The Gerrard Chronicles 1998

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Traveller's Tales


Not for the first time...A week of bright sunshine, not always a good thing at a ski resort. Although we have seen really good snow here, it was better than for the last few years' holidays. At the top, it was almost excellent at first, although it became a bit scraped in places by the end. The significant event of this trip was Avis doing everything right & getting down the hardest slope here, after a fashion. Since Ken fell there, through watching Avis rather than himself & destroyed his ski trousers (in the coldest winter here since the Ice Age), it was he who provided the entertainment. Although nothing serious was frozen in the process, it was a long way back to a clothes shop. The old Hahnenkamm cable car has been replaced by efficient 6-person gondolas, so the dreaded queues of the past have been abolished & four new chairlifts have appeared, two opening up a whole new area to the South of Pengelstein & two replacing the hated but unavoidable Silberstube draglift.

Avis & Ken at Pengelstein
(photo: unknown German)


Last year, we had joined the Anglo-German Family History Society & went on their tour to the Mosel Valley in May. Two days coaching for three days holiday with a bunch of genealogy freaks, most of whom were very interesting & some with sad tales of persecution at the hands of the Native British. We stayed at Alken in the Hotel Schnee. Poor food but it was incredibly cheap. We were castled-out after four in two days but Burg Eltz, shown here, was something else. We also visited Cochem, Beilstein and Koblenz.

Burg Eltz

Avis at the Wine Tasting


The sort of place Ken normally expects to be paid to visit but, never having been (although Avis had), he organised a four day trip in June. The weather was mostly grim but the highlights were the two modern art museums at Louisiana and Ishoj (Arken) which had good collections & at Arkan, a special Schwitters show with much we did not know. Copenhagen itself has vast pedestrianised areas to recommend it & the Tivoli, a sort of multi-level cultural centre, from the concert hall to helter-skelters. There is also the Rosenburg Castle Museum, worth the visit. This was not true of a Josef Beuys Exhibition, though & the hotel was full of killers from a NATO meeting. No such thing as Danish cuisine, apart from the breakfast ham but the Mongolian Barbecue is fun. This is windy city and Nordically cold with it. The view behind the Little Mermaid is of a wind farm!

Avis in Tivoli

Avis in Arkan with a Kupka


On April 25th, after the self-congratulatory feast of the 'Republic' AGM, we went to Lyndhurst for two days to get away From It All. One day spent at Corfe Castle & on to the surprisingly attractive Weymouth & the other to the Isle of Wight, the most expensive truck-crossing in the World. This was partly because Jason & Caroline hoped to buy a house there but this was frustrated. Nevertheless, we gave it a quick explore & went round Osborne House.

Ken in Corfe castle


Avis has never been convinced why Ken disappears for a week with a huge rucksack & comes back with his feet in ribbons, so he invited her along for a mild version, buying an even bigger rucksack so that he could do all the carrying. We flew to Geneva & got the train & bus to Leukerbad, staying two nights in the Hotel Derby, as usual for Ken. The weather was iffy the first day & we went for a walk round the head of the Dala Valley to Clabindualp, induging in the thermal baths after. These have been rebuilt and offer a wide variety of ineffective cures. The next day, we took the cable car to the Gemmi Pass & walked over to Kandersteg, meeting Professor Ursula Gunther, a garrulous but entertaining musicologist at the Schwarenbach. There was a shock there. The Altels, 3600 odd metres high, has lost most of its ice-field, a dramatic warning about Global Warming. On the steep walk down, Avis decided that she was not into back-packing but had been impressed by the beauty of the scenery. We thumbed a lift into Kandersteg from the bottom & stayed at the Spycher, not quite the barn the name suggests. A dullish day up to the Oeschinensee was followed by a splendid one into the Gasterntal, a beautiful hidden valley which entraced Avis. Then, the train to Betten & cable car to Bettmeralp, high above the Rhone Valley for two more nights in the Hotel Aletsch. We went up the gondola to the view of the glacier, the biggest in Europe. Ken went on up the Bettmerhorn on the grounds that he has not been to the top of anything for a while. We loitered for lunch in Montreux on the way back, as Avis had romantic ideas about the place.

Avis ended up convinced by the ambience but not by the effort.

Above:Ken & Avis near Selden in the Gasterntal
Left: The Blumlisalphorn with Kandersteg Church


To their vast relief, Lynn & Ann (many of you have met them at the great Garden Parties of the past) have been transferred to Houston, Texas & have bought what seems a huge spread of five acres in the ever-extending suburbia (or exurbia, as it has become known) hacked out of the jungle 43 miles north of the city.This is to accommodate their horses soon but has to be prepared. 10 inches of rain before we turned up did not help. However, the heat was back when we went on October 22nd for a week. We went to a screwy Renaissance Fair, allegedly of Henry VIII's time & mega-inauthentic but with jousting, falconers etc. Off to the excellent Houston Opera in a splendid oil-money-fuelled opera house, the Brown Theatre, we saw Wagner's 'The Flying Dutchman' with Eric the Wimpish Huntsman being (inappropriately) the best sung. The Dutchman was good & the Senta, adequate but the sets & the ballet (Wagner does not ask for one but gets one) wereexceptional. Then, to Galveston, an interesting old (insofar as anything here is) port on the Gulf of Mexico with a great botanical garden & many buildings over a century old & architecturally interesting. Houston has three big Art Galleries, the Contemporary, the Fine Arts & the Menil Collection & we did the lot. Much work from about 1850 to the present & good to see it. We did quite a bit of shopping, as the true exchange rate is about 80 cents to the pound, so everything is very cheap. Ken sorted out Ann's computer and free local calls means we could read The Guardian on-line.

Above: Lynn on 'Cody' and Ann on 'Sefton'
Left: Avis, Lynn and Ann at the 'Renaissance Fair'

TO WALES (Charter 88 Council

The meeting on November 7th was an excuse, after the meeting & splendid Cardiff municipal fireworks to visit Charlie, Jane & Vicky Brewster, inner circle extended family who seem to have been 'abroad' for a long time: seven years. Also to do a tour of Mid-Wales where Ken had never been south of Tywyn. The Autumn Colour was late this year, so this expedition over tiny steep roads, was exceptionally pretty. In the middle, there was a ferocious storm, fortunately over Sunday night, while we were in Llanwrtyd Wells. Inevitably, we ended up in Snowdonia but although it did not rain, it had & the saturated ground precluded any walking.

Storm-tossed Aberystwyth

Tal y Llyn looking cool

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Last revised29/6/2014 Copyright: ©Art & Science Ltd 1998 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.