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Friday, 25 May 2018

Swiss Bank Account

It shames me to say it, but things have being a bit quiet on the boat building front the past month. "Have you finished your boat yet?" is a question I hear all too often. But, this time at least, I have a valid excuse absent as I was from the country for several weeks on a fact finding and cultural exchange visit to Europe, including Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, The Low Countries and, our favourite, Switzerland.

Small, privately owned cable cars dot the landscape. There is currently some debate about what level of government imposed safety regulations should apply to small operations the general public cannot use. Owners fear they will be forced to shut down an essential transport tool.
Public cable cars are on almost every peak. This one took about 10 minutes and cost 20 CHF return ($30 NZD)
Elevator on the side of a mountain. Why not?
In Switzerland, we were lucky enough to stay with friends met when working in Laos last year. We got a locals tour of the Alpine region just south of Lucerne and discovered the Swiss love of all things chocolate, cheese and cable cars. It is a rural area, and the sound of ringing cow-bells is a constant background to the fantastic rolling, green views and snow-capped Alps.

In Spring, the cows are out of their winter sheds and grazing the valley fields
A Swiss dairy farm

Spectacular views at every turn
We were told that in a few weeks the cows would begin to be moved up into the Alps to graze on freshly exposed grass after the snow melts. This is a lot of work for a small single family operation. Fence wire has to be restrung (it is taken down in winter) and many posts repaired. The family typically live up on the mountain with the herd over Summer making cheese and keeping an ear out for the ever present ringing cow-bell.

The Summer farm house and dairy (Alp)
The snow has just melted. The fence will be repaired before the cows are bought up

The author of a favourite blog of mine, Fernglade Farm, often refers to chopped and stacked firewood as 'better than money in the bank'. Considering the wood can be used for home heating, hot water and cooking, plus it appreciates in value over time (aged firewood burns cleaner and hotter) this statement makes a lot of sense. The Swiss are famous bankers, and they seem to be also aware of this analogy.

Unfortunately, we eventually had to leave Switzerland, although not before finding an actual Swiss Army knife on a trail that had been lost months earlier in the snow! All is not lost though, once home I did manage to perform a minor task on the boat. Behold the beveled bow, now ready to receive the large piece of plywood that will make the floor:

Not long after we moved to New Zealand I purchased a very good TV panel for a great price. The only problem was it had no stand, the previous owners had it mounted to the wall of their gypsy van. After six months I was finally tired of it leaning against a cardboard box and decided to make a stand (get it?).

Fantastic progress for six weeks I think :-)