Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. A place we haven’t been able to visit for 5 years now but which still holds a special place in our hearts.

Times are tough. Travel and seeing the world is almost a nonstarter. That actually applied to many even before a pandemic kicked in. It certainly feels that way for our little part of Yorkshire. A little piece of the world that seems to contract just a little bit everyday. But some things still provide hope. Shine a light in the darkness.

To Hawklad and me Switzerland is one of those beacons of hope. A land which is almost too beautiful to seem real. As if you are visiting a land formed in an old art masterpiece. Maybe a perfect fantasy world created in a brilliant mind.

But Switzerland is real. It is that perfect. We endlessly look at old photos of our family trips there. Those memories brighten and expand our world. Sustain us through the dark days. Provide hope.

The thing about having hope is that it keeps you going until the clouds of life start to part. When it does for us there is always Switzerland.

Keep that special place close to your heart.

Lost in the snow

I found this old photo just randomly lying in the bottom of a box of all junk. I don’t know why I kept it. I’m thankful now as it reminds me of a long forgotten memory. I can’t remember which mountain it was. Not sure even which country it is in. Anyway it’s from over 20 years ago. I had been solo climbing . Not a difficult climb but it took a few hours of hard work. Definitely needed ropes and was very definitely vertical. Best described as a 200ft cliff. At the top of the climb it immediately opened up onto the summit top. A large and very gentle dome. As I scrambled over the edge I saw a figure stood in the distance. No idea why but I took a photo. He turned and watched me slowly walk towards him. I must have been a sight. Full winter climbing gear, ropes, ice axes. Completely sodden with all the wet snow. Steam rising off me. I had some blood dripping onto the snow from an encounter with a particularly sharp rock. I felt bad about staining the snow.

Next followed one of those conversations that just stay with you.

********

“Hello, it looks like you have had fun”

It was hard work but fun. It’s very, very steep.

“Your bleeding”

It’s ok, looks worse than it is.

“I’m lost, I’m trying to work out which way it is back down”

Where are you trying to get to.

“I want to get back to my car. Is the way down your way?”

No, no, no, no, no. Most definitely not that way.

“Oh I wonder which way it is then.”

At a guess with the position of the sun, the time and the atmospheric conditions. It’s that way behind you.

“Wow you good, how can you tell from that”.

I really can’t but I can clearly see your footprints in the snow. I’m guessing you just need to follow them all the way down.

*********

And a few seconds later he was off retracing his footprints. Now I could go on about the risks of winter hillwalking when your clearly not properly prepared. But actually how often do we all find ourselves in that position. Rapidly out of our depths, lost, confused, unprepared and probably very tired. Not forgetting how close we are to potentially walking off the cliff edge. I certainly feel that way quite often.

Yes I’m glad I kept that photo.

Friday memories

This is a photograph that I always keep coming back to. Especially today. It’s a photo that can take me in two different directions. Sadness or Happiness. Currently it’s in the direction of happiness.

A meal and a drink outside while gazing upon one the worlds most epic mountains, The Eiger. Then a walk from Kleine Scheidegg down to Lauterbrunnen. Snow on the tops but wonderfully warm. Walking down listening to our son talk about Dr Who and monsters. A two hour walk was just not long enough for him, he only scratched the surface of his Time Lord memory banks. Listing to my partner laugh at our sons numerous monster jokes.

Yes a beautiful day. All flooding back thanks to a treasured old photograph.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly visit to that most beautiful of countries. A virtual wander to Switzerland. A place we haven’t managed to visit for a few years but which is very much on our hearts.

It’s a land that is dominated by the mountains. The Alps.

In every direction your eyes are drawn to the mighty snow covered peaks. How do you squeeze so many mountains into such a relatively small country.

60% of Switzerland is mountainous. That includes 451 mountains. 24 are over 4000m. That’s a lot of mountains to either climb or just enjoy from the beautiful valleys.

Apart from the monumentally stunning views the thing that strikes you is the quality of the alpine air. It feels so crisp, so fresh and so clean. It’s a staggering feeling. No wonder doctors would often recommend a trip to The Alps to recuperate.

Yes it’s good to reach for the heights some days.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland🇨🇭. A country which means so much to our little family. We haven’t been since 2015 but it definitely still feels like home.

This week we won’t be venturing too far away from water. All the photos feature beautiful Lake Thun.

It’s a wonderful deep blue coloured lake that sits on the northern edge of The Alps. So it is surrounded my imposing mountains and rolling hills.

Deep snow does not often fall here even during winter. But you are often surrounded my snow covered mountains. So very close. During the summer it is often very warm here. Then the cooling lake waters are such a delight.

During the summer months it is popular with those who sail, windsurf and swim. Lake steamers take tourists on relaxing trips across the waters. Those who like to fish come here all year round. It’s also a hikers and runners dream.

Lake Thun and the little town of Spiez are just so stunning. It’s tempting to spend all your holiday here. Why travel when you have all this.

Lake Thun also has one of the most beautiful little playgrounds in the world. Definitely one of Hawklads favourite places ever. A great place to dream.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland. It’s such a stunning country and means so much to our little family. Yes it been a few years since our list trip but the memories are still strong.

It’s a country where you always seem to be near a stunning mountain or a peaceful lake.

Those mountains are just so impressive. Towering over the largely unspoilt landscapes.

The mountains, lakes and villages just seem to work beautifully together.

So yes a place where memories are made. Like this fallen tree. Will always be that tree where a Dad trying to show off found out just how cold that water really was. I thought me being so streamlined would have not produced such an enormous splash.

A country with so many memories available. You don’t need to fish so hard to catch one.

Remembering the unique alpine sounds. None more so than the frequent ringing of church bells. In this land the bells are not drowned out by noise pollution. It’s such a beautiful sound echoing through the valleys.

So until next week, take care and remember it’s still a wonderful world.

Lists

Some of the plants are already starting to show some Autumnal colours. It’s only August….

It’s 131 days to Christmas. In normal times 131 days sounds like ages. I suspect this year it may not seem such a generous amount of time for many people, including parents. Pandemic rules, shopping restrictions, reduced product availability, money just that bit tighter, many still isolating. Plus remember last year – one of Hawklads presents was ordered in November and finally arrived in March. Yep this might be a challenge. I think I need to write a list. Yes I am good at doing lists. Unfortunately I am not so good at following list. And as for trying to find those lists after a few days – I’m a complete disaster. I need a list to help find the lists.

Occasionally I do stumble across long forgotten lists. I found one recently dating back 15 years. It was a list of mountains I had set myself a goal of climbing. 60 bucket list climbs. 15 years and I had ticked three as climbed. Another one had been attempted but I had to turn round near the top as I came across someone who had hurt their knee. So ended up helping her back down. So that’s 4. In my book just attempting a climb and coming back in one piece counts as ticking it off. Basically been stuck on 56 to go for years now. That’s another one of my great lists just basically gathering dust. Maybe I can change the wording on that list. How about 56 bucket list climbs that I will never complete. Change the wording and suddenly the list is completed. I can then bin it.

But no. The original list went back into the cupboard. A bit of paper soon to be lost again. This time I took a photo of the 56 climbs still to be attempted. Actually added a couple of Himalayan mountains to the list – might as well make it more sexy. The list is on my iPad now. So it won’t be lost and actually it might be a rare useful Gary list. It’s a great reminder that I’ve STILL got stuff to do and achieve in my life. It might seem like that I have not yet ticked off many things from my life lists but from today that CAN start to change.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for another virtual trip to stunning Switzerland. It might be four years since our last visit but the memories are still so strong.

Memories of vineyards, castles and walking through alpine meadows. The spectacular Alps always in view.

Walks along crystal clear lakes and through spectacular mountain valleys.

Beautiful towns and dramatic rivers.

A walkers and climbers paradise.

Some of the best views on the planet. And let’s not forget the weather.

Sometimes the weather in Switzerland demands two ice lollies. That means poor Dad misses out. The question is – how cold are the lollies.

The answer – VERY COLD.

But definitely worth it.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. Today takes us back to 2011. We had the same routine for every Sunday we had in this stunning country. Up early to catch the first boat to Interlaken. So the day would start with breathtaking views from the hotel room.

After breakfast it was a short walk to the boat stop. Spiez always has the most stunning flower displays.

The Lake Thun trip lasts a couple of hours and is just the most relaxing thing I have ever experienced.

The views of the The Alps are never ending.

It’s amazing how the Swiss manage find the most amazing places for roads, tunnels and buildings.

The lake is deep, very deep and it’s almost hypnotic. The colours are frequently breathtaking.

Eventually the lake narrows as we arrive in Interlaken.

Hawklad would always love to spend his trip outside, watching the mountains slowly drift past. He also loved listening on this trip to the traditional Swiss Choir.

Then it’s back to the hotel for a balanced diet of Heinz Tomato Ketchup with some optional food.

Kinda

One of those weather days. Kinda sunny, kinda cloudy, kinda windy, kinda warm, kinda chilly, kinda dry and kinda wet. I guess it’s a kinda Yorkshire day. Rather excitingly I walked to that Tree today and back. Keep it quiet, Hawklad doesn’t know. He was too busy watching a Sherlock episode. It was funny as I had just finished my fitness programme for the morning. Definitely slightly out of breath. Probably not the best time to try and sing The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music. Probably better trying to sing in the more deeper tones of four fine Yorkshire born Rock front men, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) or Joe Elliot (Def Leppard). Better off probably dressing like them as well, rather than Julie Andrews. That would kinda make more sense.

I’ve now got this bizarre thought in my head. Monty Python skipping over that hill, signing that song about The Alps, all in a deep Yorkshire accent while wearing wellies and a knitted handkerchiefs on their heads. That’s kinda disturbing.

Changing the subject rapidly. I was doing today’s workout outside in the garden when that Tree caught my eye. I thought about it being months since I ventured there. I decided it was kinda time to revisit there. Sit a few minutes under the branches. Well I did. That’s where I noticed that I was slightly out of breath. But I kinda have an excuse. It was straight after my workout. A slightly longer one.

I have this silly little ritual. Every year I add on one more minute to my exercise sessions. The thinking is that yes that’s one year older but my body is coping with one more minute of workout than it did last year – so I must still be improving. Rather than getting older I’m getting fitter. Kinda getting better, still improving. Well that’s the thinking anyway….. Kinda makes sense to me.