Happy St. Andrew’s Day

Being half Scottish (thanks to my mum) I thought that I should pop up a little something about St. Andrew’s Day. So, it’s the National Day of Scotland and I realise that I don’t really know that much about it all. I did some investigating and found out these facts:

  1. The flag (above) is called the Saltire. It has caused controversy in the past whether the Union Flag or the Saltire is flown on national buildings. 
  2. In parts of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Romania there are some superstitious beliefs that the night before St. Andrew’s Day is one when magic is well used.  Some think that a woman’s future husband will be revealed on this night.
  3. Also in Poland, they pour wax into keyholes…. I don’t really understand why… But I read it online, so it must be true (hmmm?)
  4. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, women write names of their ‘potential’ husbands on pieces of paper and pop them into dough called ‘Halusky’. When cooked the name of their potential husband ‘allegedly’ floats to the surface. (There may be a reason why these women are not married).
  5. Latha Naomh Anndra is how to say the day in Scottish Gaelic.

Well, now you know a little bit more about 30th November.


Will England host the 2018 World Cup?

I’m really excited about Thursday. FIFA will be voting in Zürich to see which nation will host the 2018 World Cup. I have my fingers and toes crossed that there will be a repeat of that 2005 feeling when London was announced as the winning city for the Olympic Games 2012.

The contest for the World Cup 2018 will go down to the wire. It could go to Russia (although I hope not). I am not sure, but I think that they are current favourites. Spain/Portugal and The Netherlands/Belgium have joint bids for the tournament too. It would be interesting to see those work. But I favour England. It’s the home of football. My home nation too (no bias of course)…. England also has the biggest stadiums out of all the bidding nations. Wembley Stadium for the final would be incredible. I can see myself sitting their taking it the atmosphere in 8 years time. There’s something special about being at an international event such as this in your own country.

Living in The Netherlands at the moment also means that IF, and it’s a big IF, England don’t get the World Cup (oh, please please let it be England), then I would prefer to see it hosted here in The Netherlands (Holland) and Belgium. The Dutch would go crazy! They love it almost as much as the English.

Roll on Thursday! C’mon FIFA……Pick England.

Fancy Food and Rude Food

** Warning** Not for kids.

You’ve been warned. It’s humour for grown-ups.

I saw this video and it made me chuckle! I don’t tend to watch Masterchef on TV. All that fancy food and la-de-dah descriptions of how wonderful it tastes. This video is for anyone who thinks Masterchef is too much.

Gotta love some of those dishes… Haha.

Get your seatbelts fastened for the next one…. This takes a new twist on a certain shop on the British High Street. This is not just any advert…. 🙂

What can I say….I think I’ve lost my appetite.

A man?…As a teacher?…Is that even legal?

When I was in my final year of my degree I was lucky enough to get my first job. I hadn’t graduated, but my university tutor had already found me a great school to work in. It was all about the contacts back then. I was really excited about teaching my very first class. The class that would be mine. It was exciting and scary at the same time.

I visited the school a couple of times to meet staff and get to know the routines, the building and my new classroom. I remember the day the letter went out to the nursery parents (my future class parents). I stood in the Nursery and watched the children, who would soon be in my class, leave for the day. One by one the parents started to open the school bags and read the letter inside.

Within seconds one mum had come into the classroom and approached the teacher. She had no idea who I was, standing in the corner. She held the letter and said,

Parent: “Hi, I’ve just read the letter as see that it says Mr ….. Surely this is a mistake?”

Teacher “Erm, no, that’s right”.

Parent: “But surely it can’t be a man. Is that even legal? Are men allowed to teach children this young?”

Teacher: “Yes of course”. Turning to me, she replied “This is your son’s new teacher. Would you like to meet him?”

The mum didn’t know what to do with herself. She stood there stunned…. All words had gone then she tried to make up for it by saying,

Parent: “Oh, no, erm…but I haven’t got a problem with it, of course”.

Not likely! The biggest backtrack in history from a parent.

We went on to have a great teacher-parent relationship but trust and reputation had to be earned, possibly a little harder than it would have been for any of my female colleagues. It was an interesting aspect of my career. For years I was the only male teacher working with children younger than 8. I always knew that my career was dominated by women, but I never imagined that there were parents with the view that men were not legally allowed to teach infants. How times have changed…. I hope that the years I have been in teaching have helped to broaden the views of some.

Crazy bus ride

I am surprised that there isn’t a separate ‘bus insurance’ here in The Netherlands. The bus drivers really like speed and I suspect they also secretly like to watch as my fellow passengers and I fall about once they’ve floored it. Everyone who has ever travelled by bus will know that you always feel lucky to get to your seat before the bus lurches away at full speed.

Today I was feeling particularly brave! I caught the bus home and realised that it was pretty full. I was going to have to make it all the way to the back row, while it was moving! I don’t usually sit so far back. I’m a creature of habit and I like my midway seat. Once at the back, I sat, relaxed and suddenly felt transported back to my childhood. I realised that I hadn’t sat on the back row for years. The back row was THE SPOT to sit. It was where all the cool kids sat. On school trips, the back row was also fought over. If you managed to get yourself one of those 5 seats then you knew you were IT.

Next, a funny memory came back to me. It was about 15 years ago. I was about 15 or 16 and I’d gone out with my mum to a village called Guisborough, near the town I used to live in (Redcar). Being a semi-rural area there were lots of small roads, windy roads and steep hills. The journey to Guisborough had been quite calm and relaxing. We wandered, we shopped and generally enjoyed our day out. The journey home was less relaxing…

The bus driver was either:

  1. seriously late
  2. wishing he drove Formula 1
  3. in need of psycological support

We got on the bus and he did the instant ‘foot-to-the-floor’ trick. We managed, with bags and bags of shopping, to struggle our way to the only available seats (at the back). At first the wild journey home seemed quite annoying, but after a while we couldn’t help but laugh. Once we reached the bends in the roads we laughed as we watched everyone grabbing for the rails, holding on for dear-life. Next the bus went up and down the dips… That’s when our bags of shopping tipped over and the fruit escaped! Oranges, a grapefruit and apples went rolling from our bags along the central aisle of the bus. We started laughing even more as we rushed about trying to save the fruit. It’s not easy to do when you’re on a bus lurching from side to side and front to back.

There’s nothing more memorable than a bus ride like that…

I’m glad I sat at the back today. It brought back a great memory of a great day out with my mum. 🙂

The hype with certain films.

Harry Potter fever has hit once again. The latest film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has taken more money in its opening weekend than any other Harry Potter film (so far). I would imagine that the final instalment will break all records. I haven’t been to see the film yet, but by the end of the week I too will be able to add it to my list of films seen. I love the whole Harry Potter hype. When the book was first written I made an attempt at ‘getting into it’ but failed. I wasn’t keen on reading stories about wizards, magic and dark arts. The fact that the book was full of names that I had no idea how to pronounce made it even less appealing.  

It was only once the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (yes, I’ll use the English title), was released that I became hooked. A few books in the series were already finished by then and so I whizzed through them one by one. I couldn’t get enough. It had taken me a few years to become a Potter addict and suddenly I was counting down the weeks and days to the next book release and the next film premiere. I’m so glad that the films have lived up to the hype. It is questionable though as to how well they reflect the amazing depth that each book contains.

Other films that I have been to see have had quite the opposite effect. In 2007 I went to see the film ‘The Golden Compass’, based on the book ‘The Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman. Here was a film that I expected to amaze in every way. I left the cinema feeling thoroughly deflated. It was dull and endless. It was strange that a book that had been so successful could be so unsuccessful in film format.

Sex and the City – I never really got hooked on watching the TV series. Friends of mine loved it. Maybe that’s because many of my friends are female and could relate to at least one of the characters. I was brave enough to venture to the cinema to watch SATC (the first one). I was like a fish out of water! I was one of 4 males in the packed cinema. It was quite an experience. About fifteen minutes into the film it stopped. There was clearly a technical error and the tape had stuck. I could feel tension building and women beginning to get agitated. Women started looking around, checking towards the control room at the back and murmuring to one another. Not a good sign! These women were already feeling empowered. They were together. They were watching ‘their’ film. I had visions of a riot breaking out. There would be lipstick flying soon, so get the film going again!

The film continued and the women around me settled down. I munched away on my Maltesers and surprisingly enjoyed the film. The plot was predictable, but the women around me made it memorable. They whooped and screamed and laughed and even heckled the film. It was a first for me and I loved it.

Sometimes you never know what to expect with a film. Sometimes it’s best to go to see a film without hoping that it will be one of the best films you’ve ever seen. Maybe I should avoid hype….It could be easier that way.

It’s all about the name.

Names are so important. When it comes to brands, the name should reflect the product and inform customers. When I published the story about the Freitag shop that I visited in Zürich this summer a friend messaged me saying that a friend of his had also visited an equally interesting shop. I looked at the picture and agree that it is definitely worth sharing with you all.

What do you think they sell in a place like this?

This cannot be good marketing. I doubt they have a rush on to sell products. What happens when it comes to SALE time?

‘Sale on now. All shit must go!’. Well, that’s my idea. I don’t think that I am one for working in marketing, but even I know that they got it wrong here.

I also came across another shop name which made me laugh a little.

Oh, oh no! It’s too bad for words. What a strange world it is out there. This next shop sounds no better.

I'm sure it's lost in translation.

To go add to the bunch, I thought I’d share a picture from my travels around Europe. This was a little place near Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. It really exists…and my TomTom (satellite navigation system) confirmed it.

Names really are so important! :))