Riviera Blogs – by women of the IWC Lausanne.
by Hilary Bales
The désalpe is a traditional fête in Switzerland when the farmers “dress up” their cows who, after a summer spent in the mountains, come back down to the valleys where they spend the winter months.
Most of the désalpe will be taking place the last weekend in September but there are two still taking place on 4 October in Semsales as from 7.00 and Morgins from 10.00.
In addition to the parade of decorated cows accompanied by herders in their traditional costumes you will usually get to see demonstrations by bell ringers, whip crackers and alpenhorn players. There are also plenty of stalls offering local cheeses and other treats.
This wet summer has meant the slugs and snails have flourished. Not ideal for gardeners but wonderful for hedgehogs who love to feed on them. These prickly creatures need to put on weight over the summer in order to have enough stored fat to get them through the winter months when they are dormant. They are one of the few small mammals , along with the bat and dormouse, who truly hibernate and reappear in March when the worst of winter is past. This month they will be looking around for a suitable safe, warm, dry spot to curl up, under a shed or a pile of dry leaves.
Apparently considered a delicacy by the Romans and Gypsies, baked in clay in the embers of the fire, these days they have more to fear from dogs and garden tools, strimmers beings a particular hazard. The collective noun for hedgehogs is an “array” or “prickle of hedgehogs” – the latter seems most appropriate!
Autumn is also the time for the female spider to make herself comfortable indoors. She lays her eggs in a freshly spun silken sack. She makes sure they’re safely cocooned ready to be born after winters hardships. But she won’t see their birth: without insects to eat the mother starves, having made sure her young will live on.
The lovely sunny days at the beginning of autumn are perhaps a sign we will see wonderful leaf colour this year. Deciduous trees drop their yellowing leaves and the fruit trees: pears, plums and apples are laden. For photo worthy places The Valais is usually the best direction to go. Visit Pont du Nants near Bex, where there is a very good restaurant and a nice, gentle walk along the river to see the golden larches. Or go to Les Iserables to see a ‘New England style’ tapestry of autumnal shades. Take the cablecar from Riddes or, if you feel energetic, walk up and ride down.
Travelling to Amsterdam for a day trip sounds a little crazy but six members of the Vevey International Cooking Group did just that in May this year. The object of the exercise was to experience an authentic Rijsttafel, a meal of Indonesian inspiration based on many small dishes served with rice.
Arriving early in the city we enjoyed a walking tour around the canals, map in hand and a sharp eye out for cyclists – an ever present danger in Amsterdam. The early start and the morning walk meant we arrived at our restaurant with a good appetite and as the rain had started to fall we settled in to enjoy our culinary treat. Fifteen dishes later our appetites were well satisfied and dessert was out of the question. Strenuous activity after such a generous lunch didn’t appeal and so we spent the afternoon relaxing on a canal boat tour to see the city from the water. Then it was time for the trip back to the airport where the departure lounge shop sustained a serious attack on its supply of cheese and syrup waffles as we had omitted to make these purchases during the day.
We arrived back in Geneva late in the evening, exhausted but keen to re-create the Rijsttafel experience with the members of our group who weren’t able to join our culinary jaunt. We are looking forward to sharing this meal and planning many more culinary experiences during the next club year.
The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty.
This is a really engaging read. A suburban wife and mother, whose life is as organized as her home, finds a letter, written by her husband, with instructions to open Only upon his death. The revealed secret results in her gut-wrenching reevaluation of him and their marriage. Her husband’s past actions put the future of their family at risk and result in the injury of one of their children. This story reminds us that life can change in an instant!
Irish literature was the theme of the last Literature Group meeting of the year. Alison Watts set the framework for this vast subject, rich with innumerable novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and Booker and Nobel Prize winners. We were interested to learn how many of these writers had Anglo-Irish roots, and this theme ran through many of the works we discussed. Alison began by discussing W. B. Yeats and his poems, and other members of the group discussed the writing of William Trevor, Elizabeth Bowen, and James Joyce. We also learned about Peig Sayers and her short stories and the plays of John Millington Synge and Oscar Wilde.
Many of us have been inspired to continue discovering or rediscovering these writers as we choose books for our summer reading.
– Liliane Barry and Tani Vollmann
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This novel tells the story of the Trojan War through the voice of Patroclus, the loyal and trusted friend and companion of Achilles, hero of Homer’s Iliad.
The writing style is modern, though the warfare described conforms to classical Greek ideology. The characters, both the mortals and the gods, demonstrate the range of emotions discernible in present day life – vulnerability, jealousy, self sacrifice and respect for the dead.
The writer, a classics scholar, makes the historical saga very accessible to the modern reader who can find many parallels to present day issues.
– Margaret Ellison
This page is destined to grow as members come up with new ideas, places they’ve visited, things to do, restaurants they’ve enjoyed, a concert they particularly recommend to others. Then we’ll have a real blog…
For the moment, Riviera Blogs is in static format, but only because it’s in its initial stages.
Your webmaster would be delighted if you offered some content!
The final General Meeting of the year was a great success. The speaker, Sophia Haussener, Professor at the EPFL, has left us her renewable energies presentation with an outlook on how the world (and particularly Switzerland) uses its resources and where we’re headed. She explained us some of her research on using solar energy to generate fuels for use tomorrow.
Here also are some of the useful links on energy consumption she mentioned: