Month: May 2017

#26Cantons52Weeks Thurgau

Canton: Thurgau

Destination: Kartause Ittingen and the Hüttwilersee

Special guests: Fran & family from Little Zurich Kitchen

Interesting thing: Thurgau is famous for growing lots of apples. At the canton’s annual beauty contest for women, the winner is crowned the Apfelkönigin (apple queen).

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I was so pleased to be invited by my mate Fran from Little Zurich Kitchen to visit Thurgau together on the Auffahrt (Ascension Day) holiday Thursday. We went with both our families, had great weather and a lovely day out.

Thurgau is largely an agricultural canton in the north-east of Switzerland, named for the local Thur River. The capital is Frauenfeld, where Fran grew up, so it was great to have a local guide to some of this canton’s hidden gems. As well as telling me about the Apfelkönigin, Fran offered a few more interesting facts about the area – 1. Thurgau is also called ‘Mostindien’ (apple juice India) by [Swiss] outsiders, because it is famous for growing lots of apples, although, she warns: “it’s not a charming name.” We tried some of the local Sussmost (apple juice) and it was delicious!

2. The Zuckerfabrik Frauenfeld is one of two Swiss sugar factories. Fran says that, growing up, she loved the smell when the factory went into production each autumn but most visitors despise it! Read more from Fran about Life in Swiss Sugar Town.

3. Fran says, “the local Thurgau dialect is very high-pitched and most Swiss don’t like the sound of it!” We found the Thurgauers we came across to be quite lovely though 🙂

We started our day at Kartaus Ittingen, which is an old monastery that’s become a hotel / convention centre. Its large grounds and pretty gardens contain a brewery, trout farm, vineyards, dairy, greenhouses with veg, herbs, flowers etc. There’s also a restaurant, a theatre, a museum and art space and you can buy a bunch of local produce from the on-site shop. It’s a popular place for weddings and corporate events and you can stay in the old monk’s houses, which looked very pleasant! They also had a few art installations, including the cool The Loop. We had a wander around the grounds, explored the old labyrinth, then jumped back in the cars to head to the Hüttwilersee for lunch and a swim.

This small lake was idyllic and far less crowded than some of the Zurich area lakes would be on such a day (not that it usually feels that busy anywhere in Switzerland). What a pretty spot! The photos speak for themselves. The kids had a lovely time splashing about near the edge and I swam out to the pontoon and back. The water temp was a very decent 22 and when the sun was out it was definitely swimming weather.

Feels like summer has arrived!

 

Mountain goats

the universe is a sly genie

granting your heart’s desire

unexpectedly

be careful

what you wish for because

the woman who prayed

for a release from exercise

lost the use of both ankles

while she

who despised uncertainty

was forced to choose change

as definite

finding out too late

there’s a sort of peace

in fate unknown

and before you know

that leap is made

like an

ungraceful newborn

a colt, a mustang, a mountain goat

with shuddering legs

sprays matter from the birth canal

over disgruntled onlookers

as she

scrambles up the other side

of life

triumphant

or, if not, well, anyway

the crevasse is too wide and

you see

we

smash the stones of our past lives into oblivion

on the way, so

you can’t

go back now

don’t even try

 

Photo: https://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/720/cpsprodpb/EE3A/production/_87068906_thinkstockphotos-473747066.jpg

FICTION: Nice Ride by Claire Doble

Having only just discovered the re-blog – here’s another one of my stories that was published about a month ago I forgot to mention! oops… enjoy!

We weren’t supposed to end up in the bath. It was one of those intense blue afternoons where it’s almost too hot in the sunshine but disconcertingly dark and shivery when you step indoors. The kind of afternoon you get in Melbourne in early spring. But this was Sydney, autumn. I was sitting out on my balcony, eyes closed as I soaked up the brightness when he stopped by. I had other things to do. But he was far more appealing.

Joel was a taxi driver so I always half-expected him to visit anyway. He’d knock on my door to use the toilet when he was passing by and had a spare fifteen minutes. Toilet breaks are the bane of a taxi driver’s existence. I’d learnt to listen out for the engine’s wide hum as he pulled the cab onto the concrete slab in front of my block of flats.

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Ruby – by Claire Doble

Another one of my stories has been published! Please chuck it some love 🙂

SICK LIT MAGAZINE

“This is the place”

“Yes, I remember.”

Her seventy-nine-year-old eyes were large and ripply behind her thick spectacles. Her face a mass of ridges topped by a puff of grey-white hair.

We walked up the familiar lane – barely wide enough for two cars to pass on the metalled road in the centre, and streaked by tyre-tracks of dirt in a wide pattern from countless passing tractors. Or maybe one tractor passing countless times. It was damp, as it usually is in North East Scotland, but it hadn’t rained properly for a while. I looked at the fuzz of sticks and straw and bits of grass embedded in the lines of light-brown dirt from the tractor tyres and sighed. Somehow the messiness of it annoyed me.

The laneway was familiar to me, as was the approaching garden gate. I’d visited here several times on my various trips to Scotland. But…

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Aargau #26CANTONS52WEEKS

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Canton: Aargau

Destination: Ebianum Baggermuseum (museum of diggers), Fisibach

Interesting thing: I found the museum commentary pretty interesting!

 

My 26Cantons52Weeks challenge has been on a bit of a hiatus. April’s poetry month, combined with our London trip and my writing course has not left much spare time. However, I’m back with two more cantons to write up, which will mean I’ve done eight so far (not counting Zurich yet, that’s my ace up the sleeve!) with 18 to go. We’re nearly at midyear but summer is a great time for tourism for non-skiers like myself so I’m still confident I can visit all 26 Swiss cantons in 2017.

So to Fisibach and the Ebianum Baggermuseum (museum of diggers)! It was a rainy Sunday and Himself had to work, so I decided to drive the kids to this hidden gem of a museum (Himself had taken them previously and assured me it was good for a few hours’ entertainment). It was an easy half-hour drive from our place in Zurich with the sat nav. I’m still new enough to driving here that I feel proud of making it to new places on my own in the car!

The museum is basically a huge, airport-hangar/barn of a room which displays the decommissioned digger vehicles, cranes, tractors and bulldozers used by local-family business Eberhard over the years. Eberhard is a construction and civil engineering business, but more about that later. There’s loads of construction vehicles on display, from Eberhard’s first steam-powered tractor to more modern machines. You can also climb on and into a lot of the diggers, which the kids enjoyed. Perhaps the best bit (for us) was at the end, where there’s a large indoor sandpit full of kid-size construction vehicles, as well as about 20 ride-on bobbycars, tractors and balance bikes. The kids played here for about two hours. On a rainy Sunday, I’d say about 90% of the museum visitors were families with 0-7 age boys. I saw a few girls too and I know I would have enjoyed playing here with my brothers as a child.

Your CHF15 entry (free for kids under 7) also gives you an audio tour of the museum, which I requested in English, and was delighted to find the commentary done by members of the Eberhard family (even in the English version!). I’ll outline the story, apologies for any gaps, I had to keep one ear on the kids!

Eberhard was started by two brothers in the 1950s after they got their first big break — winning contracts to help build Zurich’s Kloten Airport in the 1940s. After that they mostly went from strength to strength, winning both Swiss and international building contracts, including a substantial amount of work in the MiddleEast. I loved the mix of personal anecdotes and hard facts in the commentary. The commentators were from the 2nd generation of the Eberhard family, so they really know their stuff. Their grandmother, who had 10 children, was also the bookkeeper for the business (can you imagine?!) so, in typical Swiss fashion, they also had exact figures for things, such as how much they paid for various machines over the years and things like – “when we got back from the Middle East, our local bank informed us we were due to foreclose, luckily we secured a loan for 1 million Swiss francs, so we could continue our business…”

Since I’m learning a bit about memoir writing at the moment, I found these personal details and family history bits of the story really fascinating and nicely done.

There’s also a spacious café are with an OK range of food (picknick is verboten, but we had brought sandwiches so ate them alongside some food we purchased).

A really fun day-trip to Aargau!