7 reasons I love Germany


1. Germans are very loyal friends

(I am setting off today to visit people I first met 15 years ago).

2. On the trains, there is a little leaflet that tells you

every stop and the time in between.

3. The great tradition of afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake).

4. German grammar, e.g: Die Fahrkarte gilt nur mit der beim Kauf angegebenen eigenen

gültigen Identifizierungskarte. If you don’t speak German, believe me, it’s a thing of beauty.

5. Bread rolls. (The ones with sesame seeds are especially good).

6. JS Bach was German.

7. Ritter Sport chocolate, especially the one with hazelnuts.


Mmmmm, I see I am going to put on weight.

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Overheard at the Bureau de Change


A older Glasgow lady is getting a currency

which has some exotic script on it, maybe Arabic.


She gets a little plastic bag for it which she tucks in her handbag.


I’ll put that in for him with his copy of Viz, she says,

[Viz is rude, adult magazine].

It’s a good thing they don’t know what it is,

or they’d chop his head off.

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Long wait for justice


A Colombian academic estimates that the restitution of land

to those who have been displaced could take 100 years,

not 10 years as envisaged in the legal framework

set up to manage the process.


In response, the ex-minister of agriculture pointed to 1500 cases

waiting to be heard. Rulings have been made on 300 claims.


With between 3.6 to 5.2 million people having been displaced

(read more here about why there is such variation in the statistics)

I am guessing 100 years may be a conservative estimate.

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Radio Nan Gaidheal

I love listening to the BBC’s Gaelic radio station, Radio Nan Gaidhealas I drive down the A9.

It doesn’t matter that I barely understand a word, I love the soothing lilt of the language and the way a random English word will surface to give me a clue what they are talking about: today I heard the English words power-steering and bicycle.

Occasionally children will be interviewed or sing and it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever heard.

And sometimes, they’ll play a Gaelic psalm, which will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

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Small Joys


Clear frosty night.

Silent Scottish town.

Sky-full of stars.

The woodsmoke of 100 open fires.


Old friends behind and before.

Good memories.

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Random thoughts as I drive around Scotland


There are a lot of Audis on the road.

Almost everybody drives faster than me (=breaking the speed limit).

The only place I have seen extremely expensive cars

(e.g. lamborghinis) is around Aberdeen.

There is a lot of bird and small animal carnage on the roads.

Something I really miss in Colombia

is sight of the sun going down behind bare trees.

I am really enjoying the sight of the sun going down behind bare trees.

Generally, people are very courteous and helpful drivers.

It’s so quiet. Where is everybody?

Isn’t Scotland beautiful?


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A Scottish Joke – Correction


My mum is affronted that I misquoted her in yesterday’s joke.


The correct version is actually better:


What’s the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney?

Bing sings and Walt disnae.

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A way to understand Colombia


In the newspaper article I wrote about yesterday,

there was an interesting comment

by a professor of politics at a leading Medellín University.


Miguel Silva Moyano was quoted as saying:

although we have managed to achieve ever higher levels

of guaranteed democracy in Colombia, there is still more territory than state.


More territory than state.

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Politics + Violence = Lack of democracy


After going around the country encouraging people

to pray for peaceful elections in Colombia next year

(the presidential election is due to take place on 25th May 2014),

I found this article in a newspaper, reporting the results

of a report on political violence in Colombia:


Between 31st December 2011 and 13th November 2013

there were 314 cases of political violence:

85% were threats, 8% were attempted murders,

5% were murders and 1% were kidnappings.


So I guess the message is: keep praying!

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