Sunday, July 16, 2006

Too hot to blog

As in previous weeks, I've not really been in a position to post. I was in Malta for the week, doing some work for the University - yes, there is a University of Malta and it has a Law Faculty. However, I did manage to get a couple of swims, in the sea of fthe rocky beach I could see from my sixth floor hotel room (see left). So life wasn't too tough. It was however very hot (at least by my softy northern standards).

I've been at home for the weekend, washing and ironing, helping with the painting of Junior Bond's flat (it's been a seemingly interminable project) and also visiting the East Neuk of Fife yesterday, to view it for the first time in full summer sunshine.

The East Neuk of Fife is really one of the UK's hidden gems. Literally, it is "nook", the final corner of Fife jutting out into the North Sea. So, imagine my delight and surprise when I came across the scene you see on the left, which can only mean one thing to me. That the new blessed Margaret is taking her annual break (and giving the G8 a miss at the same time) in East Neuk, just near St Monans, along with her security detail who are now themselves discovering the joy of caravan holidays.

Off again tomorrow, I'm afraid. This time, it's another holiday destination, and for the second time in just over a week I will be sitting in a plane jam-packed with holiday-makers, with my bag full of work clothes. This time is Malaga, where part of the point of the trip is to have a meeting with some researchers at the University of Malaga who are working on some research which is closely related to my own. Yes, it came as a surprise to me too to discover that researchers at the University of Malaga were prepared to have a meeting at 3.30pm on a late July afternoon.

However, this mention of Malaga gives me an opportunity also to link to something I read on the plane to Malta last week in the Observer about British expats in Spain and their experience, in particular, of accessing the Spanish healthcare system having failed to learn the national language. If you went through that article doing "global search and replace" replacing references to Spain with references to the UK and references to the British in Spain with references to immigrants of pretty much any nationality into the UK, it might make people think a little harder before they condemn either attempts which are made from the UK end to accommodate non-nationals and non-English speakers, as well as those immigrants who fail, for whatever reason, effectively to master the language. As this story shows clearly, integration is a two way process and raises complex challenges and questions, which in turn demand complex answers.


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Friday, January 25, 2008  

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