Monday, August 27, 2018


People tend to love or hate advertising.
When my husband and I travelled in the USA we would turn on the TV and watch only the advertising – as stupid, fun and rich as it was, it was always entertaining. But then his field was advertising and marketing.
When we watch American series here in Europe we often have two episodes in one as our television companies are not (yet) allowed to have too much advertising. Of course the advent of Netflix and other channel stations means that even the « public » ones are having to re-think advertising. I personally tape programs then zap through the advertising ; others get up and do chores or go to the kitchen during the advertising and sometimes we even watch the clever ones. One of  our two super markets had a wonderful series using a chicken to vaunt the benefits of eggs produced by happy chickens and the straight from the farmer to the market route. We (Switzerland) also have the Happy Cow. Google any animal advertising on YouTube and you will probably come across them.

But I am getting off track as this blog had its’ inception in two recent events : the hotel that I stay at for the Menuhin concerts in Saanen has what I deem to be the wonderful policy of handing out water as one checks out of the hotel. I have never come across this before and if it is accompanied with the labelling of said water bottles with their sticker, so much the cleverer. They also, as they have a wellness program, give every client a plastic sack with a bathrobe (bathrobe for use whilst in the hotel, but the sack can easily become one’s own swimming gear sack).

Water, still or sprakling, is always offered to every departing client

Great advertising

A lovely pastic sack celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Golfhotel in Saanenmöser

The other, although not properly speaking « advertising » had my laughing : one of my sons gifted me with a box of my favorite chocolates. And do note that I had been eating Auer chocolates well before John Kerry discovered them ! Anyway thanks to modern labelling requirements they too now come with a « to be consumed by » date.  Now what are the chances that I will still even have one left by then ?

I received it the 25th - it will be long empty well before the 13th of September!

Friday, August 24, 2018

A trip in the neighborhood

Now everyone who knows me, know that I have travelled all my life. If at first that only meant into town (and we girls had to put on dresses and proper shoes for those few occasions), then there were the camping vacation to National Parks at a medium distance before we branched out into crossing the nation when I was 10. That under our belts it was off to Hawaii to live for a few years when I was 13 going on 14 – and during the course of the three years that we lived there, we had to discover the rest of the islands as well. Upon my return to the mainland, it was boarding school for two years mid-state with flights home for the holidays. After one year in university I began the international trips when I attended school in France. From there it was anywhere-far-is-good never mind that my husband had also travelled the world as a tour guide to put himself through his doctorate. His thesis was on tourism !  We both worked in the tourist industry and living – in the case of his family – 600 miles from one lot of relatives, and in the case of mine thousands of miles meant that trips across the ocean or Europe were frequent.
I never saw a reason to stop until friends here started teasing me about not knowing the village down the road.  For 14 years I rented part of a chalet in the mountains above Martigny, Switzerland and slowly began to discover places closer to home.
Today I took it a step further and actually explored the canton in which I live. Most people don’t realize that from the farthest point on one side – Hermance - to the farthest on the other – Chancy – although it is only just over 30 km (18 miles) it can take over an hour of driving – with no traffic – and that’s the most direct route !
Exploring was fun. I had never realized that in Chancy the border is defined by the Rhone river – which flows very swiftly indeed at that point.
Lunch in a small restaurant called the most plebian name of Café du virage or literally Coffee in the Curve. Imaginative perhaps not, but the daily menu was delicious and the terrace entirely different from those in town. One would never have guessed that one was within a few minutes of a major international city.
So I’ll continue the explorations of my canton as and when I have the time and the weather is accommodating.

Looking back towards Geneva - not that one would guess

Going towards France
swirls under the bridge - the current was very strong

A lonely Heron hoping for a meal

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Wedding anniversaries

If August is a month for birthdays in my family – myself, an aunt and my mother all within 4 days – it is also one for wedding anniversaries.
My parents married in 1945 and their first trip to Europe was shortly after their 30th (they ended up having 53 years as opposed to my 25 !) and the picture that I took of them in the gardens of Evian, France was and will always be one of my favorites.

I often have moments of serendipity and after having looked for this photo off and on for many years, it fell into my hands just a couple of days ago – in time to post it on what would have been their wedding anniversary.

Emma and Bruce Aitken, Evian, France September 1975

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The weird and ...

The wonderful

So this egg is the first time that I have seen such a weird pattern - not at all round and smooth. Does this mean that chickens can have difficult births? Or did they slip in a fertilized egg? In any case I chose not to crack it, not to boil it - too afraid of what I might see.

Continuing my series of weird medical issues... an allergy? An insect bite? Have done the hot salt water route; anbibiotic creams; starting to go down.

I never realized that these lovely green "balls" actually hid blossoms!

Ah the beauty of rain drops on my balcony awning as the sun went down...

Life supplies us with many weird and interesting sites - we have only to open our eyes.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

They don’t make things the way they used to…

Is something that one hears frequently. Planned obsolescence on hoovers, irons, large appliances. There is a bit of a movement to repair rather than simply dump because the handle broke off, the fuel ran out or a nut or bolt fell off, but by and large (printers being a good case in point) it is cheaper to simply dump and buy a replacement.

We have gotten somewhat used to the idea, but it really hit home the other day.

I had driven up to the village for my morning coffee (currently way to hot to move more than two feet at a time physically), enjoyed the chats and having picked up my mail returned to my car. The clicker to open wasn’t a problem, but when I went to put the key in the ignition – bingo – no key!

I retraced my steps – nothing, I looked in and around the car, still nothing. Finally had the brilliant idea of dumping out my handbag into which I throw my key (gently) in order to not loose it. And there it was – the whole key bit had broken off.  Getting home was a trick as of
Course just putting that bit in the ignition meant that there wasn’t anything long enough to turn the key – even if I had been willing to loose a nail or two. No pliers in the car, but by
Dint of careful precision holding was able to somewhat insert into the key block and thus
Turn. Am using the spare key, but really a car key that breaks off after only 5 years!

I am not impressed.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

19 Million people and…

Best birthday cake yet! Thanks S

Oh the luck – I who love words and greatly appreciate P.D.James actually share the same birthday. Who knew?

Kind of cuts one back to one’s size doesn’t it?
19 million people.
I in fact have two very good friends who share my birthday and know of at least a half a dozen others amongst those surrounding family and friends.

It was a fun day – at one point I figured a blog would need to say something along the lines of “I wrapped myself in love – friends, family and even strangers”. It was a low-key, stress-free birthday with cell phone calls not happening at the same time as fixed phone calls, with just the right mix of coffees, lunch, and even running into the family who’s party I had been unable to attend. The day, socially, ended with a cocktail/dinner with some of my best friends.

I would wish for this every day, but the joy probably would swamp me.
Lucky, lucky, lucky me that amongst the world’s 7 billion+ I have so many with whom to share my life.

My slice of that gorgeous creation - love resberries!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Happy birthday “Switzerland”

Why the quote marks one might ask: “Switzerland”, “Suisse”, “Schweiz” and “Swizzera” all describe in an easy manner the small country in the middle of Europe whose official name is Swiss Confederation being as it is 26 cantons bound together in a common community with the federal government in Bern.

I’ll spare you the history lessons, but it is now commonly acknowledged that the oath taken in 1291 by the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz (thus the name – the Swiss are nothing if not pragmatic and this was probably the easiest of the three to remember and pronounce in other languages) and Unterwald to be mutually protective against the Hapsburgs is the founding of what we know call Switzerland. From 3 cantons it grew to the present 26, each canton joining for its own reasons, not so much because of a shared identity (4 national languages), but more to guarantee their own independence.

The celebration of a National Holiday on August 1st  began in 1891 but trust the hard-working Swiss to not make it an official holiday until 1994.

It is still celebrated exclusively by communities throughout the cantons, most involve the burning of a bonfire at some point although this year with the elevated fire warnings there may be exceptions. Usually the local volunteer firm brigade takes care of it.

That’s the basic facts: this morning when I awoke – fever free – yeah I realized that I could actually remember where I was every 1st of August for the last 7 decades!
1948 – not yet here, I guess I wanted to have my own day as I missed being born on my favorite aunt’s, another aunt’s and my own mother’s birthdays.
1958 – Washington D.C. – the first – and most epic of my road trips when the whole family accompanied my father. We drove all along the Southern states of the USA and returned home via the Northern ones. This was the only time I saw my maternal grandfather.
1968 – Had just finished exams for my first Alliance Française in Collonges-sous-Salève, France. Who knew that I would eventually come back a second year then return for good a few years later.
1978 –Son number one was just months old so summer mainly in Europe
1988 – A boat ride to Anières, a picnic with friends
1998 – glad to be home … minus a cancerous tumor
2008 – Relaxing with local friend
2018 – In my own village, that is if the heat and the residue of my virus don’t get to me!

There have been many ways of celebrating August 1st in between – rarely not here to enjoy them. I may not be around when Switzerland celebrates its’  800th, but I was for the 700th.
Happy Birthday Switzerland

1st of August 2018