We came, we ate, we conquered

A few weeks ago, in a moment of rare downtime on our Australian adventure, I was sitting on a balcony overlooking Manly Cove. Dozens of tiny white sail boats skitted around, eclipsed occasionally by the lumbering green and gold ferry puling into port. The waves gently lapped against the rocks and there was a light breeze carrying the faintest whiff of frangipani perfume. The sun, for once not overwhelmingly hot during the down-under heat wave, was on my toes and a Zooper Dooper (my second, or possibly even third) was in my gob. Our holiday, while wonderful, was not even remotely relaxing and this moment was a delicious stolen treat, just for me.

In hindsight, our first trip home as a family of four could never have been anything other than epic. We road tripped close to 4500kms, dissecting the south eastern part of Australia, primarily in order to see our assorted grandparents and introduce little Bear to his great-grandparents. The road trip had the additional advantage of taking us close to dear friends all around the country, so although exhausting – at one stage Tim declared ‘I think we’ve reached our limits as a family’ – it was absolutely worth it.

We were not alone in our endeavours, as we were joined by Addie’s two imaginary friends, BetterBird and Ton. We have no idea where these guys came from but can only assume she met AverageBird and didn’t much care for him, and maybe didn’t hear Tom’s name quite correctly. We got to know the pair of them reasonably well during the many hours spent together in the car. BetterBird does not like to wear sunscreen, apparently, but he’s nowhere near as frightening as my friend’s son’s imaginary buddy Crazy Jack, who lives in the drain and has slime for arms.

January flew by. We greeted 2018 in Our Nation’s Capital, where we prepared our offspring for future political greatness (or at the very least, nepotism).

We swang by Melbourne, where our lass indulged in her love of amusement parks, giving her first ever roller coast a whiz. Although somewhat dubious at first, by the time she’d made it halfway through the first lap she was sold, possibly due to the support of BetterBird and Ton in the seat right behind her.Melbourne-085The last few weeks were spent – hectically – in our old stomping ground of Sydney where we tried to maximise beach time, catch ups and eating as much as possible. The kids got wholeheartedly on board. Teddy drew a crown of stunned waiters at his first yum cha experience, marvelling at the sheer amount of dumplings and noodles being shoved in his tiny face (or perhaps they were shocked at his mama, who was doing similar). Some days later, in a complete non sequitur, Laides declared happily to her uncle ‘I love yum cha’. I’ve rarely been more proud.

There were tough times, of course: teething Ted, tantrumming Ads, a Weird Mouth Disease I suffered for most of the holiday, Sydney traffic and general busyness, a wallet lost on our very last day. Downtime was infrequent, and restful it most certainly was not. As always, the highlights far outweighed these pickles. A weekend ‘away’ on Sydney’s Northern beaches with the kids’ Guidefather and a bunch of other good friends. Addie laughing uproariously as she learned to jump waves. A stolen afternoon where Tim and I were kid free and saw a really bad movie in the middle of the day, followed by a truly excellent (and, amusingly, Swiss) art exhibition. Watching the cousins play together in their abstract, frantic way. A play! In English! An Australia Day wreck dive just off South Head, where we saw shark eggs and schools of catfish, and Tim spied an enormous cuttlefish doing its crazy cuttlefish thing. And in possibly the most indulgent of all treats, I was surprised with a birthday party with all my favourite people present (except my kids, which of course made it even sweeter). We lunched, and boozed, and carried on until well into the early hours. It was heavenly. (Although the following morning I felt every year of the age I was about to turn.)

And now we’re home, back in Luzern. The return flight, while dastardly, is becoming a distant memory and will likely only linger as long as the jetlag remains (which, fingers crossed, has now been nailed). It’s my actual birthday today and, all things considered, 40 isn’t feeling too horrid. Sure, I’m on a post-holiday detox, and it’s sludge-snowing, and half of my offspring won’t let go of my leg, but I’m feeling optimistic – in a way I’ve not in a long time – about the year ahead. We’re happy to be home, to have had valuable breathing and contemplating space away, and to have another wonderful home to return to whenever we like. Not that there will be much yum cha left to eat there, after my two bottomless pits came and ate and conquered.

The Plains

In a tale I am slightly embarrassed to recount, last summer we had to take an emergency trip to the doctor for little Ads. She had woken up with a nasty bite on her hand. We could see fang-like puncture marks, and her little wrist had puffed with the glossy shine of early infection. Not being able to recall the various German topical creams we’d purchased, and fairly sure she had been bitten by something poisonous, we decided to leg it to the paediatrician. We secured an emergency appointment and I carefully monitored the ever swelling limb as we waited. Our doctor – an older Swiss gentleman who does medical volunteer work on his holidays, and who told me with gentle concern that in Switzerland ‘Teddy’ is also a child’s toy – saw my worried face and ushered us in. He inspected little Addie’s tender arm and after a few questions turned to me seriously. ‘In Switzerland the most dangerous creature is the bumble bee. And it’s only dangerous if you’re allergic to it. Adelheid has a mosquito bite and is perfectly fine.’ The wrist deflated there and then as my paranoia was completely cured.

He had me pegged though: Australia is a land of the vicious and brutal. This morning, stepping out of our self-titled luxury (disclosure: it wasn’t) motel room on the outskirts of Hay, a barefoot Addie foolishly skipped outside, prompting an unholy scream when she stepped on a bindi-eye almost the size of her brother’s fist. A few days ago, at our combined family Christmas holiday on the south coast of NSW, Tim was taking a dip in the tidal Shoalhaven river when a fluther of lightly stinging jelly fish casually drifted past him. The flies are the size of Cessners and some of them actually bite you. Late last night, driving between my home town and the illustrious establishment where we ended up staying the night, a kangaroo the size of an enormous Australian double fridge bounded in front of the car, with a slight, seemingly smug, sideward glance as he narrowly missed turning us into roadkill. Unlike our adopted home, where the worst that can be mustered is a fuzzy striped-sweater-wearing buzzer, my country has balls. That doesn’t justify my hypochondria, I realise, but perhaps goes a little way to explaining it.

We’ve been back almost two weeks. The flight went better than we could have hoped. The youngest family member slept for a significant part of it. There was an excellent playground during our layover, allowing for tiny person exhaustion. The food was, well, airplane food, but due to the excellent slumbering of my bear I even managed a drink on board. Once we arrived in brutally hot Sydney, the kids had celebrated  birthdays. (One! Three! How?!) Aunty Soph and Uncle Pip were both birthday cake champions, with birthday morning deliveries on consecutive days and a gasp-inducing ice-cream cake (its predecessor made for last year’s birthday inspires discussion to this day).

Our week long family bonanza was an exercise in cultural assimilation for our brats. Slap bang on the Shoalhaven, we were serenaded at 5am not only by by my teething boy but also by a cackle of kookaburras which delighted Addie as she gleefully identified the Old Gum Trees in which they sat. Kangaroos flocked the premises at dawn and dusk (even boxing a few times in a display of most excellent caricaturisation) and one delightful night we spied a wombat plodding his way to the river banks. There was a splendid day at the beach where the gentle lapping of Honeymoon Bay was similar enough to the lake at home not to terrify my wave-phobic children, and endless hours of Lord of The Flies cousin time.

We are currently also bang in the middle of possibly the most foolhardy part of our trip: driving the Hay Plains with two small children. As a kid, we’d often spend our holidays with my grandparents in the Barossa Valley. We’d be bundled, semi conscious pre-dawn, into the already packed family van and my parents would drive through the wee hours. I remember waking, eyes as dry as the surrounding land and limbs as craggy as the lonely trees on the horizon, to watch the sun rise across the Hay Plains. There’s a particular scent to the area. It’s in the reddish dust, as if the colour has somehow seeped into an odour. It’s the memory of rain, or perhaps the hope for it. It’s the heat, heavy and immobile, and the dry grass, shrubs, bindi-eyes. The second I left the motel (responding to the shrieks of my first born) I was greeted by it, an old friend long forgotten yet so familiar. On these family road trips, we were allowed the rare and exciting treat of Fruit Loops, a ludicrously sweet and impossibly coloured cereal. In years since I have wondered at the wisdom of loading kids in enclosed space up with sugar, a position I flagrantly ignored this morning when buying breakfast at the local completely country bakery. I couldn’t help but fall into the same trap when Adelaide turned to me, eyes wide and excited, and asked ‘Mummy! Is that a…lamington?’Barossa-023This first half of the road trip is 1300kms. We had originally planned to leave the south coast, stop for dinner and drive the long barren stretch overnight (much like the blacked out van rumoured to do a drug run from Adelaide to Wagga in the early naughties, lights off in full stealth mode), however a non-sleeping child got the better of us and we opted instead to stay overnight in that salubrious establishment previously mentioned. I’m pleased we did. Although this lengthy trip is taking a chunk of time of our precious holiday, we’re spending it in the thick of the country, with nothing to do but gaze across the elusive horizon. We’ll roll into the lovely Barossa around lunch, see my sweet grandmother and introduce her to our sticky little boy (thanks, travel snacks), and ensure we have time to sample at least a few hearty Aussie reds. Then we’ll turn around and drive back again tomorrow, stopping for the night in my home town. It’s a lot of road time, but it’s filled with a mix of nostalgia and awe. Nostalgia for the many trips I made as a kid – those sugary breakfasts, mango Weiss bars at the border, dumping uneaten fruit at quarantine zones, driving the Plains tediously on my Ls – and later, with Tim for family Christmases, a few annualversaries and cheeky winery getaways. Awe, of course, for the beauty that is outback Australia.Barossa-008-2

It’s the exact opposite of the alps. Flat, brown, expansive. The sky is everything. You can see weather brewing miles away, grey smudges here and pockets of powdery blue there, but the vast deception of the heavens never allows you to pinpoint where – or even if – it’s actually occurring. It’s been two and a half years since we relocated, and much longer since we’ve driven the Plains. But now that we’ve spent the last few hours getting reacquainted it feels like we never left. And maybe that’s the best part of holidays of all.

All I want for Christmas is a pink hand towel

It’s two sleeps until we leave for Australia, a fact the almost three year old has been capitalising on when negotiating her naps. In theory I should be ticking items off my to-do list, or at the very least writing a to-do list. Instead I type this with sticky fingers: apparently making cookie boxes for two dozen of Tim’s colleagues is the most important thing I have to do at the moment. My general person is covered in a seasonally delightful mix of peppermint, passionfruit and lebkuchengewürz, and I don’t mind in the slightest.

If you’ve ever so much as passed me in a corridor, you’ll know my thoughts on Christmas. Positive is an understatement. I’m doing the best I can to brainwash encourage my two Christmas babies to feel the same way and – based on the frequency of gaudy sweater wearing, Christmas light ooh-ing and ‘Jingle Bells’ requesting – things are progressing as planned. Happily, Switzerland has my back – the snow has been falling, the Christmas markets (sausages! carousels! ice skating! Glühwein!) are in full swing, and Samiclaus has made numerous appearances.

The local parish offers, in exchange for a donation, a personal visit from the man himself. A few weeks ago we received an application form on which we had to request a time and date of visit, advise who’d be home, give the kids’ names and ages and a list of both the things they had done well and the things that they need to improve. We did our best to fill it out in German, hoping – mainly because we’d been using the visit as a bribe – that it would work out. And sure enough, one wintery Sunday evening, there was a knock on the door and there he was.

He did not, however, come alone. There was not one but two creepy Schmutzlis lurking in his wake. Samiclaus-011We’d spent a fair bit of time discussing the visit – a bunch of Swiss German talking dudes showing up to your house and knowing all about your naughty and nice business is a bit full on for anyone, let alone a wee person. We talked a lot about treats and presents, and Ads knew that if she did the right thing, Samiclaus would bring her something she wanted. I was expecting her to ask for baby dolls, duplo, toy farm animals, cake…the things she generally requests if given a choice. But no. Emphatically and specifically my little miss wanted one thing and one thing only: a pink hand towel. Needless to say Samiclaus delivered, with a side of bemusement. (And creepiness.)

Although old enough to be excited by Samiclaus (and Santa and Father Christmas), my lass is not quite savvy enough to question thematic variations. So when her kita had a Samiclaus event – at night time, in a nearby forest – it was like it was the first time they’d met.

Motsy got hideously lost locating the forest site, only finding it due to the pity of passers by who figured where they were off to, possibly due to the crazed Samiclaus loving toddler. This resulted in a mosey through moonlit Swiss Christmas countryside which made it a total win.

Samiclaus-108I am, no question, dreaming of a brown Christmas this year. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen my sister and my bestie – the kids’  Godfather, Uncle Pip – and I greedily await the catch ups to be had. This year has passed so hastily, almost without pause. Although I don’t stop to think about it frequently, when I do it’s the easy familiar, the unspoken contentment of old friendship I ache for. Also at home, there’s wonderful family and friends, many of whom haven’t yet had the (dubious?) pleasure of meeting the screechiest Purler, who is about to be introduced to his technical homeland. And then there’s my best lady: Sydney. The parents of one of Addie’s kita teachers are flying down under the same day we are (I am praying it’s not on the same flight; those poor people) and I wrote them a list of Aussie must-dos. I admit it was primarily for me, and hoo boy it worked. I’m already salivating over her bounty.  Brash foreshores, broken Ozone, blazing beauty. That gaudy girl.

But when Switzerland throws this nonsense, it’s hard not to be torn. 1st Snow 2017-311Lest I sound flaky, let me be precise. Just like Little Miss I Want A Pink Hand Towel, I know exactly what I want for Christmas. And happily, unbelievably, here they both are. Samiclaus-016

 

In Bruges

I know, I know. But really, what else could it be titled? Possibly ‘The Battle of Chocolate’ (in our opinion – after robust research in both countries – Swiss wins, but the hot chocolate drinks available on every corner in Bruges made for close competition); or ‘Is Everyone Impersonating The Movie Or Are There Really That Many Brits Here?’ (an alternate theory was that the city employed roguish types to walk around town talking loudly to give a certain hit-man ambience).

Titular concerns aside, we were indeed In Bruges last weekend for a pre-Christmas catch up with Dom and Roh. Given that we’re now a family and all, we opted to do the classic family style travel: car packed at night (complete with thermos, picnic and old school esky water bottle) and a revoltingly early start with the still sleepy kids thrown into the car as early as we could muster. We drove across five countries in the space of a few hours and made it to Bruges in time for lunch. And by lunch, you know I mean lunch Belgian style.

The city itself, particularly as it was decked out for Christmas, was the effing fairytale town promised by the film (and by a stranger on a bus last week at home, who overheard me telling the kids we’d be going there and promptly advised me it’s ‘even nicer than Luzern’).

A world heritage site, known as the Venice of the North due to its extensive and beautiful canal system, the town boasts a beautiful 13th century belfry (also one of the world’s highest brick structures), religious relics and famous art. None of these cultural delights were of even remote interest to the Purlers once we heard there was a Christmas market in town. For us, the attractions were dodgem cars, carousels and Glühwein.

We’d been promised appalling weather for the entire weekend so had mentally prepared ourselves for dashes between indoor activities (ok, cafes), grizzly kids and numb extremities. On Saturday we decided to stroll along the canals in search of the windmills on the outskirts of town, and despite getting caught in a brief hailstorm (much to the delight of Addie and the nonchalance of our hibernating bear), the weather remained chilly but dry. Our excursion revealed gingerbread-esque houses, cobbled alleys and medieval pubs (sadly too small for our somewhat unruly crowd) (by which I mean Dom and Roh, of course).

Bruges-267Bruges-301Bruges-312Bruges-333After a few days In Bruges, it was time for the epic road trip home which we broke up with a late lunch in nearby Brussels. I’d been to the city about 15 years previously and remembered precisely none of it. We made our way to the Grand Place (rendered attractive to the almost three year old not due to its fabulous architecture but rather the gasp inducing enormous Christmas tree in its centre).

As always, we made sure we sampled as many local delicacies as possible: moules frites, frites, and more frites. There was also pigeon, rabbit in beer sauce, a local fish specialty and a world of magnificent pastries, cheese and charcuterie. All this gluttony has clearly rubbed off on the next generation: in our final lunch before parting ways, our lad made his mama proud – and not a little revolted – as he knocked back anything and everything that crossed his path.

The festive season officially kicked off, we’re now back In Luzern. The Advent calendar countdown has started, the ice skating rink is in action, and the Christmas markets are serving sausages and hot wine to the merry sounds of the carousel, all of which are providing excellent bribery tools for young and old Purlers alike. Our next epic trip is of even larger proportions: we head to Australia for a heavenly, sunny six(ish) weeks, departing just before the kids’ birthdays. There are not enough thermoses (thermi?!), picnics and water bottles that can assist us with that flight, but we sure are looking forward to being In Sydney in a few weeks.

Panorama

Brexit is over. Nobody is more disappointed about this than I am. Every morning for the last six months or so – and the occasional noon and evening, due to a bit of meal confusion – our Laideybird would jump out of bed and run to the kitchen, announcing that she was ready for Brexit. Even on the more challenging mornings – interrupted nights, my coffee maker being out of town, general wintery malaise – it never failed to bring a chuckle. Sadly, she has recently learned to correctly pronounce her ‘f’s and with it has toppled one of the more controversial European political decisions of recent times.

The last few months of this year are thick with travel for Tim; he’s currently on a whirlwind trip to New Zealand and Australia but has also been flitting around the continent for the last few weeks. Nestled in the midst of this, on an unexpectedly bright and beautiful Wednesday, was a Swiss public holiday for which he happened to be at home. There was only one thing for it: The Alps.

Rotenflue-006We went to a neighbouring canton, Schwyz, for a short walk through the Mythenregion. The walk promised panoramic views, and it totally delivered. But then – where here doesn’t?

The Mythen peak stands at 1898m – a trifle lower than our Pilatus, but equally impressive, particularly on a clear day. We caught a cable car to the neighbouring Rotenflue where we enjoyed a grill – possibly the last of the season – and a surprisingly steep circular walk. Equally surprising was the tiny red hut you see in the snap below: a little cheese shop for your mid hike snacks.

Our little Brexit eater did us proud: she managed to walk the whole hilly way and just as I thought she was completely tuckered out, we found ourselves in Addie heaven. Rock climbing and soaring above the Alps ensued. (Please note the blue thing slumped on my back is my sleeping son, not some of weird stuffed mascot).

The days after this trip have started to usher in winter, making it feel a little like a last hurrah. Gone are the crystal clear blue skies – Luzern has been frosty, cloud covered and grey (and, worst of all, wet wet wet) for the last week or so. On the occasions the cloud clears, the nearby hills have been hit with snow, and we’re excepting some of our own in a few days. Despite the murk I am feeling excited about snow season, but this is possibly because we’ll be the other side of the world in the sun for about six weeks of it.

Hopp! Hopp! Hopp!

I am not a lot of things. Politically aware (slash particularly interested). A German speaker (unlike my little miss, who is currently singing herself to sleep with Schweizer Deutsch nursery rhymes). Abstentious from social media (particularly circa 4pm after a long day with the brats). Elegant under pressure (elegant full stop). A hater of cheese and wine. A regular exerciser.

Despite the latter, or more likely because of it, I’ve long needed the motivation of fear to get me moving. Mere common sense and immediate feel-good rewards apparently do not cut it: I need a looming, terrifying goal if I am going to actually don running shoes and get going. Knowing this about myself, and that I needed a solid kick up the butt, I signed on to the Swiss City Marathon.

It needs to be clarified immediately that ‘Swiss City Marathon’ is the name of the running festival that takes place in Luzern annually, as opposed to the distance I ran. It includes a marathon and a half mara, as well as the far less salubrious 10km run and the kiddy 195m dash. You may wish to hedge a bet on which event I entered (clue: the kiddy race was for participants strictly under the age of 6). Incidentally, though, over here ‘marathon’ seems to refer to any longish run, not necessarily the 42.2km slog that I am never likely to even think about completing. There was a recent run through town – a measly 7.2kms – that entrants kept referring to as ‘the marathon’. I was infuriated about this until I had the opportunity to refer to my own measly 10k as ‘the marathon’, and now I am obviously all about it. Sorry, genuine marathon runners. THUNDER STOLEN.

At any rate, I signed up, did my training, and ran said race. It started in Horw and snaked its way back into Luzern proper, passing through hobby farms, the local stadium, temptingly close to my house, bizarrely – it was kind of like a seedy night club – through the KKL (a concert hall and gallery), and then looped through the old town to finish inside the Transport Museum. Despite having lived in the city for a few years now, the race was an entirely novel way to experience it. The streets were lined with musicians – oompahpah bands this corner, alphorn choirs the next. Perhaps the best part was the enthusiastic spectators. Nearly the entire trail was populated with well wishers yelling ‘Hopp! Hopp! Hopp!’ as we ran past. And because our names were on our running patches, every now and then ‘Hopp, Wendy, hopp!’ (Or, ‘Go on Wendy, take that selfie!’ over the loudspeaker as I pulled my phone out upon entering the stadium. Selfie taken, thankyouverymuch.)

Aside from viewing a new side of my home, committing to and completing the run felt like a significant personal achievement. I’ve (slowly) run this distance and greater before, but since my little terrors have arrived I’ve felt I have little control of my time or my body. A lot of this is choice, but prioritising exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. The fear of the impending run forced me to rethink that, and the payoff was far beyond the completion of the race. I had four training sessions a week to myself. I learned to listen to podcasts, starting off with educational-ish ones which were quickly shunned in favour of the dulcet whiskey tones of Alec Baldwin’s celebrity interviews. I missed at least one bedtime a week, a happy coincidence which inspired several evening runs when I ordinarily would not have gone. I was frequently in so much pain that I was unable to dwell on the niggling nonsense of my everyday, thinking only about my next breath. I forgot, at times, that I was a mother and a hausfrau and felt like…just me, something I didn’t realise I’d not felt in a while. I felt strong, and strong in a way I’d not felt before the kids: aware of my body and its capacity and thresholds. Plus, I can tell people I ran a ‘marathon’, so there’s that.

I’d like to say that a corner has been turned and I am now embracing my new-found running freedom. I’m continuing with it, but to be honest without a target it’s hard to find the necessary momentum to force me out into the sleety night (it’s dark in the fours this time of year. Every day, around 3pm, Adsy exclaims in delight ‘Gosh! I’m staying up late tonight!’). I’d like to think the increased movement has been contagious: within a day or so of finishing the race, our little bear took his first few Frankenstein-esque steps, and he’s quickly progressing to be a right little speedster. If he keeps it up, perhaps next year he and his big sister can enter their very own 195m ‘marathon’.

The dam(n) weekend

As exciting as it is to cross the border into another country, the nature of Switzerland is such that it’s not always necessary to do so to experience a new language and culture. We are firmly planted in the Deutsch canton of Lucerne, but just over an hour away (through the longest tunnel in the world, the Gotthard, which stretches for a numbing 17km) is the Italian canton of Ticino. Lured by an easy getaway towards Italian deliciousness, we hit the road – and the traffic associated with said tunnel – on Friday afternoon.

When we travel, we prefer to stay in apartments (well, actually I prefer to stay in a five star suite with full housekeeping service and a butler and free flowing fizz, but that ain’t happening any time soon) so that there’s a seperate sleeping space for the kids and the capacity to chill after they’ve gone to bed. We’ve done hotel rooms where we’ve had to sit silently drinking wine in the bathroom and one horrible stay in a teeny tiny room where we had to text each other as we sat in bed so as not to wake the finally sleeping Addie a few centimetres away. We’ve had some great apartments, and we’ve had a few doozies. Unfortunately this weekend fell into the latter category. A traditional style Swiss house in a tiny village, the place itself was cluttered, musty and decidedly odd. The town was a single stretch of highway with very little going on, other than an ice hockey game on Friday night which nearly prohibited us from being allowed access the house (which in hindsight may not have been the worst outcome ever).  I’m prepared to take a miss every now and then but it felt like this set an unpleasant and difficult-to-kick tone for the weekend.Ticino with Ann, Doru, Sebi-017The plus side of shoddy lodgings (other than being able to stay up with our friends like actual normal adults after all the brats had gone to bed, of course) was being motivated to leave it as much as possible. We hit the road first thing (well, as first thing as you can get with three brats underfoot) to Contra Dam in Vogorno.

The dam was built in the early 1960s and uses water from the nearby Lake Maggiore to support a hydroelectric power plant (which somewhat blights the view, but such is the price one pays for electricity I suppose). It was used in the opening scene of GoldenEye after which it has become a popular and terrifying bungee jumping location (although it should be noted that James Bond did nowhere near the amount of screaming that was echoing around the dam last Saturday). Ticino with Ann, Doru, Sebi-021We then made our way to Ticino’s capital, Bellinzona. A stunning city with no discernible ice hockey games, we explored one of the several castles perched above the town.

Our kids worked on their levitating skills.

Castillo de Montebello dates back to the 15th century, and is complete with all the castle frills: moat, drawbridges, archer’s holes. Not only was the castle remarkably well kept and an important archaeological site, it also had excellent hills on which to refine rolling.

Hill rolling works up an appetite, which was sated in the town square with my favourite all time food: pizza. (Addie spied on her all time favourite: cake.)

I’ve often remarked on the ease with which we can access The Natures here, and on Sunday we decided to get the hell away from leave our lodgings and head up the mountain we could see out the somewhat grimy windows. A funicular (or ‘funny cable car’, according to Ads) took us to the top where we strolled through light rain, finding at the peak…another dam.

Despite the rain, the day was lovely. We enjoyed the walk through Autumnal forests with the kids strapped to our backs, feasting on sweeping views.

And Alpkäse (serviced with local polenta, which was a total winner.)

Funny-cable-car-049All the kids fell asleep on the stroll back to the funny cable car, at the base of which was the best excuse of all to avoid going home: a park. Once the kids had slippery dipped to their hearts’ content (little Ted also gaining his first blood nose due to a slipperier-than-expected dip) we made our way back and numbed bad house pain with raclette and wine. Which, as it turns out, did the job just fine.