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. ūüėä 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.

Circular Walk from Crayke, N. Yorkshire, England

After our successful walk from Byland Abbey the day before, Ian and I were keen to get out again, despite the inclement weather.  A local landowner has created a Permissive path around the village of Crayke, which we extended a little further north (after a short stop for a coffee and a piece of cake at the excellent Dutch House РCafé/Garden/Gallery) before returning to complete the route.

Sarah and Karl’s Wedding

I promised you a few weeks ago that I would post some pictures of my daughter’s wedding.¬† Well, the official photos are now available (courtesy of Fox Moon Photography) and so it gives me great pleasure to replicate some of them here.

To say that it was a very special day would be the biggest understatement of understatements.  The sun shone brightly and everyone had a fabulous time Рespecially the bride and groom, who were smiling throughout day.

Circular Walk from Castleton, Derbyshire

By the time most of you read this I will probably be at my daughter’s wedding.¬† Eventually I will post pictures of said event, if I’m allowed, but for the time being, I’m trying to keep up to date with recent events, otherwise you will all be bombarded with an even longer series of posts when I get back home…

So, on Thursday, while my wife was enjoying herself baking cakes and finishing off her dress for the wedding, I set out to do a loop from Castleton.¬† It started by walking south west up Cave Dale, before striking north west and over Mam Tor (at the dizzy height of 517m / 1,696 ft), to follow the ridge or crest north east over Hollins Hill and Back Tor to Lose Hill, (which is also called Ward’s Piece for some reason) and then returning to Castleton for a well earned refreshment. ūüćļ

The forecast was for ‘good’ weather, but the sun seemed to take an age to burn off the early morning mist, so the pictures below are a little murky.¬† Being pretty much in the middle of England, the Peak District is easily accessible to many and, as such, the paths can get very eroded.¬† So the powers that be have placed massive paving stones to help alleviate the problem.

P.S. Re pic 10: Don’t worry, I do plan to have a shave and smarten myself up for the wedding.¬† You may not even recognise me! ūüėä

Pic Chaussy and Lac Lioson

Yesterday morning I had to deliver some of Judith’s delicious cakes to the newly opened Venus and Rose tea room¬†within the Garden Centre at St Triphon, near Aigle.¬† The forecast¬†was for light grey clouds and so I decided to go for a walk¬†a short drive up the road from there, from¬†the Col des Mosses.¬† My thinking was that the clouds would be high in the sky, but as I drove up, it was clear that the clouds were clinging to the tops of the mountains.

Undeterred, I decided to go for it,¬†hoping the clouds would lift by the time I got to the top.¬† Unfortunately, they stubbornly hung on – at least until I was 20 minutes back down the mountain, when they started to clear…¬† (I think this is an example of¬†Sod’s Law).

I did however learn from the information board on the summit, that Pic Chaussy (@2,351m¬†or 7,713 ft) along with several other peaks, such as the Oldenhorn,¬†form a¬†natural watershed, where the waters to the north flow into the Rhine and then on to the North Sea, whereas the water falling¬†to the south and west flows into the Rhone, which runs via Lac L√©man (Lake Geneva) down through¬†France and into the Mediterranean.¬† Not a lot of people know that!¬† ūüôā

A happy 4th of¬†July to all my¬†American readers… ūüéÜ

 

Mayen de Cotter (Walk 14)

One of my main challenges, when going out for a walk, is to try and take some different photos, so that the posts stay interesting (I hope).¬†¬†So, although I did this walk up to Mayen de Cotter on January 1st, I¬†decided to take an alternative route down, partly because there was a lot of snow higher up.¬† The weather wasn’t as¬†bright as last time, but it was much warmer¬†today.

On returning to the chalet, I managed to zoom in on a few of the birds waiting to feed at our bird table and, I admit it, I¬†succumbed to one, OK two,¬†of Judith’s best bakes… Cranberry and white chocolate biscuits –¬†they’re¬†possibly the finest in the whole world! ūüôā

Tales of the Scales (Week 8)

When I was in the Corporate world, which was almost 2 years ago now, we used to hold Daily and Weekly Operational Review meetings (or DORs and WORs for short).¬†¬† The idea was to spend no more than 15 minutes each day or 1 hour each week to review how things were progressing versus our team objectives – via Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs for short).¬† I guess many of you will already be familiar with this process and I’d like to follow this concept¬†through in my Weekly Review of my weight loss programme, posted last week.¬† To save you looking it up, the aim was/is to lose 1kg, or just over 2lbs, per week¬†leading up to my Zurich marathon on April 9th (i.e.¬†Week 14) and reduce¬†my 77.7 kg (171 lb)¬†slightly paunchy frame of last week to a more lightweight 70.7 kg (156 lb).

Now, what most of you will not be so familiar with is the style of reporting – whereby each KPI is reported in some form of visual or graphical form and the latest position is either green or red.¬† (This makes it very easy to see the latest position at a glance).¬†¬†There are no ‘almost made the target’ or amber traffic lights in this system.¬† You either made the target or you didn’t.¬† And, if you didn’t, someone in the team (in this case me) has to take an action to do something about it.¬† In extremis, if the latest position stays red for any length of time, then someone would volunteer, or be volunteered, to¬†carry out¬†a Go, See, Think, Do (GSTD) exercise to get to the root cause of the issue.¬† More on that topic maybe if anyone is really interested.

Getting back to the plan… I vowed to cut out that extra piece of toast in the morning, cakes and biscuits with coffee and tea throughout the day and one¬†less beer every night.¬† This is Plan A and I have a Plan B, or even C, if I don’t quite get there.¬† Hopefully we’ll not need to use Plan D, which involves the dreaded ‘S’ word – Salads!

So how did it go ?¬† Well, I did only have one slice of toast all week and I resisted¬†those delicious cupcakes upon return from my run last Tuesday.¬† BUT, the freshly baked scones were too good to¬† miss, so one of them went down very nicely as part of my ‘recovery’.¬† And over the next¬†2 days, those 2 cupcakes¬†were far too good to throw away and so they disappeared too. ¬†Then on Friday we were invited to our neighbours for coffee¬†and it would have been rude to refuse¬†a slice of the most delicious¬†apple tart.¬† On Saturday we were invited out for dinner, so you can imagine… though I did skip on the dessert.¬† My beer consumption¬†has gone¬†down, though wine consumption has increased.

So how did I do ?¬† Drum roll please….

The scales¬† do not lie…

weight-week-8

This represents a loss of 1.2 kg.  So, my graph is green and no further action required on my part (other than not to be so weak when it comes to those cakes!)

weight-graph-week-8

Since were also talking marathon training here, I thought I’d add another important measure, which is the amount of exercise I’ve been doing.¬† After all¬†weight loss is¬†not only about the input, but also the output as well.¬† So below is the number of kilometres that I’ve run each week this year.¬† Since that’s not very much,¬†and I have been walking quite a bit, I’ve decided to show both together, versus my ideal running plan (i.e. what I would like to do if my ageing legs were up to the task).¬†¬† Note that the weeks in this chart run from Monday to Sunday.

run-and-walk-graph-end-week-7

Vevey to Montreux Lakeside training run

So, today I took some of Judith’s deliciously scrummy cupcakes to a friend, who works in my old office block in Vevey.¬†¬† With¬†a snowless, flat (more or less) running route all the way along the lake to Montreux (apart from a short road section), I decided it was too good a training¬†opportunity to miss.¬†¬†

I’d read the other day that the statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux had been¬†‘improved’, shall we say, by the addition of some green paint to his jacket, so I decided that he,¬†or it,¬†would be my¬†turning point.¬†¬†With classic Swiss efficiency though, the offending paint had already been removed, as you will see from the picture below.¬† There were also the usual temporary sculptures to admire in Montreux – this time with a gymnastics theme.¬†

It’s only 1h 10mins drive away, but the contrast between¬†the “Swiss Rivieira”, as it’s known, and our rural home here in Evol√®ne, couldn’t be more marked.¬†¬†The multi-million dollar¬†apartments and 5 star hotels were gleaming¬†in the, albeit slightly hazy, sunshine.¬† Also, when I left home the temperature was minus 1 degree C (30F) and in Vevey it was 9 degrees (48F).¬† Though on the way home, the thermometer in my car rose to 14 degrees (57F)¬†as I approached Sion. (It always is a few degrees warmer there).

In terms of the ‘run’, I stopped when my old GPS watch said exactly 15k (or 9.3 miles) and, because I took my camera and had to stop quite a few times, (see dips in the pace chart), it took me 1h 33mins 27 secs.¬† Having told a few people recently that¬†I was one-paced, I did my best to ignore the camera and¬†up my speed at 12.5k for 500 metres and 14k to the finish but, with tiring legs,¬†it only made a small difference. (See blue blocks on the Pace chart).¬†

 

Riverside Walk to Les Haud√®res and back in the snow…

We always enjoy welcoming friends and family to our chalet, but it does mean that we tend to repeat certain walks – especially in the winter, when many of the higher paths are covered¬†in¬†deep snow.¬† So today, Judith’s sisters, Charlotte and Kate,¬†her husband Niall and I set off along the riverside path to Les Haud√®res.¬† After a¬†nice lunch in the Hotel Veisivi, the¬†falling snow didn’t stop us walking back home and looking forward to a slice of one of Judith’s delicious cakes!

Family Walk to Lac Bleu

For the¬†last day of their holiday, the Preece family decided to do the short,¬†but sharp, walk from La Gouille up¬†to Lac Bleu. (Unfortunately¬†mum, Jo, had some prep work to do for school next week, and Jude had some cakes to bake, so they left the rest of us to it…¬† )

Needing a little more exercise, Alex and I took the path down to Les Haudères and along the river back to the chalet, while father, David, drove the younger children home.

Although I’ve posted pictures of this walk before, it never ceases to amaze me how you can always see something different.¬† For example, I have to give credit to Alex for spotting the rainbow waterfall (pic 20).¬† There are also some Halloween images for you all to enjoy – see if you can spot the black cat !