I think it was on our last trip to Switzerland back in 2015. It was just after dawn and the family was still asleep, so I headed out for a lakeside run. One part of the lake path gets really narrow and coming in the other direction was an elderly chap carrying fishing rods. We got talking, initially in German but then switching to English. I couldn’t remember ever learning any Fishing related German words 😂😂😂. Clearly the Swiss fisherman was more up on plenty of English angling vocabulary.
He was about to head off in his little boat to his favourite spot on the lake. He had been doing this nearly every day, in every type of weather for over 40 years . When he used to work he would go fishing before dawn.
I remember saying that was dedication. He smiled, shook his head and quietly said ‘No, it’s love’. He went onto say that he tells his family it’s all about the fish. But in reality it was an excuse, he just needed that time out in the lake, amongst the mountains. It was his HOME, where he felt at one with life.
As we parted I asked, do you ever catch and fish. He laughed and said very rarely but on the way home I pass a really good place that sells fresh fish catch…..
It’s after midnight and I’m sat in front of heaps of geography papers and notes, trying to summarise it into last minute revision notes that Hawklad can use. Saxon playing on the record player, trying to keep awake. Typing this as I desperately needed a break. We are both completely frazzled, definitely stressed out. Wow do I wish we were somewhere else, playing out dreams, relaxed and having fun. Switzerland, wish we were there right now.
This week I came across my old iPod, stuck in an old suitcase side pocket. Unbelievably with a bit of that magic piped electricity, it still worked, hasn’t been used in maybe 8 years. When it had fired slowly up it revealed all the old movies and tv shows that Hawklad would watch on his Swiss holidays. Some classics
Old Scooby Doo
Deadly Sixty episodes
My wanders back to those Swiss family evenings. After the hotel meal we would end up back in the room. While Hawklad watched his iPod , we would sit on the balcony and watch the sun go down over the mountains and the shimmering lake. Wonderful, talk about being relaxed.
I wish I could be doing that tonight but failing that, I think it’s time to watch some old classic tv. Where’s that iPod…..
Another random Swiss story today. One that to me is so very Swiss. One family holiday we had ventured to Zurich to visit the wonderful Dinosaur Museum and the City Zoo. A zoo sadly without BIG Jurassic Creatures.
Later in the day we returned to the city centre and we went looking to buy Hawklad a Schleich. Dinosaur Toy. The museums shop had been closed that day. We eventually ventured into a really cool looking Toy Shop but could not find any Dinos. So in very broken German, I asked a man who worked in the shop, where the Dino Toy Section was. In perfect English he told us that sadly his shop didn’t sell any thing like that, but there was another shop that did have. As it was quite hard to find and to make sure we found the rival shop, he walked with us for 5 minutes through the myriad of centre streets until we stood by its front entrance. Hawklad got his DINO.
Back to 2012, a very different time. As a fair chunk of the country went Olympics Mad, we headed to Switzerland. Our Games was an Olympic torch visiting Hawklad’s school and a quarter final football match featuring Brazil.
The train out of the country was so quiet for that time of year. A few returning french athletes who had completed their events. Such a different story on the trains heading into London, mobbed with athletes and spectators. Paris Gare de Nord was really chaotic but strangely fun.
Then it was time to breathe and have wonderful alpine adventures. Yes the Olympics are special but give us Switzerland every single time.
We met so many wonderful characters on our family adventures to wonderful Switzerland. One Sunday afternoon we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant in Zermatt. We got speaking to an Italian waiter who was trying to learn English. He looked as weathered as the massive mountains surrounding the village. So he tried to have a conversation in English, bizarrely he would punctuate his sentences with random German words.
Anyway he mentioned that he had recently been skiing and he had bumped into a member of the UK Royal Family while waiting for a ski lift. The waiter found the Royal rather too arrogant for his liking. Apparently so unlike Roger Federar who was a very nice man. How he had met the tennis superstar was unfortunately lost in translation. The waiter then. The conversation went through a number of random turns. I remember Dr Who and the British Weather coming up. But one part of the conversation really struck home.
We asked if the waiter liked living in Zermatt. His stunning reply was
I spent my life wanting to see the world, now I live in Switzerland, I have found everything in one place. I am happy here. I work here, I take my holidays here.
Such a nice man and yes I so agree with him. I so wish I was in Switzerland right this very moment.
It’s hard to believe now but there was a time when I wasn’t a muppet parent. A time when I was just a MUPPET. I don’t know why but I remembered back to that time this week. A time in a different century. A very different life.
The memory that had suddenly reappeared was a climbing trip to Scotland with two college friends. We found ourselves one evening encamped in a tent in Torridon. Safe inside away from the evening massed swarms of blood sucking vampire midges. We weren’t going to endure the previous nights exposed skin blood letting again. No evening pub meal this night. The tent gourmet evening meal was Pringle Crisps, Jam Sandwiches, Chocolate and a local firebrand Malt. We were highly tuned athletes…..
I can vividly remember one part of the nights festivities. The subject had bizarrely moved onto where we felt truly at home. I think I said something like that I was still looking for home. One friend aptly said that his home was either in a coffee or chocolate factory, yes that was definitely him…. My second friends answer was also so apt for her. She talked about a place where she moved to as a teenager when her Dad took a new lecturing position. She talked about having few friends and living for the weekends when her family would head into the mountains. A small cabin by a lake. A rowing boat, fishing, climbing and skiing in the winter. She felt alive for the first time in her life in that place. That was always going to be her home.
Her home was The Cabin, That Lake, The Swiss Alps.
If I could speak to those climbing buddies right now, I would definitely change my home answer. NOW Switzerland also feels like home to me. Ashes are scattered there. So many memories. And yes, when I’m there, in The Alps, I feel truly ALIVE as well.
I was watching a video of some intrepid souls enjoying the last few days of the skiing season in Switzerland. It looked amazing. Made me want to hit the piste. Sadly I’ve never been proper skiing, just the full on physical pain that is dry slope skiing. The kind that you do on a mat that is as hard as kryptonite and as smooth as broken glass.
We have been to Switzerland a few times at this time of year and the weather is so full of contrast. Fresh snow on the tops, sunbathing and ice cream low down. Hawklad used to think it was so funny that you would be on a train going to somewhere like Grindlewald and you see people in flip flops and shorts, sitting next to those in full winter skiing kit heading towards the slopes.
Maybe one day in the future we can ditch the shorts and be one of those in full skiing kit. We can still dream.
That dream, better not tell the increasingly dodgy hip about that one…..😂😂😂😂😂😂
It was always a day long journey from Yorkshire to our perfect vacation base in the heart of beautiful Switzerland. Yes a long journey but looking out of the train window eventually the snow topped Alps would appear. The sight of those mountains never ever failed to lift the spirits.
Within an hour we would be unpacked at the hotel and walking around wonderful Spiez. The holiday had truly started.
What an adventure that day was. Another glorious Swiss day and a trip to the impressive Aare Gorge. Fantastic place but not if you are claustrophobic as it narrows to just a few feet wide.
I love looking at old photos because out of the blue, long forgotten moments can suddenly flood back in. Just like this last photo. Walking through the rapidly narrowing cliff walls and suddenly Hawklad stops and with a cheeky grin shouts back.
“Dad you better turn back, that big belly won’t get through here because it’s