What does a 14 year old Colin do when in Switzerland with his family?
Well, he gazes over the side of whatever paddle-steamer he is on and watches the water flowing by, or he finds a place where he can see the paddle wheels turning. He would later go to where he can look into the engine room and listen to the rhythmic thumping of a reciprocating engine. He watches the flurry of activity as the ship slowly nudges a dock and the crew secure her. As they all walk away from the dock, he looks back with anticipation of their next trip across the lake.
Given that I had my model railway at home*, the most natural souvenir of this holiday would be an “OO” gauge Swiss locomotive! I think that it was in Interlaken (or perhaps Lucerne?) where we found a shop that sold model railway items and my souvenir was purchased. It was quite the achievement because I attempted the transaction in my best 3rd year French.
I will never know of course, but I think the shop assistant made me work at my French on purpose because I had to try every way I could think of to describe what I wanted (which included pointing at it), but she didn’t seem to be getting it! Eventually, I believe she gave me the biggest smile and started talking to me in English!
Then there were the cake shops! My Mum had no reservations at all about cream filled (or covered) cakes and, if fruit was added, so much the better. I have no idea how many cake shops we went in, discretely drooled (figuratively of course!), and left without buying one. The only reason being that there were many others where we did taste their baking and it was always so good! To this day, I love cream filled baking and I lay the blame firmly on Switzerland.
We would go for an impromptu adventure by just leaving the hotel and walking and, on one occasion, we walked up a grassy hill behind the hotel. It was not long before we could sit on the side of the hill and look out over the top of our hotel and across to the other side of L. Thun. Coming from an area of England which is predominantly flat, one can imagine how we were just in awe at such spectacular scenery.
Whenever we were in a town, I would look for the shops that sold postcards of ships. I came back from that holiday with quite a large collection of photographs (which I still have) of Swiss lake steamers.
(Note to Erika: Are they still running paddle-steamers, or have they now all been replaced with more modern vessels?)
*See “Dear Diary – Page 27” – July 26, 2015 & “Dear Diary – Page 31” – August 2, 2015