Bern is Switzerland’s de facto capital. It’s the location for the country’s Federal Government – it is really the country’s Federal City. It is built around the River Aare. It is relatively small and extremely beautiful.
Bern’s famous Clock Tower provides an elaborate mechanical show every hour. Medieval figures and bears intricately dance and weave. This Tower provided the inspiration for the young Einstein to start his journey on the way to understanding time, space and light.
We visited Bern so many times. Strangely it never once rained. Coming from Yorkshire that is mind boggling. The city has a wonderful small Zoo and a Bear Park (thankfully now upgraded). With our son’s Aspergers we would precisely follow the same itinerary on each visit.
- Arrive by Train
- Bear Park
- Sausages and Fries over looking the river
- Clock Tower
- Ice cream
- Back on the Train
One memory sticks and it really sums up Switzerland. On our very first visit we arrived by train and had absolutely no idea how to get to the Zoo. Clearly lost we asked a random person if they had any idea where we would find the Tourist Information. The really friendly Swiss chap asked (in perfect English) was there anywhere in particular we were trying to get to. He went into his bag gave us a pristine timetable and then explained the precise timings. Five minutes later the chap had walked with us to the Bus Stop and waited with us until the Tierpark Bus had arrived. So utterly Swiss….
Looking at some photographs I had found from our last holiday. Always brings back those bittersweet memories.
“Dad I love Switzerland. I love the fact that many of the houses in the mountains don’t have walls. It makes the world so much more beautiful. Silly people forget that as high as you build a wall you can always build a ladder just a bit taller.”
He is so true. Walls can be climbed, tunnelled under, knocked down or just walked round. They however do have a habit of ruining a view. Some notable visual exceptions to that – Great Wall of China, Hadrians Wall. I wonder if the Romans realised when they built it that as a defensive wall it was a little bit rubbish but as a tourist attraction it was a winner. Maybe we could sell it. I wonder if anyone is looking for a slightly used big wall. Might be a winner if you don’t mind picking a few weeds out of it and it probably comes with a few resident sheep as well.
“Dad what really annoys me is that we build little wildlife sanctuaries then wall the animals inside. People don’t realise that we have to create connections between all the sanctuary’s to allow the animals to roam. If we did that then Wildlife would start to flourish again”
Again can’t argue with this. Does feel like the humans continue to sprawl out and nature is increasingly contracted. It’s lucky if it’s granted a few areas of protection.
“Dad better idea for walls. Let’s squeeze humans into a few small human sanctuaries then wall us in. Nature can have all the rest of our planet”
Only problem is that I just can’t imagine how I would cope with being confined in such close proximity to some of our politicians. Boris Johnson – please no, just no. Yes walls do have some major drawbacks.
Came across a photograph taken probably 5 years ago. Oh how the world seemed so different then. Every Sunday in Switzerland we had the same ritual. We would take the first boat across Lake Thun to Interlaken. We would immediately head for this hotel and drink hot chocolate outside – regardless of the weather.
I also vividly recall sitting here when one morning my son’s different take on the world (to myself) became clear. I noticed sports cars driving past. I remember saying something like
“that’s a Ferrari and that’s a Porsche and wow that’s a Maserati.” Don’t get many of those in Yorkshire.
I remember turning to my partner who said without raising a glance “that’s nice” as she continued to scan the food menu.
Looking at our son he was excitedly flapping his hands. Not at the cars but at a bird flying above us.
“It’s a vulture.” Don’t get any of those in Yorkshire.
Now that my son has educated me. I realise which view is more stunning. Which view should be treasured. Now I would say “Wow that’s a stunning big bird, son what is it and I wish those noisy dirty cars would sod off”.
Everyday I find a quiet part of the house or garden and just sit and think. I think about the loved ones who are no longer with us. Just 10 minutes of reflection, but it is so important to me. Just trying to remember some of the key moments we shared. Trying to reconnect. They may not be here physically anymore but in my mind they are still here, still part of my life. Today I remembered a trip to Lauterbrunnen. Holding hands with my partner drinking in the alpine air and watching in awe at the spectacular Staubbach Falls
The reflections are uplifting but are tinged with sadness.
Such a happy memory but oh so brief. Little did we know how few opportunities we would get to visit this wonderful alpine setting together. Sometimes life is hard and painful but I am thankful that I have these memories. Thankful that I had that brief moment in time and also thankful that now, a 1000 miles away Lautterbrunnen is there. The falls are still crashing down given other couples the same opportunity to create their own brief moment in time. So today on this day, this somber day I am sad but oh so thankful.
This morning witnessed the usual pre school panic. We must have a ruler in this house somewhere. Every corner searched (even the dog basket). Nothing. But I did find a couple of handwritten old bucket lists we had made before our son was born. I am really pleased that my partner got round to ticking most of her items off.
SORRY – getting married – SORRY SORRY on that one. It’s my greatest regret, the one I really feel like I let down my partner on. I thought we had plenty of time…..
My bucket list is less well ‘ticked off’.
- Become a father✅
- Partners for life✅
- See The Eiger✅
All the other items are yet to be accomplished. It’s strange, it really doesn’t bother me. I am happy to cross the remaining items off. The desire to do these things went with my partner. As if someone put a hole in my bucket list. A bit like the hole in the house which has swallowed every single ruler.
I personally wouldn’t make a new bucket list. I only have one burning desire left … that my son starts fulfilling his dreams, ticking off his list. Now off to the shops to purchase rulers.
Every day, every hour I think of my lost love. It’s the same for my son, he’s always remembering his mum.
Some people keep a jar which they fill with memories. It helps them keep memories alive. We just go through the old photographs. My partner would moan at the number of photos I would snap over our 18 years together. It’s the one thing I’m pleased I ignored her on.
Today we remember again Switzerland and the happy times before the world changed. I hope these memories keep flooding back.
We sat and watched the moon slowly rise above the Alps on a hot summers evening. We had no idea that the world was about to change forever. It would prove to be our last ever night on holiday together. But in blissful ignorance we had a perfect evening. Thank you Switzerland.
My son has gone to bed and old photos are bringing back memories again.
We started from the Gomergrat viewing platform (3089m) on a perfect Swiss summer morning.
We slowly made our way down on the mountain paths towards Zermatt. The Matterhorn never fails to take your breath away. Just perfect.
Without warning, the world changes. That proved to be the last holiday walk we would make with our beloved. Enjoy life and always make memories.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the last holiday I had with my lost love. I wish that I could relive every single minute of our time in The Alps. But memories sometimes fade and too often you don’t realise how precious life is. You need to seize these happy times and truly immerse yourself in them.
Old photos help fill in some of the gaps.
Historically I was a prolific photo snapper, often being shouted at for taking too many pictures. The pictures would then just sit in albums or memory cards, and just gather dust. I would never find the time to enjoy them.
Since the world changed, my camera now tends to gather dust and the old photos are frequent sources of smiles and tears. A pathway back to happier times.