, will we be unable to visit them abroad because we lost everything in the Brexit recession?

For a long time we hoped that Scotland would launch an independence lifeboat, but it sadly doesn’t seem to be happening soon enough.

So we decided to find a lifeboat of our own. The result is that I’m starting a new job as a senior consultant at the Danish Language Council (the organisation defining the orthography of Danish) on the 1st of April. The Council used to be based in Copenhagen, but they’re relocating on the same day to Bogense, a small town on the north coast of Funen:

It’s quite a nice area (although it’s too flat for our liking) – the schools are good, the houses are cheap, and it’s dominated by tourism. We’ll be within commuting distance of Odense (Denmark’s third city, similar in size to Aberdeen), and it’s only an hour’s drive from Billund (Legoland) Airport.

It means leaving behind the two big kids – Marcel is about to finish university and is moving to London, and Charlotte is currently finishing her first year at Glasgow University, so she wants to stay and finish her degree. Phyllis’s mum and her brother and his family are also remaining in Scotland, and it feels really strange to have to leave them all here. At least salaries are quite a bit better in Denmark than here, so we should be able to come back often. Hopefully we’ll get a house with at least one spare bedroom, because we’re also hoping to get plenty of visitors from Scotland.

Πάντα ῥεῖ (“everything flows”), as Heraclitus used to say. When I moved to Scotland, I thought it was only for a few years, but I then ended up marrying a Scottish lassie, and I then expected to spend the rest of my life here. Now things will be very different, and we can only hope we’ll be happy about this change afterwards. I know for sure I’ll miss Scotland a lot – I’ll always feel partly Scottish. It will be good to escape the Brexit madness, though.

Historic Scotland and large families

Leon and Anna as King and Queen of Scots in Stirling.
Leon and Anna as King and Queen of Scots in Stirling., a photo by viralbus on Flickr.
We often feel modern companies are on a mission to punish large families. Cinemas, budget airlines and many others charge almost as much for kids as for adults, and the result is that a family with five kids have to pay almost seven times as much as a single person, although they are likely to have more or less the same income.

So it was an absolutely pleasure to join Historic Scotland today. The yearly membership fee for a family with an unlimited number of kids (up to 15 years old) is £84.55, which compares very favourably with the £45.60 that an individual would have to pay.

Historic Scotland is really worth joining, by the way. It gives you free access to lots of famous castles such as Stirling, Edinburgh, Linlithgow and Urquhart, plus a long list of other places and events.

We decided to go to Stirling Castle first, and if you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s huge, and there are many things to interest the kids, too.

Putting your kids inside the cage

Stumbling upon a python
Stumbling upon a python, a photo by viralbus on Flickr.
During my recent trip to Denmark with Léon, Anna and Amaia, my mum and I took Léon and Anna to Randers Regnskov (while my dad looked after Amaia, who had got a chest infection).

As always, it was a great experience, so much better than Eden.

If you don’t know the place, the idea is to take a zoo and a greenhouse, and then take the animals out of the zoo and put them and the visitors into the greenhouse together. This means that monkeys, parrots, leaf-cutter ants, pythons and bats might suddenly be sitting on your shoulder (the really dangerous animals, such as rattle snakes and Komodo dragons, are still locked up).

Furthermore, you can help feed the animals at specific times, and Léon loved feeding the bats just as much as Anna enjoyed feeding the manatees.

Apart from the winter months, you can fly directly from Edinburgh to Billund (home to Legoland and the Lion Park), which is about 80 miles south-west of Randers, so it’s really quite easy to get to.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the photo — it really is a live python next to Léon!

Travelling with stepchildren



UK Border
Originally uploaded by Mesq

When I travelled to Denmark ten days ago with Amaia, Anna and Léon, nobody asked us any questions (Amaia, Anna and I were using our Danish passports and Léon his British one).

However, when we returned last Wednesday, Léon and I were interviewed for a couple of minutes by the border police in Stansted (our relationship, his date of birth, and who I was). They also told me it would have helped if I had brought his birth certificate.

It’s great they’re trying to do something about child abductions, but wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask the questions when you leave the country where the child is a citizen rather than when you bring them back?

I also fail to understand what difference a birth certificate would have made. If it had been combined with our marriage certificate, I guess it would have shown a link between us, but surely unmarried stepdads and grandparents and the like are allowed to take kids on holiday, too?

The border police need to state clearly which documents they want to see to allow for smooth passage if the passports aren’t enough any more. Otherwise it becomes completely unpredictable whether you’ll be allowed to travel or not, which isn’t very satisfactory.

Flying with home brew

When I visited Denmark a few days ago (together with Léon, Anna and Amaia, but that’s another story), I wanted to take a few bottles of my home-brewed beer to inflict on old friends, so I wrapped eight bottles up in my best clothes and handed the suitcase over to Norwegian (they fly Edinburgh-Copenhagen, even during winter).

When we finally got to Århus, I unwrapped the bottles, and apart from one (which had leaked a little), they seemed to have survived the trip.

The next day I met up with an old friend of mine, Jes, who also happens to be a home-brewer, and I proudly poured him a glass of my fine brew. Or so I thought.

The beer was producing much more foam than it does here, and the taste had deteriorated. Jes was being very polite about it, but I was disappointed.

The next day I was visiting another old friend, Thomas Mailund, and I brought him a couple of bottles, too. I was hoping that the problems had perhaps been resolved by letting the bottles rest a little longer, but unfortunately it tasted even worse than the day before, not just yeasty but also sour.

So I have to conclude that my home brew doesn’t travel. If you want to taste it, you have to visit me here in Scotland! 🙂

Back from Tuscany

We had originally planned to go camping in England this summer, but when my dad broke his foot, we decided to go and visit my parents in their home in the Apennine mountains between Florence and Arezzo instead.

Given that the northern half of Europe (including most of France) has had abysmal weather for the past few months, while Italy and the rest of the Mediterranean have had beautiful weather, that turned out to be an excellent decision.

We have had full sun for 99% of the past fortnight (well, of the daylight hours anyway), whereas it seems likely it would have been closer to 1% if we had stayed on this island.

It would have been lovely to have stayed for longer, but the three big ones are going to France on Saturday, and I have work to do. I just hope the weather patterns will change soon!