Coronavirus update – a view from Switzerland

I’ve been encouraged by Stephen at Fractured Faith Blog to write a few words on our experiences during this ‘crisis’ period. After all, the Blogosphere is one big inter-connected and generally very supportive community. 😊 Since I might be one of the few people you might follow in Switzerland, I thought I’d give you some insights into how things are in what is generally considered a well ordered country.

We have been in lockdown mode for around 4 weeks now. Unlike France, where you need to stay within a kilometre of your home and have a piece of paper indicating the reason for not staying in, we are allowed out (but encouraged not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary – though see below).

Like a lot of countries, we had some panic buying initially. Even in our small village, the shelves were cleared of pasta for the first few days, but normality was soon restored. The ‘Co-op’ restricts the numbers entering to about a dozen (it’s not a huge shop, but not small either) and lines are clearly marked on the floor where you must stand to respect the 2 metre rule at the checkout. Only one person is allowed at either end of the conveyor belt. So if the person in front has a lot of shopping to pack, you have to stand and wait until they’ve finished before it’s your turn. There is also hand-wash at the entrance/exit which you are asked to use. The manager told me the other day that he had not heard of any cases in our valley, which is somewhat comforting, because…

My wife and I often sit on our balcony and watch the world go by. Normally there are very few people around and about, I guess that’s because they are normally at work or have better things to do. But recently we have seen groups of up to 8 congregating and having ‘garden parties’, when the Swiss rule is no gatherings of more than 5. Not only that but one of our neighbours was actually sharing a fondue with his partner and another neighbour, which we thought was unbelievable.

Another annoyance to us is to see ‘outsiders’ arriving in the valley. Last week we observed one Austrian car and several French number plates. These countries have closed their borders to incomers, so why do they feel it necessary to travel out of their own country? In addition, all Swiss cars have a 2 character canton prefix on their number plate indicating their owner’s origin (like GE for Geneva and FR for Fribourg) and we’ve regularly observed non-Valaisan (VS) cars in and around our neighbourhood. Many Swiss have second homes and come up and/or invite their friends for the weekend, despite this being discouraged by the authorities. The Swiss are normally very good at following the rules, but even they seem to balk at the very idea sometimes.

On a more positive note, it has meant we’ve managed to get a few little jobs done around the house and my wife, Judith, has turned her hand to baking bread (and very successfully I might add – see pics below) to save us going to the shop too often. (Bread goes hard very rapidly in the dry atmosphere of the Alps!)

Anyway, that’s my little ‘piece’ said. Please feel free to Comment and/or post some of your own personal experiences.

Stay safe everyone.

15 thoughts on “Coronavirus update – a view from Switzerland

  1. That bread looks fab! I am working my way through a bread recipe book, but haven’t achieved anything that crusty yet. We are finding it hard to get bread flour and yeast, so sometimes I need to be inventive, but we seem to be eating it all so it can’t be that bad.

    It must be frustrating to see people socialising and travelling into the area: I’m kind of surprised, because I think of the Swiss as being a pretty obedient, pragmatic lot! I guess the whole idea of exceptionalism is worldwide now – that idea that the rules ‘can’t possibly apply to me and my family’. Still, it’s important not to stress too much I think. It’s easy to get very worked up about what would otherwise be little things when you’re confined pretty much to quarters.

    On Wednesday we’ll be making the trek to Weymouth for Dad’s cremation: we’ll have copies of the funeral notice in case we’re stopped by British Transport Police and questioned about our journey, and we’ll have supplies because there is nowhere open en route to get a cup of tea or a sandwich. It looks as if my brother might miss the cremation too, because he currently has symptoms. So it will just be me and my husband and the vicar. Roll on the end of the lockdown, when we can have a proper service and some real hugs. But in the meantime, I’m bearing in mind Dad’s pragmatic nature, and the way that he always found it amusing when things went wrong.

    Stay safe, stay well, and carry on baking ! More photos please!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Vivienne. I have to say that my wife has been trying a few books/recipes, all with different approaches and suggestions (which obviously work for the people who wrote them). But, as my wife has discovered over the years, baking at altitude is not the same as at sea level. (I kid you not, there is a ‘trick’ which she or I, if allowed, may divulge one day). So we’ve had a few ‘experiments’ shall we say, which turned out 70 – 90% OK, but still not perfect enough for Jude. So the two photos were her latest attempts (which I was allowed to photograph and post). The Swiss are generally obedient, but I guess this virus would test the patience of a saint.
      I hope the trip to Weymouth is not too traumatic and your dad’s service goes well. Big virtual HUGS to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Mike, and yes, I know that there are problems with cooking at altitude – I follow a couple of Facebook cookery groups, and the folk who live in, say, Colorado are always having to adjust temperatures and cooking times. Well done to your wife for baking such a splendid loaf under such tricky conditions!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. OH WOW! Js bread looks AMAZING! I tried my first pizza dough yesterday… IT WAS A HIT!!!! Hey, i can cook… but bake? nah… but today i tried Bagels!!!! woooooo you;; have to go see my blog later… about to write a blog post!
    Yes… that is annoying! I just read a post in our local neighbourhood watch website. A woman with her kids walking in the park, berating RUNNERS for not respecting social distancing…. what she DOESN’T GET is that us runners were in the woods and on the trails a LONG time before her. We can’t even go for a run now because her, her family on their bikes and with their prams and dogs are ALL OVER the place and NOT respecting OUR spaces… HOW was a family walk never on their daily to do list before and i can tell you what, i have NEVER seen so many people out… pfffft… i’m not going to even carry on, just riles me!
    You guys stay safe and well!!!! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baking is definitely an art or skill which improves with practice. Jude can whip up cakes, biscuits and flapjacks in the blink of an eye, but bread is a new experience even for her. (I’ll admit that it’s taken her a few ‘goes’ to get it right). She’s ordered sacks of flour (online, now delivered) so I/we can look forward to some more super-duper homemade bread (or Scotch pancakes, or crumpets, or… who knows?)
      Likewise, I’ve seen people on the path/track behind our house, who would never normally be out walking – which is why I went higher still the other day to see how many people I saw. (I think it was 10 or 11 people in about 6 hours – and the first couple actually thanked me for giving them 2 metres of space after I stepped aside!) There’s generally enough space (at least here) for everyone, so I don’t know why some people are getting shirty with runners. After all, one second and you’re gone! I’m now wondering what speed you’d have to be doing to cover 2 metres (or 4 if you count 2m either side) in 1 second… Hmmm…. Where’s that calculator? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello from Louisville, Kentucky! Enjoyable post, we are experiencing the same issues here; quite paradoxical in that the majority play by the rules but the ignorant minority blatantly break them all, putting so many at risk. I’ve been walking our hills and dales for decades and now find I have to bob and weave around the large family clusters and their little ones on trikes and, of course, their dogs. LOL wouldn’t it be great if they all kept it up in the future? Luckily the areas in which I walk have strict speed limits and police patrols so it’s all good. Actually the reason I’m writing is to ask if your wife would point me in the direction of the recipe for the lovely white loaf on the left. A majority of the breads I bake are sourdough or whole grain and I know my husband would appreciate a nice slice of simple sandwich bread for a change. Thanks and stay healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. My wife says the recipe is the same as for any ‘standard’ white loaf. But, if you’d like more detail…
      Ingredients: (Sorry, everything is in metric or UK measures) 500g Strong white flour; 25g Butter; 1.5 teaspoons Salt; 2 teaspoons Sugar; 300 ml Warm water; 1 Sachet of fast action yeast (which equates to about 7g)
      Method: Mix all the ingredients, apart from the water, then mix in the water until it’s soft and pliable. (My wife uses a dough hook on her mixer for about 5 mins, but you can do it by hand in about about 15 mins). Place in an oiled baking tin (*see below) and then cover with oiled cling film (to stop it sticking) and place in a warm (20 deg C) place for about 1.5 hours until risen. (My wife has also discovered that covering the tin with one of those plastic shower caps works well too!) Then place in the oven at 220 deg C for about 40 mins.
      *My wife uses a tin which is 26 x 14 x 7 cm.
      Good luck!


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