I’m determined to get up-to-date with this blog, even if it takes a good, long post, but today is the last day of June and of the first half of the year (and a mad one, at that!), so here goes…
The end of March brought our sunshine’s first birthday, which thrilled him no end! Now a busy toddler, he is as keen on bicycles as his elder brother was on tractors at the same age! His other grandad is a mechanic for two-wheelers, so perhaps this is genetic 🙂
Easter came and went – this year’s bunny set-up… A day’s wander around the pretty lakeside town of Zug and some digging around on the internet showed that the old town has changed little – although a whole street was lost in the 19th century, when it fell into the lake 😮 This is part of the old city walls, and some of the towers are still standing, too – Believe it or not (most foreigners wouldn’t lol!), this is the police station in Zug!
I finished with a spot of knitting down at the lake, on a dull but fairly warm spring day Just off to the right of this picture there is a small birdpark with a few exotic specimens, including a kookaburra (for my Australian readers!) and various other beautiful birds – a few gorgeous cranes that look as if they had flown directly out of a Chinese or Japanese silk embroidery or painting, so dainty and delicate.
I enjoyed some stained glass during a weekend in Lugano, firstly at the Hotel Villa Castagnola
and also at the beautiful Grand Café Al Porto
They remind me of the stained glass in my Granny’s 1930s house, which I have also always loved – this is a craft I would love to try out!
There was yet another lovely sundown over the city, too
Last year’s efforts in the garden began to become apparent once spring set in! Even our garden orchids bloomed, thanks to a late, cool spring where the snails and slugs preferred to wait for warmer temperatures.
There was a very brief but perfect visit to Brittany in April, the shortness tempered
by a few extra days in Normandy, seeing how aluminium boats are built and trying out yachts!
For me, the absolute highlight was stopping off at Bayeux on the way home, to see the famous tapestry, an ambition of mine for many, many years – it’s fabulous! You aren’t allowed to photograph it, for fear of damage.You get such a feel of the movement and the atmosphere of the time – not bad for a 1000 year old tapestry in naïve style! I was recently pleased and surprised at the long attention span my 7-year old grandson showed as he listened to and looked at the story of Harold and William, fascinated by the brave knights, as vivid in his imagination, no doubt, as to generations of children before him!
Our trip to England to celebrate my granny’s 100th birthday did not quite go to plan – the best laid plans of mice and men… My mother’s report of the events is probably the easiest way to catch up on that 😮
We had one day out in the midst of this – a gorgeous, warm, sunny day to take a walk in Himley Park in Dudley followed by a canal walk at Bratch Locks, just outside Wombourne, on the Staffordshire-Worcestershire Canal. The Locks were built in the late 1700s and it’s always fascinating to watch the narrowboats (6’8″-7′, no more!) go through. Hungry by this time, we headed out to Wightwick Manor, which I wrote about way back in November 2012 (https://thelittlewashhouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/local-interest/) for a bite to eat in their charming stable café and a wander around the house and gardens in finer weather – always a beautiful and fascinating place. The last time I was there I bought two lovely warm recycled wool blankets that have been extremely useful as well as attractive; this time I chose fabric napkins with a view to cutting down on the paper kind – and of course, it had to be a William Morris design! When I got them home, I laughed to realise my very good friend had given me potholders in the same design and colourway just a couple of years ago – she obviously knows me well 🙂 It’s good to have things that make you smile!
Going to England for Granny’s May birthday has always included looking for a bluebell wood, and we found one right in the middle of the local town park – gorgeous! By this time, it was mid-May and time for a “real” holiday! I know that sounds ridiculous after all the trips we’ve had this year, but they have mostly been extended weekends or a few days snatched here and there and work being done all the time, so the two weeks we spent on Lake Constance were a “proper” holiday, no laptops allowed. We had lots of visitors aboard, not all at the same time, but it was a fun way to spend our days, with many rewards (not to mention what seemed like a thousand beautiful sunsets, even on the rainy days!). Our anniversary roses travelled with us, safely stowed in the bottle-safe when we were under sail, fetched out in each harbour 🙂 Lake Constance is 65 km or so long, with the River Rhine flowing through it, which means it is no hardship to spend a couple of weeks sailing around it, year on year. This year we moored in two small harbours we’d never been to before, and we’ve been doing this for 15 years, now! Don’t be misled by the calm waters on the pictures – we also spent a day sailing in very rough weather with heavy rain, high stormy winds and waves that were easily 2 metres high, taking a wet but fast 4 hours to cross from Friedrichshafen to Konstanz…
The garden is at its very best in late spring – but so are some other local gardens, this one at Schloss Herdern up on the hill between us and the lake, overlooking the River Thur valley. But I’m not even done, yet – are you even still with me, here?! 😮
Off we went to Sardinia, invited on yet another trip to try out some very slick yachts! From a rainy Zurich, we were flown to the Costa Smeralda and Porto Rotondo, for sunshine, beaches and wonderful seafood – as well as the yachts 🙂 Two days of regatta (i.e. quite a hectic time, and thanks to Lupo for allowing us to take part on his yacht!) was followed by a more leisurely outing on the fanciest yacht I’ve been on yet.. fantastic. The Med was kind to us and once I’m done with exploring the north, I may well come round to the idea of spending more time in a warmer climate lol! As if we hadn’t spent enough time messing about in boats (Ratty was right!), we had a very late start to the home season with our own little 15 SNS yacht… and promptly sailed into a storm. Still, by the time we got to our home mooring, everything had dried out again and now we’re all set for the summer 🙂 There is a terrific amount of water in the lake this year – normally we have to go down 3 or 4 steps to get onto the jetty! Final stop of the first half of 2016 was Oslo – fulfilling a lifelong ambition of mine to get to Scandinavia but also a birthday trip for my husband; another long weekend, coincidentally (not!) at midsummer. Suffice to say I loved it and if anything ever goes wrong in Switzerland, I would happily move to Norway (well, you never know, do you?!)… That last is the view over Oslo and the Oslofjord from the Voksenåsen, a hotel and conference centre that is reached by underground train as it’s within the city limits!!! It was deserted when we arrived, in preparation for a wedding, but a shout out to them for nevertheless greeting us warmly, allowing us to sit and enjoy the view and even rustling up delicious sandwiches for us and not hassling us to leave before the wedding party arrived – much appreciated!! I could have stayed up there forever. Easily.
And: the Norwegians have really pretty money!! 🙂