The Idle Skiers are in Cyprus and have been for a week now. What with one thing and another, it has been two years since we were last here and it is good to be back.
We are staying on the Akamas peninsula, where arid brown hills meet a deep blue sea and where the Middle East seems a stone’s throw away. It is hot still of course, almost thirty degrees when we arrived. For the last couple of days, a light wind has cooled things a little and lightning has criss crossed the evening skies.
It is late now and the lightning has cleared. Along the coast, the lights of the village of Latchi shine brightly. A couple of fishing boats in the bay are heading back to the harbour there. The hills are just a dark smudge and the only sound is the Cicadas scratching away.
I headed over to the Murren side of the valley this morning. It was a second solo trip this week, Mrs IS having slipped on the tennis court yesterday. The muscle she pulled in her back is bruising up nicely.
A prompt start on the path to Lauterbrunnen saw me at the cable car for Grutschalp before 10.00am. From there, I took the path up through the trees which leads eventually to Allmendhubel, via the top station of the four man chair from Winteregg.
The start of the walk, through the trees and across the first stretch of pastureland, is steep and a short, sharp shock to the system, but after half an hour at most, it becomes an easy path with magnificent views across the valley.
It was a beautiful late summer’s day, sunny but quite cool at the high points of the walk. As it always seems to be, the path was quiet. In Murren, the cable car for the Schilthorn had a few customers, but I took the opposite route to Stechelberg. The trip back along the valley to Lauterbrunnen seemed as hot as the Gobi desert and I headed gladly for the station rather than the path to Wengen.
That is it for our trip to the Bernese Oberland in the summer of 2021. This evening, we have visited the doctor’s surgery for yet another test each and have been dealing with the additional paperwork necessary to get near an international flight to the U.K. Tomorrow, we head for London.
This morning had an autumnal feel to it. The clouds were in place and remained so for much of the day. It was also cold. Mrs IS decided that home was the best place to be and I ventured out into the grey morning solo. My initial plan was to walk down to Lauterbrunnen and then along the river to Interlaken. When I reached Lauterbrunnen, I decided I didn’t really want to do that at all. A train ride and a cable car ride saw me at Mannlichen forty minutes later.
At some point every summer it is necessary to take the granny path to Scheidegg. For this summer, today was the day. The cable car had been busy, but most people headed for the Berghaus. The path was more or less deserted, as was Scheidegg. I took the long route home, via Mettlenalp. Apart from a family of American holiday makers, lost slightly but hoping to find Wengenalp, and some mountain bikers heading downhill at break neck speed, I had the walk to myself as far as Allmend.
There might be a little more sunshine tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it will be that much warmer than today.
We walked another familiar path today, taking the Eiger trail from Eigerletscher to Alpiglen. It is a route we have taken often over the years, but it is steeped in history and worth every step. The path is below the dramatic North face of the Eiger, a climb which is a forbidding sight still as the centenary of the first assent becomes ever closer. The trail ends in a mountain meadow where climbers camped before the first attempts on the vertical face of the mountain in the 1930s.
From Alpiglen, we headed back up the hill to the Arven lift station, where a path branches out across the mountain to Mannlichen. In the trees near the ridge which divides Scheidegg from Mannlichen alpine flowers were in their late summer glory and walkers were pausing to pick the wild blueberries.
It was sunny today, but in the shade it seemed cold and the occasional wind was cutting. As ever, concerns as to the weather dominate. The forecast for the next few days promises a mix of sun and cloud, with autumnal temperatures.
It was dark this morning when the Idle Skiers emerged from under the duvet. The lights were soon on at home, along with, I am sure, those of our friends and neighbours with whom we were undertaking the walk from Schynige Platte to First.
The 7.13am train from Wengen saw us at Schynige Platte station just after 9.00am. There were a few other walkers at this mountain top station, but it was pretty quiet for an August day. The weather probably kept a few people away. There had been torrential rain last night and clouds still hung to the mountains.
The walk was as demanding as ever, with just over sixteen kilometres of often steep terrain. The small mountain hut, shortly before the half way mark, was a welcome sight. As always, the last stretch from the lake below Faulhorn to the gondola seemed much longer than memory allowed.
Having worked up a pretty good appetite, we are eating at the Baeren tonight. Right now, at about 6.30pm, our 8.00pm table seems quite distant.
It has been a beautiful day here in the Bernese Oberland. The sun shone in a clear blue sky. When we played tennis at 11.00am the digital display at the nearby Central Sport said it was 27 degrees. This afternoon, sheep in the pasture below our balcony stood in the shade and continued their atonal bell ringing.
The weather looks set to change tomorrow, at least for the one day, but the sky tonight is magnificent. Even now, at close to midnight, the temperature is 20 degrees. The sheep have fallen silent, but insects are still buzzing around. It feels like we are in the Mediterranean, only with more hills.
We chose a fairly easy walk today, to ease us back into things, heading down the hill to Lauterbrunnen, along the valley to Stechelberg, back again to Lauterbrunnen and up the hill to Wengen. On the way we had a couple of brief stops. The first was a vending machine, located outside a small farm in the valley. It offers cheese, eggs and a few other things. The eggs are as fresh as possible. From where they are laid to the point of sale is perhaps ten metres.
The second stop was for lunch at the Trummelbach falls cafe, a regular halt for us in summer. They have the best sandwiches in Switzerland, as I have mentioned before.
When last night I checked the weather forecast for the next few days, it was pretty pessimistic. However, it is always possible to find a better forecast. Meteo Swiss, which is usually reliable, promises some decent weather to come. Tomorrow, we venture onto the tennis courts.
The Idle Skiers returned to Wengen today, after the best part of four months away. The village is busy. The train from Lauterbrunnen mid-afternoon was nearly full. There were plenty of people on the streets and more were arriving when we went back up to the village to reacquaint ourselves with the Co-op.
The journey here was much as normal. Our plane and various trains departed and arrived almost on time and we reached Wengen pretty much when we expected to arrive. The trip felt slightly different though. We have been filling in forms and garnering certificates for days, to prove our liberty to travel, and I suppose there was a niggling concern that at some point we would not have the correct piece of paper to proceed further.
We are here though, with the paperwork filed away for next time. The weather forecast for the rest of the week isn’t very good, but it is good to be back.
We are three days into the Lord’s test between England and India, and it is turning into a cracking match. Mrs IS joined me this morning for what has been the best day’s cricket in a long time. England were all out in their first innings on the last ball of the afternoon and take a slender lead into the fourth day.
The crowds are back at Lord’s, which for the members, means a prompt start to the day to find a good seat. The queue begins to form at the Grace gates in the very early morning. Reputedly, when the Australians are in town, the first people arrive at 5.00am. I have never felt the need to check the veracity of this story. Whoever is the opposition though, by 7.30am the queue stretches the length of St John’s Wood Road and into the Wellington Road.
Those who head the queue bring folding chairs, flasks of coffee and bacon sandwiches. By early afternoon, it has been a very long day for many people. Eyes close and heads nod in the afternoon sun.
For the next two days however, it will be best to stay awake as a good finish is in prospect. On Monday evening, it will be over. Any longer in NW8 and I would be paying the local council tax.
The Idle Skiers have spent the day at Henley Royal Regatta. According to an email received from the regatta office this evening, today marked 765 days since the finish of the last regatta, in early July 2019.
The regatta was first rowed in 1839. It has barely missed a beat since, with the two world wars alone stopping the event. That is until 2020, when the pandemic brought the country as a whole to a grinding halt.
For much of the year, the 2021 edition looked doubtful as well. The normal early summer dates were abandoned quickly. Course construction (booms in the river and temporary stands) usually starts in March, but this year that wasn’t possible. The talk was of another cancellation, or possibly a closed event, without spectators.
However, at nine o’clock this morning, racing got underway before the customary crowd. It is less than a week since the end of the Olympics, so the top British crews were missing, along with most of the Dutch and German crews who normally make the trip to the Thames. The U.S.A boats were absent completely, barred from travelling to the U.K.
Still, the racing was good, with some tight finishes over the 1 mile and 550 yard course. A crowded diary means that our normal four or five days at Henley has been compressed into this one visit, but it was a good day spent in the sun largely.