Trips abroad

European Visit

Reflections on the European parliament

An SAC driven trip to Brussels to give us an insight into how Europe works has been inspiring and these blogs I hope will get better as I learn to manage the technology and bring you pictures! A 3 am departure from deepest Fife landed us eventually in Brussels and the stalwart Raymond took us, a group of wannabe leaders to the heart of Scottish political lobbying in Europe – Scotland Europa. Based in Place Schuman, which I assumed was named after the great composer, but no, he was a French politician who decided in 1950 that the only way to prevent European war was European integration – clever chap – Although today we realise that Angela Merkel has succeeded where the Kaiser and Hitler Failed.

Great to meet our MEP’s and in spite of their obvious collaborative work we noticed distinct party point making especially when discussing THE speech by our glorious leader. It was as if Cameron had made three different speeches, ah the power of spin! Parliament building itself is remarkable only for its scale and to hear that the roof had collapsed in the main chamber gave me an Asterix moment in which the only thing that frightened him si le ciel lui tombe sur la tete. But the self directed exhibition allowed you to be drawn to what interested you and not what a guide decided was interesting hence my discovery of M. Schuman and seeing Chancellor Willy Brandt kneel before the gates to the Warsaw ghetto an image which will remain with me. However it also gave me an explanation of something in three languages as each time a new visitor swiped his electronic key to my screen the language changed to his!

And so to Westminster, where I have been before many years previously but nothing can prepare you for the experience of standing in the Palace on the spot where Wallace was tried to be hung drawn and quartered next to the spot where Nelson Mandela made his speech, hmmm two kinds of ‘Freedom’ Affable Jamie Lindsay persuaded us of the importance of the Lords even if to prevent people being jailed for saying ‘woof’ to a police dog and our MP’s rallied round in the Jubilee café.

Highlight for me? How well a bunch of 23 individuals whose only connections are rural Scotland could get on so well and have such a good time. Thanks Raymondo and Iain. Oh and the horror of witnessing a failed pocket picking attempt on a Brussels metro. Woe betide that women if Eilidh Smith from Morton had not been getting off the train!

Christopher Trotter – Chef, Writer, Food critic, Speaker