Swiss Sunday

It’s just turned Sunday here in Yorkshire. It must be time for our weekly trip to the country which means so much to our little family. Beautiful Switzerland.

A country which is just under 850 miles away to the south east of our little Yorkshire bungalow. Actually 850 miles doesn’t sound that far away when you say it quickly. Ok 2020 will sadly be another year without breathing in that alpine air but 850 miles surely is doable in the near future.

My partners family has been visiting Switzerland since just after the Second World War. My partner fell in love with the country as a young child during the seventies. She introduced me to Alpine Heaven 20 years ago. Our son made his first trip here when he was one.

850 miles doesn’t sound so far. Just short enough to give us a few travel options. The air option is convenient. Either a direct flight or a quick change in Amsterdam. These days you spend more time going through security than actually in the air. Flight time is less than 2 hours.

The second option was by train. Super relaxing but much longer. A 6am train to take us into London. A two minute walk to the Eurostar terminal. Navigate the security which is completed in minutes then wait to board the tunnel train that takes you under the sea into France. Just over two hours later your stood in a Paris station. Then it’s a short walk or a subway journey to a connecting station.

You now have three options. The first option is a train journey to Strasbourg then a short train journey into Switzerland.

The second option is a HGV bullet train to Basel in Switzerland.

The third option is to stay in Paris for a couple of days to allow a visit to Paris Disneyland. Definitely fun….

The train to Switzerland option is long one, especially if it involves a trip to see Mickey Mouse. It’s a full day of travel but incredibly relaxing. Another option does exist. It’s to drive. Never tried it but it might be the best option for our son. It would be about 12 hours including an hour on a tunnel train. Driving through The Alps does sound fun. If only we had a Aston Martin to cruise in.

Until next week. Take care everyone. Remember to live and let’s see how far our little legs can carry us.

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…..

An old trip out

This is from a couple of years back. A two hour car drive to the west side of Northern England. The Lake District. A place that sometimes feels just a little bit Alpine.

We stopped off at Castlerigg Stone Circle. One of the countries finest historic sites set amongst the countries highest mountains. It’s was erected in the Neolithic period. Sometime around 3000BC. Yes even before I was born. It’s one of those special places. Yes it’s popular picnic site now but it still has an atmosphere. It just feels different. Many years ago after a days climbing, I spent the night here. Just sat on the ground in the middle of the circle. I’m not sure why. Maybe waiting for a ghost or something. Didn’t see anything but when I walked away after sunrise, I had never felt so calm and relaxed. It’s that type of place. I could so imagine a great fantasy author coming here for inspiration.

What struck me about the second photo is the look on my two faithful companions. New visitors had just arrived at the site. The four legged one, I suspect was eagerly checking them out for food or toys. The young boy was definitely not so eager. Once the site started to fill up a little then it was most definitely time to go. Crowds and Aspergers are not great bedfellows. That’s why the time to visit places is such a delicate scheduling task. The choices tend to be

  • Go when the weather is bad,
  • Go just before they are closing,
  • Arrive super early. Try to get round before the masses start to arrive.

As a result visits tend to be fleeting. They also sometimes require really early starts. In this case we set off at 5am. That’s not ideal but needs must. One definite advantage. Nothing better as you drive away from a site and passing the traffic queues waiting to get in. Does that thought make me a bad person….

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a virtual wander to alpine heaven. Switzerland, a country which is that beautiful it looks like a series of stunning oil paintings.

Everywhere you look it’s another photo opportunity.

A climbing paradise. Another perfect landscape.

Even the cities provide endless postcard opportunities.

The most picturesque churches blend perfectly into the glorious Alps.

When the weather changes the real life paintings become magnificently atmospheric.

The colours become stunning.

Even the lake steamers are straight out of a painting, especially when the are surrounded by such a backdrop.

A Swiss lake boat is also a wonderful place to pull faces at your mum while she sits inside drinking her peppermint tea. That would be some portrait.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.

As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.

Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.

How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.

I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.

Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.

Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.

And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to one of the worlds most beautiful places, Switzerland.

This week is a little different. A transport theme. Switzerland is renowned for it’s staggeringly efficient public transport system.

Riding on the train, boat, bus or cable car is a visual delight. Just sit with a drink and take in the views. All the photos from here on are taking from the comfort of the passenger seat.

It’s one of the few countries where you really don’t need a car to travel. Bus, train, boat, tram and cable car all link seamlessly.

The system is completely integrated. As you approach a train station, look out the window. Watch the all the connected buses, boats and trains coming in at the same time. Everything links up.

It runs to precision timing. Living in the UK that thought is mind blowing. If a train is listed to leave at 11.59, then watch the station clock tick round and unbelievably it does leave on the dot.

All the announcements are beautifully delivered in German, French, Italian and then in English. Sometimes traditional Swiss singing is even provided onboard.

In all my time I only ever experienced one late running train here. I was on platform at Spiez waiting to get to somewhere deep in The Alps. The PA announced that a mountain rockfall had blocked the line and the train would be delayed. The PA promised an update within 5 minutes. In the UK that would block the line for weeks. Quickly followed another announcement saying that specialist teams were already on site and the train would be be delayed by 20 minutes. 20 minutes….. Then guards walked up the platform apologising for the delay and making sure every passenger had a revised connection schedule. When the guard spoke to me, he phoned the other station to ensure a connection would be available for me. Unbelievably I did eventually arrive at my destination only 20 minutes late. My bus connection was waiting. Simply staggering.

My partners mum always loved to get to the top of at least one Swiss mountain every time she visited. It reminded her of the days she would walk in The Alps with my partners beloved Dad. Unfortunately as she got older her mobility declined and she became very frail. Yet thanks to the wonders of Switzerland she managed to keep making those mountains journeys. A bus (or tourist road train) would pick her up from the hotel and take her to the station hub. Then trains would take her to the bottom of the mountain. Finally either a pulley train or cable car would carry her to the top. Here she should would sit in the restaurant, drink coffee and just look at the view. That meant so much to her.

Until next time. Stay safe and be happy. And finally travelling on a boat is such thirsty work….

Swiss Sunday

Way-hay it’s Sunday here, so it must be time to do a bit of much needed virtual travelling. A journey which will take us to beautiful Switzerland.

So while we wander round this stunning land, why don’t we consider some ever so important Swiss Facts….

Switzerland virtually every year has at least two cities in the top 10 list of best cities to live on the planet.

Switzerland makes half of the worlds production of luxury watches.

Switzerland consumes more chocolate per capita than any other country in the world. It also produces more chocolate than anywhere else. They invented milk chocolate.

Switzerland is about 3 times smaller than New York.

In 2007 peace loving Switzerland accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Thankfully the world didn’t spiral into a global nuclear war following the incident. If it had then the country has enough nuclear shelters to house its entire population.

It has a square national flag. You won’t find many other countries in the world doing that..

They have FOUR official languages. German, French, Italian and Romansh.

It’s also a little known fact that in Switzerland it is illegal for Dads to have an ice lolly.

Get my head round

The sun is shining. It’s still cold but we will settle for this.

So it’s almost official. School has emailed parents to say that looking at the latest government guidance – which apparently isn’t much – only some Primary pupils and those sitting final exams next year will get any direct teaching over the next few months. The earliest Son will be back in school is going to be September. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

Looking at the government’s plan for the economy – doesn’t take long as it’s basically wrote on the back of the PMs hand – probably means the company I work for won’t be operating anytime before September. That’s being extremely optimistic and requires an awful lot of good fortune. Being realistic there is a high probability it will not survive. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

It’s also time to get my head round the likelihood that I won’t be seeing my brother and sisters much in 2020. If things improve then maybe visits at Christmas might be a possibility. Realistically meet ups are not happening anytime this side of September. Already one Government official has said Summer family holidays and meet ups are cancelled, as these are unsafe – but apparently getting on a packed bus and going to work is completely safe.

AND WE HAVE TO GET OUR HEADS ROUND TWO EVEN MORE PRESSING MATTERS.

  • How are we going to celebrate my partners birthday in just over a weeks time. We had been planning on doing a camp fire party. Unfortunately the fire pit didn’t survive the Yorkshire winter. Yesterday I tried to pick it up to clean and the metal just crumbled, leaving me holding just two wooden handles. At least they can be used as fire wood. The other idea was to have my partners favourite meal – Chinese. Unfortunately the local takeaways are still closed and the local supermarket is completely sold out of Chinese food – apart from crispy seaweed. Which brought the response “well the gerbils will eat well then….”. I did offer to cook Chinese from scratch, but that brought the response “I’d rather suck on a gooseberry….”. So we are in plan F territory.
  • Dad I am so missing not going on my trampoline.” A couple of months back our garden pigeons decided to nest right next to the big bouncy thing (thats not my tummy before you say anything….). When I say right next to, I mean within 10 centimetres (not using inches will really upset Boris). Well the pigeons and chicks are showing no sign of moving, so I have two options. One is to dismantle and then rebuild somewhere else. Problem is that it’s in the only flat part of the garden and it’s like trying to assemble a Super Tanker. The instructions helpfully explained that you will need three reasonably fit adults to assemble. They failed to mention at least one of those adults must be an expert in structural engineering and the other two will need to have the strength of The Hulk. The other option is to try and drag the complete trampoline. We tried yesterday and after 30 minutes had shifted it 1 cm (up yours Boris). So we are also on Plan F here as well.

But at least the sun is shining.

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….

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday – I think….

It’s May – I think….

But it definitely feels like it’s time for a trip back down memory lane to a visit to stunning Switzerland.

That building below The Matterhorn has always been a place of my dreams. Since I came across it, I have always thought that would be my dream location for my home. Maybe one day.

May 1st is a public holiday in some parts of Switzerland. On this memory journey we had headed off on the 1st to a Canton which celebrates the holiday. It’s a day for celebrating worker rights. In the town we visited all the shops had closed for the day. We watched a workers march. A very Swiss march. As they walked they picked up any litter and a few started weeding flower beds. After the march the celebrations continued with a super friendly music festival. While watching the music I sampled my first ever roesti (potato cake). What had I been missing all those years.

Sadly no photos of that day as I had run out of film for my camera (remember those days?). I’m sure if I had asked the nearest Swiss person in the crowd that they would have quickly found me a new film – it’s that sort of place.

Fortunately I eventually fed the camera and I still have photos from that holiday. Stunning walks through ancients forests set amongst the might Alps.

Leisurely boat trips across the stunning lakes.

The ever changing colours.

Glimpses of some of the worlds most iconic mountains.

The staggering water colours.

Sights and sounds which are so Swiss.

And of a toddler having the best ever time. Thank you Switzerland.