Published: July 13th 2008July 13th 2008
The Alps near St Moritz
So it seems I'm really getting behind at this - and No, not just
because I'm lazy.... Spring's over, the Boog's been burnt, avalanches have stopped thundering in the valleys, the Alpe meadows are covered in flowers, and the Limmat River in Zurich is up to 23deg, perfect for a post-work dip.
Looking back it seems i've been pretty busy, it feels
like I've been busy. I guess that's the bright side of a limited contract - I really feel I can't take anything for granted... which on the downside means my boss really has got 150% out of me, I have to prove i'm worth keeping!
Right now I'm on a train (again) on my way back from a field trip to St Moritz (so it's not all bad). We've spent all ay hiking around at over 2500m, looking at various types of glaciers and geology. I'll get home at 11:30 tonight, and have to pick up a rental car at 7 tomorrow morning to take our MSc students on another field course all next week. Now that the air's warmer there's a real race to get everyone's field based projects underway.
Spring starts in Zurich with
A long wait for the Boog's head to explode points to a wet summer
the burning of the Boog, a giant snowman packed with explosives... he's placed on a bonfire, and the longer it takes for his head to explode, the worse the summer's going to be - so they say... Perfect sense. Anyway, this year an opportunistic thunder storm stamped it's mark on proceedings by thoroughly soaking the Boog and setting a new head-exploding-time record - a disappointment to the thousands who turned up to see a public execution, as well as those waiting for summer to convert their Zurich-bankers'-wife tan into a natural one.
So far we've been lucky with the weather, though the snow's hung round unusually long and made for some chilly fieldwork. At the moment we're having 23-30deg days, thunder storms in the evening, and a fair bit of sun. I've become a sweaty old man, fresh t-shirts and Roger Federer-style sweat bands will be most appreciated.
A trip with Asia to Amsterdam was partly aimed at escaping the central European heat, and to catch Shapeshifter playing in the famous city. When this didn't help we both headed off to the north of Poland to go canoeing in Masuria in the NE corner of Poland.
This is a traditional Swiss storehouse, built off the ground to keep out the rats
also had a few visitors, first Denver and Deann from T&T Wellington stopped off for a couple of days, then Pete, Carly & I rented a shiny new Audi for a long weekend road trip through the Alps that proved to be much too short. Most recently Nick
, flatmates/bartenders from my last Welly flat have arrived after 1.5yrs on a motorbike through Africa. I think they're planning to stay for a while - sounds ok.
And work is proving to be a pretty good challenge. I have a vision, it's not entirely understood or shared by my colleagues, but every couple of months when things come to the crunch they seem genuinely surprised or interested enough to let me keep going. Which suits me fine. I spent my first of probably 6 weeks in the field a few weeks ago, it's great to get out - and my area is really picturesque - but unfortunately correspondingly touristic and expensive
. My principal achievements included talking a hotelier down from 80chf to 20chf for a night with
a free breakfast thrown in, and finding an empty 21 bed dorm in the basement bomb sheter of a ski town bakery
for 35chf. Unfortunately I don't think either of these will be repeated; the first because I think he realised he got done, and the second because it was only empty for two nights... on the third a 16yo boys hockey team showed up. Enough said.
Later on I managed to make the most of a free ride by sliding into a spare spot in a helicopter - who could say no to that?.. Rapidly thickening clouds near the landing site made it more interesting as the pilots gave each other a questioning 'now or never' glance and we dropped down to the ridge landing site through a small - and rapidly shrinking - hole in the clouds.
And that's about it. I have another couple of weeks in Zurich before I head back to the Mattertal for two more. There's no real travel plans on the horizon, except maybe to Sarajevo to visit a friend in September. I'm scared to look at my bank account, but am enjoying bbq's by the river most evenings, as long as I can keep pretending beer and sausages grow on trees I'll be fine.
There are more photos below