this was not a holiday i’d really planned to go on. maybe that’s why it was so good and so completely steeped in experience. a constant sense of wonder for almost three weeks, how can that be a bad thing. even trams had me taking pictures. who knew the streets of zurich were full of them and they could run you over merrily if you weren’t careful. well, at least that’s what my husband assured me; he was not around when my daughter and i landed in this elegant and reserved, yet astonishingly pretty in summer city in the north of switzerland, and he must have been a bit worried, i have a tendency not to be too concerned with reality. or so i make sure everyone believes. the day we arrived in europe britain voted to exit it. how very contrary… much debate, doom and gloom all around, but there was spaetzle to save the day.

a constant sense of wonder for almost three weeks, how can that be a bad thing.

my daughter was going with her school for a trek in chamonix, a charming little hill station/ski town in france, right on the border with switzerland. we had to drop her off at geneva airport to join the rest of the team. the holiday got going around this requirement. later, much later, my husband muttered, it wasn’t really required… she could have gone with a couple of other kids from singapore, but he thought it might be nicer to do it this way. i have to say, i didn’t feel any need to argue with him over this.

destinations got included as we looked at routes, dates, making the most of the time at hand, etc. my husband decided to get some work done as well; meet people, see facilities. ultimately, we spent a few days in zurich, a few in geneva, about three days in parma in italy, and a stretch of ten days in london. that slightly chilly summer of europe and those inordinately blue skies were ours. once in a way a little drizzle or dark thunderclouds.

as we travelled, i found myself posting random thoughts on facebook. one became a piece here on writersbrew, you might have read it, switzerland? you must be dancing. here are some of the others accompanied with pictures taken, sigh not on a hasselblad, just my handy and easy iphone6s. really, mr jobs, what would we do without you.

24 june, zurich, switzerland

lovely day in zurich. something so europe about it. estair was delighted with cheese spaetzle. we found a nice kosher restaurant, great food. beetroot risotto and duck roast with pale pink hummus had estair in a daze, a bit of jet lag in that daze too. temperature was high, sun blazed. the blue was intense.

the limmat river shimmers all the way along our walk down neumühlequai, the steeple of fraumünster far away, trams whizz; verdant, colourful flowers and foliage everywhere. hey, it’s summer, everything seems to say… these berries so blue, wonder what they’re called.

24 june, zurich, switzerland

just realised i was in britain when it joined the european communiy in 1973. in fact, i was there during the referendum of 1975 too, summer holidays in our school… learnt the meaning of the word referendum then. much excitement about it.

funnily, here i am about to visit london again. another summer holiday, and britain is leaving the eu… another referendum. this time my daughter learnt the meaning of the word… and she too is 15 as i was in 1975.

went to a lovely chocolate shop in a train station this morning. the taxi driver, an elderly man, said #brexit was not good not bad, life goes on.

26 june, zurich, switzerland

taking endless pictures while walking around the old city, even from the room… just look at that sky. sorry to bore all with pictures… what to do.

26 june, zurich, switzerland

around the main train station. haven’t got any läderach chocolates yet but the station is full of chocolate stores on every floor… daughter had the sprüngli hot choc today, happy kid. (note: sprüngli too good, don’t stint on stocking up, wish i’d bought tonnes more. didn’t get to the läderach… next time.)

hauptbahnhof or the main station, bahnhofstrasse, richard kissling’s statue of alfred escher.

27 june, geneva, switzerland

geneva… passed the un hq and unhcr on the way in from the airport. in school, the city was synonymous with the un and who. now these don’t seem that awe inspiring any more, but i am sad we won’t be able to show our daughter cern this time.

the day was bright, the colours brilliant, something happy about walking from the hotel to the lake which is just five minutes away. okay, pictures pictures.

27 june, geneva, switzerland

stately, grand buildings along the lake, an older couple ambled by, the lady had a limp but they both seemed to be enjoying their walk. something about this part of geneva reminds me of apollo bunder, taj, the colaba area in bombay.


29 june, parma, italy

staring at doors in parma. jacob is sure luca brasi stays somewhere in this city.

29 june, parma, italy

more parma. the city is a major food place. of course, parmigiano and lots of prosciutto everywhere. barilla was based here once, i think our hotel occupies part of the converted factory. had the most wonderful gelato – pistachio one scoop, melon one scoop – and apricot juice at a tiny gelato place. the risotto at the restaurant we just found by chance, without consulting concierge/lonely planet/zagat, was unglucky and delicious. the waiters were friendly and seemed to really enjoy serving diners, lots of exclaiming and thanking, no need to tip, yes, they are old… the first real pizzeria in parma, started way back in 1962. okay, i am feeling my age. jacob agreed the pizza maker looked like luca brasi… or his brother. best thing, you get the most zingy and crackling with hotness peperoncino, chillies, here… going to buy some today.

(never got around to buying that peperoncino, alas.)

cyclist and sunlight on strada della republica / palazzo del governatore in the piazza garibaldi / a lane by the old post office / convent of san paolo on via macedonio melloni

1 july, parma, italy

parmigiano reggiano. a cheese idea started by french benedectine monks living in the appenine mountains nearby. went to see a parmesan cheese factory near parma yesterday. of course, had fun. the whole curdling of milk with whey, the checking to see if the fresh cheese is of the right consistency, the use of cheese cloth to strain the cheese and then hang it to drain water, reminded me so much of just making good old chhana at home. my grandmother would have turned all that fresh cheese into fabulous chhanar jilipi, pantua, shondesh, chomchom.

thoroughly enjoyed listening to how parmigiano is made, matured, inspected for rightness, and enjoyed with practically everything. something nice about food being treated with love and respect, even a touch of crazy pride.

the parmigiano reggiano consortium has a set of stringent regulations for the production of parmesan cheese. even the sort of grass/hay the cows are allowed to eat must be just so.

2 july, parma, italy

a door at the duomo in parma. i did not notice the light, the iphone6s did. the pink building is the baptistery, the outside is made of pink marble from verona, it’s almost a thousand years old, the duomo is slightly older.


8 july, london, britain

the mannequins at selfridges and the nereids at the british museum seem to have met the queen of hearts. poor headless creatures. feel especially bad for the three daughters of the sea god standing atop a temple like tomb from ancient lykia. they are described as “girls with windblown draperies,” i would have loved to see their just as windblown tresses.

9 july, oxford, britain

oxford… i must have been four when i first heard about this place. my father telling me i must go there. he had the highest regard for oxford university, i so wish i had the mind and scholarly aptitude needed to get into one of the colleges of this classic absolute utter university. on my many visits to england i have assiduously avoided any and every attempt to get me here. maybe a bit of that yarrow unvisited thing in me. actually no, i just didn’t want to go to the place… it scared me. and anyway, if you weren’t getting into one of the famous colleges, what was the point of going there? this time, jacob announced we’d go to oxford, meet this lovely young couple we know, both oxford dons, and their children. i thought, okay, let me do it. first stop, england’s oldest coffee house, at least that’s the claim. ordered the cream tea: scones, clotted cream, jam, assam tea. missed assam, polished off the clotted cream, got ready to see the place that someone who loved education and studying told me about a long long time ago.

9 july, oxford, britain

radcliffe camera, university church of st mary the virgin (the centre from which the university grew, says wiki), logic lane, one of the oldest cobblestone paths here, the very pretty merton college, the queen’s college stately and grand, brasenose college with beautiful views of the radcliffe camera’s dome, university college which expelled shelley in 1811 (for, as the college register states, “contumaciously refusing to answer questions proposed to [him], and for also repeatedly declining to disavow a publication entituled the necessity of atheism”)

and later agreed to house his memorial, and much more as our friend took us for a happy walk through a bit of the famous university and its colleges. the sky was brilliant this afternoon, my framing was as usual lopsided.

merton college was founded in 1260. age clings to every bit of oxford. a nice sort of age.

the queen’s college, from 1341, built in honour of queen philippa of hainault.

the university church of st mary the virgin on the north side of the high street. the centre from which the university of oxford grew.

brasenose college is home to one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, brasenose college boat club.

14 july, london, britain

found this lovely bookshop, hatchard’s (since 17 something), with a rich old world air on piccadilly… estair got these strange absolute finds (as per her reading list). seriously considered buying a dostoevsky, then bowed before my uneducatedness and let it be. david niven’s the moon’s a balloon is into a relaunch… all the rage at book stores. read it when i must have been 13/14. was good.

now at heathrow. holiday over. must say, was really mad fun… and boy did i walk. looking forward to singapore airlines and movies and whisky.

found in parma

instagram 3 july, geneva / indimutters

let’s #swan away. #lacleman #lakegeneva #cornypuns #white #longnecks

the featured image right on top is of wellington arch in london. i posted it on instagram on 10 july indimutters

an #angel of peace descending on four horses of war, #quadriga, a decisive battle, enemies today friends tomorrow, #napoleon, #wellington, #waterloo, #england #france #buckingham palace nearby, #subjects of a #raj … wonder how that felt, #sunsets are glorious, in the end perhaps only #art endures… and cyclists and stray thoughts.

the window at sprüngli. marzipan or is it all chocolate?