Seasons

Same view – different season.

I never asked my partner which view she preferred. One of thousands of questions I never asked. Oh for those 17 years again…. I suspect she would not have gone for the snow version. She didn’t like being cold. To be honest she didn’t like it too hot as well. She was a Spring and Autumn person.

I would definitely opt for the snow version. I have always liked the cold. Maybe it was all those years of sitting watching the most northerly English Premier Football Team. Sat in a black and white shirt in the middle of winter. In summer I would melt. That’s a Yorkshire summer. Lord knows what I would do if I lived in Arizona or The Mediterranean or The Middle East.

Switzerland can get hot in the summer. I remember one really hot day. It was too hot for my partner. After a quick visit to the zoo she stayed in the hotel with our son while I went for a run along the lake. Never been so hot. After 40 minutes it was too much and I just jumped into the lake. Oh the sweet cool glacial waters. And I can’t swim… When I emerged from the lake a sweet old man was walking past shading the sun out with an umbrella. In almost perfect English he said

Grüezi. You must be English. Only someone from England would be mad enough to run in this.”

But I digress. This is Swiss Sunday and it’s not supposed to be about me. That’s wrecked any chance of a free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board.

Switzerland is a special place. A place for special memories. A place where you can visit a valley one trip and it’s deep snow perfect for skiing. The next trip it’s scorching hot and it’s beach soccer.

Unlike the UK these days it still gets distinct seasons. Stunning colours in Spring. Heat in the Summer. Moody Autumns. Proper winters. That is how it should be. Something we need to try and preserve.

Drink it in

Swiss Sunday is here again. Still no free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board – maybe one day.

My partner was super organised. She would book the trip so many months ahead. She would even find my passport with months to go – not sure she appreciated my just looking for the passport minutes before the taxi arrived strategy. However one of her first tasks would always be to book the hotel room. Always the same room. Why?

Every morning opening up the the curtains and this is the view you are greeted with. Get the coffee fix and sit on the balcony and drink this in. It’s truly glorious.

It always made me smile that because of the wonders of Switzerland’s Transport system you could finish your room coffee and hour later you can be sat at the restaurant on top of that mountain having your next drink. In the UK that trip would take days.

Then you could spice things up and look in the other direction.

Simply stunning.

Going back to Switzerland?

It’s Switzerland Sunday again. Maybe one day I will do a Loire Valley post – another favourite place for the two of us before we became a team of 3.

Sadly I’ve not been to that many countries but of the ones I have visited Switzerland has a look and feel like no other. It never fails to take your breathe away. It’s a country which uses all the colours available – no need for filters or photo enhancers here.

After our evening meal we would walk hand in hand along this promenade. Magic memories.

Today this photograph brings mixed emotions. The happiness and gratitude for those times. But sadness. Those days are gone. That feeling is amplified as we are at my partners birthday. I often talk about going back. So many places to revisit. So many new places to explore. But it won’t be those golden times. We also have the practicalities. How to pay for it. Plus something that concerns me. Now it would be just me and our son. What if something happens to me on holiday. What does he do. These concerns at present are pushing the prospect of a return visit further down the line. And that is so sad.

Train journey to the Ogre

It’s Sunday and it’s Switzerland time….

Switzerland is a spectacular country which means its train journeys are often just off the scale. No need to read a book here. Just look out the window and drink the views in.

The trip from from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg is one such experience.

The train goes on further up through the Eiger Tunnel to the JungFrauJoch. Known as the Top of Europe. But that was just too expensive. One day maybe… So we got off at the stop where a short walk takes you to the base of the famous North Face of the Eiger.

On the trip up I remember looking out of the train window in awe with our son repeatedly saying

Mum can you tell me the story about the legend of the three mountains AGAIN”

The legend is that a beautiful young girl (The Jungfrau) is in danger from an evil Ogre (The Eiger). Only a brave Monk (The Mönch) can protect her. They forever stand next to each other in an eternal struggle.

Son loved this story and his mum loved telling him it. On this trip she must have retold it at least 30 times. Another smiley memory. Happy Days and my love keep telling that story.

The view

Looking out into the distance.

Dad that’s a top View. Unbeatable.”

It is. Completely fogged out. Can’t see more than 5 yards in front of us. See kids with Aspergers can do irony.

The garden could be beautifully cut and looking like a football pitch before a major cup final. Wonderfully straight stripes.”

Now he is in full irony mode. It’s more like a cow field at present.

Since we don’t have a view to look at we have license to make our own one up. I’m seeing Whitby Habour on a stormy day.

Dad I’m seeing one image. Do you remember that day when I stood on top of the world. I loved that.”

I so do. He was about 5 and we ventured onto his first mountain. A beautiful Swiss one. Glorious blue skies. Fresh alpine air. Surrounded by dream like peaks. The two of us having a crazy snowball fight. My partner and her mum happily sat in the mountain top restaurant having hot chocolate.

A beautiful moment.

This can be such a wonderful life if we only just give it a chance.

Bern

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
  • Zoo
  • 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….

Walls

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.

Different takes on the world.

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”.

Moments

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.

Hole in my bucket list

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.