|And why would you look at the Brandenburg Gate when there are giant bubbles to marvel at?|
I can honestly say that I hadn't really thought much about repatriation. Of course it's always been on the cards, we are due (at this current time) to return to our Derby home in June 2012. Occasionally we have had chats about whether we want to stay on here; for an extra year, for a few extra years, for....ever....and while I practically get a funny shiver at the thought of staying anywhere forever, the prospect of another year seems nice, and another couple of years? Well, maybe, that would be ok too. But equally, I feel, or thought I felt, fine about going 'home' in June.
After all, what's to worry about? We still have our house, I have primed myself for the worst case scenario in terms of it's condition after renting it out for two years and am hoping that I can only be pleasantly surprised that it'll be better than my imaginings. Stevie would go back to work in the same job or better probably. The kids would go back to speaking English and still have their friends in the UK. Both of them would start at school where everybody would speak English as a first language and life would be nice and easy for them. I would have all my UK friends to go back to and all the wonders of UK shopping, and magazines and books!!! (Oh how I miss going into a bookshop and having more than a couple of shelves to choose from!). It sounds easy enough, a breeze even.
But October brought with it a couple of things that really got us thinking. Thinking specifically that going back might not be as easy as it appears on the surface. The first thing was a visit. Our visitors came to see us, not Berlin. Which is fair enough. I think we can be very enthusiastic about the city and we really like taking people round all the sites and showing them just how much this place has to offer. I'm pretty much convinced that no matter your hobby or interest, Berlin will be able to show you something on that topic that will rock your world. These visitors though weren't interested in the sites, the Brandenburg Gate, the emblem of the end of the Cold War garnered barely even a first glance never mind a second. We asked them (an adult and a child of under 10) what they were interested in, what they liked to do, and they said "nothing much". The adult liked going to the pub (tick) and playing on his iPhone (....we don't have one), and the child likes her/his Nintendo DS, watching DVD's and not an awful lot else. So we took them to the Zoo. What kid doesn't like animals, right? Well, um, this kid. It took a bit of persuasion, and when we got there he/she lacked any enthusiasm and wanted to leave because it was smelly and dirty.
|Nothing to see here: even during the Festival of Lights.|
The rest of their trip followed a similar vein, it was pretty much 5 days of iPhone apps and disinterest. The only thing they seemed to enjoy was Legoland, so that was good, but by the end we all felt a bit down. It made me think that life in Britain leans far too much towards an indoor life, where playing is becoming more and more often an activity done on a computer, and less inclined to getting out and about and discovering new interests. Of course even I knew that that was a sweeping statement, and not at all the way that everyone behaves in the UK. What we were looking at was (hopefully) a very small segment of society, but it still made us think. The weather for example is much better here for getting out and doing things. There are far more sunny, summer days, spring and autumn can be rainy, but mostly it is dry and unlike in Scotland where we were during the half term break, even if it has not been raining the ground is still wet! Winters here of course can be hard. We can have snow from November through to March, but it is manageable. The weather is a big issue for Stevie. He far prefers it here because he can get out and do things with the kids and enjoy it rather than look out the window and think it might be better to stay in. We led a far more indoors life in the UK even though we did still go to lots of places and take the kids to zoos and aquariums and see steam trains and all those sorts of things.
The other thing that happened was that I saw someone's Facebook status and it made me sad. It said:
"Anyone clued up on these Android tablets. Looking to buy one for a 4 year old for Christmas and no idea where to start?! HELP!!"
I hope I don't need to explain why that makes me feel sad. I realise that not all parents of 4 year olds will be buying their children iPads, but by the same token it's not uncommon for me to read on FB about friends whose 4 year olds will "do anything to get to play on the iPad!" or "really needs their own iPhone just for the apps". The more of these things I read the more I feel like things are changing if not beyond our recognition, but beyond our comfort zone. I can't think how to really describe it. I just have this weird feeling of losing that feeling of belonging to the 'group' and it's wrapped up with kids having iPads, packs of pre-peeled boiled eggs (admittedly I was looking for a link to the pack of 3 you can buy in Morrisons at the sandwich/newspaper bit), and big plastic tubs of fridge pack Heinz baked beans (to see it in real life is to make a sound like 'uuuggghhhhh....'.
And with all these things in mind I started to Google that frightening word 'repatriation', and oh...that leads me on to part two ...tomorrow when I'll tell you what I found out.