Gerry’s Diary 174: Big Iceland, lucky ticket, family reunion (26th August, 2016)
Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday 26th August 2016. Well, how was your summer, or how is your summer? In Switzerland the children are back in school before the end of August. Here, school starts again in September, so perhaps it’s still summer for us. But then the Welsh call the month of July “Gorffennaf”, and that means something like “the end of summer”. There are so many ways to think about the different seasons. Anyway my summer has been very busy. I stayed here but we had lots of visitors, and I’m going to tell you about them on today’s show. I’ve also got a story about a very lucky Welsh family, but let’s start with the question that I left you with before the summer break .
In my last show before the summer break, I talked to you about my holiday in Iceland and my pub quiz question was about that country. I asked you: How big is the island of Iceland? Which of these countries is more or less as big as Iceland? Is it a) Norway b) Austria c) Portugal or d) Switzerland? I asked you that question because when I went to Iceland I was surprised how big it is. Because there are so few people who live there, I had the idea that it was quite a small island. Not small like Corsica, for example, but maybe something like Sicily. Anyway I was wrong. According to Wikipedia, Iceland is the 17th biggest country in Europe. The top six are Russia, Ukraine, France, Spain, Sweden and Norway. So Iceland is smaller than Norway but much bigger than Austria and Switzerland. It’s also bigger than Portugal or Hungary but these two countries are the closest  in size to Iceland. Bulgaria is also close . It’s a bit bigger. So congratulations to Madeleine and Armin who sent me the right answer on Twitter and Dani who wrote to me on the website.
It was a great summer for Iceland, of course, because of the football. Iceland and Wales both reached the semi-finals of the European Championship. Iceland beat England, of course, to get there, but the Welsh didn’t mind  too much. They were disappointed  that they lost their match against England at the beginning of the competition, so they were happy perhaps to see another little country beat their big neighbour.
Now, here’s a little story from Wales about a lucky lady. Her name is Sonia. Sonia and her husband wanted to go to Florida this summer, and they booked a holiday there last Christmas. But then in January Sonia found out that she had cancer. She had a tumour in her neck. However, when she started to read about her cancer and about treatments, she found out that one of the best hospitals for this kind of treatment was in Florida. And this hospital was near where they wanted to go on holiday. So she booked an operation in the hospital there. And in July she went to Florida and had the operation. After the operation the doctors told her: “We’ve cut out the tumour, and you’re now all clear. You’re lucky because that tumour was dangerous.”
So Sonia was very happy, of course, and she felt very lucky. In fact she felt so lucky that she telephoned her daughter in Wales and told her to go out and buy a ticket for the big EuroMillions lottery. Her daughter didn’t want to go out but her mother said: “No, you have to. I feel so lucky. The family must buy a ticket. We’re going to win.” So the daughter went out and bought one ticket for the five members of the family. She didn’t even choose the numbers. She just bought one “lucky dip” ticket – a ticket with numbers already on it. And what happened? Well, you’ve guessed, I’m sure. Sonia and her family won £61 million pounds – that’s £12 million pounds each. Sonia was right. It was her lucky month.
We had a bit of bad luck this summer with our family. Let me explain. My nephew , who lives in Colorado in the States, got married a couple of years ago. And in April 2015 he became the father of twin baby girls . His wife was married before and she already had two boys, who are now 14 and 8 years old, so my nephew was suddenly the father of four children. He wanted to bring them to Europe to meet my mother, their great-grandmother . So we decided to have a big family party here in Wales. A great idea – with my sister and her husband, my niece  and my nephew with his big family all coming from America; my sister’s mother-in-law  coming from Paris; my daughter coming with her two children from London; my son coming with his partner from Zurich; and Owen the Wandering Son coming from China with Vittoria, his Italian girlfriend. A very international group. The youngest member of the group was just one, and we had two great-grandmothers who are both over 90. Wonderful!
So what was the bad luck? Well, first, my nephew and his family lost all their cases . When they arrived in Manchester their luggage  didn’t. So you can imagine the situation: twin babies and no clothes for them… or for the older boys… or for their parents. And it took a long time for the cases to arrive. After three days the babies’ clothes arrived, but my nephew had to wait five days before his case arrived. The next problem was logistic. My sister and all her family rented a house  for two weeks, and our family were partly in our house and partly with my mother. It wasn’t easy to organise transport and times to do things together. Little children have to sleep but sometimes they don’t sleep when you want them to sleep, and sometimes they sleep when you don’t want them to. But that wasn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem was illness. Small children are often ill, of course, and when I visit my daughter’s house, I often come home with a cold. Another problem is aeroplanes. People are often ill, I find, after a journey on a plane. Anyway in our family we had stomach upsets, sore throats, coughs and colds. Every day it seemed that we had one or more people who weren’t so well. And at the end of the holiday my sister was so ill that she had to go and see the doctor, and the doctor said that she had pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. She had to cancel  her flight home, and in the end she was here for nearly five weeks.
So was the family reunion a disaster? No, of course not. It was fantastic to see everybody, and we had some great times. It was the first visit to Wales for my nephew’s children and for Vittoria. And I think they all enjoyed it. We had a couple of great days on the beach. We went fishing, and I’ve put a photo on Instagram of Owen fishing for mackerel . Small groups went for good walks. Owen and Vittoria had a good trip to Liverpool. And we ate and drank really well, because my brother-in-law is a very good cook .
Now to finish today, here are a few important messages. I have the names of the winners of the PodClub summer competition. I spoke about it on my News Digest before the summer, and I’m pleased to say that I recognise at least one of the winners’ names: Cornelia, Denise und Sister Raphaela have each won a JBL headset, sponsored by melectronics. Congratulations to the three of you! Bernadette sent an email to PodClub with a question about driving in Britain. You’ll find an answer to your question, Bernadette, in my Diary number 167. It’s on the website.
The new pub quiz question is the following. It’s been a summer of sport: first the football and then the Olympics, but this question is about another sport. This game is not an Olympic sport. In this game you start with 501 points and the winner is the first person to go down to zero. You score  negative points  by throwing something. And on the final throw you have to make a “double” score . What’s this British game? I’ve put a photo on the website to help you. You can also see the photo on Instagram, because you can now follow PodClub on Instagram where we’ll be using the hashtags #PodClubGerry and #gerrysdiary. So send me your answers to the question to the website www.podclub.ch, or you can use Twitter. My Twitter address is @gerrypod. In two weeks you can hear the latest stories from Owen in China, and then I’ll be back on September 23rd. Thanks for listening and take care!
 break: a pause, a short period of time between other things (for example, a holiday)
 close (closer, the closest): near, here: nearly the same as
 NB “Close”, the adjective, has an “s” sound like in “pass”, but “to close (the door)” has an “s” sound like in “cars” or “is”.
 to mind: to be unhappy about something (e.g. I don’t ~ = it’s no problem for me)
 disappointed: unhappy because they expected or hoped for something different
 nephew: the son of your sister or brother
 twin girls (or: twins): two girls who are sisters and are born together at the same time
 great-grandmother: the mother of your grandmother or grandfather
 niece: the daughter of your sister or brother
 mother-in-law: the mother of your wife or husband
 (suit)case: a large bag/box with a handle that you carry your clothes, etc. in when you travel
 luggage: cases, bags, etc. that you take with you when you travel
 to rent a house: to pay money to live in a house for a period of time
 to cancel: to stop (here: to tell the airline that she couldn’t fly)
 mackerel: a fish that’s good to eat and that has blue and silver stripes (NB We caught 47 when we went fishing and we had a big barbecue that night!)
 cook: a chef, a person who prepares food/meals for you
 to score: to get (a point or points in a game or sport)
 negative points: minus points, so for example if you get 100 you go down from 501 to 401
 I’ll explain this in my next show!