Scottish independence referendum, plus jokes.

Wings Over Scotland


Crossing the borders

Posted on May 24, 2013 by

Readers will be aware that while we still link to articles in the Scotsman, we rarely encourage anyone to read pieces by Brian Wilson or Michael Kelly. Both generally issue furious, barely-coherent rants consumed by a blind, absolute tribal hatred of anything in any way connected to the SNP and/or independence, and amount to little more than professional trolling.

We’re not going to make an exception for Wilson’s latest, a spittle-flecked diatribe (fuelled by the Scotsman’s favourite useful idiot Jim Sillars) about how the idea that an independent Scotland could have an open border with the rUK is “ridiculous”, and that there would have to be border controls and passport checks. If you really want to read it you can go and find it for yourself.

border

But we thought it might be interesting to see if we could find a couple of comparable neighbouring countries (eschewing the obvious example of Ireland, which is for some reason apparently invisible to Unionists) and see how they handled it.

The Netherlands and Belgium are two nations with a great deal of shared culture and history, yet very different attitudes to immigration. The otherwise easy-going Dutch are infamously hostile to the notion of foreigners making a home in their land, with high-profile politicians like Geert Wilders building a name for themselves – even becoming known in the UK – in much the same way Nigel Farage has in England.

Belgium, on the other hand, is one of the most immigrant-filled countries on Earth. While attitudes have hardened a little in recent years (as they tend to do in most places in times of economic hardship), the Belgians still welcome newcomers more than just about anywhere else in Europe, with incredibly loose criteria for citizenship. As the link above notes:

“The Act of 1984 underwent several revisions before it was passed on March 1, 2000, allowing any foreigner legally residing in Belgium to become Belgian with a simple declaration, without a check on his or her “desire to integrate.”

Since 1985, over 300,000 foreigners have become Belgians under this provision. They participate in all social activities and may join political parties. Since 1994, many cities and regions have elected Belgians of foreign origin to political office. Some hold posts in the executive branch, evidence of their integration into both society at large and Belgium’s particular states.”

According to Brian Wilson, such a gulf between two nations which share a land border would make it inconceivable that there could be free movement across said border without checkpoints, as would-be immigrants could simply enter the more welcoming state before strolling over into the more hostile one.

Let’s take a look at the Netherlands/Belgium border:

nlb3

nlb1

nlb2

nlb4

nlb5

nlb6

Can we get to the grown-up debate soon, please?

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103 to “Crossing the borders”

  1. Juteman says:

    That third photo is worrying.
    I wouldn’t want armed border guards patrolling through my front door!

  2. handclapping says:

    @juteman
    But think of the potential for cross border tax fiddles!  :)

  3. scottish_skier says:

    Aye, imagine needing your passport to go grab something from the fridge.

  4. Doug Daniel says:

    I bet the occupants of that house in the last photo have to pay two lots of council tax, two lots of income tax, two TV licences (or just make sure their TVs are all in one side of the house) etcetera, etcetera.
     
    Anyway, what you don’t realise Stu, is that there is a FORCEFIELD at the Dutch-Belgian border, and if you step over the line without having your passport on you, you get vaporised.
     
    More Cybernat LIES.

  5. Juteman says:

    Mmm. You could commit a crime in your bedroom, and claim political asylum in the living room.

  6. Tomo says:

    @handclapping It already happens with Ireland and NI with tax on fuel if i remember correctly.

  7. Juteman says:

    And having big white letters painted on your driveway might make me vote no.

  8. Juteman says:

    Another thing. If you watered the pot plants either side of your door, would some complex anti-cross border fertilisation rules not apply?
    Far too confusing.

  9. Melissa Murray says:

    I love the flowers. Welcome to the Netherlands! 
     
    Great article. Once again the facts speak for themselves.  Those angry unionists are going to have to up their game eventually. Because they aren’t going to win the referendum, just on the I HATE ALEX SALMOND vote.

  10. Erchie says:

    New “Friends of the Scotsman” scheme suggests that wealthy “YES” campaigners can get their message in the Scotsman, if they want to give Johnstone Press the money

    http://JPY4b

  11. Erchie says:

    sorry
     
    think that link should be http://goo.gl/JPY4b

  12. Holebender says:

    At least you couldn’t get a Panzer over that bridge! ;-)

  13. muttley79 says:

    I thought the term a “useful idiot” was applied to someone/ people who supported a cause, but was/were seen by their opponents as someone who was naive, fair-minded, or simpleminded, and could thus be thus against their own side? 
     
    In regards to Jim Sillars, unfortunately when Unionists have been citing his comments and views for the best part of two decades, then it should be fairly obvious to him and us that he has long since stopped being an effective advocate for independence.  The problem with Sillars in particular is he has never been consistent in his political views, he constantly changes his mind, seemingly on a whim.   

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Here’s a picture of the Danish-German border”

    Nice. Let’s make a gallery! Who’s got some more?

  15. scottish_skier says:

    Norway (not in EU) – Sweden border (EU)
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-CBgGzFYJjVI/TWUnTSuPQtI/AAAAAAAAAGk/pPUaGzf0B1k/s1600/100_0385.JPG
    Must be guards hidden in the trees.

  16. Barontorc says:

    It’s one thing for Brian Wilson and Michael Kelly to live up to their reputation as swivel-eyed loons, but quite another for Jim Sillars to jump into the same ‘SEL’ mode just to be an irritating itch and begs the question as to why he does?
     
    I would have thought that in the Margo/Jim household there would be more than ample opportunity for civilised and mature debate, so how can he come away with such belting mad theories? Is it a game for him? Is this how he passes his time? I doubt very much that Margo would be encouraging such roads of travel. Jim really needs to get a grip.

  17. pmcrek says:

    But.. a border guard could employ the 18,000 people at Faslane…

  18. Adrian B says:

    Here is some more borders.
     
    Locations 5 & 6 were featured in Arne Dahl shown on BBC 4 a few weeks ago.
     
    Scroll further down the page for more interesting borders.

  19. Robert Louis says:

    Yet again, we have grown adults like Brian Wilson, who DO know they are talking bull, yet they keep on churning out this fear scare story nonsense.  I simply do not know how any Scot can live with themselves, deliberately peddling lies and scare stories, which they know to be untrue, simply to save their blessed British Labour party and the Westminster feeding trough, at the expense of Scotland’s prosperity.
     
    I have on occasion, walked from the UK into a ‘foreign country’ (Ireland) and back again, and I didn’t even have my passport with me.  In most places, the border isn’t even marked.  The likes of Jim Sillars, Brian Wilson and all who head up the ‘NO’ campaign know full well their regular scare stories are tripe.  The NO campaign has a mission to deliberately lie, smear, scaremonger and spread doubt.
     
    Meanwhile, for the last four years, I and others have waited with baited breath to hear the mythical ‘positive case for the union’, and yet despite all the lies from the bitter together campaign, I still haven’t heard it.

  20. David says:

    The No camp seem to have a real problem with Foreigners

  21. Robert Louis says:

    Scottish skier and holebender…
     
    Ahhhh, but Norway has trolls – REAL ones (allegedly).

  22. scottish_skier says:

    Google maps could provide you with a wealth of lovely, open borders. Just go to street view and screen capture until your heart is content.

    e.g.

    http://goo.gl/maps/TzjBs

  23. Erchie says:

    Jim Sillars’s problem with the SNP and Indy is that they never made him God-King of it, so it must fail. If he can’t be in charge, no one can

  24. Adrian B says:

    @SS,
     
    Ive traveled along that road several times in past in the days when the German side had men with sub machine guns. On the Danish side – a man in a shed waved you through. Must be nearly 30 years ago now.

  25. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    A Regiment of Border Collies would do the job.

  26. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    It would be nice to see Brian Wilson standing with one foot in Scotland, the other in England as he supervises erection of the first stretch of barbed-wire fence.

  27. Adrian B says:

    It helps if you include a link in the first place
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=38217026&postcount=1563
     
     
    Adrian B says:
    24 May, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Here is some more borders. Locations 5 & 6 were featured in Arne Dahl shown on BBC 4 a few weeks ago. Scroll further down the page for more interesting borders.

  28. Some guy seems to have created a website showing him standing on various borders: http://www.peroquedices.es/2011/10/las-fronteras-mas-curiosas/

  29. Ananurhing says:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Russia-Norway-Finland_border.jpg
     
    You do need a visa to cross to the Russian side here.
    OOOOOOH! Look at the scarey border guards!

  30. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Talking of the Danish German Border, I used to live in Denmark for about  5 years and regularly crossed the land frontier just inside Flensburg.
    Often there was no control although I was stopped once and given a grilling because I was driving a French registered car using a UK passport and a UK Driving Licence. When I reached CPH I found that Geo Bush was fling in on a wee stopover.
     
    Anyway there were different alcohol tax taxes in Denmark and  Germany and the Danish Skate (Taxman) stuck a notice up detailing the free of local tax European cross border individual permissions. They also put an honesty box for those Danes who wished to pay the tax on their above limits imports. I was told that the box was emptied from time to time.

  31. fitheach says:

     
    Dreiländereck – Three Country Corner, where the borders of Germany, Netherlands and Belgium meet.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Drilandenpunt.jpg

  32. Max says:

    Heavily armed Irish border control 
     
    http://www.john-byrne.ie/graphics/biog/bic.jpg

  33. scottish_skier says:

    Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/83981138

  34. scottish_skier says:

    fitheach 
    Damn you got there first. Better photo too.
    ;-)

  35. Shinty says:

    Travelled by train from Lisbon to Genoa (changing trains at Cerbere & Barcelona) only ever asked for my ticket!

  36. Although not a photo of a pretty border, this map showing local trains in Copenhagen and southern Sweden is interesting, too: http://dsboresund.dk/files/billedbank/Kort_tl_inds+%C2%AAtning.jpg

  37. mato21 says:

    So now as well as being the only country in the world who is too rich but too stupid to handle the wealth we will need to be one of the few countries in the world who will need to be barricaded in to keep those pesky foreingers out Maybe we should put an identification implant in all babies at birth to prove their right to be here 

  38. Ananurhing says:

    Brian Wilson! How do you leap from West Highland Free Press, to Slab Stormtrooper Border Guard Grupenfuhrer, and Scotland’s go to Mr Nuke?

  39. Desimond says:

    Combining the last 2 articles…does that mean we can look forward to a nice friendly game of football every New Years day….altogether now…
    “Play the pipes of peace……”

  40. ayemachrihanish says:

    Rev, like millions of other – I regularly drive from Belgium to Germany via the Neterland  – while crossing 3 borders each way.  it’s exactly the same as driving from Glasgow to Carlise blink and you miss where the border is!

  41. Max says:

    I see the Scotsman is looking for friends
     
    http://www.scotsman.com/news/friends-of-the-scotsman-invitation-from-the-editor-1-2943334

    By IAN STEWART 
    Published on 24/05/2013 09:46
     
    THE Scotsman has a long and proud history of being at the centre of debate in Scotland and I want to continue and develop that. I believe that over a period of years we have seen an ever-narrowing news agenda and as a result I believe there are innovations, debates, research and informative views across broad spectrums of Scotland and beyond that are not getting the airing they need and deserve because they fall outwith the news agenda of the day.

    With friends like the Scotsman who needs enemies. 

  42. YesYesYes says:

    I like this brief video of the Swiss-EU border. It’s only two minutes long and worth watching all the way through (good graphics). Look out for the major inconvenience caused to drivers near the end, 1 minute 39 seconds in. This might be what Brian Wilson is trying to warn us against. How will we cope.
     
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z39DMsXmj6g

  43. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “It helps if you include a link in the first place”

    Excellent. Had stumbled across the same thread myself, currently ploughing through 200-odd pages…

  44. Iain More says:

    Oh well if having borders means we can stop paedos, smack dealers and crack cocaine dealers and other criminals from getting into Scotland then I am all for them.
    The idea of having borders just isnt scary at all folks. I once told that to Brian Wilsons face, naturally the poisonous dwarf wasn’t pleased that somebody would dare to look down on him and rub his bigoted Brit Nationalism back in his face. I dare say he would be more at home in UKIP these days? 

  45. heraldnomore says:

    Cycling in Netherlands last year I regularly nipped into Belgium before breakfast, with nary a passport nor any other form of ID on me.  Indeed the entire family took great delight in heading out on the bikes and taking a picnic in another country.  It was quite easy;nothing changed, neither the currency nor the language, just a different colour on the marker posts on the cycle paths, and the occasional flag.
    It fair makes you think of what can be.  So we’ll be doing it all again this year, but across the Netherlands/German border.

  46. Tattie-boggle says:

    Decisions Do you put your Lottery on in Holland or Belgium ? This is getting all too confusing we’re better together HOLLGIUM.

  47. Craig says:

    How could we forget about the UK/RoI border?
    http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee235/Gareth_Parr/IrishBorder.jpg

    Look at the confusion as drivers transition between two different speed limit regimes.

  48. Bob Howie says:

    I worked in Europe and the only borders I crossed and had to show my passport was in Airports other than that I freely crossed borders, the only one that is different is the Swiss border but even that is like going through a toll for Dartford and as far as the Dutch go watch out for the comical security guards, they throw you off completely. I was taking a second bottle of Whisky into Holland on my second trip and the guy said he would have to confiscate it, I was in a panic as I told him I got the first one through all right last time and he said he couldn’t have been on otherwise he would have confiscated it because it was so good he wanted to try it. When I realised he was joking the sweat began to dissipate and the other passengers had, had their chuckle for the day and I left with a handshake and a smile for him taking the piss.
    If we have, and we should have open borders with England I cant see their security guards being so friendly, and asking if I would like to live in England permanently.

  49. scottish_skier says:

    While I travel fairly regularly with work (oil and gas), I’ve been to England twice in the past 10 years. It’s just not an important destination in the industry.

    Took my passport on both occasions as was flying (guaranteed accepted identity document). 

    I’d imagine a majority of people in Scotland are in the same position. Many will have never been to England. Unless you have friends/family there or require to go on business, there’s actually no need.

    For me, it’s no different from going to France. In fact I’m in France at lest twice a year so Scotland being independent in the EU with a rUK exit would be technically far more convenient travel-wise.

  50. Adrian B says:

    Excellent. Had stumbled across the same thread myself, currently ploughing through 200-odd pages…
     
    382 pages on this thread:
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=543111
     
    Some good ones even on the first page.

  51. Tearlach says:

    Those pesky Swedes and Finns do like to make life difficult when they come to borders. In fact they have a golf course that has 9 holes in Finland and 9 holes in Sweden, and you have to cross the border four times just to play 18 holes.

    As its in Lapland you would think that they would only get away with it in Summer, but the rascals have to play snow golf the rest of the year. I’m sure they are doing it deliberately.

    http://tinyurl.com/qztzo49
     

  52. Angus McPhee says:

    Of course this just reminded me of Steptoe and son.

  53. Thomas William Dunlop says:

    “Can we get to the grown-up debate soon, please?”
     
    Not a chance from the unionists. Any serious discussion and thought would blow their arguements out of the water.

  54. ScottyC1314 says:

    Why does any YES voter / nationalist / good guy ;-) give Sillars the time of day. You have to question his true views on independence if he is happy with his name being associated with such garbage. Wilson and Kelly are numpties but Sillars in my view surpasses even them with his warped contribution to the independence debate.
    I like Margo McDonald and have no reason whatsover to doubt her pro indy credentials but is her dear hubby not making her look a bit daft in all this….surely she cannot tolerate / agree with his nonsense.
    When we acheive our independence it will be despite the efforts of Jim Sillars. Sad really.

  55. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Basle Airport is in France and you exit into France or Switzerland at the “frontier”
     
    The German Rail Terminal is in Switzerland.
     
    I often used to take the Swiss tram to the German border walk into the forest, have lunch, walk home via France.
     
     
    Where there is a will

  56. AmadeusMinkowski says:

    O/T
    @Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Given Labour’s recent posturings over NHS Scotland, and the absurd notion of the SNP creating “Health Refugees”, it might be appropriate to push back by looking at the direction of travel of NHS England&Wales; i.e., Privatisation.

    Virgin (a la Branson), and many other companies are buying up the NHS in England Wales. To get a sense of this one only has to look at a Virgin job add  posted yesterday in the Guardian (22/05/2013); which also surreptitiously carries the NHS logo.
    Head of Integrated Children’s Services
    Virgin Care Ltd
    Salary: £70,000 – 98,000

    Scotland beware!

    “BetterTogether” actually refers to Big Business and their MPs & Lords representatives  in Parliament.
    “No” presents a real danger to NHS Scotland, among many other things!

  57. Adrian B says:

    End of the European Union:
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=543111&page=70
    (Beach Picture)

  58. HighlandMartin says:

    Sorry no pic but an observation.  In Feb, I travelled to France via Geneva airport.  Our bus was pulled over at the border on the return trip.  It was a spot check to ensure the bus was properly insured for travel.  Sorry, it wasn’t any more exciting than that.  I could make something up if you are disappointed.

  59. McHaggis says:

    Had this ‘debate’ with a pro-union friend whilst I was on the east coast line from Edinburgh to London…
    his view, “well we wont be able to do this if you get your independence, at least not without stopping at the border passport control”.
    no answer at all when I told him I had taken the train from Amsterdam to Antwerp and must have been sleeping when we stopped at the nonexistent border crossing…
     
    the shame is, some people still believe this kind of shite.

  60. Adrian B says:

    Can’t really see this border changing:
     
    http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1363903

  61. abigdoob says:

    In the early 80s I was removed from the vehicle I was travelling in from the DDR, stood surrounded by armed E German guards at the old Marienborn border control, whilst they searched for defectors.

    If Wilson & co are to be believed this is what the poor English will have to endure travelling north.
    I have visions of their uncontrolled army of disaffected students poised, ready, to take all the places at Unis up here, making a life or death run across mined, gunned & barbed wired no mans land. http://tinyurl.com/nmwf55q http://www.dw.de/image/0,,4039162_4,00.jpg

  62. Max says:

    Of course it is much more difficult if you cross from an EU country into an an autocratic state.
     
    The Polish-Belarus border.
     
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/borderfilms/75440786/

  63. Here’s a (rather large) photo of the US-Canada Border. It does have a border guard, though.

    http://www.theepochtimes.com/news_images/highres/2006-6-19-57160458.jpg

  64. Peter Herbert says:

    How many homes in the UK actually have the border passing through them? I bet it’s not more than a couple of dozen, if that.

  65. fitheach says:

    @scottish_skier
    Damn you got there first. Better photo too.

    I can’t claim credit for the photo that was Herr Wiki Pedia ;-)

    We visited Dreiländereck a few years ago, with our good friends who live in Aachen, as it is a typical touristy thing to do. On the way we stopped in a petrol station in Belgium and a supermarket in the Netherlands or was it the other way round? The thing is the borders are so invisible you don’t think about them.
    The only thing that is real in Wilson’s article is the stench of scaremongering.
     

  66. Boorach says:

    on a ‘snowqueen’ ski training course in Garmisch Partenkirchen a group of us decided it would be nice to visit Salzburg during free time at the weekend. How we managed it but a group of hairy arsed squaddies rolled up to and were waved across the border without a passport between us and in an army land rover.

  67. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I once crossed Luxemburg, by mistake, and was unaware that I had done so until I received the welcome texts from the Luxembourg and consequent Telecoms telling me how much my calls would cost.

  68. Joybell says:

    I have just returned from Netherlands a few days ago.  We took the train to Aachen in Germany and our train tickets were not even checked never mind our passports.  We couldn’t help making jokes about being able to visit our Granny.

  69. Could we afford our share of the paint?

  70. Vronsky says:

    Here’s Vronksy at the French/Spanish border.  You can see the guards in their smart white uniforms on the hill behind me.
     
    http://twitpic.com/csv4h2

  71. Richard Lucas says:

    I have friends and family in Didam, a small town in NL very close to the German border.  Hhen visiting, we pop over the border to buy German beer because you get get better beer for less money in Deutschland.  The border there is even less visible than your photos – you just notice that the road signage has changed colour and language.  In most places the NL/B border is even less visible than your photos. It’s quite possible to drive through 5 countries (D, NL, B, L, F) in a day without seeing more than the odd sign to announce you’ve crossed another border. Towns on all the borders have car parks full of vehicles from the neighbouring country as folk take advantage of the widened range of shopping opportunities

  72. Richard Lucas says:

    I used to visit Berlin often back in the hard cruel days of its partition. You could stand on viewing platforms looking at tank traps, gravel death strips to slow runners and alert guards with the noise made running on it, barbed wire, patrols, light towers, machine gun nest on towers to give a wide field of fire.  You could watch pigeons fly unharmed from one side to the other and wonder about the mentality of the people who worked so hard to prevent the same right to people.  Wonderfully, now it is all gone, in most places remembered only by a double line of bricks set into the roads, footpaths etc to mark the line of the border. Wilson is a fool

  73. Caledonian Lass says:

    @ianbrotherhood
    It would be even funnier if Brian Wilson slipped whilst standing astride the barbed wire border fence.   I’m sure it would bring the tears to his eyes.

  74. Richard Lucas says:

    Bugger (the Panda) says:
    24 May, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I once crossed Luxemburg, by mistake, and was unaware that I had done so until I received the welcome texts from the Luxembourg and consequent Telecoms telling me how much my calls would cost.
     
    That sounds very ‘Withnail & I’ ‘ We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!’

  75. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Withnail and I
     
    Sorry not got a clue about that?
     
    Correction just Googled and found it to be a George Harrison film in B & W. Never saw it.
     
    But, did have a mate who when on a bus “outing” to Wembley for a Scotland / England game.
     
    he was dead drunk by Carlisle, sobered up on the M1 and repeated the cycle several times. His last was when he woke up in Calais with no Passport, no French and precious little in money. I think he sold a kidney to get back

  76. Richard Lucas says:

     
    Bugger (the Panda) says:
     
    24 May, 2013 at 4:05 pm
    Withnail and I
     
    Sorry not got a clue about that?
    Not a B&W film, in full colour, and one of the best British films made since WW2. You need to get a copy and watch it!

  77. Silver19 says:

    @AmadeusMinkowski
    And Tony Blair’s wife and there Tories pals want a piece of the NHS England privatisation.
    http://news.sky.com/story/1091921/tory-mp-backs-cherie-blair-healthcare-firm
    It’s clear a No vote next year means the NHS Scotland will be taken apart and privatised. These private healthcare companies and their unionist pals are rubbing their hands to get hold of NHS Scotland.

  78. Chic McGregor says:

    @Silver19, AmadeusMinkowski
     
    I was infuriated the other day when some City Commentator Tosser, when asked if it still made sense to go ahead with the Post Office privatisation when they were now making a profit.  “Ah”, he said, “but they are not making enough profit.”
     
    Since when has a public service been supposed to make a profit at all, never mind a ‘good profit’?
     
    What a paradigm shift pointer that was.

  79. Alastair Naughton says:

    In Strasbourg, one of the city bus routes takes you from Strasbourg city centre across the Rhine to Kehl in Germany. No border checks on the Rhine at all – just an imaginary line down the middle of the river. The laugh of it is, as in all European countries, you buy your ticket at a ticket machine before you get on the bus, and it’s up to you to stamp it, so it’s largely based on honesty in the first place. The thing is, nobody would think about getting on public transport without paying. It would be like dropping litter or smoking in a public place – illegal and totally anti-social behaviour. 

  80. lumilumi says:

    My favourite border photos are pre-digital so can’t share them :-(
     
    One’s from the Finland/Sweden/Norway border in Lapland, with a 2 metre high and wide, bright yellow round concrete slab that you can climb on and be in three countries at the same time! Quite a popular destination for tourists (hillwalkers etc.) in that part of the wilderness.
     
    My favourite is the Finnish/Norwegian (EU/non-EU!) border up in the hills: you wouldn’t know there’s a border but you’re not supposed to cross it. :-D Some of the Finland/Norway border has a reindeer fence (easily negotiated by hillwalkers) to stop Norwegian reindeer from migrating to Finland and Finnish reindeer from migrating to Norway (disrupting their natural migration patterns) because the wild reindeer are owned by Finnish or Norwegian reindeer herders.
     
    The Nordic countries have been a free travel area for as long as I can remember (30 yrs or more), the Finnish/(Soviet Union) Russian border is different even today even though it’s far more relaxed than it used to be pre-1990s. As to trains stopping at borders…
     
    I took the train from Helsinki to St Petersburgh a couple of years ago. The Russian border control people boarded the train on the last station on the Finnish side and started checking passports and visas and got off at the first station on the Russian side. The train did stop at some sidling but it was to change from an electric engine to a diesel engine. Nowadays the whole line is electrified so the train doesn’t stop (except at the major stations along the route) and it only takes about 3 1/2 hours. Getting back to Finland was even less of a hassle, the Finnish border guards heard we spoke Finnish and saw we had Finnish passports so didn’t want to look at them. Cheerily said they hoped we’d had a good trip. They did look at non-EU passports, though.

  81. Alastair wright says:

    no doubt Brian Wilson would throw a wobbly if he flew in to Basel airport – France / Switzerland border runs right down the middle, if you go down the wrong corridor you need to get a taxi to bring you round to the other country! Another thing about this nonsense, why is Mr Wilson advocating that rUK breaks EU law anyway?

  82. ewen says:

    Had an interesting time in the Lithuanian border zone with Latvia sitting next to the river enjoying a beer with a mate, no passport, within spitting distance of Latvia out in the wilds. Two lithuanian border guards came along armed with Kalashnikovs came along……oh oh.
    Ended up sitting for an hour chatting away with the guards, nae bother. Now it is different – no border at the official crossing points. even the scary border control at the bridge at Germaniskis is gone. That usually involved a half hour wait whilst the border guards took your passport and sat around in their office.
    Once drove from lithuania to the UK, through, Poland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France and only had to produce a passport in Dover, then continued to ROI without having to show my passport. If RUK want to isolate themselves from the rest of Europe, then that is fine. We don’t need to go through RUK to get to the continent by car or plane.
     
    Must admit I miss the stamps in my passport, though.

  83. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    @Caledonian Lass-
     
    ‘It would be even funnier if Brian Wilson slipped whilst standing astride the barbed wire border fence.   I’m sure it would bring the tears to his eyes.’
     
    Kin right.
     
    And it would bring tears borne of cruel laughter to mine. Wilson has one of those coupons – he always looks as if he’s sitting in a big bowl of cold porridge.
     
    Maybe we should call him Brian ‘Mind Yer Baws’ Wilson. Has a ring to it…

  84. CameronB says:

    Re. Chic’s pics of barriers. Doesn’t the pic of Downing Street perfectly encapsulate the us and them mentality being promoted by today’s Wastemonster politicians? They even have their own gated community, how very Manhattan. :)

  85. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    @CameronB-
     
    Many people don’t realise that those big gates aren’t old.
     
    I’ve never been to Downing Street, but I recall a mate from Art School days saying how he spent a nice afternoon right across from No 10, sitting with his sketch pad, watching the well-kent faces coming and going. No hassle.
     
    Aye, dem was the days when ordinary plebs could just stroll along and have a butchers at the place.
     
    And dem days is done.
     
    PS I never said there was anything wrong with your hair.

  86. Bugger (the Panda) says:

     

  87. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    @Bugger (the  Panda)-
     
    Kin right.
     
    Sometimes there’s a lot to be said for saying nothing at all.

  88. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Actually a mistake photo post with the Arbeit Macht Frei sign above Downing Street entrance, but the link turned out wonky.
     
    Only alternative was to say nowt and be thought an eejit or leave the post up and have it confirmed.

  89. CameronB says:

    @ ianbrotherhood
    I can’t remember exactly when they went up, but it was ‘for security reasons’, mainly against the IRA. Now why does Operation Gladio spring to mind? A barrier is still a barrier though, as a gated community is akin to a castle, and all that that implies.
     
    Re. Hair. Sure your not backpedaling a bit there? :) Re. Quarantine. I hung about for a bit, but the stream appeared to run dry. I blame Vronsky’s cold. :)

  90. Shinty says:

    re barriers at Downing Street.
     
    I always remember someone saying to me they could never understand the huge costs of security for the PM etc. If someone shoots them, you simply elect another.

  91. ianbrotherhood says:

     
     
    @CameronB-
     
    You’re right – this, from Wikipedia:
     
    ‘In 1982 access was more fully restricted with railings and a demountable gate. This was replaced by the current black steel gates in 1989.[15] The increase in security was again due to an increase in violence, particularly by the IRA.’
     
    This would also tie-in with me old art-school mate’s testimony – he probably visited Downing St around 78/79.

  92. Seasick Dave says:

    I remember cycling from Spain into Andorra with a mate and being kept waiting at a customs post for longer than we thought necessary as we could see the guards sat inside just ignoring us.
     
    It turns out that the guards thought that we were English and were very apologetic and chatty when they found out we were Scottish :)

  93. Tom Hogg says:

    I have skied from Switzerland to France and from Austria to Switzerland and on both occasions back again.  Schengen of course, but different tax and immigration regimes.

  94. Caledonian Lass says:

    @ianbrotherhood
    I’m sore with laughing at your remarks about that nyaff Brian Wilson.
     
    Every time I see him on TV from now on, I’ll think of that nickname for him.

  95. ianbrotherhood says:

     
    @Caledonian Lass-
     
    Aye, well, I suppose we’re as well getting a laugh out of these characters, cause we’ll we’ll get hee-haw else.
     
    My personal dislike of Wilson was recharged when he cropped-up on Radio Scotland, maybe a Saturday morning, fairly recently, giving it the whole Saddam/WMD/We Had No Choice But to Invade routine. It was so strange listening to it, as if we’d suddenly been thrust back in Time, and none of the horror we all know about had ever happened.
     
    I hope to live long enough to see Blair, Straw, John Reid, Adam Ingram et al in The Hague, one at a time, with the War Crimes charges being dictated in multiple languages. Way, way, way down the pecking order will be characters like Eric Joyce, George Foulkes, and, eventually, oor ain wee Brian Wilson, standing there in the dock with his wee porridge-coated baws all a-tremble.
     
    I’m keeping a 1.5 litre of Lambrini in the cellar for that occasion.

  96. Hetty says:

    Might poor people need a passport/money in the bank to get into London soon given the social cleansing that seems to be taking place there? A silly thought I know, but the current government in westminster are creating more divides than anyone, on many levels, quite blatantly.

  97. Dave Bell says:

    An acquaintance of mine, who was in the British Army in the 1950s, tells a story of how he accidentally invaded Czechoslovakia from West Germany. This was the border between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and in thoise days the only sign of the border was the marker posts at the roadside, much the same as today’s borders, and much the same as pre-WW1 borders.
    The highly secure European borders, with fences and minefields and guard towers, lasted maybe 35 years. They’re something abnormal, not something normal humans do. (Yorkshire and Lancashire may be one of the exceptions.)



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