You could never accuse the Swiss of not knowing how to throw a good party. Today was the last Sunday of the annual winter Carnival in the village, which starts every year on 6th January. (So that’s at least 7 weeks of celebration!) Today, the programme promised music and a procession of the main characters, namely the Peluches (who wear masks and sheepskins) and the Empaillés (who also wear masks and a rather large sacking ‘suit’ stuffed with straw). In addition several people attend wearing fancy dress and there’s a huge amount of confetti, either thrown, usually by the children, or cannoned out from the top of a bus… (See pic 18).
Elton, the snowman that my brother and his 2 sons built on 28th December, is still ‘standing’. As you can see in the photos below, he’s a shadow of his former 6ft self (being only about 2 ft ‘tall’ now) and remains, defying gravity, bending over, almost impossibly, backwards.
Also, you may recall from my post on 27th January, that his head had melted away, but, remarkably, a new one seems to have appeared. It’s held on by the slenderest of threads to the body but is supported by a short column of ice. He’s now 47 days old, so if he’s still there on Saturday, I think we should celebrate. 😊
I know a lot of you will have been having sleepless nights worrying about “Elton”, the snowman which my brother and his 2 sons built on the 27th December. You may recall that he was ‘still standing’ (horizontally) a few weeks ago. Well, worry ye not, as it’s definitely a survivor – even without a head, which gradually melted away. It’s still managing to defy the forces of gravity. I’m sure my brother and his 2 sons will be pleased. 👍👍😊
A few years ago now, Jude and I had promised ourselves that one day we would go skiing in Bettmeralp, or rather the AletschArena, as the lift system also links in with the Riederalp and Fiescheralp ski areas. So, with some free time last week and the weather set fair, we did just that.
After several weeks of sunshine, we were pleasantly surprised at the depth and quality of the snow and the huge width of some of the ski pistes. We were also very taken by a very picturesque Victorian style building, which turned out to be called Villa Cassel. (See pic 6).
Further research revealed that it was built for the German-English banker, Sir Ernest Cassell, who used it as a summer residence until the First World War. Cassell had an interesting life. He was born in Cologne and, at the age of 17, arrived penniless in the UK. However, he went on to become one of the richest men in Britain and was a good friend of King Edward VII, Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and Winston Churchill. He bred race horses and had a famous art collection.
The Villa itself could only be reached on foot or by mule. But, when the inhabitants of the town said they were going to make a better road to his property, he answered: “If you do, I’m not coming here anymore.”
After the War, the Villa was used as a hotel, but was sold in 1970 and is now run as a nature conservation centre by Pro Natura, the oldest environmental organisation in Switzerland, who take care of about 700 nature reserves of various sizes throughout Switzerland. I’m sure Ernest would have approved.
After the excesses of the festive season (i.e. too much 🍰&🍺) I was keen to get out for some much needed exercise. Many of my usual walking routes are knee deep in snow, but I thought the track up to Lac d’Arbey and then across and down to Les Haudères would be well trampled down by now. And, apart from one or two ‘softer’ patches, so it proved…
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:
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?
While the upper part of the Val d’Hérens is covered in snow, the lower part of the valley is completely clear. So, with the sun shining brightly, I decided to take my camera for a walk down the path from Euseigne to Sion. Although it’s a walk I’ve done and posted before, I was certain I’d find something new or unusual to photograph and I wasn’t disappointed.
The early morning frost made for some interesting images and one of the wooden bridges had been dislodged due to a landslide last year, making it unusable. However, I have no idea why there was a sweeping brush propped up next to the small shrine. (See pic 24).
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. 😊
Firstly let me wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year.
My brother, Steve, has been visiting us this past week with his wife, Beverley, and their two sons, Gabriel and Sebastien. Last Friday didn’t get off to a good start with snow falling all morning, but it did mean the boys could get to build a rather large (6ft/2m tall) snowman in the afternoon. I say ‘boys’, but as you can see from the first few pictures, it was mainly Steve who built it, while Seb and Gabe did what brothers do – throw snowballs at each other.
From then on though it has been blue skies all the way and we’ve been out walking, cross-country skiing and downhill skiing.
With the sun shining brightly, as each day went by, the snowman started to tilt more and more. Picture 29 below was taken on new year’s day (looking a bit how I felt!) and, even today, it’s still defying gravity by leaning at around 45 degrees.
I mentioned earlier in the week that the weather was set to improve and for the past 3 days we’ve had glorious sunshine. The mountains are looking wonderful with their white tops against the blue skies so, in an attempt to capture as many as possible for you, today I went for a walk along the Thyon Ridge. At least this time I remembered to take my showshoes. 😊
The Thyon ski resort isn’t fully open yet, but most of the pistes have been prepared. There were also quite a lot of people ski touring up to Mont Carré (@2,468m or 8,097ft).