The Gerrard Chronicles 1999

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Traveller's Tales


Eh? In February, we went skiing in Ischgl - eventually, after being stuck in Innsbruck for 2 nights, in the grotty Hotel Sailer, hastily pressed into use & staffed by what we later regretted nicknaming the 'ethnic Albanians'. At least, on the 2nd day, Ingham's super-rep, John Clayton, bussed us to the Axamer Lizum (old 1964 Olympic area) for a day's skiing & we then went on to Ischgl in the evening. The avalanches the Austrians had to blast through were formidable, towering over the bus. By this time, we knew our colleagues well, an interesting bunch. One was dying of cancer & this was his last hurrah. Then we were trapped in again but (unfortunately?) this was cleared in time for our return. We stayed in the wacky Hotel Solaria again & the snow, now we were on it, was superb. But it was bitterly cold - down to -22°C on Friday at only 2800m. Ken's previous coldest was -18°C at 3300m above Zermatt. We blame Global Warming. At least, serious ice was lacking. Avis, pursued by an Arctic wind, can now wedel fast down a steepish slope. Avis was later alarmed by what happened in Galtur, the next village but Ken could see at the time that Ischgl was safe from avalanche danger. We did trips into Switzerland to Samnaun by two routes.


Neither of us had visited Norfolk seriously, although Ken saw a Broad in 1947. We saw a few more on this trip, as well as Kings Lynn & the hinterland of the Wash, full of Rubens' views. Norfolk is lovely, although Cromer is a bit of a dump.

Photos: To the left is Avis 'enjoying' Cromer Pier. To the right is Horning Broad.

In the Hotel Monna Lisa garden


We went in June, after setting up all Avis' art shows. Ken had never been, although Avis had, & he was curious. Minus points first - they have not really sorted out the traffic, which even skirts the pedestrianised area round the Duomo closely & the narrow Medieval streets trap the pollution & noise of scooters, which are quite ruthless in getting through gaps intended only for pedestrians, one nearly knocking Avis down. The plus points - it is very pretty architecturally & the Uffizi & Pitti Palaces do contain a lot of interesting art, although the Modern Art Gallery in the Pitti costs extra & has NO modern art. The Uffizi is well laid out. Not so, the Pitti. Other places: the San Lorenzo church Old Sacristy is more interesting for its art-work than Michaelangelo's New Sacristy. Santa Croce & especially, the Palazzo Vecchio are worth the visit. We did trips out - to Fiesole (interesting Roman ruins), San Giminiano (fascinating) Siena (much more attra ctive than Florence) & Pisa (spacious & very pretty). The Hotel Monna Lisa is wonderful.

Pisa Duomo & Campanile


...and good republicans could hardly miss out on the celebrations in his home town of Huntingdon (incongruously housing the largest Tory majority in the country - John Major's). Contemporary food, the Sealed Knot, early musicians & some anachronistic dress all made for a jolly day. Roll on the second Republic! The photo shows the Castle Hill.


Ken's trip this year was from Mauvoisin in the Val des Bagnes to Breuil in Italy. Thanks to Easyjet, he left home at 0515 & was in the Chanrion Hut at 10,000 feet by 1915, a three & a half hour walk up from the last bus stop. The crux (if you like) was the Colle de Valcournera on day three, a diabolical pass between the Valcournera & Valtournanche. The fantastic view from the top is on our card this year. This was later followed by a day's hitch-hiking from Breuil over the Great St. Bernard Pass to Zermatt, a 200km trip to travel 9 but the snow conditions over the Theodule Pass precluded walking across. Vast amounts of snow were still there from last winter. Yet, the temperature never went below freezing, making for unstable conditions. Details of trip to Breuil are on the web & Ken has also put up other trips on these Alpine pages.

The top part of the Col de Valcournera. Ken's route is on the right - don't use it!



By starting at 0615, we were in Edinburgh by 1430, despite two pit stops. Hectic, as usual - we did 17 events in 3 1/2 days, with two when we arrived. The high points: a recital on the shamisen by Chikuzan, 'Play Wisty for me', a play about Peter Cook, John Adams' concert in the Usher Hall with Ives' 4th Symphony & his 'Naive & Sentimental Music'. Avis also saw 'Ridiculismus' while I changed her prints at the Edinburgh Print Workshop. She thought highly of this skit on an art gallery.

We went for a tour of Scotland after & discovered delightful Findhorn, a fishing port on the Moray coast & Ken saw Central Sutherland at last. We stayed in Findhorn, Ullapool & the OTT Dunblane Hydro. On the way back, we stopped in Manchester to see the real Pendleton (see the Art pages!). All the sites of Avis' family have either been bombed or slum-cleared but we found the austere Lutheran Church, who's previous pastor had been so helpful.

Ben Hope & Loch Hope


We went to Manchester for the inaugural Anglo-German Family History Society North meeting to see what they knew & for Ken to present the web site. Then, to Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery to see the William Daniels' in the basement. Alex Kidson, a curator, spent all morning digging out apintings & photo-copying information for the very attractive price of free.
Some of the paintings were a revelation - no wonder they called him the Rembrandt of Liverpool. The Central Library had also dug out references for us & much of this material will eventually appear on our web site.
The degree of pedestrianisation in Manchester & Liverpool puts London to shame,which Ken pointed out in his Mayor interview.

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman,, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)207 359 6294 or e-mail him or her This page's URL:
Last revised 30/11/1999 Copyright: ©Art & Science Ltd 1999 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.