Scotland

Why I like the Glaswegians.

Today’s reason for liking Scotland are the Glaswegians. There might be a serious lack of sunshine in Scotland but the Glaswegians don’t need it anyway as they have sunshine in their hearts. They are the most outgoing and cheerful people in the world. They are sweet. Every time I am in Glasgow I am chatted up by somebody who simply is interested in learning about me. This is exactly what we do in Poland.

When I first moved away from Poland for London, I found it quite frustrating how people ran a converstion. It was very superficial, like they were asking questions but were not interested in answers. This British ‘how are you?’ without waiting for a reply is quite shocking for a foreigner. Where I come from when we ask ‘how are you?’ we do expect you to tell us not only about all your medical conditions which prevent you from being happy but we do wait to hear about all your darkest secrets.

Before I have moved to Scotland I was convinced that everywhere in Britian all that your interlocutor wants to hear from you after asking you ‘how are you?’ is ‘fine’. Anything more than ‘fine’ is not invited and will not be heard anyway.

But Glasgow is different. The Glaswegians are indeed interested in you.

Yesterday in the Costa cafe in the center of Glasgow I met a lovely young man. Just as I was paying for a ridiculous amount of coffees and teas (for all my colleagues), somebody said:

-Oh, so you are paying today. I’ll get one flat white please.

-Hmm, where I come from it is always a man who pays – I reacted immediately.

-Haha, and from where I come from the women pay – he said.

Then of course he questioned whether I was to drink 4 coffees and 2 teas on my own to which I replied that I have had a wee drinking problem for some time now.

John (as I learned) had a very interesting mix of talents as he was a chef and a public speaking coach in one. I told him what I was doing for living.

John was so easy to talk to and we liked one another instantly. This is what I love about humankind, this is what I like about Glaswegians. They are approachable, warm and real. They are as they are, no need for acting.

I told John I preferred Glasgow to Edinburgh as the people of Edinburgh keep themselves to themselves a lot. John said: ‘To me Edinburgh is like a fallen cat walk model which used to be fabulous, has not been for a long time now now but still behaves like one’.

Ha, I couldn’t have put it more aptly.

Scottish Late Summer

On the bus. It’s mid-September. In Edinburgh. 9 degC and it’s raining. Of course.

It’s is grey, dirty and ugly.

Having just returned from Montenegro which is a paradise on earth I’m struggling to get used to my Scottish daily misery again.

I promised to my husband I would stop complaining about the weather. It is as it is and that’s it, he says. Kind of right but… I am not from here and I am not cool about winter in summer. Agree though that I must stop complaining as the fact that I wake up with unhappy face is annoying for myself even so how very annoying it must be for my husband?

anyway, as of today I will do my best to try to find this one thing every day that makes Scotland beautiful and worth cheering about.

today’s thing is: GREEN.

There is so much greenery here, so many different shades and types of green. It actually is beautiful (however looks millions types better in sunshine 😉

Have a great day everybody.

Long time no speak…

Hi there,
It has been months and weeks since I have been here last time. But here I am, re-activating my blog!

So…in the last 6 months – I moved to Scotland, I got married and I founded my own company. Not bad, he?

Let’s start from the beginning.

Scotland – what an amazing country it is! All these hills and sea and, above all, Scottish people – they really are sweet, not only my husband and his family, but truly, the majority of the Scots is good-mannered, polite, welcoming, open-minded and patient! It is such a lovely place to be. If only the weather would mirror the people in its pleasantness… Well, you can’t have it all, can you?

Wedding – we had an amazing wedding, in Poland – my motherland. We could not have imagined a better place to get married and a better time. We were very lucky with everything. We got married in a beautiful palace Pakoszow in Piechowice, in the south of Poland, you can see the place here: http://www.palac-pakoszow.pl
If you ever happen to be in Poland, this region and this hotel are a must to see.

I am an owner of my own company! Yes, finally after almost 20 years as an employee, I am my own boss. I love it! Not that I earn anything on it yet, but…will do. I promise:) Just need to spread a work a bit more.

That’s all for updates, more to come.
Keep warm.

HOW THE FLOOD IN ENGLAND IS HELPING THE YES CAMPAIGN?

For a few weeks now, flood in Somerset and other parts of England has been on the news every single day. In the beginning, sometime around Christmas, I noticed the fact, but was not really paying too much attention to it.

After all I live in Amsterdam and if anyone knows how to control rain – it is the Dutch.

Floods happen almost everywhere. Great Britain, I fought, has enough know-how, money and manpower to deal with it.

But then I started noticing something else. Day after day the images from affected areas have been virtually the same: flooded houses, roads that turned into canals and rivers, home-made rafts that people used for transport, elderly residents trapped in their houses, everybody getting more and more desperate.

I noticed mixed messages being sent by the authorities: yes, we will send the army to help; no army is not needed just yet; oh, maybe in the end we should send some forces to help.
I saw one pump pumping the water out of the scene. One.
I saw people build their own flood barricades, pour the sand to the sacks they paid for with their own money.
I heard voices wonder if the help received would be the same if the flood happened in London?
I heard voices say that the ill-distributed national income affects not only Scotland, but everybody except London.

Yesterday, I saw the map, which showed that the flood indeed could soon very well hit London. There are now warnings for Chertsey and Reading.

Coincidentally, it was also yesterday when Mr Cameron said that money was “no object to end misery”.

Since when money is no object? Since now when the government can picture the water attacking Number 10? Was money an object earlier this year? Was it an object before Christmas? How come those people out there were left alone, with no help from government nor bodies appointed precisely to tackle natural disasters?

It is terrifying how nothing has been done so far to relieve those affected by flood. From where I stand, this is not only a misjudgment, negligence and appalling incompetency of a British government.

It is an arrogance of those who rule as in the Great Britain the well-being of SOME is much more important than the well-being of the rest.

The Pole’s thoughts on Scotland’s Independence.

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When it comes to my view on Scotland’s independence, I posted a short teaser in the matter a few days ago (http://wp.me/p4hxzk-3r). I would like to share with you more of my thoughts in the subject.

Separatist movements are not new in Europe and the issue as such should not surprise anybody. What I find very interesting is how people of different nationalities within Britain perceive Scotland’s attempt to win back its independence.

Well, even the terms I am using here might prove unacceptable for many: is Scotland not free now?; is Scotland not sovereign already?; what is it that Scottish people would gain after splitting from the Great Britain?

The vast majority of voices in the discussion focus on economic matters. Both sides – the YES and the NO campaigners try to prove one another wrong and incompetent in maths. For me, the focal point of this discussion is not where it should be in a first place.

Everybody with at least basic knowledge of economic theories should know that there is no smart way to see into the future. We can predict, we can run scenarios, we can do our best, but nobody can give any guarantees on how the future will look like for sure. This is because all these predictions are based on certain human behavior pattern that is expected to occur but due to its human aspect it is in fact totally unpredictable.

Economy is a social science and as such is moving and changing constantly. In democratic societies, the parliaments take responsibility of managing the national economy, which in short is: firstly, reacting to nation’s behaviour and moods and, secondly, trying to mould this behaviour and mood. Countries’ parliaments are more or less successful in these efforts of understanding their own people and rule in the way that serves these people the best.

Back to the Great Britain, there are quite a few questions to be asked:

  1. Is the current system of shared responsibilities in some aspects of national economy and politics and split responsibilities in other aspects the best possible way to serve the whole country and each of four British nations that form the Union?
  2. Could we say that the areas in which national parliaments have a decision-making autonomy are overall less “important” that those which are managed by Westminster?
  3. Do all the nations within the Great Britain have truly equal opportunities and are the voices of Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh heard as clearly as those coming from London?
  4. Last but by no means least – is current political union actually a legitimate union providing the signatories were bribed and blackmailed by the most powerful party?

The pro-unionists might oppose here, saying that it does not matter what are the answers to above questions and that there is no one universal truth anyway. The Great Britain is one country now, acts as an old marriage and as such is allowed to have better and worse days and is allowed to make mistakes. The Union has been working for centuries  well and it is this union who gave birth to “the most extraordinary country in the world”.

The union treaty was signed in 1707 and it is true, it has been around for a while now. Since then, the Great Britain has been really great and powerful, conquered quite a few new lands and “tamed otherwise uncivilized people”. As a matter of fact, until today, some strongly believe that colonization was the best thing that could have happened to those colonized.

Well, I am Polish and my country had quite a complicated past. My personal opinion is that that was mainly due to our interesting but unfortunate geographical location, exactly on the crossing between the West and the East and the North and the South. As soon as business pioneers started trading internationally, no matter which trail they followed they must have crossed Polish soil. Those, who controlled Polish land, controlled the flow of goods and had a right to collect transfer fees and taxes. Easy money! Poland was attacked many times by foreign powers and in 1794 as a consequence of a political partition performed on Poland by three empires – Austria, Russia and Prussia, our existence as a sovereign country ceased completely. For 123 years, until 1918 we were a part of other countries, we were dependent. Generations came and passed in an occupied Poland; generations were denied the right to learn their own language and to cultivate their own culture. But we persisted, we fought to win our freedom back. We have never lost our identity, we maintained our Polishness. We stayed proud, unique and strong in our hearts and minds. Who knows where Polish people would be now if the turbulent 20th century with its two world wars did not happen. Again, we persisted, we fought, we negotiated, we stood for our right to sovereignty and we won. It took a lot of lives and a lot of tears but we were at last independent.

Maybe, if the partitions of Poland continued for another long 183 years, maybe then, we would not be so sure anymore what nationality we belong to. Maybe, we would think of ourselves as of a part of a bigger Austro-Prussian-Russian family. Maybe we would not mind if major decisions regarding our lives were taken not in Warsaw but instead in Moscow or Berlin. Maybe we would accept if our natural resources were treated as “common and shared” and maybe we would be fine to see how the income from these resources was distributed. Finally, maybe we would not see anything awkward in the fact that we speak German or Russian and not Polish.

Maybe. 183 years might have made a difference.

Someone may wonder, what is my point actually.

In the beginning of this post I said that the whole discussion about Scotland’s independence is being approached, in my opinion, from the wrong perspective. This perspective is a bit too narrow, a bit too “here and now”. It should be more about principles.

Scotland was an independent country for centuries and has proved that is perfectly capable of managing its own matters. The fact that Scotland has been in the Union for more than 300 years has little to do with Scotland’s ability to stand on its own feet. Poland’s case proves that being occupied and dependent does not necessary erase nation’s identity and culture that has been grown and cherished for centuries before.

The Scottish people have now this amazing opportunity to get back what is theirs and they can do it in the most peaceful of ways.

If this indeed happens, if the Scots would believe that they can truly have their own country back; if the English stop their cheeky heart-breaking divorce propaganda and leave the Scots to decide on their own future – yes – then I will happily agree with Mr Cameron – the Great Britain will prove to be really extraordinary.

Who is subsidizing who, actually?

For the last 40 years, Scottish oil has been referred to as the North Sea oil by the Westminster and has been a main contributor of Union’s GDP. Is this why Mr. Cameron feels so proud of his Scottish roots all of the sudden?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8121000/8121034.stm

Scottish Oil