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Friday, 15 August 2008

Switzerland: part II

Hi everyone,

Time for part two of a brief (or not so brief) tour of Switzerland in the company of 35 Guides and Rangers!

I thought I'd start with a little bit about Guiding and Scouting in the UK, as Adriana asked. Scouts were started by Lord Robert Baden-Powell back in 1907, specifically for boys. As I said in one of the previous blogs, at a rally at Crystal Palace, some girls tried to gatecrash and so Lord B-P decided to start a separate movement - Guiding - for girls. Scouts and Guides have stayed as separate organisations, but in 1991 girls were allowed to join all sections of the Scouts. Guiding, on the other hand, has always remained only for girls (although men can become helpers: here's our "Unit Helper", James in Switzerland. James is also a Scouter).


Girls can join Guiding at the age of 5 as a Rainbow. At the age of 7, they become Brownies and from 10 they join Guides. At 14 they can become Rangers and/or Young Leaders and at 18 they can become Leaders. All the sections share the same salute and Brownies, Guides and Rangers share (more or less) the same Promise*. One of the Rangers who came to Switzerland was 18 on the day we left England. She had completed her leadership training, so while we were in Switzerland, she renewed her Promise.

Shayon renewing her Promise

Adriana, you asked about the Scout prayer - but I think you meant the motto, as it is the same for Guides and Scouts all over the world "Be Prepared" - have you noticed that in English, the first letter of each word is the same as the initials of the founder?

Anyway, back to our trip. Last week I left you at the glacier. Today I thought I'd give you a bit of culture, before letting you enjoy some more beautiful views! Now I don't pretend to be an expert on Swiss culture - you'd have to ask Jackie about that, as she grew up in Switzerland - so these are just a few things we enjoyed! One evening we went to a traditional Swiss folk evening - we listened to folk songs, yodelling, the alpine horn and the handbells:

The handbells

I think I should explain a few things about this picture. First of all, can you see the beautiful flower embroidery on the waistcoat of the man playing the bells waistcoat? The Swiss are famous for delicate and colourful embroidery. Secondly, the other man in the photo is Tommy, one of our coach drivers. With him is Roger. Roger is puppet, but he seems to take on a life of his own and makes everyone he meets giggle! I think Roger was showing off a bit here ;-).

I know you're all always interested in food, so here are a couple of pictures. The first is of cheese fondue - that's melted cheese, herbs and white wine - it's kept hot in a bowl over a candle and you dip in pieces on bread. I guess, it tastes a little bit like a sophisticated pizza!


The second picture probably doesn't need much explaining. It's the ice-cream I was just about to eat! I would post a picture of me enjoying the ice-cream, but it's just too embarrassing!

My ice-cream

Our last day in Switzerland was 1st August and this is Swiss National Day - it's a public holiday and it seemed to me as if every town and village celebrated. In Wilderswil, they started celebrating on the evening of 31st July. In the village square, long tables were laid out and everyone sat enjoying beer, sausages and cakes. The local band played - but strangely enough, no-one danced. Or at least not until we descended! Within 5 minutes not only were all the girls dancing, but all the village children joined in too! Just as it got dark, there was a parade through the village, led by men swinging huge cow bells. They were very large versions of the bells worn around the necks of cows as they wander in the pastures high up in the mountains.

A Swiss cow!

These men must be very strong, as they walk about 2 kms right around the village and you can hear the boom boom boom of the bells from one end of the village to the other. Following them is a parade of children carrying paper lanterns, lit by candles.

The parade

And finally - one other Swiss tradition to do with bells (although Jackie claims she's never heard of it!). This one involves a bowl and a coin. The trick is to keep the coin rolling around the inside edge of the bowl so that it makes a sound like a bell. It's much harder than you think!

Rolling the coin

And really, truly finally - here are a few more photos. And I promise, the last photo is exactly as I took it.....

A misty lake

A storm brewing over Lake Brienz

At the top of the Rothorn


Take care


to gatecrash: to go somewhere without being invited (e.g. to gatecrash a party)
to renew a Promise: to make a Promise again
motto: a short sentence that expresses a rule for good behaviour
yodelling: to sing in a special way with lots of high notes
a life of his own: in this case, when something that isn't real seems to become real
to show off: to try to impress people
descended: here it means a big group suddenly joining in

* I promise that I will do my best
To love my God
To serve the Queen and my country
To help other people
And to keep the (Brownie) Guide law


Many thanks Carrie. Thanks also for the motto. I haven't noticed the initial letters are the same of his name.What a fruitful life Lord Robert Baden-Powell lived. I think the real happiness comes from things like that. You must be very proud of him I suppose. The pictures are superb, as always. I particularly liked very much the sunset. How lucky you are, Carrie! I'd love to have a trip like that! Best wishes Adri

Thank you Carrie for this wonderful entry. The pictures are....breathtaking (especially the last one). Yummie, my mouth is watering with that cake and also with the cheese fondue. In Argentina is very common to eat different types of fondue. Have you tried the chocolate one? Have a nice day. xxx Cris

Hi Carrie! As always, great pics. Have you brought any bar of chocolate from Switzerland ? Are you currently watching the Olympic games? As for me, I am hooked on tv. Cheers!!

Hi Carrie! Oh my gosh! The pictures are absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing them with us :-). Best wishes, Ana Paula.

Your pictures of Switzerland is beautiful. I like the mountains. I hope I would have a trip like you.

Hi Carrie, many thanks for the second part of the tour with the explanation of some tradiotions and the photos. Everything is explainled interestingly. The clarification on the Scouting and Guiding, also, is very informative and interesting as well. By the way, do they (the Scouts & the Guides) function at schools or rather they have some places of their own?

Yummy! the cheese fondue sounds delicious. bon appétit.

Thanks Carrie! Your last words has awoken me from the half forgotten dream. Reading the lines of the article I felt like being taken to really relaxing and wonderful trip. How refreshing, nothing such exciting happens here at my dull work. Take care! Marianna

Hello Carrie, your description of the tour is fanastic. You can turn it into a travel book, :)but not of course before visiting Eqypt...

Hi Carrie, very nice pictures and accounts of everything. May I ask, if the scouts and Guides pay anything for the travel or not?Best, Maryam

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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