Saturday 9 July 2011

Swiss Family Holiday

The boys in Switzerland
When our sons were young we holidayed in the mountains at least once every year.  We visited many European countries, Canada, USA, and of course here in the UK. Sons and H would wear corduroy knee trousers, and a nice pair of red wool socks in their walking boots.  We would set off from the hotel in the mornings with our rucksack packed with bread and cheese, chocolate, fruit and a drink.  Other items we always carried were binoculars, wildflower/butterfly books, and the boys had their walking sticks covered in medallions purchased from the various mountain huts and villages visited over the years.
A very essential item was youngest son’s Action-man doll, which travelled to the peaks of many of Europe’s highest mountains.  Youngest son could climb like a mountain goat getting far ahead of the rest of us.  I always straggled along at the rear.  When he made a good margin of distance from us, he would set up Action-man on a boulder, or rock and strategically position him in a suitable pose with gun in hand or grenade ready to be thrown.
One of the hotels we stayed in has special memories.  It was a very old wooden chalet in Les Marėcottes, Switzerland.  We flew to Geneva and then caught the train that goes past Lausanne.  At the station in Martigny we alighted, and crossed the line to catch a little cog railway train that ran up through the mountains to Chamonix, stopping on the way in Les Marėcottes, our destination.  The hotel was a very special place, and had a fresh milky smell about it.   Our bedrooms also had a distinct scent of the countryside which we discovered to be caused by the mattresses.  The bedding was brilliant white and crisp, but on getting into the bed, it was really spongy and soft.  On inspection we discovered that the mattresses were made of newly mown and dried alpine grass, strewn with wild flowers.  The smell was delicious.
Each week in the hotel, one evening was allocated to a Fondue Night.  Our first week was a cheese fondue and the second meat.  The boys and ourselves loved it, we had never tried a fondue before.  Of course, the outcome was that we came home armed with our own Swiss Fondue set, which has remained in the cupboard and has been very infrequently used.
The other thing I remember were the lovely little gardens in the village, and the rich black soil.  Something we saw growing that was completely new to us was Swiss Chard.   In the late 1970s the variety of vegetables available in the stores back home was not like the array today.   The chard looked  wonderful growing out of the soil with its white, yellow and ruby stems topped with shiny, curly,  leaves.
Swiss Chard


  1. Congratulations on your first posting! Your account of the vacation in Switzerland makes me want to visit my grandparents' homeland. I'd love to have fondu in a chalet and sleep on one of those sweet mattresses.

  2. Firstly, may I be permitted a small "Hurrah!" that you have entered the blogosphere? And what a wonderful way to start. The very thought of Action man scaling the heights along with the rest of you; of those heavenly mattresses; and of the culinary discoveries you made along the way; they just make me want to jump on the next plane! Thank you!

  3. Thank you Mark for christening this blog with your comment! You really must visit Switzerland - you would love it.

  4. Kate, I finally made it into the blog world!!! But with quite a lot of assistance from my son - hope I will be able to manage once he returns to Norway. Thank you for your lovely comments :-)

  5. This sounds like a fairy tale. So adorable n full of presence. Welcome traveler.

  6. Hello Rosemary:
    What a delightful step back in time to a Switzerland of the 1970s complete with fondue - we remember much the same first time experience in Germany.

    Your comment about the vegetables [and fruit] was of interest in as much as even today here in Hungary there is only available what is in season - something we rather like after the UK where all things may be had all the year through.

    Thank you so much for becoming a Follower of our blog; we are more than happy to return the compliment and will look forward to your future posts.

  7. Thank you for visiting 'friendtoyourself'. It is good to reflect on happy past events.

  8. Hello Jane and Lance - I am pleased to greet you not as "anonymous Rosemary" anymore.

    You are correct about eating fruit and vegetables in season, they are fresher, tastier and more succulent.

  9. Hello Rosemary:
    We had certainly wondered if there was a connection!

    Do not worry about 'Followers' disappearing. There is a perennial problem with Blogger but they will return of their own volition! Just very frustrating.

  10. Thank you very much Jane & Lance - all tips are very welcome.

  11. I have read several of your newer posts and decided to read them all. Very enjoyable and informative blog


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