Swathes of Switzerland

I’ve been helping artists make a giant seal. It’s a selkie, to be more accurate; a costume for three singers to project their hopes and fears.

Playing croquet too, in the evening sun, putting on a lawn commissioned cut; although I promised not to go on in great detail.

Yes, I’ve been away for quite some time but not sat idle. There’s a project brewing, undisclosed other than existence and that it’s on the cusp of completion.
I’m in my final year at school (though these are the holidays) and doing AH English & History along with highers in Physics (after a year’s gap) and Biology (crash) that is if all goes to plan in August. I am interested in language, having studied German at higher last year, and English as well, though I’m yet to pinpoint a career or course.
Am I going away this summer? I’ve been. On a school trip to Switzerland…let me tell you about it…

Two days on a bus: not much fun. Though I witnessed the magic of Disney’s Frozen on the inbuilt cinema system along with the wonders of dazed midnight service station expeditions. Trashy chickflicks abound alas; though I had Atwood with me should I wish to block the whiny irksome voices.

On the Pia-Pia P&O Ferry I bought a headphone splitter. I gazed upon the choppy wake of our two-hour passage and watched as those most fabled chalky cliffs faded away. So my travelling companion and I shared in Talking Heads, Blondie and Arctic Monkeys until we arrived in Ghent where Belgian flags festooned the high rise flats.

I saw a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from the abysmal bus journey. Literally, it was gorge. Every corner turned unearthed a whole new trove of exquisite architecture and character. People cruised by on the canal, which ran right through the centre. It was a pedestrianized Utopia; though most used bikes (somehow all quaint and vintage) in truth. We ate warm waffles with sweet strawberries and cream; they stuck to their cardboard base but otherwise were divine. I tried a snail – wasn’t convinced.

We arrived in Switzerland the following evening. Les Mosses, specifically: La Sapiniere, a ski resort depopulated in the summer months. On the slope of a stunning U-shaped valley up a winding road with manifold hairpin bends.

Our holiday got going with a visit to La Fromagerie or “the cheesery” an alpine dairy farm opposite us. It had its charm but it wasn’t really my thing. However, you probably know this as cheese is not a subject I blog frequently about.

Anyway, after this we ascended the “Glacier 3000” by cable car. It was rather misty so there was not a great deal to be seen above a certain height. We dangled from a ski lift, which disconcertingly stopped jerkily every so often when we were just a little too high off the ground for comfort. I purchased a postcard from the German-speaking shop. Well, I assume they were German-speaking as my request was met when I spoke to them in the aforementioned tongue – I seemed to be blanked for all my efforts (perhaps I tried too hard.)

Next we were a couple of days early for the Monteux jazz festival where fences sang and a cat crept from the bushes. Against the serene background of Lake Geneva we snapped selfies with the statue of Freddie Mercury in the main square.

The day drew on the temperature rose to a sweltering 34 degrees Celsius. We arrived at the United Nations HQ in Geneva and were taken on a brisk tour where we espied the vibrant stalagmitic roof of the Human Rights assembly room and the Art Deco League of Nations era wing. Painted on the ceiling of the League of Nations chamber was a truly epic mural depicting the steps of civilisation. I wanted to buy all the books in the gift shop, consequently this left me with no choice but to leave with none.

In Chamonix we stepped into the void. There I ordered “un chocolat chaud” to more response than the language that I’d studied which equally delighted and dismayed me. We then took the funicular to yet another glacier; this time we got to go inside it. It was reminiscent, for me at least, of “The Wall” in Game of Thrones with ice all around, illuminated in an ever evolving spectrum. We climbed a long stair to access it which is made more a descent with each year as the glacier retreats and melts away.

The final day we set off to Aosta on the Italian border with Switzerland. We sampled its fine wares; the best ice cream I’ve ever had and for only two euros and of course, the pizza. By now a multilingual citizen of the world I had decided that Italian was simply a mix of French and Spanish, both languages I’d mastered (I got to level 5 Espanol on the “Duolingo” app during exam leave) and so the tongue of the city was mine to manipulate. Walking down the promenade, we were the four musketeers: the Aryan with the telescopic lens; a turquoise tangle in monochrome vertical stripes; a vision in cobalt blue and I, the American ambassador. In the quiet of a secluded alleyway the sweet song of clarinet filtered through a first floor window, practiced and performed, unaware of its own audience – a blissful moment. Not to mention someone zoomed past on a Segway!!!

About alasdairflett

German & English Literature graduate. From Orkney. Interested in alternative and indie music, language, writing and politics.
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