How many people can name the capital of Liechtenstein? Or tell me where it is in relation to other European countries? What languages are spoken? What are its major exports and its unit of currency? And how is it faring as economies all over Europe struggle?
I am spending two weeks in this lovely country as the guest of my son’s godmother. At eighteen she came to stay with me, and my new husband Peter, in Brighton & Hove for nearly 5 months. She came to improve her English and having stayed in touch ever since (my son is very proud to be one of the few British children with a godparent in such a glamorous sounding place) I am now here helping her children learn it too.
I will blog about my experience in greater detail on my return, but felt drawn to write something on this, my 8th day here. We have been to some very beautiful places and I have enjoyed a tour to a chocolate factory (lots of free samples), two lakes, Heidiland (very wooden) and two very pretty towns. We have all had fun with vocabulary, pronunciation and getting words in the right order, but today has been different. Everyone is tired – late nights, driving distances to take long walks in fabulous scenery, and conversing in two languages is taking its toll – and for the first time I am a little homesick.
I miss my husband, and even though my daughter is off out with friends most of the time I miss her too. Also, I am with children of 12 and 11 all day and somehow it is contributing to my lower mood. I miss my kids at that age; with all their fractiousness and determination that they know more than I do there is still a need to be involved in their lives in a way that is lost as your kids get older and ready to fledge.
I can sense I am becoming a little self-indulgent here, so before I get maudlin I must explain that I often use this blog as a form of release. Sometimes I just have to write – it is cathartic. Writing this is keeping me out of the way, leaving the family to have time without worrying about entertaining me and I am determined not to let the happy time we had in my first week seem weakened by my running out of steam. I have to say though that having the ‘z’ and the ‘y’ transposed on the kezboard is leaving me a little confuyyled.
So in readiness for a blog on my return, introducing you in slighty greater detail to this wonderful place, I can tell you that the answer to the questions in the first paragraph are Vaduz; it nestles between Switzerland and Austria just above Italy; Swiss-German is widely spoken, with a local dialect; they export high spec machine tools and false teeth and offer even more ‘exclusive’ banking arrangements than their Swiss neighbours; the unit of currency is the Swiss franc (although at present the exchange rate makes it cheaper to shop in euros over the border in Austria) and apart from a general slowdown influenced by the problems with export costs and lack of tourists (both caused by the exchange rate) experienced in Switzerland it is generally affluent.
Liechtenstein – a favourite of pub quiz setters everwhere.