Saturday, June 22, 2013

Switzerland Holiday 2013!!

Greetings to you all my dear family and friends! I recently just returned from my second holiday this year to Switzerland! Finally a country that I haven't been to before. I was lucky enough to have two friends both in Switzerland and for me that's huge as I really enjoy going to places where I know people as it gives a bit of a more unique tourist experience. Plus it's fun to see people. Now both of these great people I met in Camphill, one was a coworker last summer and ended up dating a guy she met here and so she came a lot to visit to Ireland and I got to know her through those trips. The other one is an ex pupil of my house mother and drove to Ireland from Switzerland and planned on just staying a week or so and ended up staying for two and a half months. I was lucky enough to get to spend time in the country and the city parts of Switzerland, which isn't very big but the parts are of course quite different and I was so excited to see the differences and compare and contrast. There are a lot of stereo types about the Swiss world in Ireland, centered mostly on the fact that swiss people are very organized, hard workers, they have a lot of money and there are rules for everything. So I will begin! Part 1: Fribourg with Lea: I first went to visit Lea in Fribourg. Fribourg is a bilingual city, half speaks French and the other half speaks swiss German. Lea comes from a bi-lingual family so in her house she speaks both, sometimes they will speak, german, french and english all in the same sentence, without even thinking about it. Amazing...but I digress. Ok, So after a day of buses, trains and planes I arrived in Zurich Switzerland. Lea picked me up and we took the hour and a half train to Fribourg. By that time I was really tired and just wanted to sleep, which is what I did. Lea is still in school and so she went to school while I explored the city of Fribourg on my own. This city has very modern parts which big shopping complexes and then very old parts with cobbled streets dotted with cafe's and restaurants. I was more partial to the old parts because they were just gorgeous to look at and take long walks on, enjoying the amazing houses and apartments. The afternoon we spent at the pool with her class where we played bad vollyball and did some laps, got to meet some of her friends and just relaxed in the sun. Lea was in two concerts while I was there and so friday night she had rehearsal so I relaxed. On Saturday we stayed in Fribourg as I didn't have train tickets until Sunday. It was super warm so we went up the cathedral that it's town and walked to the top that has gorgeous views of the city and the alps. We ended up being alone up there so we sunbathed for about ten minutes until people came up and gave some weird looks for laying on top of a cathedral with exposed stomachs. But so nice. The afternoon we stumbled upon a festival happening in the old part of the city where bikers decorate tandem and regular bikes up and bike the same circle in the city for twelve hours. So we sat eating sausages and watched amazingly decorated bikes go in circles.
We planned on getting up early Sunday and going to Zermatt to the mountain that the Toblerone candy bar is based on. We brought a picnic and went up into the mountains. We had about a two hour journey on three trains and beautiful weather that let us into a lovely mountain town where we took up a three minute cable car into the mountains. The view when you got out of the cable car was just stunning, it looked fake.
We brought an amazing picnic of cheese, chocolate, beer, and meat and bread!! The swiss appear to go everywhere with cheese, a swiss army knife and chocolate! This is a proven fact :). That evening we simply relaxed, it had been quite hot for the past two days and we'd been in the sun both days so we were both quite sunburned and dead tired. It was then my amazing time with her family came to a short end as I was the next day going into the country to see my other friend. Part II: Emmental with Christian Christian and I met at the train station in his small village where there is a famous biscuit factory that I was told by several people we have to go to, that is famous not only because of the amazing biscuits but because of the fact that you can go into their factory store and they have huge bowls of biscuits you can try in every flavor imaginable. So we went quite early at like 9ish and so we weren't really in a biscuit mood but we ate enough to tide us over until we had lunch. We then went up in a cable car to one of his favorite places to paraglide. Where we went hiking and I was made to try a famous swiss drink called Rivella which has a weird ingredient: Milk. It was gorgeous, all you did was stare at gorgeous view.
We then drove to his house, which is a typical swiss farm house, that is gorgeous and huge. We ate lunch with his family outside before we started work in the afternoon. It of course was super hot again which in the summer on the farm means haying. So everyone helps on hay days. After lunch I got a huge tour of his house. He is a carpenter so was showing all the cool features of his house. He then went to work while I played with his nieces, who are beautiful and speak no english so the three year old spoke german and I had to figure go by her gestures as to what she wanted me to do. There really aren't words for how cute a three year old is when she speaks swiss german. After which I was asked to help on the farm which is code for sit next to Christian in the hay machine that he was driving, where I learned the art of swiss not to fall out of the car when the hills get steep.
We spent the early evening with everyone eating ice cream (tradition on hay days) and swimming in the nearby river. His family takes care of kids who need some extra support and who are a bit hyper active, so we always had about three 9-12 hyper boys around us all the time, who were great. Just imagine spending the evening playing ping pong with a boy who should really run around the house seven times first before tackling ping pong. We were asked to stop playing games in the yard because we were too loud...oops. After the boys went to bed Christian and I went up the hill where there was a stunning view of his valley and we sat and listened to the cows wandering their fields all with huge bells around there necks. Which for me was a new sound, really special and amazing. For him and other farmers they no longer register that sound, but I loved it.
The following day we went to Bern in the early morning and wandered around the countries capital which is a gorgeous city, it was designed by the same person who designed Fribourg so both cities have a huge river running through the middle. We went and saw the free bears that have a caged habitat set up in the middle of the city near the river, really amazing to watch bears just wander around. So great. We then walked along the river, where he went swimming before heading back to the farm to work.
That evening Lea, Christian, and I all went to the head gardener of camphill dingle's mothers house where they just sold a huge farm that had been in there family for seven generations. They were one of the first few farms in Switzerland to produce blue berries and have made quite the name for themselves. They also own a huge tree farm where were went up their woods and learned so many interesting pieces of information about what a proper christmas tree has to look like to be sold in a huge stor apposed to just have a family pick it up at the farm. Really interesting. We then went to the farm itself and saw the horses that are boarded in their stables, really gorgeous. I of course was all up in there faces and petting them.
Okay, So this is the majority of my trip, the last bit I will follow up with later, I need to remove my eyes from the computer screen, soo many hours! I hope you enjoy this installment. love to you all. Elsie x

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Feile na Bealtaine

Happy Summer (in Ireland)!! That's right New Englanders it's already summer on this side of the Atlantic. Kind of crazy to think about, since it's mud season in Vermont. The month of April brought about a few new changes to my job title including going back to the start with having to look after a resident. We have a new woman resident in my house who is now my resident. This is really exciting since it is ultimately why I came to Ireland in the first place. So this has been really nice, a lot of work to get back into the groove of things but really nice. Thankfully I have worked with her in the past so I knew what I was in for. May first we enjoyed a rather dangerous hike over the cliffs to the beach. We felt like were training for the army as to get into the fields to reach the beach we had to climb under and over electric fences. Plus walk on cliffs that had steep falls to one side so you had to concentrate on where your feet went. Not to mention don't get distracted by the beautiful day and view we had on the edge of the sea. We enjoyed a well deserved tea break in stunning sunshine. n2c7WPo95M4/UYjk5AOik2I/AAAAAAAAC9M/r7wpV6eqAxU/s320/IMG_4022.JPG" /> In the beginning of May in the Dingle area is a huge summer festival that is one of the biggest events of the year in this area. It is a five day festival filled with art exhibitions, live music, and theatrical performances. Not to mention a parade. The start of our celebrations started Thursday night seeing a well known drummer known as Rónán O Snodaigh. Who was out of this world and basically was capable of making one drum sound like a drum set. Plus he danced while he played which was amazing. Music in general is a huge draw for Camphill Dingle, since we love to dance. Friday was spent entirely in town looking at art exhibitions and seeing how cast iron bowls were made in the olden days, amazing. It is a long process involving a very hot fire and clay casts. Every evening they had tons of concerts, both low key in the pubs and then the concerts for the younger generation. There was a silent disco which is probably one of the funniest experiences I've ever had. Everyone has earphones on that are connected wirelessly to a DJ playing music and so to an outsider it looks like people dancing with no music. But then when you get closer you hear them seeing off tune to the song only they can hear. Me and one of my housemates found some friends where enjoyed an evening of dancing around to only music you can hear. It was a great experience, with great people surrounding me that were probably the reason it was so good. The rest of the weekend was spent at amazing art openings and seeing some good old fashioned irish music. A bit lower key then the rest of the weekend. Sunday was a big event as it was the parade! Camphill was in this. We were standing stones and druids. As the theme involved who came into Ireland through out the years. Sadly there aren't very many pictures of us, but the parade was amazing, just full of color and incredible music and costumes. Below is a video of the parade! Sunday evening we were invited to join a huge salsa/cuban music event at a huge hotel in Dingle strictly we are known for our dancing! It was very loud music but fun, of course none of us know how to dance salsa but still a highly enjoyable event to attend. That concluded our weekend of culture and I think many of us would say we are all set on arts and culture for the remainder of the year. It was amazing what this festival has to offer but its overwhelming the amount there is to see. May is the nicest time of year in this part of Ireland so we've all been enjoying sunshine, last evening my house had a picnic dinner on the cliffs, listening to the sea and sleeping after we ate. This place is quite magical, there are these yellow plants that only when the sun shines on them to you smell there aroma which is of coconuts. Its really funny to walk down a lane and all of a sudden smell coconuts. In the coming months a lot of happening here, and lots to look forward to, a holiday to see some special people in Switzerland as well as amazing people coming to Ireland from the states in July. I'm very excited for the coming months but also dreading them as some of the most amazing people i've met here are leaving me to go home. But I am confident that we will see each other again. After an experience like this I know we have quite a special bond. I can't believe I'm running out of time, but I can't explain how much this year has changed me for the better. Hope you are all staying dry and enjoying the first official springtime in New England. Love to you all! Ex

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Friends, Food Party aka Holiday in London!

Greetings friends and family! It's been quite a while, my apologies. I was being a fill in house mother as the real one was in Switzerland and I had to fill in. So for a full two weeks I was under some stress to keep a house of farmers together. Thankfully my darling house mother returned a week ago and I promptly got to go on holiday myself to London England for a week to see a darling friend Kathryn and spend time with her family. Such a fun treat. Kathryn is on the short list I would say for our adopted daughters, as she is one of my few friends who feels comfortable to be in my house with out me. I have found that that is the case with a lot of my friends, and I couldn't be happier so I thought a trade would be nice so I spent the past weekend with her Mum and sister in Somerset. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first part of the week I spent with Kathryn in London. She's recently moved in with some of the most delightful people I've met in a long tim. Keep in mind this is my first vacation in seven months. My first time out of the friendly bubble that I have come to know in Dingle. So it was much more of a culture shock for me as I am used to people waving and being friendly where ever I go, and of course a city environment is very different. But so nice to be surrounded by such a fast environment again, I forgot how much I love cities. My first night me, kathryn and her three house mates all had a great evening, where I got to see what a great group of people live in this flat, they had competitions for who can make the weirdest noises while washing up and playing blind basketball in the sitting room. Funnily this behavior is so normal for me at this rate, but it was so nice to see so many people that are so content with who they are and not afraid to make fools of themselves and laugh about it, so we just spent the first night all laughing and being goofy together. So this introduction was such a great first day of my holiday. The following couple days we watched films, went thrift store shopping, and drank coffee in the coolest cafes. We also had a very romantic/cold picnic with pasta and individual plastic wine glasses filled with wine. Amazing afternoon, then we went and tried to bother the queen but no luck. After London I made the journey to Somerset to see Kathryn's mum and spent a relaxing weekend getting to know her and Kathryn's sister Anna. Such a lovely home, reminds me of my home and my grandmother's house combined, filled with pictures, and memories everywhere. Lovely, to sit by the fire for hours reading and just relaxing in a proper home. Nice change from the madness that I am normally surrounded by. We went to an amazing concert at Wells Cathedral which is by far the most incredible cathedral I've ever been to and if any of your are ever in Wells you must go. Fun fact about Wells is also that Hot Fuzz was partially filmed in this quant village (Graham and Wes that was for you). I also got to spend the day in Glastonbury which was a great little town, VERY hippesque, reminded me of Johnson Vermont. Filled with lovely charity shops, and cute cafes. I went to the Glastonbury Abbey and saw the ruins that were left behind, they were incredible. Also met up with Kathryn on Sunday and we hiked up to the Torr which is a tower on top of a hill in Glastonbury with an amazing view at the top. After my return to London we had an amazing dinner party, filled with kitchen dancing and good friends. Such a nice way to end an amazing week. Upon my return to Ireland I straight away met up with two lovely girls who I started in Camphill with. The time way back in September when I started was some of the happiest times of my life, and it was just filled with tons of laughter and goofyness, which is just where we picked up now. A lot has changed since they have been gone but that hasn't stopped us from having a great time. One of the girls is here with her family and we all went to the cinema and then to the pub to see a friend play music. Now this pub evening really made me realize the magic of the town where I am living. I'm going to try and paint an image of what was there..... You walk into a huge open room, bar on your left and around the room are tables and benches. Every seat is filled and the pub is completely silent. Off to the right next to the fire is a group of five musicians in a circle, playing everything from the banjo to the flute and mandolin. We got our seats and then your only job is to listen, but what's so amazing about Irish musicians is they have file cabinets in there brains filled with Irish songs, so someone would suggest a song and the musicians would know it and then everyone in the bar who would know it would just start to sing, clap or hum. It was such a special moment to sit in a pub that is dead silent and all you hear is amazing music and all you see are faces entranced by the moment. I think this has such an impact on me because you would rarely find this in a bar in the states. I am basically saying that anybody that likes music should seriously come to Dingle because it is honestly some of the best undiscovered musicians in the world. This weekend is of course Easter which is very exciting, it has been holy week in Camphill and I will rejoin tomorrow where we beach clean, turn off all technology until Sunday. On Saturday evening (weather permitting) we will have a bonfire that we will all keep going all night by each staying up with the fire for an hour, looking at like a meditation, each person who wants will stay with the fire for an hour. Pretty special, followed by Sunday morning outdoor mass at 6 am. Then an egg hunt in the afternoon. So a lot is happening. I hope you all an amazing Easter, it will be my first one away from home and has come to be one of my favorites, really sad to miss it. Anyway, mine here will still be very special!!! xxElsie