So what has changed?

I am very sorry about neglecting my blog for a long time. I had been feeling guilty about it every single day but my mind was clouded by many unhappy news, domestic and international, and I was mainly living in the autopilot mode.

However, I re-examined my feeling towards the current climate after witnessing the screaming match between MPs in the House of Common. I realised my strong hostility towards the pro-Brexit voters, which I harboured since that fateful summer day, was not entirely a right thing.

During the past three years, I secretly hoped that one day we all would come to our senses and find a solution to this mess together. The solution to patch up the differences and rebuilt the nation as one. Sadly, my hope is dashed so far.

We should sit down together and talk properly and sincerely…

One Saturday afternoon, Hubbie and I had an early dinner at a pub in Dungeness. The pub had a large window and on a wall by the window, there was a large England flag displayed. As Hubbie ferried a glass of Diet Coke to our table, he shrugged his shoulder and muttered, ‘I bet they voted for the Brexit.’

Half way through dinner, I opened up to Hubbie, ‘This Brexit business is like a sectarian conflict, isn’t it? I don’t think it is ok to be like this.’ He looked up from the plate and nodded, ‘Yup, I agree.’

It can’t be right to scorn or discredit each other only because we don’t share the same opinion. However, feelings associated with the Brexit seem to be so raw and basic, and as a result, they bring out the strongest emotion amongst us.

This isles will turn to a no man’s land if we don’t find a solution…

Would it be ok for me to hate those diners, who sat by the England flag and tucked in their dinner, if they voted for the Brexit?

My answer is “No”.

It is true that we have our differences, but those differences should never be a border wall which separates us. Instead of shouting to each other and wagging fingers with hatred, can we approach calmly and discuss our differences in a civilised manner? A proper, constructive and sincere conversation is what we need.

Hate and scorn will never solve problems. But love and respect will. I will try to love my neighbour so why don’t you give it a go too?

Bonjour Calais!

So how is Calais like? I wondered as we came off from A26 and followed road signs for the city centre. Until the previous evening, we never thought about visiting the place at all. However, we were intrigued by the news programme we watched on TV while we were chilling out in our room at Reims. The topic was about how the Calais tourist board were launching a new campaign to attract more visitors to the city. ‘Shall we see the place since we have more than a few hours to kill before returning to the U.K?’

On our way to the old city centre, we skirted around the Eurotunnel compound. I must say, the security around the complex was much tighter than the last time I saw it. All those high fences and barbed wires meant to be a deterrent to illegal immigrants around the port? They looked like perimeter fences of a high-security prison.

So where is the actual city centre?

In our sight, there was a tall pointed tower which looked like a church’s. Is it a cathedral or something? In order to get ourselves to there, I pulled in our car to one of the parking bays and googled with keywords, such as Calais town centre, Calais shopping, Calais downtown, etc. However, the search didn’t hit anything obvious except Calais Town Hall.

Ok then, we start from there. We headed to the town hall…

After negotiating unexpectedly heavy traffic and a series of roundabouts in quick succession, we arrived at the town hall. ‘So this is it, then.’ We parked the car and stepped out into the bright sunshine of high noon.

Mum and the town hall…

The city hall was very pretty. They had a well-tended garden and a proper old-fashioned Routemaster double-decker bus which was displayed as a garden ornament.
I imagine that the visitors from the U.K must be very important to the city’s economy, despite acrimony and suspicion brewed up between two countries during the recent refuges crisis. However, the British currency has become significantly weaker since Brexit and as a result, shopping at Calais is no longer very attractive for the Brits, and it must be hurting the Calais’ trades badly too.

Shall we drive around the city and see if we find anything interesting along the way? We climbed back into the car and followed the local traffic for a while…

Sadly, we didn’t come across anything inviting or remarkable while we cruised through the city.
Having said that, we saw small groups of young African men frequently. They seemed to be wandering around on the streets without any aim and all of them were carrying duffle bags over their shoulders. ‘Are these people the remnants of the infamous Jungle?’, mum and I wondered as we drove past them…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lost in translation @ Augsburg

Ok, Augsburg did defy our expectation. We were vaguely imagining the place to be crammed with medieval buildings, cobbled streets, gothic churches and so on. Instead, we found the city kind of modern and rather ordinary.

Sure, we shouldn’t have expected every town and city on Romantic Road to be “picture on a biscuit box” perfect, all pretty and picturesque. However, our first impression of the city was…, grey!

A distance between Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Augsburg, was about 186km (116mls) and Google map suggested the journey would take 1 hour 44 minutes. Don’t you agree that satnav always underestimates journey time? In fact, the route using A7 and A8 and then to the city centre using R2 took us almost 4 hours!

When we arrived at our hotel in Augsburg, it was almost 3:30 pm. Bizarrely, I was met by no one at the reception except a workman with a paint brush gesturing me to call a number on the wall, ‘Chef! Chef!’ You mean am I to call your boss??? I picked up the phone and dialled the number. A man’s voice answered and I explained that we were hotel guests and wanted to check in. The man on the line assured me that we would be with us shortly and also show me where to park our car. Sure enough, a middle-aged man arrived after 5 minutes and introduced himself as Albert. He owned the hotel and a beer garden nearby. He explained that he was away from the reception because the beer garden needed his attention before opening that evening.

The room we were to stay over night wasn’t that great. It was clean and the bathroom seemed to be redecorated recently, however, the bed was a bit saggy and the closet was full of tired-looking wire laundry hangers (the one you get from a dry-cleaner!) and shop hangers instead of proper wooden ones you would normally expect in hotel closets. Oh dear…

‘I don’t like English breakfast!’ I thought that was what Albert said when I went to the reception the second time for a password for their Wi-Fi. I was like ‘??? You don’t like English breakfast??’ First of all, I hadn’t come across anyone ever who didn’t like English-style fry up. And why is he telling me this? Is it because I live in London?? It was Albert’s turn to be startled, ‘Oh, I like English breakfast. I used to live in Britain!’

Then, it dawned on me. ‘Do you mean “Brexit”?’ ‘Yes, Brexit!’ His English with a heavy German accent made “Brexit” sounded like “breakfast”. Hahaha.

I told him that I was as gutted as him about the UK leaving Europe. We both agreed Brexit and Donald Trump were complete disasters…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Brexit Banana?

One thing I have noticed most acutely about the effect of Brexit is through the bananas I buy from an online supermarket Ocado. Their bananas used to be well-formed and bruise-free, definitely better than Sainsbury’s or Tesoc’s. However, Ocado’s bananas are absolutely terrible nowadays, some of them are worse than Co-op’s!

I paid £1.75 for these bruisers…

This has to do with a weaker pound as a result of the referendum, doesn’t it? The trade negotiations haven’t even started yet, therefore, everything is still up in the air. However, it is unlikely that the British currency will ever be as strong as it used to be, and we will have to accept the reality that all the imports will be more expensive or inferior quality or both. *sigh*

Please don’t chew up my slider, Bella…

Because I don’t know if I can afford the replacement in future!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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