Mike’s Music Monday #42

I believe the third Monday in January is often referred to as Blue Monday as it’s meant to be the most depressing day of the year.  Well, not today my friends…  I sincerely hope this song by M People gets your foot tapping and brings a huge smile to your face.  I dedicate this post to all my loyal followers, because without you, this blog would not have any purpose.  Please enjoy!  😁

Mike’s Music Monday #41

I’m pretty sure that it’s still the pantomime season in the UK.  So this “Fresh” video by Kool and the Gang is a great way of celebrating this wonderful British tradition.

“Oh no it isn’t” I hear you say…

“Oh, yes it is!”  I reply… 🤣😂

Oh, how I miss Berwick Kaler at the York Theatre.  He was an institution.

Snowman update II

In case you missed Snowman update I – please catch up here.

I should have mentioned that my brother and his 2 sons had dubbed the snowman “MJ”, due to the way he was leaning like Michael Jackson in Smooth Criminal.  (If you don’t know what I mean, you can watch it here).  But now I think we need to refer to him as Elton because, if he could talk, he’d be saying, or even singing, “I’m still standing“.

Yesterday morning he’d leaned over so far backwards his head way was a mere 8 to 10 inches off the snow behind and by late afternoon that had reduced to a mere 4 to 5 inches.  However a severe crack had opened up at the base, so I didn’t think he’d last the night…

Just in case you think he’s propped up in any way by a broom or something on the far side, here’s a picture taken from the front:

8th Jan am V

But it seems Elton is a fighter and this morning he was still there, with his head just resting gently on the snow… 😊  Surely the laws of physics will take over soon?

Snowman update…

You may recall from my Fun in the Snow post last week, that my brother, with only a little help from his 2 sons, built a snowman in our garden.  That was on Friday, 27th December.  Picture 29, taken on new year’s day, showed that it had started to lean backwards.  (I presume this was due to the sun on its back rather than my brother’s snowman building skills).

Well, I’m happy to report, all you Raymond Briggs fans, that, almost a week later, the snowman is still alive and well, though now leaning over quite remarkably.  At least it will be able to enjoy looking at the stars without getting a crick in its neck. 😊

Snowman, 7th Jan

Southern Finland

The remainder of our holiday was spent on the Finnish mainland.  After catching the ferry back from Brändö, we drove up the west coast via the beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage town of Rauma and then on to Yyteri beach, which is one of the longest sandy beaches in Scandinavia at around 6km.  From there we turned east to our base for the next 4 nights, which was a self-catering wooden lodge, or chalet, next to Lake Vesijako.

We returned to spend 2 more nights in the delightful city of Turku, which is the oldest town in Finland, with stops en route at the towns of Lammi and Hämeenlinna

Some other things I learnt during this trip (which you might also like to know):

  • As well as having thousands of islands, there are 100’s if not also thousands of lakes in Finland as well (and the Finns take great advantage of these by having weekend lodges close by).
  • There are a huge number and variety of mushrooms and toadstools in the woods. (During one walk, I met a man and his wife foraging.  They had collected at least one big bucket load of one particular type).
  • The woods are not all conifers as I imagined they might be.  There appears to be an equal number of deciduous trees as well.
  • The people are extremely welcoming and friendly.
  • The Finnish language seems to specialise in very long words, which often include double A’s, E’s, I’s, K’s, M’s, N’s or U’s.  The longest word I encountered, which I don’t think is exceptional, was 25 letters long.
  • I don’t know the significance, but many (most?) street or track names end in ‘antie’, ‘entie’, ‘ontie’ or ‘untie’.
  • The peak summer holiday season is from mid-June to mid-August and, before and after that period, you may find some things are not running or closed.  (Though the ferries appear to run all year round – when it’s not completely iced over of course!)
  • In the depths of winter, when conditions allow, it’s possible to drive over the ice to some islands. (No doubt special tyres and a brave or trusting nature are required for this).
  • Last, but by no means least, the beer in Finland (and Stockholm) is pretty good.  They certainly know how to make a tasty IPA. 😊 Cheers! 🍻

Ferpècle valley walk (and glacier ‘hole’ update)

A few weeks ago, my friend Matt asked me what had happened to the hole in the Ferpècle glacier.  I told him that it had collapsed last year, but I hadn’t been up there recently to see what the latest was.  So off I went on Wednesday to provide this report…

Although my photo from last year is not really comparable, as it was taken from above, near the Bricola hut, it is clear the collapsed ‘end’ of the glacier no longer exists and the whole glacier must have receded somewhere between 20 and 50 metres.  (It’s hard to gauge when you are standing maybe 500 metres away).  Perhaps a better comparison can be made with these two  photos though they were taken 2 years ago.

I also came across what must be one of the smallest species of frog in the world.  The little creature in picture 14 was no bigger than my little finger nail.  How they survive through the winter, when this whole area is covered in snow and ice for several months, is a complete mystery to me.

WordPress ‘Next’ button issue on Photo Gallery

Hello all.  I’m advised by Judith that when you select a photo (usually the first one I guess) from any email that you may get due to my (and maybe other’s) posts, the ‘Next’ button (displayed above and to the right of the image) takes you to the last picture in the gallery.  The ‘Previous’ button will then take you backwards through the carousel of photos, (which is not ideal, given that I now always take care to publish them in sequence).

A quick search of Google reveals that this may be an issue reported to the WordPress developers (which clearly hasn’t been fixed yet).   So, to counteract this, I suggest either simply clicking on the image (as this seems to move to the next picture) or use the right arrow button on your keyboard.  (Strangely though the back arrow doesn’t seem to go backwards!)

Alternatively, if you click on the title of the post in your email, it will take you to my site, where everything (I think) works as you might expect.

(For a moment there I almost missed my days working in IT.  I’ll go for a lie down now and hope it passes!) 🙂

Happy Birthday Dad !

I’m very proud to announce that today is my dad’s 93rd birthday !  He’s a remarkable man with many stories to tell which, thankfully, he’s still able to recount to anyone who’s prepared to listen.  So I think he deserves a mention.

Born and raised in Isleworth to the south east of London (England), my dad left school early to join the Navy.  He travelled the world by boat, including Brazil, Australia and Malta, but it wasn’t until his early 80’s he got on a plane to visit us in Switzerland.

The secret of his longevity ?  Who knows ?  He survived a heart heart attack waaaay back in 1968 and, as a result, altered his diet (for a while anyway).  Nowadays he hardly ever drinks alcohol and loves nothing better than a corn beef sandwich for his lunch. 🙂

Happy birthday dad – hope you have a great day !



50th Montreux Jazz Festival

Last week, when I was back in the UK, an old friend of mine called Mick mentioned that he was coming over to Switzerland for the Montreux Jazz Festival.  He said he was staying in Vevey for the weekend, so I took the opportunity to go over and take him around some of the more interesting sights (to me anyway).

One of them was up the funicular railway to Mont Pèlerin, which is where Jude & I used to live.  The views of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) are simply stunning from up there. (Yes, it was hard to leave that apartment that we loved so much!)  Mick and I then took the trolley bus to the Chateau Chillon, which is one of the Top 10 ‘must see’ sites in Switzerland.  From there it was just a short stroll back along the lakeside to Montreux, where we watched a couple of shows in the open air (& free) ‘Music in the Park’ venue.

The Jazz festival is iconic, showcasing musical talent from all over the world (not necessarily jazz either) and this year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1st Blog-iversary

Today is my 1st Blog-iversary*, so I thought I shouldn’t let the day go by without a post… (*With thanks to 1 Nothing Please for this expression).

People often ask me what I do now that I’m retired and I think it fair to say (and my wife will bear me out on this one) that Blogging has helped to fill quite a lot of my time.  Fellow bloggers will also know that it’s not just a hobby, but a way of life (well, almost).  E.g. do you find yourself looking for different and interesting subjects to post, or composing the text in your head – maybe as you walk or run along, or just go about your daily business ?  I do.

The stats say that I have done 127 posts and have 55 blogging followers, so I thank you all for following and sticking with me !  I’ve noticed that some bloggers have 1,000’s of followers, but I like to think small is beautiful and that we’re an extended family. 🙂  Indeed I’ve got to know one or two of you quite well over the past 12 months.  (You know who you are !)  I’ve also been amazed at the amount of talent, in particular for art and photography, that there is out there.

Looking forward, (to keep you all interested – I hope), you can expect to see some more pictures of Lake Como, the English Lake District and Scotland as well as Gozo and Locarno later in the year.  (Yes, I bit the bullet and entered the Ascona-Locarno marathon in October).  In between times of course, there will be loads more photos of the Val d’Hérens and Switzerland in general.

It’s before 11am in the morning here now, but I’ll raise a glass later to all you bloggers.  Keep up the fabulous work.  Cheers!