Monday, 28 April 2014

Fairy Tales, Magic and Trudi Gerster

So, I had a freaky moment yesterday, telling my 15-year-old I was thinking of visiting the Fairy Tales, Magic and Trudi Gerster exhibition at the Landesmuseum Zurich on Saturday. I googled her name to find out a little more about Swiss's 'fairy queen' only to find out that she had died exactly a year before, on 27th April 2013, aged 93!

Fairy tales have always enchanted me, and my daughters are just as entranced with them now. I've always loved that dark, sordid side that fairy tales have. Children need that. Switzerland understands this much more than the UK. They have sinister Shmutzli in December and pretty scary characters causing mischief during Fasnacht.

And so I hope to find out more about Trudi Gerster, this Swiss fairy tale hero, before the exhibition closes on 11th May. The exhibition includes shows about fairy tale's heritage, history and topicality, with not only precious manuscripts, paintings and objects on exhibit, but even flying carpets and a magical forest! One room is dedicated entirely to Trudi, pictured below.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A visit to a beautiful cafe full of treats - and not a member of staff in sight!

We found a gorgeous little cafe on the edge of our village which is full of scrumptious things such as cake, ice cream, fizzy juice, tea, etc but amazingly it is un-manned. You just pick what you desire and there are cups, glasses, cutlery and anything else you may need - pop your money in the slot and take a spot on one of the lovely little benches outside and enjoy!

And this had me quizzing big time. As an English girl so used to everything being locked and bolted down incase of theft or vandalism back home, I find this staggering. So what is it that is just so different about the psyche of the Swiss and the British? From what I can see the babies are all brought up roughly the same - some breastfeeding going on but mainly bottle-feeding, and plenty of dummies (the latter did actually surprise me) The people are very similar in many ways - they like a drink (and many more smoke!)

But then I began thinking about bigger issues. People seem better looked after here. Everyone is paid a very good wage, no matter what the vocation. And the way we have been treated as immigrants has been incredible. Very friendly people - and the local Gemeinde has provided incredible financial assistance with a language school for our eldest.

And then there's the school thing, which varies hugely - the school day begins at 8.15am. Children don't start school here until 7 years of age, and then only do two afternoons a week. At 5 they begin Kindergarten (mainly just mornings) and are responsible for getting themselves there and back. And then, the biggest thing that sticks out for me - every child shakes hands with their teachers and says 'Good morning Frau Whatever 'when they enter the cloakroom and the same happens again 'Adieu Frau Whatever' when they leave for home. Teaching contact (teachers are scared to touch children in the UK) and above all - RESPECT for each other.

I may be scratching the surface of why you can have an unmanned cafe in Switzerland (a preposterious idea in the UK) but I hope it will all be revealed as our life pans out in this wonderful country.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Whale Ride

I've found a wonderful little shelf on the Children's floor at Winterthur Library which is full of more unusual books full of weird and wonderful illustrations and many tackling the bigger issues of life and death. There was a picture in one that inspired me to create the collage below which I have entitled Whale Ride, featuring my two girls. They love it.