Three weeks to Brexit

With three weeks left to go until the possibility of a “no deal” Brexit, and yet apparently people are not doing enough to prepare for it.

This is according to an import assessment by the UK Government which can be downloaded here.

It warns that only two thirds of critical projects are ready and trade agreements are not yet in place.  If talks of letting hauliers to pass through the UK/French Border controls without stopping, as long as their paperwork is correct, but also of the additional need for customs declarations and the burden that will place on businesses.

The report admits that 30% of the UK’s food supply comes from the EU and warns of price increases.

Other countries, it would seem, have be preparing for Brexit: [Read more…]

Fanta comes from Germany

Fanta cans - ©iStockphoto.com/shawn_hempelFanta, the orange fizzy drink produced and distributed by the Coca-Cola Company, is known throughout most parts of the world.  And yet how many people know that the drink originated in Germany?

I was fascinated by the story when I read it for the first time.

During the Second World War it was not possible for the German Coca-Cola subsidiary to import the raw materials necessary to make the original Coca-Cola drink.

Faced with the problem of not having a product to sell, the German bosses came up with an alternative product made from what was available at the time.  The name “Fanta” stems from the German word Fantasie (fantasy).

Amongst the products used were the leftovers from cider and cheese production!

I do wonder how many other things that are known worldwide were invented or discovered in Germany, without that fact about them being well known.  Two that spring to mind – although they are almost 100 years apart – are X-Rays (by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen) and the MP3-format (by the Fraunhofer Institut).

Any more suggestions?

Planet Germany

If you live long enough in another country, then you inevitably gather a whole collection of experiences in dealing with the people and the culture there.

It may be that you have to handle lots of bureaucracy, or cope with unusual customs, or it may be just plain getting used to driving on the other side of the road.

For many ex-pats, these tales of living in a strange land can often form the basis of conversations with friends and family back home, but seldom do they get published as a book for a wider audience.

Planet GermanyCathy Dobson, who we talked to last year, took this brave step and wrote “Planet Germany” which, as she puts it, documents how “one British family bungles being German”.

In the book, she takes us through an entire year in the life of her family and business as we discover how they cope with living as British ex-pats in Germany.  Many readers will be familiar with the situations that she describes, such as the first knock on the door of the Sternsinger, the madness of the Karneval season, or just the amazement at the end of each year that, after telling their fortunes by dropping molten lead into cold water, most households sit down on New Year’s Eve to watch the same little-known sketch in black and white as the previous year.

Add to this the fact that her business partner tries to help her with such traditions as the correct use of Du and Sie, whilst at the same time forming her own opinion of the simple British customs that have travelled with the family.  Stuffing a turkey, for instance.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Planet Germany.  It is a book that you will not want to put down!

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