Thank-you and goodnight

12 07 2013

So I have this thing.

Actually I have a whole bunch of things, but the thing I want to tell you about right now relates to travel.

I suppose I should apologise to those of you who have noticed my lack of output of late. I’ve been away on a trip to Europe for work, and then got busy trying to catch up and then took a weekend camping to re-acquaint myself with my kids. Any or all of the above may eventually become the subject of blog entries, but I want to start gently and talk about my thing.

Ever since I first got to travel for work, I made it a habit to learn how to say “thank-you” in the local language. I firmly believe that if you make an attempt to show gratitude then you can get away with a lot more stumbling and pointing helplessly at menus. Actually, my first ever business trip was to Oman, and I confess my “thing” hadn’t yet occurred to me, so I don’t know how to say thank-you in Arabic. Everyone I interacted with spoke better English than me, and it didn’t seem necessary.

When I went to Taiwan though, I learned that “xie xie” was the Mandarin for thanks. My recent travels added Romanian and Hungarian to the list, so I thought I’d just show off a little and enumerate all the ways I’ve learnt to say thank-you to beer-suppliers around the world…

[Edit: 5th August 2013… I realise I’d forgotten Portuguese!]

Austria Danke
Belgium Bedankt
Denmark Tak
Finland Kiitos
France Merci
Germany Danke
Hungary Köszönöm
Italy Grazie
Japan Arigato
Korean Kamsahamnida
Netherlands Dank u well
Portugal Obrigado
Romania Multo mesc
Spain Gracias
Sweden Tak
Taiwan xie xie

A tale of two cities. Well three, I suppose

13 05 2012

So today I got back home from a week in Europe. I was attending a trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany, but staying in a hotel in Venlo in the Netherlands. I already posted photos of the lovely hotel I was staying in. If you missed them, look here.

I spent a little time on the Canon booth. Mainly drooling over the high end cameras and lenses on show, but also in awe at some of the industrial uses their printing equipment can be put to. I also checked out some packaging software vendors and was amazed at the complexity of designs that are possible with rigid packaging such as corrugated cardboard. I was in an amusing conversation with my Canadian born boss and a Southern UK employee. At one point I used the idiom “as bent as a nine-bob note”, which caused the Brit to ask how I knew such an obscure English term.

I looked him in the eye, as my first assumption was that this was a subtle ironic joke. Realising it wasn’t, I pointed out I was plainly a Yorkshireman, and though having been absent from said hallowed ground for a few years, was still fairly well acquainted with the language. He was amazed, and claimed that he’d assumed I was a “proper” Canadian from my accent. This made my boss laugh, as to his ear I sounded exactly like the Southerner. This made both myself and my British colleague give him the Paddington “extra hard stare”, and we all left in separate directions.

Around 6:30pm we headed out of Düsseldorf for London on a Lufthansa flight. The generously proportioned lady next to me complained bitterly about the tea being served with cream rather than milk. Having had it served to me that way several times in Canada, and also in the Netherlands and Germany, I gave her the polite version of “suck it up, Buttercup”, with my mind following with something along the lines of “if you like everything the way it is in the UK… why not just stay there?”

We over-nighted in the Park Inn at Heathrow, to catch the morning flight back home today. I was treated to a proper “Full English” breakfast, which incidentally, is never eaten by English folk except on holiday or at hotels. It turned out the hotel was temporary home to no less than 14 rugby teams, which I have to say behaved so impeccibly I would never have known. On leaving for the airport, I noticed one of the groups there was from Yorkshire. Small world.

I managed to sneak a quick trip to WH Smiths at the airport, and snagged a bag of Twiglets, Cheese and Onion crisps and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. I love BC dearly, but some things I do still miss from the UK. On the plane home, a middle-aged couple sat next to me turned out to be originally from Doncaster. We all agreed it was a good place to be from. They now lived in Nanaimo, here in BC… and the world noticeably shrank a little more.


Run, Fat Boy, Run!

6 05 2012
Film poster for Run, Fat Boy, Run - Copyright ...

Film poster for Run, Fat Boy, Run – Copyright 2007, Material Entertainment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So long-suffering readers will be aware I ran the Vancouver Sun Run back in April. Three weeks ago today in fact. I was disproportionately proud of my achievement. Especially as I did it in something over an hour, while the winner did it in 29:12!

Anyway, I finished it. I walked away under my own power, and by my reckoning, that was “a win”.

Basking then in this undeserved glow, I took a breather from the already far from strenuous training regime I’d subjected myself to. A couple of days slipped into a week, and so on. And then yesterday I woke up and felt, well, not to put too fine a point on it, “podgy”!

I’ve had a pretty hectic weekend giving and receiving adult training in my role within Scouts Canada, to-ing and fro-ing and meeting up with people from all over BC, sometimes until late into the night. But this morning despite being tired, I woke up and mentally hit myself with the spatula (watch the film trailer if you have no idea what I’m alluding to).

As a result, this evening I find myself on the successful end of a 4km run. The first time since the Sun Run I’ve attempted any exercise more strenuous than getting up in the night for a pee. You can not imagine how chuffed this makes me feel. Not only that I managed to ignore all the arguments I made for not doing it (we often argue – myself and I), but also for actually managing it non-stop.

Now I’m not saying I was in any danger of having The Guinness Book Of Records calling me for a statement, but I did manage to run the entire circuit without stopping, throwing my guts up, or otherwise disgracing myself in public. Of course, now I’ve done it once, I might have to do it again.

Good job I’m off to Germany for a week on business, and will be forced to drink copious amounts of fizzy German beer whilst eating far from lean Schweinshaxe, otherwise I might get fit or something…


German wit

29 01 2012

I like Germans. I do! I’ve been out and about in my time, and been there a few times. I spent a good week there in Rhens (near Koblenz) for a wine festival once. It’s where I learned there are 140+ different kinds of sausage in Germany. Definitely not a good place to be born a pig.

I’ve been to the massive Drupa trade shows in Düsseldorf more times than any human being should have to. I even slept in the airport. A bit bright… and not very comfy!

Wikipedia: Düsseldorf International Airport

Wikipedia: Düsseldorf International Airport

But I have to admit that being British born, we’re not very good at letting bygones be bygones. English football (soccer) supporters still celebrate their World Cup win over Germany in 1966 like it was an annual recurrence. It’s almost half a century ago, for goodness sake!! There’s generally good-humoured fun made at the German predilection for getting up early and reserving all the poolside loungers with towels at the more popular southern holiday destinations. This was combined with a nationalistic reference to the Dam Busters film in a Carling Black Label advert, back in 1993.

But my point, believe it or not, is that the German wit is much maligned and underappreciated. English speakers forget that our language itself is derived from German roots, and that despite the Germanic world’s insistence on smoking more cigarettes than is good for them (i.e. greater than ZERO!), they do tend to brew pretty good beer and make fantastic sausage. So here in conclusion is one of the funniest adverts I’ve ever seen. It’s German. It’s for opticians. On the face of it, it’s not got a lot going for it, you might think. It’s a bit rude though, so maybe not TOTALLY safe for the office. Watch it and tell me you didn’t laugh…