It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly visit to beautiful Switzerland. I’m writing this sat just under a 1000 miles away from this unique piece of alpine heaven. August 2015 was the last time I stood in those alpine meadows.
Back then we were a family of 3 making plans for our next few visits. Time in St Moritz. Visits to Lake Constance and Lake Lugano. Wander round Gruyeres. Creux de Van. So many more places to visit. That’s the thing about Switzerland. It’s a relatively small country yet it just has so much to offer, so much to experience.
We are now a very different family. It’s a very different world. But Switzerland is still there. There is still hope.
It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland. One of most stunning countries on our planet. A place which has a close link with our family for generations. Due to life we haven’t been able to visit in person since 2015. But it’s still close to our hearts and we will return one day.
Although Switzerland is completely land locked you are never far from water. Whether it’s one of its myriad alpine rivers and streams or one of its 1500 stunning lakes. Water always seems to be in the forefront of any Swiss photo. This morning what would I give to be in this beautiful country and stood next to Swiss water.
If only we had the technology that the Time Lords build into things like The Tardis. Much bigger on the inside than on the outside. Doctor Who tech let rip on domestic appliances and the home would be so cool. No more crammed to breaking point drawers and cupboards. Think of the clothes, towels and bedding you could get into one washing machine load. No more having to sit on the freezer lid to try and force it shut.
We don’t have a big freezer. But it should be perfectly big enough for just two of us. That’s the theory anyway. The reality is rather different. It’s full to bursting. Like Homer Simpson’s brain – as something pops in then something has to pop out to make space for it.
Well today I had enough. Time for a freezer audit. What on earth is in there.
Many ice lollies. Burgers, sausages (lots of them), pizzas. A few random bags of frozen veg. Three bags of chips (I know what I’m having tonight). A few bags of ‘I know not what’. But then the main culprit was identified.
BREAD. Three frozen loafs. And more. I’ve tried to be more careful with food wastage this year. As a result any unused slices of bread have been carefully frozen over the many months. The result, A BREAD MOUNTAIN. That many slices came out of the freezer, I am sure the earth tilted slightly on its axis. What was this muppet thinking about.
The end result is that we will be eating toast and sandwiches at every sitting for weeks. The birds will be spectacularly well fed over most of winter.
The days of Dr Who Freezers cannot come quick enough for me.
Winter is coming.
A time for wooly jumpers, gloves and warm hats. Sliding on ice patches. Snow ball fights, sledging and snow angels. Steaming hot chocolate filled with marshmallows. Writing names of frozen car windscreens. Fires and hot water bottles. Crisp winter walks with stunning moody landscapes. Long dark night skies filled with the wonder of the cosmos. Warming soups and stews. A perfect time to cuddle close to those you love. A time to feel alive.
Winter is coming.
A cold, bleak time. When the frequent bad weather forces you inside. Cuts you off from the world. When the darkness and howling winds matches the mood. When loneliness echoes around the surrounding walls that makes your home feel like a prison. A prison where the sentence is solitary confinement. Memories filled with loss and grief send shivers down your spine. Counting the long days until Spring returns. A time to survive.
Winter is coming.
I have experienced both. I know the opportunities and the threats it can offer. Which one will this Winter be?
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.
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.
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.
Ok I know I go on about Switzerland. How I think it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. But I need to set the record straight. In my eyes we are so lucky to live in a world with so many wonderful places. Every country, every region will have at least one place. One special place. I’ve been so lucky to actually visit many of those places in Yorkshire, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Congo, South Africa and yes Switzerland.
Yes today Yorkshire is separate from England – must be time for the next King Richard III to take us out of the place which has became the play thing for the Madness of King Boris.
If I can’t physically visit places then I can see the beauty through virtual trips.
Yes we live in a world which can still be beautiful. It can still be a wonderful life. Surely it’s time for us to not to always focus on all the ugliness which fills the news these days. Time to focus on the beauty. Time to delete the #itsanuglyworld and get behind something like #itsabeautifulplanet. Time for us to promote those special places. To give others a glimpse of what is truly out there.
So I will give you my first offering. I give you Northumberland.
It is my civic duty to continue your enlightenment in the dark arts of being from Yorkshire. Think of it as a Public Service Broadcast. Think Bear Grylls and Born Survivor. One day you might end in deepest, darkest Barnsley – these help guides may just end of saving your life.
So here goes. Pay attention and digest the following Yorkshire list.
- Don’t ever get into a discussion with someone from Yorkshire about how tough your childhood was. A true Yorkie will be compelled to outdo you. If you don’t believe me look up the Monty Python and the Four Yorkshiremen Sketch.
- Queens English is not recognised in Yorkshire. You need to speak Yorkshire. It’s the only dialect which not one single voice recognition system has been able to crack.
- To say Yorkshire you need to say YARKSHAR…
- To say Hello you need to say OW DO or EY UP
- To say Goodbye you need to say SE’THE
- To say Very you say REET
- To say ‘Can I Please Borrow’ you say CADGE
- To say Nothing you say NOWT
- To say You it’s THA
- To say Yes it’s AYE
- To say ‘I would like that one’ then you say BAGSY
- Be careful with the word CHAMPION. In most part of the worlds it’s a fine shoe and sports clothing brand. In Yorkshire Champion means Excellent
- Similarly in the rest of the world OK means I’m OK. In Yorkshire to say I’m OK you need to say ‘I’m fair t’ middling’
- Someone approaching you and asking for a CROGGY is either a term of affection or they are asking for a lift on your bike.
- If someone shouts ‘tha Chuffing ……’. That could mean you are being physically sworn at or it could be a warning that you are smoking and you need to jump into the nearest river.
- You need to remember that the first Heavier than Air Manned Flight took place in Yorkshire over 150 years ago. I hear you ask WHY. The answer was that in the same year it became the law that Yorkshire Ferrets had to be kept in trouser pockets. Wouldn’t you be desperate to leave the county….
- When you speak to someone from Yorkshire then you need to brace yourself. It’s only a matter of time before Yorkshire being the centre of the known universe is brought up. Quickly followed by the following line ‘which over place can claim to have a Captain of the Starship Enterprise, the first ever female Dr Who, the head of the X-Men and a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
- Never try to argue with someone from Yorkshire as this will either result in the Yorkshire Terriers being set upon you or you will have to endure the following words – ‘you do know that Wuthering Heights was set here.’
- If you are offered a Yorkshire Pudding then you need to be on your toes. This could either mean it’s being served as a starter, main course or sweet – or probably ALL three. In inclement weather you might also be offered one as a protective hat.
- If you spend more than 5 minutes in the presence of someone from Yorkshire then the subject of CRICKET will enter the conversation. Specifically Cricket and Rhubarb. Just nod and smile and let the following local expression rattle around your brain. ‘Me ol mum could ave hit tha’ ball with a stick o’ rhubarb’. Also don’t be shocked if you then here ‘tha’s got more edges than a cracked bedpan’ – *** please note I cleaned that one up considerably***
- You will hear many references to needing a Yorkshire passport. Currently this is not the case but in certain parts of the county the wearing of string vests and knotted hankies is a requirement.
- The word ‘Scraps’. Here in Yorkshire it can mean two things. It can mean what happens when people get physical as they fight over the last frozen chicken left n the shop freezer. But it can also mean food heaven. Ask for a ‘bag a scraps’ in a Yorkshire Fish and Chip Shop and you will get a portion of the deep fried batter leftovers which are at the bottom of the fryer. But be careful with how you say ‘scraps’ to the Chipman and don’t ever make eye contact. This might end up with the chipman attacking you with a frying pan.
It’s time for another bit of virtual sightseeing. Last year I started my very own world tour. Let’s see how far I can get powered only by
- My falling to bits exercise bike
- My falling to bits running shoes
- Pokemon Go….
When I started the tour I was restricted to Yorkshire now that has become the garden. So let’s see where we left off last time. We had just visited beautiful Timisoara in Romania. Now the journey continues. We still had many kilometres unused and we have added another 200km this week. So where have we got to….
We have arrived in the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. Let’s start with some random facts about this city.
- A population of about 730000,
- The official language is Moldovan,
- During the Soviet Union the city was called Kishinyov,
- It’s called the White Stone Town due to many of its buildings being built from Limestone.
So let’s take a look at some of the city sights.
Officially the biggest wine cellar in the world
Stefan cel Mare Park
So thank you Chisinau. Now where next on the world tour.
********* all City photos from TripAdvisor. ************