Thursday, 30 May 2013

House and Garden.

The Munot, Schaffhausen, taken on Tuesday.

The flight to our holiday destination with relatives in Kanton Schaffhausen in Switzerland was as smooth and stress free as these things are possible to be. We checked in on-line, took only hand luggage and left our hotel near the airport with good - but not too much - time to allow us to leave the car in a secure car park, take a very short bus ride to the terminal and walk straight to security. As we passed through the main departure hall the place was thronged by multitudes of people lugging huge cases and an enormous queue that shocked me. It was only 5am on a Sunday morning after all.

The side of the house. 'Klosterli'  {The little cloister}

Upstairs the line for security was small and we were scanned and through in a few minutes, leaving us just enough time to walk to the departure gate and relax a moment before being called forward to board. Our flight meant a change in Amsterdam and again, once off the plane we casually walked to the departure gate and were immediately boarded onto the next flight. Once landed in Zurich we simply had to walk through the baggage hall and out where we were met by The Lovely G's cousin Martin who was astounded, in a very Swiss way, that we'd managed to get through only six minutes after the plane had landed. That's Swiss efficiency {and luck} for you!

The barn broom
Normally the weather here is much better than back home but we'd been warned that just like us they'd not had the greatest start to the year as far as that's concerned and the forecast for the next two weeks in fairly mixed. That doesn't matter to us though. we've been here plenty of times in the past and in truth are looking for a simple just-time-with-family kind of holiday. The weather is pretty inconsequential. Some sun will be fine but to be honest it's the kind of place that is stunning in any weather. I hope the second week is best, truth be told, simply because we're being joined by The Lovely G's brother and fiance and our gorgeous niece Emily and it would be great to have some sun while they're here so Emily can get out and about with us.

The end of the hallway
So far there's been both sun and rain, plenty of time to relax with family, read books and play about with my camera taking shots around the house and garden between showers. The house is a farmhouse, even though it's in the heart of the old village, and has a huge barn attached ripe for exploring and taking moody photos in. The house, built over a hundred and thirty years ago by Onkel Richard's Grandfather, is bright and airy with an original traditional wood fired heating system. Aunt Margot and he each take a small sack of cherry stones heated in the range to bed with them each night to keep the nights chill away - not that us Scots think the nights are chilly at all!

The wood stack

These are a few of the photos taken so far - a flavour of the house, garden and the local town. I hope you enjoy them.

Listening to:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Getting away from it all.

By the time I can post this for you to read I’ll be sitting cosy in the house of my wife’s Aunt and Uncle in a small village in the very north of Switzerland. We’re on a fortnight’s holiday with the other side of the family, relaxing and reconnecting with a special place full of very special people. This year we won’t be doing as much travelling as we have often done in the past. We’ve decided this will just be the chill-out of all chill-outs. 

The final day at home was filled with the kind of last minute prep or panic as some people unforgivingly describe it that us men are experts at. In my defence I’d say that years of living away from home have made me blasé about packing and I can do it in about fifteen minutes and as for the rest: weather and work has been against me. The garden has been slowly burgeoning since I last worked out there and has been much in mind as needing attention but every time I’d some time available to do it, it has been raining or the ground still sodden from previous downpours. It’s been a major niggle and I was thinking that I’d never get a chance before we left. 

 On Thursday I was on a day off work and the weather was good but I’d remembered late the night before I had to go and speak to a group of local authority social workers on the changes to child protection legislation being enacted. I’d been asked to give them a talk on the changes from a Children’s Hearing perspective, especially any issues which had implications on social works required interaction and provision of evidence to allow us to make decisions. Having completely forgotten, I hadn’t prepared anything so spent the morning doing that while the sun shone, then spent most of the afternoon delivering it and answering questions. By the time I got home it was tipping down. I thought I’d lost the last chance and would be coming back to a wilderness in a couple of weeks. With the amount of rain here in Scotland grass grows at fearsome pace. 

This morning we woke to clear skies and a cracker of a day. Within minutes of getting up I was barefoot in the garden checking if it would be able to be cut and soon after I pushed the throttle open on the lawnmower. A few hours later I stood back, pleased with the result and almost wishing I could enjoy the rest of the day sitting out there with a cold drink and a good book. Unfortunately that wasn’t on the agenda. A shower and a change later I pulled together the things I need for the holiday and soon after we left to take Jess to the cattery, take a birthday present to one of our sisters in law before heading into Edinburgh to have a meal on the way out to the airport where we were staying nearby to catch a very early flight on Sunday..

At least I got the grass cut.
The weeds on the drive will be there when I get home.

In Edinburgh we walked from the car park at Waverly, the main train station along the length of Princes Street with the castle for once looming bright in the afternoon sun. It was stunning and the light highlighted some incredible detail in Castle Rock and in some of the historic skyline of the city. Being me {naturally} I’d left my camera in the boot of the car. That was probably no bad thing as I could have spent hours taking photos today but I don’t think The Lovely G would have been too pleased, expecting as she was to have a leisurely walk to a restaurant on one of the side streets.

Princes St. Edinburgh taken last summer.

Edinburgh is a wonderful place and is already seeing the start of the summer influx of tourists. The streets and bars were busy as we walked with people keen to sit out on a sunny afternoon at the kerbside tables that have become a normal sight in town. Normally though the customers are hunched over hot drinks or cigarettes and swaddled in layers of waterproof clothing but today for once there was perhaps the 'continental' feel the city fathers responsible for such stupid planning regulations in our rain soaked part of the world hoped for when they brought such things into the often narrow mediaeval streets, with happy faces and  peely-wally {pale} skin unused to the sun’s rays exposed for probably the first time this year. 

Soon those same streets will move from busy to crowded, especially when Edinburgh Festival, the world’s biggest festival of the arts, comes with its annual invasion of more or less talented and beautiful people.. Then the place will teem and every seat at a table in the town’s multitudes of bars and restaurants will be a prize to be coveted by a lucky few. Despite that it’s my favourite time here and I’m already planning some excursions with the camera.

But for now?


Gabirelle's Aunt's house
Rheinfall - just a walk away

Our niece Julia in traditional costume

It’s all about Switzerland.


See you later
Listening to:

The Sunday Posts 2013/The Puppy and I

I met a Man as I went walking:
We got talking,
Man and I.
"Where are you going to, Man?" I said
(I said to the Man as he went by).
"Down to the village, to get some bread.
Will you come with me?" "No, not I."

I met a horse as I went walking;
We got talking,
Horse and I.
"Where are you going to, Horse, today?"
(I said to the Horse as he went by).
"Down to the village to get some hay.
Will you come with me?" "No, not I."

I met a Woman as I went walking;
We got talking,
Woman and I.
"Where are you going to, Woman, so early?"
(I said to the Woman as she went by).
"Down to the village to get some barley.
Will you come with me?" "No, not I."

I met some Rabbits as I went walking;
We got talking,
Rabbits and I.
"Where are you going in your brown fur coats?"
(I said to the Rabbits as they went by).
"Down to the village to get some oats.
Will you come with us?" "No, not I."

I met a Puppy as I went walking;
We got talking,
Puppy and I.
"Where are you going this nice fine day?"
(I said to the Puppy as he went by).
"Up to the hills to roll and play."
"I'll come with you, Puppy," said I.

A.A. Milne
Photo by Alistair

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Sunday Posts 2013/ Dreams

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.      

Langston Hughes.
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Sunday Posts 2013/ Ations

If we meet and I say, 'Hi,'
That's a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That's a consideration.
If we stop and talk a while,
That's a conversation.
If we understand each other,
That's a communication.
If we argue, scream and fight,
That's an altercation.
If later we apoligize,
That's reconciliation.
If we help each other home,
That's a cooperation.
And all these actions added up
Make Civilization.

Shel Silverstein.
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Sunday posts 2013/ Likenesses

It comes to mind,
Where there is room enough, water goes
Between tall mountains and small toes.
Or, if I like,
When sun rises, his first light explores
Under high clouds and underneath low doors.

Or, {doing it still}
Darkness can hide beside all that it hid
Behind a nightfall and a dropped eyelid.

Why do I add
Such notions up, unless they say what's true
In ways I don't quite see, of me and you?

Norman MacCaig.
Photo by Alistair.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...