Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so does anyone fancy a little virtual trip to a wonderful country called Switzerland.

Yes I might be currently over 1000km away in another part of Europe. But my heart is there.

So as my world rapidly shrinks for the next few months, I think it’s time to remember the beauty of The Alps.

The wonderful and friendly people. The brilliant culture.

The clock work precision of daily life. Even its wildlife get in on the act.

The stunning clear blue Lakes.

The history.

The beautiful Swiss villages and towns.

The always colourful alpine meadows.

The crisp mountain air.

The fun

And above all the peace.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday. The world has gone completely bonkers. This morning I so need my few moments of peace in beautiful Switzerland and I invite you to join me.

What I’m about to say might get my British Nationality revoked but here goes. I’m not sure I love my country anymore. I certainly love Yorkshire and the North East. I could see myself being happy in the Scottish Highlands. But increasingly my natural home feels like Switzerland. Not sure about the practicalities but maybe one day.

Today I would certainly settle for just another week there. It’s been four years now. So this morning it’s the next best thing – a virtual visit.

Remembering what it was like to walk in The Alps.

Remembering the colours.

Breathing in the sweet, fresh mountain air.

Listening to the calming soundscapes.

Be safe out there my friends and remember. It’s still a beautiful world.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so I’m in need of my weekly fix of Switzerland.

A country which is so special to me and our son. We spent many happy holidays in this beautiful country. My partners beloved dad worked with a injured soldiers charity out in Switzerland after the war. He fell in love with the country. That formed a long family bond with Switzerland. In my partners absence we will keep that candle burning bright.

I still remember that first time flying into Geneva and getting that initial glimpse of The Alps.

That first sight of a stunning alpine valley.

That first afternoon walking outside the hotel, hand in hand with my partner and getting my first sight of the mountain which dominates beautiful Spiez.

Those trips on the lake boats.

That first sight of The Matterhorn.

Watching the world go by on the trains while son repeatedly asked his mum to tell him the fairy story involving The Eiger, The Monch and the Jungfrau.

Watching the sun set over The Alps while son played with his animals on the hotel balcony.

Those trips to the heights of The Alps and pointing out each famous mountain to an excited son.

Circumstances mean that we currently can’t be there, but our hearts most definitely are.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit more Switzerland.

Switzerland certainly does mountains but it also does some mighty fine lakes as well.

For quite a small country Switzerland has over 7000 lakes.

And they are often not small ones. The lakes can be over 1000ft deep.

Most of the larger lakes have regular boat services. Some are still the luxury old steamers.

Lakes and mountains always create such a beautiful atmosphere. Unbelievably calming.

In the above photo you can see a road cut into the cliff face. It’s a stunning yet precarious lake view from there.

One of the other things you immediately notice about Swiss lakes here is how clear water is.

A wooden rocking horse provides one of the finest lake viewports. You know what – he never gave me a go….

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for your weekly fix of Switzerland.

I’ve been asked several times if I am getting sponsored by the Swiss Tourist Board for this series. NO. Not even one small block of Toblerone. But I live in hope…. Never going to happen. But the point is that my partners family became attached to Switzerland. She shared this country with me. A place I have grown to deeply love. That’s the real point of this series.

Before I ever went to Switzerland one word sprung to mind with this country. MOUNTAINS.

As a kid I desperately wanted to see the two legendary Swiss Peaks. The Eiger and The Matterhorn. The names just conjured so many stories of adventure, heroism and tragedy.

Eventually thanks to my partner my dream came true.

Switzerland is a climbers and walkers paradise with over 60% of its land being mountainous.

The country hosts 20% of The Alps. It’s has 437 mountains over 3000m (9842ft).

Yet you don’t need to be a mountaineer to enjoy the scenery. Many of the peaks can be walked with a decent level of fitness. Swiss precision transport will get you to the top while you sit and enjoy the scenery. Or you can just quietly sit outside at a cafe. With a coffee, something stronger and enjoy Swiss chocolate. What better place to drink in the mountain landscape.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for your weekly fix of Switzerland.

Let’s start off with two really important facts about Switzerland

  • They invented milk chocolate,
  • They consume more chocolate per person than any other country.

Got to love them….

Another couple of random facts about this great country. As the country is completely land locked water is not something you necessarily associate with it.

But it has over 1500 lakes.

Water accounts for about 4% of its surface area.

It’s lakes and mountains just go hand in hand. To create wonderful, dream like world.

Chocolate, lakes and mountains. What a country.

Big Sky

Twenty years ago we came to look at our current home for the first time and we both immediately fell in love with it. Yes it was a bit small being a two bedroom bungalow. It needed a lot of work doing to it. Apart from a really small village store it was a long way from any other facilities. The garden was badly overgrown. It would have been so easy to drive onto the next house we were looking at. But then we saw the view from the back garden. That was it. We were sold. I remember saying – that’s a big sky.

It’s still a big sky.

Little did we know how important such an isolated garden would prove when we became parents. Apart from the occasional walker and farmer you don’t see any sign of human life. These days when a human is spotted son will scamper into the house until the all clear is given. I’m not sure he would ever surface if he lived in a busy city.

Today was a work from home day. In fact this is going to be a work from home week. So it’s one of those weeks which could go two ways. Bask in the splendid isolation or feel the intense loneliness. Well after a few hours today it was heading towards the latter. When that happens the house starts to feel very cold and very claustrophobic. So a few minutes later I had donned about 15 layers and was sat outside with the laptop. Sat under the big sky. Today it was particularly quiet. No walkers, no farmers, no farm animals. Just the occasional bird. Yes still lonely but now realising how extremely privileged I am to be sat under this big sky.

Then something struck me. Before the world changed we would always be sitting in the garden. Sat with a glass of wine relaxing talking about becoming parents. Then when son arrived we would sit and watch him play with his toy dinosaurs on the grass. The garden would become Jurassic World. Then after a few hours the big bad daddy ranger would have to locate all the dinosaurs. It’s amazing how camouflaged a raptor can be in a Yorkshire garden. Then the bad stuff happened. Yes I would go outside to play in the garden with our son. I would train and do exercises in the garden. But I didn’t /sit in the garden anymore. This was probably the first time I had sat in the garden since my partner had left us. I guess it just didn’t seem right. It was always our garden not my garden. Almost as if it had become fenced off. Today without thinking just maybe that fence has come down. If it’s sunny again tomorrow I will probably work outside again.

Time to work under the big sky again.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

Time travelling back a few years. The Hotel Owner takes a look at our shorts, T-shirt and sunglasses.

“I do hope you have brought something warmer with you. It’s going to be warm this morning but we have a cold snap coming through this afternoon. If not let me know and I can get you some jumpers”

I know it’s a generalisation but I always found the Swiss to be staggeringly polite. My partner knew this country so well. Even though this was deep into May she knew it was worth bringing a few items of wool. So with warmer gear in my rucksack we set off. Within a couple of hours it was most appreciated.

Another thing about Switzerland. The weather forecasts. In the UK our gerbils give more accurate forecasts than the weather services. Switzerland is different. Like its trains the forecasts are usually precision perfect. Each day would start with watching the weather guide on the TV. No weather presenter here. Stunning live web videos from the countries best locations with the hourly forecast underneath. I could watch that all day. So on this Sunday the forecast had snow from 2pm. At 1pm the clouds rolled in and suddenly the temperatures dropped sharply. Just after 2pm the snow started.

We watched the snow line descend rapidly down the mountains.

A few snow ball fights later and we found ourselves in the hotel enjoying copious amounts of pizza and apfelsaftschorle. The Hotel Owner confidently predicting that tomorrow would be a sun cream day.

The next morning we opened the hotel window and were rewarded with this view. Yesterday’s cold snap was so worth it.

Just turn round

Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to turn round and see what’s behind you.

A few years back I was driving back home late at night. As a I was feeling tired I pulled over on a country lane and looked south at the beautiful starlight view. Feeling happy with myself I got back into the car. The next day the local news was full of videos of that nights stunning Northern Lights show. If I had just turned round I just might have seen one of the natural worlds greatest sights. Its a big deal here as we rarely get to see them. I still haven’t seen them. Just turn round…

Today I spent two hours ransacking the work base for one box. Not a sign of it. Then I turned round. Yep suddenly it was right in front of me. If only I had turned round sooner. With the box in hand I set off back home. If I had turned round as I left the office I would have seen my wallet and house keys on the desk. I then would have not got virtually back home before I realised that I had to turn round and go back to work.

I remember a Saturday afternoon visiting my partners bedside in the hospice. When I left the room something inside of me told me to turn round and spend some more time with her. I decided to go and pick my son up from relatives. I often think that I should have turned round as she died just a few hours later. Other times I think I probably made the right call. Son needed me. That’s probably an excusable failure to turn round.

Doncaster Wildlife Park is our zoo of choice. It’s a new park so the animals seem to be given space. It’s normally a good sign that due to the space and quality of the habitat that there is no guarantee that you will see all the animals. Some places (often the older sites) you visit are deeply depressing. Here it often doesn’t feel like a zoo as you walk round it. That’s probably why son likes it so much. Space for the animals, space for the humans.

The Wildlife Park also has a claim to fame. It’s the only place I have ever seen a snake in the wild. It was on a path at the edge of the Park – chomping on an unfortunate frog.

The irony. In my whole life the only snake I’ve seen in the wild was in a zoo which doesn’t have any snakes.

The Wildlife Park has one often overlooked attraction. As the visitors stand and look for the tigers a few people turn round. They look in the opposite direction. Across to the wetlands. It’s a stunning view. Yet so many miss it. What a waste.

Sometimes just turn round.

Swiss Sunday

Last week we left our Swiss Sunday trip travelling up the Funicular to the top of of the Niesen.

The Niesen is called Switzerland’s Pyramid.

If I remember correctly I promised you some stunning mountain top views. Well here goes.

It overlooks the beautiful Lake Thun.

With one of the Worlds most imposing mountain ranges, The Alps dominating in the opposite direction. Including breathtaking views of The Eiger.

Bizarrely the literal translation of Niesen is sneeze.

It’s also a favourite visiting spot for some very brave individuals.

On top our son had a blast of a time. So many dreams. And the first snow he had been able to touch in over a year.