Author: D-Claire

Eyeball

 

my eyeball is scratched or

there’s a filament of lint on it

and I lie here and wonder if

I’ll go blind

a bit melodramatic

more like think if

I’ll still feel it in the morning, if not

will I remember

the ghost of lint past?

contact lenses

I look better but I don’t see better

And my big toe hurts

at the side where

the nail’s cut too short

maybe it’s infected

or my sheet is tucked too tight

maybe it’s cancer

we don’t talk anymore

in bed because

you’re not here

and

there’s a sort of pride in holding all one’s own problems

inside one’s own head but

oh well

good night.

 

Photo: https://unsplash.com/@alia_wilhelm

 

 

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#26Cantons52Weeks: Lucerne / Luzern

Canton: Lucerne / Luzern

Destination: Lucerne / Luzern

Special guest: Wendy Noller from Hey Mamalaide!

Interesting thing: Lucerne is Switzerland’s 7th largest city and Lake Lucerne gets the highest number of boat passengers per year (2.46 million) out of all the lakes in the country including Lake Geneva*.

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I guess I’ve been to Lucerne about a dozen times already in the past four years. That’s many visits to the brilliant Verkehrshaus Swiss Transport Museum and includes passing through several times this year even (it’s a gateway city to a lot of mountains, eg: Stans in Nidwalden). It’s also where I did a very cool nuclear bunker tour of the Sonnenberg tunnel around this time last year, which I thought I’d written about but looks like not. Damn! That was fascinating, must tell you about it sometime.

Another cool thing about the trip to Lucerne via train is you get the familienwagen (family carriage) – for those who don’t know – it’s a playground on the train. The first time we encountered this we really thought we’d stepped into some alternate-reality amazing-world of family friendly public transport. Nowadays, I’m still impressed, although it was a relief to be travelling sans kinder and avoid the squeals and kiddy-fug that’s the inevitable downside of the familienwagen.

As well as venturing out alone, my Luzern trip was my first nighttime canton visit of the series. Alone! At night! Doesn’t happen very often these days.

I went to hang with friend and fellow blogger Wendy from Hey Mamalaide. Luzern was looking very festive and Christmassy and we had planned to go ice skating… But since we’re both Aussies and therefore not particularly competent at cold-weather sportings (that’s our story anyway!) we decided to stick with what we do best: drinking, eating and a good old chinwag.

Before we met up, I did take a short detour to the Weihnachsthotel to take a look (thanks again Tamara, part-time working hockey mum for the tip!). It was lit up like, well, Christmas, and looking pretty fab on a dark and frosty evening. I may have had a moment’s pang that I didn’t book us a table in the Rigi Hütte fondue restaurant there for dinner. No matter.

Wendy took me to Karel Korner, pretty much the perfect Wednesday night cocktail bar. Then we ate dinner at Jeff’s, which I can confidently say is the best (only) burger I’ve ever eaten in Luzern. (I’ve heard Jeff’s sister, Jill’s also does good burger). Caught the last train home and job done. And that’s my Lucerne post completed without one single mention of Kapellbrücke! Oh.

Four cantons and three weeks to go! : ) I will try to post another poem soon… have been writing but not publishing.

*Source: Swiss tourism in figures 2015

#26Cantons52Weeks: Uri

Rutli Meadow in the snow – it’s the white patch down there. Photo: Iain Scott

Canton: Uri

Destination: Altdorf and Rütli Meadow – ‘the birthplace of Switzerland’

Interesting thing: Uri’s symbol is the bull and apparently the name derives from an old Germanic word for bull, ûr. (That’s way more fun than the other possible explanation that it comes from the Latin ora or uer –  ‘edge of the water’)

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The cantons keep surprising me. Uri is another smallish central-Switzerland canton on the shores of Lake Lucern (or the Vierwaldstättersee) like Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz and Luzern itself. I guess I thought it would be a bit same-old, same-old. And yet, Uri felt quite different. Maybe it was due to the snow.

We headed to the canton capital Altdorf – a small town covering roughly 10 square kilometres with a population of about 10,000. Expansion would be tricky because the mountains are literally right behind the town, which gave it a rather dramatic feel. And with the season’s first dusting of snow, and Christmas lights coming on, it looked very pretty.

Uri canton has several claims to fame. First off, Swiss dude of legend and overtures, William Tell, was said to be from Uri and Altdorf is where he shot the arrow through the apple on his son’s head, then killed the baddie, Gessler. There’s a William Tell museum, monument and the Tellskappel (Tell chapel) nearby but the museum is closed for winter. So we made do with having our lunch next to the rather impressive William Tell fountain/monument.

Uri is also where you’ll find the Rütliwiese or Rütli meadow, the ‘birthplace of Switzerland’. This is a flat bit of land by the lakeshore where the founding oath of Switzerland was signed back in 1291 between three cantons – Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden (since split into Nidwalden and Obwalden). Every year in midsummer on Switzerland’s national day, 1 August, there are celebrations and fireworks here. It’s also now the beginning of a 35km walking track called the Path of Switzerland, which takes you on a pleasant hike around Lake Uri via representations of the various cantons – and it would be a lovely thing to do on a warm sunny day. Of course, we visited mid-winter with 15-odd centimetres of snow on the ground.

Full disclosure: we did not actually set foot on the meadow itself. You can catch a boat there from Brunnen or Flüelen. But because it’s winter, there’s only two boats per day and we didn’t really fancy being out on the water in the cold! So we drove through a 9km mountain tunnel to Seelisberg and pulled up at a random spot beside the road to see what we could see in the snow.

Even the sign pointing out local attractions was iced over, luckily a passing local informed us we were in fact on “Rütliblick” (Rütli look-out) and indicated the various sights for us – Altdorf across the water, Schwyz down at the end of the lake and, right below us: the snow-covered Rütliwiese. With an hour’s steep walk down to the meadow, we decided we were content just having seen it. A Swiss friend remarked: “You’re the first person I know who’s been at Rütli in winter!”

Uri’s other famous claim is it’s where the Gotthard tunnel begins (or ends). The world’s longest train tunnel opened a year ago and we went through it in January for our Ticino visit.

So that’s a bunch of Swiss history – both ancient and modern – ticked off my list in one small, snow-covered canton!

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

#26Cantons52Weeks: Zug

Canton: Zug

Destination: Zug (cantonal capital)

Guests: immediate family minus one due to school!

Interesting thing: We caught the Zug (train) to Zug. But Wikipedia tells me the name comes from a fishing term, where in the middle ages, Zug referred to the right to pull up fishing nets and hence to the right to fish.

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I met a guy from Zug at a Scandinavian Midsommar party in Zurich (just to confuse the Switzerland/Sweden thing even further). This has little to do with my story, except that it amused me at the time to meet someone who was born in Zug, one of Switzerland’s smallest, richest and lowest-taxed cantons. It seemed a bit like meeting someone born in London – ie: a rarity – when most residents move there because reasons.

Anyway, we had a little jaunt to Zug today, it’s less than an hour by train from Zurich. And it couldn’t have felt less like mid-summer. In fact, I think it’s the first day I’ve seen snowfall this winter! Brr.

I was unexpectedly charmed by Zug’s altstadt (old town). Although it’s fairly similar to other well-preserved old towns around Switzerland such as Solothurn, Fribourg and even Zurich itself, with lots of cool old buildings, carved wood and moulded stone, gothicky images and script and lots of fountains featuring knights and jester-types, Zug has its own unique charm. Not least because Lake Zug is very pretty, especially today, with a light dusting of snow on the slopes of the mountains across the water.

We had a stroll, or should I say, a brisk, chilly walk by the lake and visited the local aviary. Said g’day to a couple of Kookaburras looking rather miserable! Some snowy owls were more in their element. But I was mainly lakeside to check out the Roman Signer “Seesicht” sculpture, which takes you down below the waterline. I found it underwhelming and a little public-toiletesque. It looks much better in the Zug tourist site pictures. Oh well.

With snow zinging through the Zug air, it was time for lunch. I had a few hot tips on spots to eat from fellow blogger and local resident, Tamara, the part-time working hockey mom (thankyou!) and we couldn’t resist buying a couple of the indulgent, adults-only Zugerli chocs for afters. Yum.

I have read that the lake is also positioned to provide spectacular sunsets but weather conditions were not conducive and we couldn’t hang around… I’ll simply have to return to Zug in mid-summer for that!

 

Do I look cold?

 

PS: Thanks to the encouragement of various people and my own sheer pig-headedness, I now think I will manage to achieve my goal of visiting every Swiss canton this year. Woo! 

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

Pack up your bushel in your old kit bag: Spoken word

 

I think the problems

are the bad things ?

I think the strengths weak

oh, cut the strings

 

Talk, talk, talk, talk

feels like a beginning

but it’s banter, chatter, nothing-muchof

saying ‘I am’ is not winning

 

It’s all fused like

a mangled globe of light

don’t hide it under a bushel, love!

but what if/ the bad things/ the bad thoughts/ the bad strengths/ the bad weaks/ the bad weeks/ the bad strings

are right?

 

 

Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/recording-125

Photo: https://unsplash.com/@pieschwarzler

26Cantons52Weeks: Basel-Landschaft

Canton: Basel-Landschaft

Destination: World of Dinosaurs, Birsfelden

Special guests: two very excited little boys

Interesting thing: We never knew the Rhine river had locks, but we got a chance to see two large, industrial river barges using them. Rather different to London’s cozy canals!

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The year is slipping away from me and it feels like the winter cold and dark has really kicked in now. I’m trying to make it to all the cantons but I might have to pull a few swifties and re-link to old posts or even invite some guest bloggers in to help me out if I’m going to make my deadline. But you don’t care about that, do you? Here be dinosaurs!

It’s nice when a plan comes together. Basel-Landschaft seems a rather like the poor cousin of the vibrant city of Basel-Stadt (they were once one canton but separated as the result of a scuffle in 1833 and now each rates as a half-canton in Swiss politics). And yeah, from my thorough research (Google and Wikipedia) as far as I can see, Baselland is mostly comprised of the rural area around Switzerland’s 3rd largest city. I am keen to visit the Roman ruins at the outdoor museum Augusta Raurica but that’s more suited to summertime. So I was pleased to find out about this dinosaur exhibition located on a small island on the BASELLAND side of the Rhine!

Truth be told, World of Dinosaurs was looking a little sad and dishevelled on Sunday. It has been cold and damp and, while there’s snow on the higher ground, there was none here. It’s that time of year when most of the autumn leaves have fallen but none of the snowy winter or Christmas magic has quite kicked in.

No matter. Two small boys were very excited as we approached and the subzero wind lifted the netting on the netting to show a hint of Mammoth tusk and thunder-lizard tail as we circumnavigated the exterior of Dino Corral. Inside, we were one of maybe four families there? The café was closed and the ground was muddy. But it was a pretty cool display and when the sun came out, we got some nice snaps. Points too for the so-bad-it’s-good dino-scooters ride complete with onboard Schlager soundtrack.

Although he was a bit wary of them at first, right before we left, my six year-old gave the three animatronic dinosaurs the ratings of two thumbs up, two thumbs up and ten out of ten. Success.

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

#26Cantons52Weeks: Bern

 

Springtime in Wilderswil

Canton: Bern

Destination: Wilderswil

Special guests: An informal writing group on retreat

Interesting thing: In Bern you’ll find Jungfraujoch, which is the highest railway station in Europe (3,454 m above sea level)

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It’s the one you’ve been waiting for! I promised to write up Bern months ago but, I’ll be honest, I was waiting for a better offer… I had hoped to take a trip here with my parents, possibly to Mürren (best place in the country, according to Swiss Family Sabbatical). Alas it never happened, although we did manage to visit Basel-Stadt, Schwyz, Obwalden and Schaffhausen so I shouldn’t complain!

I’ll also be in Bern in a few weeks for my annual ‘lonely freelancer Xmas drinks’ but time marches on and I’m going to try to honour my commitment to myself by finishing #26Cantons52Weeks in, well, 52 weeks. So… to Bern.

As a canton, Bern has a lot to offer. It kind of seems like it should qualify as two cantons: Bern the city – capital of Switzerland with a UNESCO listed old town centre – and the Bernese Oberland, which encompasses the Bernese Alps and contains more than its fair share of stunning spots such as the Oschinenesee, Reichenbach falls (of Sherlock Holmes fame), gorgeous towns such as the above-mentioned Mürren and the Big Three mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Back in April, I attended an informal writer’s retreat weekend organised by my friend and fellow blogger Tara Grioud, where I wrote poetry (for poetry month) and fiction with a can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real backdrop of the mountains out my window at the Hotel Berghof. I’m thinking a lot about writing at the moment (well, perhaps I always am) because I’m trying to work out my gameplan for next year: get back to the novel? Pitch more stuff? Try to find a job? Stubbornly attempt to finish the #26Cantons project even if I don’t make it by December 31? Er… yes.

Anyway, what more can I say that you don’t already know about Bern… the towns are pretty, the views are incred. The writing went as it did. It takes bloody ages to get here from Zurich so is worth staying overnight or longer. There are plenty of other amazing spots in the Bernese Oberland I want to visit in future. It’s a very full canton. But this post is getting too long so I’ll leave you to enjoy the slideshow.

Oh, and before you go, here’s my poem about Bern

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

Bluelight

The world makes itself anew

colder and darker

in this hemisphere

begins to shutter herself

for winter and why

do I always see a dull sunrise

over the Piccadilly line

those rows and rows of human homes

neat and pointed, roofs as far

as the eye can see

I can see

the world begin and end here

maybe

mean old time

is a bully from Greenwich

a bleak day

for a new year

as the pall of a zillion tiny screens

slides over faces

uncaring and uncareful with unshed

bluelight tears

Blood

every woman knows

how to wash

blood from cloth

so it disappears

you might see the shadow of the stain

if you know how to look

oh, we hear the whispers

secret shames, not saying names

like we know the ache of

cold hands

cracked with soap

to soak blood away

tendrils shift and flow but

no, never be new again

blood, blood, indelible and

has War been declared?

or merely a parable

as we breathe battle cries

in soft, lipstick-smears

but

don’t underestimate the touch

the shrill, strident, bossy, quiet, nurturing clamour

of those who ken

how

to out blood

because we know how

know when,

oh, me too

minor, major, doesn’t matter

the wound sits

dark, underneath

and maybe it’s time

to win a battle

crack silence, a shot

and

take a little ground

do not, do not, underestimate the power

of those whose life is bound

in blood and shadows

do you feel it? The rising awe, the gore

I can taste blood. Blood! I can taste

a shift. blood

Blood,

I can taste…

victory

 

 

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