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This is the first hill I ever walked up. Walked up it more than any other hill. Roseberry Topping is not a big hill. It’s only 266 ft tall. It sits on the northern edge of North Yorkshire and is a part of the Cleveland Hills. At the top look south and you see beautiful moors. Look north you see an urban sprawl and industry. Those with good eyesight can see where I was born and the sea.

For such a small hill it so loved. Alan Hinkes the first Britain to climb all 14 highest world mountains talks so fondly of this little piece of rock.

“I saw K2 and thought: that is the mountain to do; it’s nearly as impressive as Roseberry Topping”

Here we often refer it as the Yorkshire Matterhorn. Our version of the Swiss Matterhorn.

Our version is certainly not as big. Not as snowy. Not as steep. Not as scary. Not as famous. But it’s certainly way more Yorkshire.

My mum when she was young apparently scrawled her initials in a rock near the top. Many did that. I’ve still not found her carving but I do look every time I visit the hill.

As a teenager it would always feel a little claustrophobic where we lived. A small grey town. On one side the cold dark North Sea. On the other side one of Europe’s biggest chemical and steel works. It often seemed that the rest of the world was blocked off from me. But get on my bike and ride 2 hours through the industry. Suddenly I was at the base of our Matterhorn. 30 minutes later I was on its top and I could breathe. I was finally in a different world. I could experience what it was like to be in The Alps. To be an adventurer. I could think clearly on the top. I could calm the internal storms. I could visualise a better life.

All these years later and I still love this little hill. My hill. I so want to be there right now. I need to be there. 2020 will probably be the first year since I was a wee bairn that I won’t have stood on Roseberry Topping. That’s a sad thought. But it’s patiently waiting for me. Waiting for me to return.

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.

Swiss Sunday

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

Someone asked why we love this country so much. Well the first thing is that is has so many links to our Hawklad. His mum’s family have had links to the country for nearly 80 years now. That’s so important to our son.

Another reason is how the Swiss villages just look so perfect in the alpine landscape.

Another reason is the country’s beautiful lakes. They have a magical quality.

Another reason is those walks through the wooded mountain valleys. They are simply breathtaking.

We hardly get much snow these days where we live. The excitement of coming to land where the snow is always there. Even in summer.

The mountains are nothing short of epic.

Finally its not a bad place for an 8 year old to have breakfast.

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.

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.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to Alpine Heaven. Stunning Switzerland.

Switzerland is a place we visited many times as a family. Not been there since 2015 but it’s still a special place for me and Hawklad. This Sunday we are going to revisit one of our finest memories. The trip to the Gonnergrat.

The Gonnergrat is a rocky ridge that stands at 3135m (10285ft). At the top the you find a gothic looking hotel, a beautiful chapel, restaurants and two astronomical observatories.

The train trip from Zermat to the top is truly epic. Its Europe’s highest open air railway. It’s a nice feeling to know that the electricity it takes to climb the mountain is generated by the trains breaking system on the way down.

The summit has a stunning alpine panorama but the jewel is being so close to one of the worlds most iconic mountains, The Matterhorn.

The Gonnergrat overlooks two glaciers. The glacier system is the second largest in The Alps.

It’s just the most glorious place. It has the most amazing atmosphere, the air is staggeringly fresh. It’s as if you are almost able to touch heaven.

In places the Gonnergrat has an out of world look which contrasts with the stunning alpine valleys below.

So I give you the Gonnergrat. A truly epic place. A place which is currently our highest ever location. It is 41 times higher than the hill we live on. That fact is very important to Hawklad. He likes that fact very much.

Swiss Sunday

Now that’s a view from a train station. It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland.

Some wonderful news. Switzerland is now open again to most of the world. Hopefully soon the good people from the US will be able to get there as well.

We have not been back to this Alpine Heaven since the summer of 2015. It seems like an absolute lifetime. So much has happened.

Yes we have so many obstacles to overcome but one day WE will return.

Switzerland is just part of us now. Feels more like Home than England. That feeling gets stronger each day.

We still have my partners ashes to spread here. The view across Lake Thun with the snow covered mountains in the background is one of the places she wants to become a part of. Her Home. Our Home.

So yes these virtual trips feel like a return to what should be our home. One day just maybe that will happen.

Good to see someone maintains a balanced diet when he visits his future home…..

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland.

Sat here in Yorkshire, listening to the rain and wind lash against the house …. I so need my little fix of alpine heaven.

Sunday was always my favourite day in Switzerland. It normally marked our first full day here. The holiday lay before us.

We would have an early hotel breakfast and off we would go to catch the first boat of the day. Heading across Lake Thun for our adventure.

Sunday would be quiet with virtually all the shops closed. A peaceful backdrop. With just the sound of water, cow and church bells breaking the silence.

The stress of life quickly forgotten. Surely this is what life should be really about. This is still a wonderful life.

And then make our way slowly back. One last Sunday task. A quick round of golf. A perfect Sunday.

Swiss Sunday

Is it Sunday already. Where did that week go. But to be honest Swiss Sunday doesn’t come round quick enough for me. A time to remember family holidays to this wonderful country.

A time to remember the mountains.

The spectacular rivers.

The countryside.

The constantly changing colours.

The times you see a building and think how good that view must be.

The lakes and how relaxing travel is here.

Yes Switzerland is staggeringly beautiful. If that wasn’t already enough for one small country let’s not forget another thing it does so well. The chocolate….