Borders are funny things,
Coming from county Monaghan (on the border with Northern Ireland/norn iron), I’ve grown up about three miles from “the border”. When I tell people this there’s always a sharp intake of breath, followed quickly by a look of sympathy and then the inevitable questions. But to be honest, I know more about the Northern Ireland situation now that I live in Switzerland than when I lived at home. You become numb to the constant news coverage and rumours.
But its funny, living on an island and having a border with another country. I never considered, when we drove to Armagh, that we were entering another country. Sure there were the checkpoints, the heavily armed soldiers and the usual questions of where are you going, why are you going there, when do you plan to return? But because it’s only down the road, it can’t be another country. You have to get on a plane or a boat to “go abroad”. Obviously thats all changed now, with the peace process and what have you. Now you don’t realise when you’ve crossed the border.
Here in Basel, right in the middle of Europe I can see Germany and France from my office window! And there’s this huge novelty with being able to cycle to France or wander into Germany from your home! We’re planning to cycle to France (twenty minute journey I estimate) to do some shopping this weekend. I’ve been to Germany, which incidentally was the first time I’ve been there, to play sqaush. I love the fact that you can say ‘I’m just off to Germany for a game of squash!’
Last night I decided to be good and cycle to play squash here in Switzerland. I got hopelessly lost in a little town called Dorf and was conscious of being late for the game. I came flying round a corner on the bike and suddenly there were French flags everywhere and I realised I was at the border. I knew the squash court was in Switzerland and jammed on the brakes.
Have to remember to take my passport with me when I’m out for a cycle!