If you don't try something ... you'll never know ...

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." Mark Twain

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Is it possible for me to miss Thalwil?

A weekend trip back to Zurich thanks to a wedding invitation and whilst the celebration was taking place on the Gold Coast (named that due to the extra hours of sun it receives it day as well as because you technically need more cash to live there, if that is possible) we wanted to go back to Thalwil.  We wanted to make the most of our whistle stop tour and catch up with friends.  Plus we know the area - it's familiar territory.

It was the most beautiful of weddings with a movie star lookalike bride who wore the most intricate lace detailed dress - total fairytale.  Emily called her Princess the entire time.  Ironically the bride's name was Catherine although not the Catherine.  The Scottish influence, thanks to the Groom, meant that we were blessed with the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace, which bought a tear to my eye (actually I don't think there was a dry eye in the church).  The day was long and fun filled.  The kids were obviously running on rocket fuel having got to bed that very morning at 1am due to our flight arrival and were up thanks to Emily's mock cough at 7.30am - you see when Emily wakes, everyone wakes.   So it was a no wonder that mid way through the reception drinks Patrik collapsed conveniently next to the drinks cabinet ...

He was there very comfortably for around two hours.

All in all everybody had a great time especially Patrik when he awoke because he had even more energy!

However our weekend in Zurich meant experiencing the Swiss customs, culture, food, ambiance, architecture and weather.  So did we miss it?

Unfortunately wonderful Swiss International Airlines (or rather Lufthansa who own the show now) managed to mess up our seating and despite us having to input what seemed like reams of data they still couldn't work out that Emily was too young to sit on her own and that having the two kids together alone was also not a good idea.  But thanks to some gentle persuasion we managed to cooperate with other passengers and all sat close enough for it to be sensible.  Either way, not a good start.

The flight was slightly delayed and coming in late both kids crashed out.  Patrik woke at the baggage carousel and decided that he had to push a trolley.  Not good given Johan was carrying Emily and I was pushing the other trolley.  So the most huge of tantrums later (never knew a child could throw up through screaming so much until that point) and we came through arrivals.  No taxi driver to be seen.  We'd used our faithful taxi company too.  Ten minutes later and the gruff chap said 'gruezi' and then walked off to his cab leaving us to follow, pushing pram, carrying children, and generally wondering what had happened to their manners.  It didn't take long for us to look at one another with that mutual understanding look.  To rub salt in the wounds he overcharged us, thinking we were tourists (well we were) and unaware of the normal fare to which we had to them tell him how we'd only moved in August of last year.  Not good.

We were tired, we'd been cheated and we both felt as though we were heading to a sleepy hollow.  That was the start of our weekend.

Thalwil is still Thalwil.  Nothing has changed.  Aside one of my two favourite shops (the other is the brocki in Oberreiden) has now morphed itself from a toy shop/haberdashery store into a ... only can this happen in a place like Thalwil ... pillow shop.  Yes it is now selling pillows.  Fine pillows I am sure with a lovely price tag too.  Either way it was shut for the entire weekend including Monday.  

Actually so too was the shop where I'd promised to take Emily to buy her a Reima (love that brand) rain jacket.  Can't seem to find a local distributor in London for love nor money.  

What could I miss?

Familiarity and charm

Sedartis continue to sell the same food, changing their dinner menu slightly.  Their chairs outside are slightly different but otherwise not one thing in the high street has changed.  

Well ... the promotions in the stores have changed.  In many ways I love that the two major supermarket rivals - Migros and Coop - have their separate ways to lure you to buy more.  Migros give out goodies every so often for children to collect.  It becomes so competitive that it's a parents worst nightmare.  Especially if they're marbles, or stickers, or magnets as I've experienced.  This time they're little spinning tops.  You spend so much money and instead of getting a car parking token like you get in Canary Wharf's Waitrose you get a spinning top.  All very charming but still a carrot to a little innocent child.  Migros on the other hand give out tiny, rather irritatingly so, stickers that you collect and stick on a card.  When you have enough you get discounts on a range of goods.  They've had tupperware, they've had Le Creuset and now they have Alessi.  The adult carrot.  Not sure whether I miss it ... okay ... yes I do miss the charm of it.  Don't think Johan does as rightly so he knows that we would just litter our home with yet more plastic stuff and be tempted to buy things on the cheap that really we don't need.

Food and drink and smells

As we walked along Gotthardstrasse passed the Kolli Beck the waft of sausage hits you like a cloud.  Momentarily it smells good but then it smells of calories.  Not good.  Outside the shop that is laden with chocolate too.  More calories.  I understand why I have gained so much weight since having moved to Zurich.  Not to mention the need to save the kids waste having cooked the foods that only they are supposed to like - carb city - bread, pasta, pasta, pasta, bread, rice, pasta.  There's also the wonderful Latte Macchiato.  All that milk.  And it was at breakfast when I tasted the milk and was reminded of just how wonderfully buttery it is.  You can almost taste the grass and as you drink it there's visions of buttercups in fields where cows roam.  Do I miss that ... oh I could dive in to it but I'm very, very happy to be in a place where I have such a rich variety of cuisines from so many different cultures and pretty much all of them available either to buy in store, to be delivered home, picked up, you name it.  I love the choice we have in London.

The mountain views

The views are beautiful - if you look at them.  Which you can't help but do.  However I've realised that whilst you can't compare the mountains to a dirty, cramped, east end street of London, I do actually like to see the Canary Wharf towers, the cleanliness surrounding them even if it might seem a bit sterile.    I've also realised that whilst busy shepherding my kids wherever they need to go, I don't have time to look at mountains.  I'm lucky if I get a glimpse of my watch (not Swiss I hasten to add)!

Also, what has been created in the surrounding areas of Canary Wharf is really quite lovely.  They've replaced the crazy traffic light roundabout with some wild flowers and there are always wild birds hovering around as can be seen in the photographs I took a few weeks back ...

Just a couple of random ducks in Jubilee Park at Canary Wharf.

Parks and green spaces

Thalwil is quite a big place as Zurich 'suburbs' go.  However I still can't get over just how many green spaces we have here at Canary Wharf; in London too.  Within fifteen minutes I can get to at least five decent green spaces.  Admittedly you might find the occasional dog turd en route (although that has been seen on Thalwil pavements too!), and sadly I could fill at least two black plastic bags with the litter that I'd find on the way.  So whilst the lovely little school playground next to Migros keeps the kids more than entertained (they're not allowed in during the school playground time) it does get a bit laborious trying to find an alternative.

Things to do of a rainy day or of a weekend

If you want to drive out of town and head for a country walk, hike, bike ride, climb, ski, basically anything that comes under the umbrella of outdoor sports then you're fine.  But sometimes you just want to hang out locally and do something locally.  The only problem is, other than the very few parks, the few open cafes or restaurants, there isn't anything to do.  We have stacks of indoor places to head to here and yes, perhaps it's because we have more rain.  But there's also more cultural things - galleries, the Ideas Store, the Docklands Museum, and stacks of indoor games, groups, meets, you name it.  Let's not mention all the very child friendly places to eat and linger.  

The Swiss way of life

I cannot believe I am going to type this but the one thing I do miss are the rules and regulations that ensure the country stays as clean as possible and as law abiding as possible.  We moan and whine about people still driving around talking on their mobile phones,  people who turn a blind eye when litter is thrown out of a car window, criminals who get away with a light sentence and those who get away with it all together because they get through the system and yet there are still so many people here opposed to us having ID cards, those who complain about teachers when it's the kids and parents who are at fault, and basically there is a general lack of respect in authority here.  Not a day goes by where I roll my eyes at a news story.  What worries me most of all is that there is an ageing population with a growing number of uneducated spoilt individuals who have high hopes, who expect something for nothing and who do not have a healthy competitive attitude and who will be left to look after the elderly.  Kids have been protected by cotton wool here, and yet on the same token they have been pushed to be educated earlier.  Everyone is under pressure to compete yet the education system doesn't like to educate the whole concept of winning for fear of ... whatever you want to call it ... not wanting to hurt someone's feelings.  So yes, I do miss the Swiss rules and regulations, their way of life too.  It works.  

The cost of a cup of coffee

It is insanely expensive in Switzerland.  I cannot say more than that.  The house prices are seriously overpriced and with the financial market regulations continuously making changes there has to be a shift and I'm not sure how that will impact upon the housing market.  Otherwise day to day items are so much more than here.  It's even cheaper to buy a bar of Toblerone at London City airport kiosk as you go through into the arrivals lounge than it is to buy it in Duty Free at Zurich Airport.  The cost of a cup of coffee in Starbucks is at least twice as expensive.  But it was lovely to have the chance for a catch up with Helen and enjoy a Migros Latte Macchiato ...

The key thing I miss about Thalwil are the great friends I made.  I really miss our little chats, the ability to just meet up for a coffee or more so a play date with the kids.  

I also miss the cookery classes although as I still organise them I somehow feel like I'm part of them even though I'm not present.  

Thalwil, to me, is so very quiet, calm and relaxing.  It's a great way to unwind.  However after a while, I certainly need to get going ... 


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