Snapshots from Switzerland
By CONSTANCE HOLT
T AM back from two weeks in -ISwitzerland. So for at least two weeks more you will probably be hearing about it.
With the unpacking comes a cascade of nostalgic pictures— more of them in my head than my snap album.
From Alpine peaks and Gothic arches to delicious meals I enjoyed it all. Even the swift and smooth baggage-claiming -which is, I may say, very good on arrival home now—seems part of the holiday sequence.
But thoughts fly back faster than the best plane.. . The lonely heights of the Dents du Midi, the intimate friendliness of a little chalet pension in a wood above Lausanne, cow-bell—and sanctus bell, the bluest flowers in the world gathered in sunshine above the snow-line and the smoothest chocolate in its subtly " different" packing.
These things refuse to be arranged in order of merit. There was the incomparable mountain silence at night, the cheery and gracious chatter of Swiss, Italian. and. at times, French hosts or acquaintances by day . . • chatter in which " bon appetit," " belle promenade," and " amusez-vous hien " rang like a merry refrain.
I wished that many readers for whom Switzerland must he—well, ice-cream in the sky—could be there too. I will try to share some of the memories which are in brighter colours than the hest postcards.
The last picture was the change from the vivid patch-work of France far below--to that of Kent, and even the bright ripples of the intervening Channel.
Those were visible anyway to this nosey passenger who will make a bee-line (she hopes with ladylike restraint) for outside scat number one, where there is some illusion of seeing more. This seemed importantas it was a real summer day, to be hoarded like a jewel.
T HAVE actually heard some -Ipeople dismiss Switzerland for holidays as being too popular. On that score one could decide to be
smart and boycott—Shakespeare and. say. any garden of roses. For being loved and sought after does make places and people popular.
Nobody has to stay among the crowd—particularly in this spacious little land. While the mountains. manners and rneals in Switzerland continue to he themselves, people of all nations will fly or steam across, and ride happily round in her comfortable trains.
Expensive ? On exchange--yes. One can, of course. face and pay the basic items all-in and in sterling. through an agency here. As for the fun of doing some small spending on the spot—well. I suppose anybody who is prepared to have a holiday abroad will do without something during the rest of the year to have a pocketful of francs.
In the mist LEST I seem too lyrical in post. holiday mood, I hasten to say that the rain came. Yes, heavily and often, The mist too, so that of the time 1 spent among the mountains on many a morning I couldn't see the garden, let alone the " Merveilleux panorama "— justly so described in the guidebooks.
One good thing about being a human being is that positive memories seem to outlive the lt does not now seem much to matter how many times we did not take breakfast on the verandah, wash our hands in the snow after a picnic in hot sunshine, row on a mountain lake at lazy summer pace—pausing to flick oars in the snow on the banks, watch the kindliest Swiss Grandpa slide with his little grandson up and down a nearby soft slope, while Maman dozed gently after lunch.
We did those things.
I took one solitary walk above the snow-line, slightly to the consternation of a veteran English lady visitor. who knew what can happen about sprained ankles— when there is no other pair handy to go back and tell the tale.
knew that too and trod softly, resisting some of the most beckoning gentians. But-and 1 am grateful to poets for saying the things that get called hackneyed. about mountain " uplift."
How can one resist up there in the silence and splendour some sense of " that far-off divine Event to which the whole Creation moves ? " I became also extremely eager for my sandwiches.
rpHERE were the amusing wet -Iday memories, Elda the Italian maid. the priest in the mountain village—in some ways isolated. hut with the glow in his eyes and talk that made one freshly proud of the best Thing we've got.
There Was Isribourg. Bern
and my hosts in Lausanne wit() made their country feel like home to me, and banished any flavour of tourism from my stay . • . there was Corpus Christi Sunday in a tiny church. was ; the talk round the table in the chalet where I suddenly seemed to be serving the soup. and, in discussion. answering in general for England—let alone Rome—and where kindness was the air I breathed. That is perhaps a more lasting tonic than moun (Continued in next column)