Posted by on 17 Jun 2012. Filed under The Expat, Top news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Fried Cheese? Pass the Cucumber Sandwiches Your Majesty!

Though the weather was somewhat grey in London for the Silver Jubilee of The Queen, the mood was far from damp here in Slovakia! British nationals and friends marked the occasion with three legged races, egg and spoon competitions, union jack cupcakes and of course copious piles of the good old cucumber sandwich!

So as the jubilee fever dies down, it was lovely to see the British Embassy here in Slovakia host a fantastic afternoon of general ‘Englishness’, to mark the occasion! Though the blazing sunshine was not typical London weather, the games, the food and even the artwork on display was all 100% born and bred British! The British ambassador, Susannah Montgomery, a lovely woman decked out in a patriotic Union Jack scarf, opened the event with a small speech and is keen to introduce more and more activities and events for the expats and British community here, and this party was a great start to the new initiative.

Me and my paintings

The paintings on display were done by myself, Abbie Puskailer, as I create unique fantasy pieces combining paint and crayon in collage, a technique and style i have created entirely myself. My Slovak husband Thomas Puskailer, a well known singer here in Slovakia also sang to the guests adding some live music and entertainment! This was also the first time a British artist has exhibited in the Ambassador’s residence, and the paintings are now on display and also selling at the new Star Cafe on Hlboka 1. A larger exhibiton featuring the entire collection is planned in collaboration with The British Embassy in August.

Many who attended commented on how pleased they were that the Embassy seemed to be playing a more active role recently, largely due to the relatively new Abassador and also the Jubilee and upcoming Olympics.

As a typical Brit, I love to moan about the monarchy, but actually harbor a secret love affair with the scandal, gossip, fashion and general mystery that surrounds their lives and personalities. I mean, what do they actually do? In my mind i imagine days consist of practicing those essential royal skills, eg, waving, cutting supermarket ribbons and how, most practically and regally to smash a bottle against the side of a boat!
Not to mention keeping one’s huge bird or feather creation of a hat on one’s head through gale force winds, and avoid laughing at the usually inappropriate and politically incorrect jokes of Prince Phillip!

Living abroad on such a huge and momentous weekend did stir my patriotic side I must admit. As I sung along, (alone and badly), to God Save The Queen…(my husband did not know the words!), a small tear may have formed in my eye! A slightly tragic portrait I must admit, as I skyped with friends on the banks of the River Thames, ON the River Thames, in London pubs and at street and house parties across the UK. Sometimes, I really think you can’t beat a good old British bash!

As an ‘Englishman’, (or woman rather), through and through, watching the jubilee from abroad actually stirred many emotions! Admittedly my reaction was shock, as I shouted loudly at my TV….’get those two O.A.Ps off that bloody boat!!!’ Surely there’s some kind of prevention organisation against this!

I mean really, who puts a 92 year old man on a boat for 4 hours, in the rain, wind and cold and expect him to stay standing! ‘For the love of God….sit down!’, I still shouted after four hours of witnessing their old wrinkled faces clenched against the freezing wind. Even the BBC reporter commented that perhaps The Queen and Prince Phillip should perhaps retire below deck!

But no, in true English style, they kept their ‘stiff upper lips’, in place and rode the waves of the Thames with grace and dignity. Though the ‘stiffness’, of lips was greatly helped by the freezing temperatures no doubt!
‘Nothing like a minus 5 degree wind to stiffen up that lip hey old chap!’, I am sure one royal probably muttered at some point!

What seemed like the longest river voyage in history, the Royal boat eventually swerved precariously into port. As the boat appeared to be heading straight into the side of the pier at speed, The slightly morbid and darker side of me may have had visions of the entire royal monarchy of England capsizing and having to be pulled from the smelly Thames river, clutching their crowns and jewels and expensive handbags as they crawled up the river bank. Thankfully this was not the case, though I hate to admit a part of me would have perhaps relished in this sight!

However, despite all going to plan, The Prince taking ill did make me sad as his frailty was clear from the outset.

Despite this small misfortune, from what I understand, The Jubilee was considered a huge success for England! As usual, ask a Slovakian’s opinion and it’s gauranteed to be somewhat different!

Upon asking my Slovak Father in Law his view on the amazing event, his response was,  ’the English are just happy because they were lucky this time nothing was blown up and no one died’! I guess the bad people are saving up all the bombs for The Olympics!’.
I assured him I was sure this was not the case, and the Olympics will be another amazing time for England, though I was met with a sad stare and the slight solemn shake of the head, a head shake I have come to know so well here in this country!

Anyway, despite this slightly negative slovak point of view, The British Embassy managed to capture the true spirit of Jubilee for an afternoon and am looking forward to seeing what they organize in the future. As I learn more and more about Slovak culture and their view on life, i see patriotism is also strong, especially amongst the older generation.
But as I hum the tune of ‘Jerusalem’, under my breath and unwrap my dad’s package containing English tea bags, a Daily Mail, some British books and a picture of all my family having Sunday lunch in an English pub, I do say to myself, ‘You know what?…God Save The Queen’!

Watching the events of 2012 make me feel proud and lucky to know that though England is not where I currently live, it’s where I come from, and part of me will always be colored Red, White and Blue.

24 Comments for “Fried Cheese? Pass the Cucumber Sandwiches Your Majesty!”

  1. Dave Crawford

    D Logan – A bizarre story.
    When Robert the Bruce died he asked that his heart be taken on a crusade to the Holy Land. One of your ancestors was a knight charged with escorting the heart. The party were attacked by Moors in Spain and most were killed. Your relatives’ skeleton was returned to Scotland to stand trial for treason!
    The heart was recently rediscovered and buried in Scotland.

  2. alec hodges

    Thanks Dave you have awakened my sleep on the genealogy front.Actually, apart from my uncle training as a Royal Naval Commando at Ardentinny and Achnachary in 1943, I am not aware of any family links in Scotland. DNA in the Y chromosome,not names, is the only means of knowing your true origin and I am happy to be a Celt.I have never disputed the legality of the term British but lets not forget the Irish too,quite unethically, were once branded likewise.

    • Dave Crawford

      All very true Alec. We are all victims of history. The Romans named our islands Britannia which was a corruption of the Greek latin Brettaniai which was their name for the islands of Albion ( England,Scotland and Wales), Hibernia ( Ireland) and Thule ( Iceland). The Great was added sometime in the 9th or 12th century to distinguish between Brittany in modern day France, which was an area settled by Britons and the island group.
      The name stuck as did Scandinavia, Iberia, Balkans, Asia Minor etc. and are accepted as the correct geographical titles for those areas. Whilst I understand the objections some nationalities may have to being grouped with, or described as being part of a group of other nationalities, the collective term is correct. Nations are a recent concept and although I agree with National pride and identity we should all remember that in the not too distant past we were all just tribal groups squabbling amongst ourselves.
      I am all for being PC but how far do we go to sacrifice brevity?
      I may use terms that some may find problematic but I do so with no malicious intent and shall endeavour in the future to be more specific in my comments.
      Your uncle was a “Jollie” – a very brave man and a real hero.

  3. The Big Guy at the Back

    The British international school ?? So hardly a cross section of British Society going there then ..what are the fees, say 8 to 10 grand a year ? . and do you really need to be on some sort of ‘favoured list’ to get recognition, or just be going to the right kind of paid school, or say work for Tesco or IBM ???? .

    I agree with James, when I met the UK Consulate, she also affected a deep and patronising fascination at the idea of Brit ex-pats living, working and having normal lives in Bratislava , Zilina, Presov, Bystrica etc ….I guess traveling from Vienna to Slovakia, three times a week, at taxpayers expense, just must be oh so tiresome, poor love .

  4. alec hodges

    I don’t feel the “British Embassy”‘ or any of their offshoots represent the the Scots Welsh or Irish, and the term British is not acceptable for me, even though I know in Law it’s a necessity. The English are Germanic and so is the English Royal family. For the English I think it’s wonderful that they have all this regal pomp and ceremony and if I was English I would be proud of it. I just wish the English contributors to this site wouldn’t describe all citizens in the UK as British and ex pat. Thank you Losgar for making the distinction. Very astute if I may say so.

    • George M

      Well I guess Smug , those call us Brits, because we are and we have a joint shared history…What about people called American`s? There is a entire group of differing mix of colour, dross, murderers, drug dealers, thieves, terrorist, fraudsters, child molesters, porno stars, transvestites, etc etc all all called as a group Americans . Something real proud of I guess , if I was an American .

      • George M

        BTW Smug , you weren`t in London on the day Loghead was photographing horse shit, outside Buck Palace by any chance ?

        It appears you may have missed meeting him, as you lay in the road ?

        • Losgar

          I’m sure it was English. It stank of cucumber sandwiches and fried cheese and there was also a toothpick with British flag.

          • Dave Crawford

            The “Fried cheese” – question mark – was a reference to that disgusting, deep fried, wet, soap, Slovaks try to pass off as a typical nibble.
            Please, if your going to continue posting drivel, try to understand what has been written. You do quite well making yourself look stupid but why do you continue to embarrass the rest of your countrymen with your vain attempts at what you think passes as humour?
            Once again, if you have nothing to contribute to the topic – DON’T!

    • Dave Crawford

      Well actually Alec, British is correct. The countries of England, Scotland and Wales share the geographic island group known as the British Isles. The correct, legal title is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – expats is easier!
      You are proud of of Scots ancestry yet you don’t have a Scots name? perhaps your mother did?
      Hodges is not recorded by the Lyons Court as a Scottish name or a sept. Hodges is Anglo-Saxon ( Germanic) in origin – it means son of Roger. Hodges don’t originate from Scotland either, your family seat was in Northumberland which was last part of Scotland under the rule of King David.
      The current Queen can however trace direct ancestry to James ( Stuart) VI of Scotland – James I of England who was related by blood to Elizabeth I (Tudor). The Saxe-Coburg-Gotha surname was adopted through marriage.
      An interesting point here – very few Scots can claim to be decendants of the original Picts( original inhabitants) or Celts ( invaders from northern Europe), most are of Anglo-Saxon, Norse or Irish decent. My surname for example is a mixture of Celtic and Viking.
      As for your feelings about the “British Embassy” they don’t really represent the English either – just our ( all of us) Govt.

      • D.Logan

        Wow, you know ancestry…could you disect my last name, as I was told I am Scottish…. Family moved to Nova scotia in the late 1800′s, I know nothing beyond my Grandfather’s birth near Goosebay Labradore, or close around. Have no idea where in Scotland they could have originated from.

        • Losgar

          You are decendent of Wolverine. Some people might call you freak but you don’t listen to them. You are unique.

        • George M

          Sorry , but why would you even care ?

        • Dave Crawford

          D. Logan – you have a famous name but without detailed research it would be hard to tie down which branch of the family you decend from. The Highland Logans based around Druimanarig in Wester Ross and later the Western Isles, the Lowland Logans based in Galloway and have Norman ancestry or the Logans of County Meath, Ireland who are a branch of one of the Scottish families.
          George Logan, landed in Nova Scotia in 1749. If you are decended from him then you are almost certainly of Scots/Irish decent.
          Nice Family Motto: Hoc majorum virtus – This is the Valour of My Ancestors.
          If you want to know more can I suggest http://www.electricscotland.com or the Lyon Court website.

          • D.Logan

            Dave,
            Thanks, yes…Hoc majorum virtus is on our family crest! I like it, I have to get in touch with my family still in Nova scotia and Canada to find out more about the family. Perhaps a few generations back so I can pinpoint where the family originates from. I found my family here in Slovakia near Piestany, and found in my “Facebook luck” my distant cousins which now live only 15 minutes from me! I know my entire Slovak heritage, down to the family home my Great Great Great Grandfather was born in and the history of the family, but my scottish side is a blur, I don’t know anything more than my grandfather, as my motther doesn’t speak of her family heritage as all. kinda sux!
            Thanks though, I will try to research it more, seems that my investigations seem to work if I try!

  5. George M

    I guess in the world Animal Farm of press pigs, some are just more equal than others then ?

  6. James

    Nice piece for sure, though I’d be more interested in reading about those paintings than about the jubilee, about which my feelings can be summed up in two words – enough already.

    TBH, it was partly the ridiculous weeping and wailing over Diana that really made me want to leave the UK, and it’s partly the continued fascination with the royals (and other celebrities) that make me not want to go back, other than for holidays.

    Dave, you’re probably aware the BBC has had a lot of flak over the jubilee coverage. God knows how you make 4 hours of a fleet of boats sailing down a grey stretch of water in the rain riveting – but they didn’t try hard enough, apparently.

    As for Phil the Greek and Gaspar, both are doddering liabilities but one has the excuse of being in his 90s.

    I did once meet the UK ambassador, purely through just happening to be in the right(?) place at the right(?) time. He affected a deep and patronising fascination at the idea of ex-pats in Zilina, Presov, Bystrica etc. Basically, you really do need to be on some sort of ‘favoured list’ to get recognition out of these people.

  7. George M

    For once we are in the same ` not these riff raff boat then Mr Boyd …Other than other than Abbie, I just wonder who was invited then? …Hardly in line with, and I quote ~~a lovely woman decked out in a patriotic Union Jack scarf, …… is keen to introduce more and more activities and events for the expats and British community here, and this party was a great start to the new initiative.~~~

    Hardly a new initiative for expats if the majority of the expats know nothing about it until today ??

  8. Dave Crawford

    Losgar – “The English are too sensitive” an hilarious comment from someone who jumps in feet first at the slightest hint of any criticism others may have of SK, and who normally responds either with illinformed drivel or outright insults.
    Your grandfather – is this the real one or another of your imaginary friends? I can see now where you inherited your insight and wisdom from – I presume he had actually visited London or was he prone to the same flights of fancy that you suffer from.
    It now appears that you were once one of the 15 million annual tourist visitors to our capital and being surrounded by all that history, pageant and wonderful architecture you decide to photo some horse crap – a comfort photo to remind you of home? Yes, 50% of the members of the Household Cavalry are not toilet trained but if you had waited a while you would have been able to astound your grandpa with a photo of someone cleaning the well maintained, pothole free, street – how different it is here.
    Phil the Greek is a national treasure, his gaffs always attract media attention and give us something to laugh about, the world just laughs at your head of state.
    Going back to the article, it’s nice to see that the expats in BA get invites from the embassy. When our new ambassador visited Presov most of the expats found out about it later, after the event, in the local rag – good to see our diplomats adopting Slovak ways. Understandable though, a bun fight with the local elite must have been far more palatable than having to listen to the day to day problems British citizens face in this country.
    The Jubilee – I watched all the televised events – well done the BBC, ITV, CH5 etc. Tetley tea and best bitter, a good single malt, couple of bottles of decent port, selection of British cheeses and biscuits, good friends, good company and good food – Oh! and the massed military bands playing Elgar at full bore to annoy the locals! It has made me very homesick and reopened the family discussion about leaving this hell hole.

  9. George M

    Time again for your medication Loghead . How does this twat get away with this invasive crap and against all the posting rules ?

    BTW, Abbie nice article, but noone I know who is British living in Bratislava was invited to this Jubilee party . Perhaps just the toffs, brown nosers and those with their Press Passes then?

  10. Losgar

    You English are too sensitive about everything.

    When Princ Phillip visited the aboriginees in Australia he asked them: “Are you still throwing spears at each other?”

    When he visited Slovakia and they gave him Fujara /a big wooden flute pipe/ he asked: “Is this what you used to kill each other?” Actually I found it funny.

    Big deal! Who cares! And who cares about what your father-in-law said! What did your husband say? That would be interesting.

    When I was going to London my grandfather said: “Why would you go there? There is just horse shit.” In front of the Buckingham palace I found it and took a picture of it. Then I showed it my grandfather and said: “You were right grandpa, there is horse shit everywhere.”

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