“Lost in June” could have been another title – not that my skills are lacking when it comes to finding my way, but two separate weeks away in one month do rather dominate proceedings and it’s taken me till mid-July to re-emerge, ready for the next trip!
We were so fortunate to have a couple of weeks of glorious summer weather in June, the really hot type, and luckier still that we were able to spend the worst of the heat on “Aquarius”, a 36′ Bavaria yacht, sailing on Lake Constance with varying crews – initially some dear friends who introduced us to other new friends (who also spent a day aboard) plus my brother-in-law (including his cigarbox guitar!), and subsequently another family who have become dear friends in the process! Although the Whit weekend was obviously popular with anyone wanting to escape the heat, it was understandable – you’re either sailing or chugging along in the headwind or else taking a dip in what is still, essentially, an icy mountain lake. Most refreshing! Highlights: taking the boat out into the middle of the empty lake just to enjoy a glass of wine and the sunset and finding our way back in the dark because the harbour lights go off after 10 pm; taking the boat out into the middle of an almost empty morning lake to have breakast while bobbing around at anchor; “parking” in Constance harbour with direct access to the town centre and big exhibition on the 15th century Council of Constance; “parking” at the private jetty of a very nice inn; music on board! having enough wind to actually do some sailing, despite beautiful sunshine (the two often don’t go hand in hand); sailing by moonlight; being the only inhabited boat in Meersburg harbour after the big tourist boats have gone; even the stormy waters we had for an hour, at most, but which gave everyone a taste of what’s it’s like to sail the seas! Having said that, I don’t think there were any downsides on this trip – our friends, who had sailed with us twice last year, including the time it snowed (!) were just overjoyed to have great weather for a change. Our other friends’ daughters were naturally delighted to have a daily opportunity to swim and dive but also proud to be helmswomen and to learn how to tie knots – they very soon outdid us :). Following a short and rather hectic mixed interlude involving my brother-in-law’s birthday party, a stranded car and it’s subsequent retrieval, another summery lunch at the monastery of Ittingen, a business outing to Bad Ragaz sweetened by an outdoor lunch in the Bündner Herrschaft (the Jenins vineyards) as well as some quick laundry and repacking, I was back off to England on a very early morning flight to celebrate more birthdays, my mother’s but also my son-in-law’s – it’s all go in June in this family! Of course, it was only six weeks since our last brief visit for Granny’s birthday, but it seemed only fair that my mother should be feted, too. We did this with a trip out to Halfpenny Green Vineyards, which I must admit is the first time I have ever been to an English vineyard or drunk English wine – much acclaimed wine, too! It was hard to show proof of this because one vineyard does rather resemble another, but I tried… The food was very nice and well-presented, the shop had a fascinating array of gourmet goods, there is a simple café for those not wanting the whole restaurant experience and it was lovely to see lots of mums with small children let loose in the large garden with ice-creams and enjoying the opportunity for a gambol around the lawns between the vines. As there is a small crafts’ centre there, too, it’s practically a day out. Oh, and what about this?! I think the birthday girl would have fancied a ride on that :) But we had to get home to the birthday cake… The following day, it was time for a trip down memory lane. My Granny was born and brought up in Sheffield and it is nearly 20 years since she last visited her place of birth. I last went there as a young teenager, which is even longer ago, and of course it doesn’t hold memories for me as it does for her or my mother. Granny’s memory is excellent and we have heard many, many stories about her childhood and the close family bond with aunts and grandparents living very near and so on. Always a lover of plants and with very green fingers, she remembers planting three little tree seedlings in the back yard of her home as a young girl… so was delighted that there are still trees in the small space between the houses after 90 or more years! Of couse, she was also thrilled to pose victoriously in front of the house she was born in (the upper window!), still going strong as the eldest daughter of a large family, now sadly depleted. Of course, it was also very nice to see the last of the older generation still living in the area (and meet some of the younger!) and we were able to all have lunch together. Some of us still have not recovered from the size of the cakes on display! I kid you not, that carrot cake was 12″ high :O Everything here was enormous and we’d never seen anything quite like it! It seems there is a cake tradition in Sheffield – Granny has been a master cake-maker and decorator for over 80 years and now this…Sorry, a little distraction!I felt very lucky to be able to treat Granny to this day out, which she appears to have enjoyed very much and I’m glad to say it didn’t wear her out entirely! As my mother used to spend some of her holidays at her granny’s house, too, it was a nostalgic trip for her as well and what with the follow-up of watching the Tour de France around Yorkshire, I think it’s all thumbs-up for that region at the moment :).
My plane deposited me back in Switzerland just in time for my husband’s birthday (yes, another one, birthday, not husband!), more delicious meals out, a descent into some decidedly cool, wet weather and another family party – “grandchildren defeat auntie” might make a good headline (though having just attended a very very muddy Open Air Frauenfeld festival, camping for 3 days, our daughter might be glad this was all she had to contend with in preparation!).and to top it all off, that young man’s 6th birthday is this week, ending our spate of summer birthdays!! Phew.