Daily Prompt: The Kindness of People – Lost in Rome

When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!

Rochester Cathedral, Kent

My golden oldie brain just remembered an experience from way back in around 1965-66 when I was on a European holiday with a friend of mine. One of our destinations was Rome, you know that big town that is the capital of Italy. It was a great experience, full of old churches and monuments and even the pope. We had a great time although we were only there for a couple of days. My friend was an opera lover and I didn’t mind it myself, so we decided to go to the Caracalla Therme where they performed operas in the open air in the evening.

Our hotel was somewhere on the other side of Rome and believe me Rome is big. We discovered how to get there by bus. We were two teenage girls and certainly did not have the money for a thing called taxi. We discovered that two busses were involved. The first bus departed from just around the corner to the hotel and we had to change somewhere, cannot remember where, but I do remember the bus we had to take was the “C” bus, pronounced Chi in Italian. Eventually we arrived and followed the crowds into the arena, noticing that the arena was just next to the catacombs where we had been visiting a few skeletons in the morning, so we felt immediately at home.

We took our seats in the open air. The moon arrived, at least I think so, and otherwise we were in darkness and watched the opera Madame Butterfly during which we were almost eaten alive by the various mosquitos flying around. I did to know that mosquitos were such opera lovers, or was it our blood they were after. Anyhow long story cut short, the opera finished, everyone clapped and it was time to return to the hotel. Unfortunately no-one told us that the last bus Chi departed about an hour before the end of the opera and so we began to walk. Somehow were eventually saw the dome of St. Peters in the distance, thinking if you are near the pope you will be safe, although both of us were not catholic. It was a long straight motorway to the cathedral and in the meanwhile we were serenaded by various whistling youths calling from their cars – yes the romantic Italians.

Eventually we arrived at St. Peters and found the square in front of the church empty. It was now around 2.00 a.m. We did not even find a member of the Swiss guard to help us, although at that time I was with an english passport. Today it would have been different as I have a Swiss identity card. We then saw two parties in the square admiring the Vatican centre by night. One party was a father and mother with two children, so what could possibly go wrong. Everything went wrong, they did not understand us as they were French. The others in the square were two ladies and two men which we thought might be a bit dodgy. On the other hand we had no big choice and so we approached them. We asked whether there was a bus line nearby.

The two ladies were Americans, our colonists, so we were happy, although their two friends were Italians. The ladies listened to our tale of woe and said no problem, their friends would take us to the hotel. I suppose we looked doubtful but they said they would come as well and the friends were both doctors. I did not know if that would make a difference, there are many doctors that met a bitter end on the electric chair but we took the chance. Everything went find and we had a lively discussion in the car until the carabinieri spoilt the fun by sounding their doo-dah horn and forcing the car to stop. My friend and I said we would leave the car if there was a problem. It seemed that the carabinieri found that 6 people in a car meant for 4 people was not ideal in the early morning hours in Rome. The American ladies said to stay where we were, their friends would deal with it. They dealt with it in a lot of complicated Italian with papers flying around and hand signs, but we drove off and arrived at the hotel. We had been rescued from the juvenile delinquents of Rome and the carabinieri and the pope slept through it all.

We said our goodbyes, thanked everyone and approached the hotel gates which were locked. However, both my friend and I have loud voices and within a few minutes the gates were opened and greeted by an astonished travel courier wondering where we had been. It was just an evening at the opera.

Daily Prompt: The Kindness of People – Lost in Rome

Daily Prompt: The Kindness of strangers and the kindness of me

When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!

A Sunday afternoon walk through the Einsiedelei, Rüttenen

As I reported a couple of days ago, Mr. Swiss an I went on a mission to visit the local hermit who lives in a place called the “Einsiedelei” all on her own. It was a nice hot day and so the cool air in the Verena gorge as it is known, was welcome. Unfortunately it seemed that half of the area also discovered it would be a good idea and so we were dodging in and out trying to avoid meeting people. As no-one fell down the steep slopes of the gorge, or fell trying to get back to civilisation, there was no necessity for complete strangers to help anyone.

Mr. Swiss helped me to return to civilisation as we took the high path to return home and it was a very steep descent. I needed a protective hand on my arm to ensure that I did not set up a record of being the fastest descent in the gorge history. There were many traps on the path, probably to test the abilities of the pilgrims. The path was lined with tree roots and stones, and also gravel. For me they were an invitation to prove how to survive. It seems that midnight walks are not so popular as the lamp in the photo was the only lamp I found. There were a few candles here and there in various gaps in the rocks, either for the romantic effect or perhaps the hermit was not allowed to have electricity, being non hermit friendly.

On the other hand who needs electricity. I had enough difficulty finding my way during the day, not to talk of a midnight sojourn. Whoever put the lamp on the high path of the gorge was a stranger doing something kind to the evening pilgrims.

Otherwise, since writing this prompt the last time, there have been no deeds of kindness or generosity performed for me. Of course Mr. Swiss does his 50% in cleaning the apartment. He will often do a quick shopping tour if I have forgotten something and regularly empties the felines recycling tray. I also selflessly cook lunch for him (and me) daily. In return he prepares the evening meal, so what could possibly go wrong. I live a secluded life in the Swiss countryside, although I did rescue a spider last week. He or she (difficult to say when it concerns spiders) was in our bathroom. I did not mind the spider being there. It was perched on the tiles and doing what spiders do.

“Good morning spider” I said “do you have the feeling you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Definitely. It is not the fate of a spider to sit on tiled walls in a place that is so spotlessly clean there is nothing to eat. I would not even dream of spinning a web here, although perhaps where the ceiling meets the walls.”

“I would not advise it spider, humans are not so keen on spider webs in their bathrooms, but I have a suggestion, if you don’t mind. I am a stranger and am determined to do something particular kind and selfless for you.”

“Oh yes, you have a female spider for me?”

“No, not exactly (at this point I realised I had a male spider). I thought I would fetch a spider friendly container which you could climb into with a little help from me. I would cover it with a spider friendly piece of paper and carry you to the outside world in my garden. I am sure my garden is teaming with female spiders (I did not tell him that they usually devour the male after the action has taken place)”.

He thanked me profusely and I carried him carefully to the outdoor world where he sped away into the undergrowth looking for someone to love. You see it is no good hoping that others will assist you, you have to take the initiative yourself.

Daily Prompt: The Kindness of Strangers and the kindness of me

Daily Prompt: In the Summertime – don’t believe the meteorologists

If it’s autumn or winter where you live, what are you most looking forward to doing next summer? If it’s spring or summer where you are, what has been the highlight of the season so far for you?

A Sunday afternoon walk through the Einsiedelei, Rüttenen

Walking on shady paths in the local forest is one way of escaping the heat of the Summer days, because those days have now arrived. I was getting advance warnings from Mr. Swiss that next week we will have tropical heat and next week has now arrived. I often think he missed his vocation as a weather expert. He watches the daily weather report on the TV with eager eyes, passing negative comments about the guy who is telling us all about it. This weather expert is not an expert and does not have a clue, but there again he is a Eastern Swiss and the Eastern Swiss are not the same as we central Swiss. They have banks and think they invented meteorology. The guy always talks about the “temperatura” but the temperature always does something different to what he says. Swiss meteorologists seem to speak a different language to the rest of us, so perhaps they are just not understood by us Bernese/Solothurn Swiss. OK, I mean they are only humans, and even human weather forecasters make mistakes even of they are from the far East of Switzerland. If they did not make mistakes then Mr. Swiss would probably not bother to watch the forecast and one of his favourite programmes would be missing.

Now the tropical heat has more or less arrived, so Mr. Swiss was right and, for a change, so were the Swiss weather reports. I remember my days in London in the heat of the town where the concrete would reflect the sun’s rays with a vengeance. Ice cubes were prepared for a worst case scene to quench the thirst and cool down. There was no escape from the heat and so all the windows were kept open “to let in some fresh air” as my mum said. Unfortunately it only let in the hot air from the sidewalks (notice how I adapt my language to our colony over the pond – we Brits say pavements). Mr. Swiss being Swiss showed me how to do it. He says all blinds down, windows closed – then we have perfect temperatures indoors. Actually he is right, it does stay cool indoors when you prefer to live in a dark room more suitable for developing photos. Unfortunately I still have a streak of fresh air in my London blood system and the dark room effect gives me the feeling that doomsday is just around the corner, with a slight claustrophobic tinge.

So what do I do? After my golden oldie sleep at lunchtime, which now takes place in a dark room with the windows and blinds closed, I surface for air when I am awake. I grope my way to the window leading to the outside world and arrive on the patio. This is also protected from the midday sun, or any sun for that matter, by the sun shades which ensure that the floor tiles do not radiate heat. Our back garden has full sunshine all day but I am protected against any negative effects. There was a time, if you see my original blog on this subject April 2014 when I was a sun worshipper, allowing the rays to turn my body into a sun tanned film star lookalike. This could still happen, but a couple of years later my contours are slightly more in the expanded mode and the ideal bathing suit has not yet been produced, so I remain in the shade in the background and absorb the benefits of a warm afternoon, whilst Mr. Swiss mainly remains inside. I would add thanks to my natural Southern skin type, it still turns brown in the sun, but it takes longer to get the overall effect due to the wrinkles and creases which have arrived in my later years.

As I sit here writing my daily opus, I can hear the birds tweeting in the shade of the trees and the traffic on the distant local road. The sun is beating down and I now think it is time to have a cooling drink and hope that we might have one of those classic electric storms this evening, complete with fork lighting and torrents of rain so that I will not have to water the garden myself today. I have not yet seen the guy with the ark collecting animals, so I suppose this evening there will be no deluge.

Oh to be in London on a hot summer day with open windows, the smell of the local traffic and the noise from the sparrows searching for a tree to shelter.

Daily Prompt: In the Summertime – don’t believe the meteorologists

Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ – A visit to see the hermit

Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?

There are prompts that you can do twice, the second answer from a different aspect and there are prompts where it will work. This is one of the prompts that will not work. Of course I can try the alternative prompt, which has also been here before, so I can say done it and who is going to read an alternative prompt, no-one is interested. For those new to prompt land it is an opportunity to give verdicts on another generation. Me: no thank you, it is not always a matter of the generation, but the character of an individual person.

Yesterday I went on one of my famous marathon walks with Mr. Swiss. This time we took an excursion into the local hermitage where our local hermit lives. Yes, we even have one of those living in a place called the Einsiederlei in the village of Rüttenen which is in the Verena Schlucht, a small stream in a crevice between two rocky cliffs.

A Sunday afternoon walk through the Einsiedelei, Rüttenen

Let’s start with the hermit’s house on the right and the accompanying church on the left which is also a place for the odd marriage. I mean it is always impressive when you show your wedding photos with a hermit’s house next to it. I have lost count of who is the hermit now, but I believe it to be yet another lady. The last one left because I think she had too much noise from the visitors marching past, I mean a hermit really wants to have peace and quiet to do whatever hermits do all day. I believe there is also a problem with rheumatism and arthritis. Living in a damp place next to a stream is not ideal when you are at an advanced age. Hermits are not usually representative of today’s youth.

It was a nice hot Sunday afternoon and Mr. Swiss found would be a good idea to cool down in the Verena Gorge where sunlight seldom arrives in large doses. Unfortunately a large part of the local golden oldies and their families also found this to be a good idea and the first problem arose on the parking lot, but we were lucky to find one vacant space. We could have walked to the entrance of the gorge, but it would have added fifteen minutes to our visit, so we took the car. After the first few steps into the entrance we could hear the merry screams of children splashing in the brook at the entrance and saw groups of tourists blocking the way. I was particularly annoyed as I wanted my photos to be without people.

A Sunday afternoon walk through the Einsiedelei, Rüttenen

I took around 40 photos, but as I do not want to blind you with photos of the gorge, here is one that is very representative. Like a river runs through it, with a few bridges and a path at the side. All very romantic. Living in the Kanton of Solothurn, it is one of the famous sights to see and visit, although perhaps not on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Swiss and I agreed we will do it again, but on a day when pilgrimage and religious ceremonies are not associated with the area. It will probably be a Monday or Thursday.

The only animals you see in this place are humans and a few fish. The gorge is in memory of the holy Verena who made a name for herself by serving the poor and healing various people from their complaints. As we arrived at the hermit’s house I was approached by a lady speaking high German so I assumed she was a German or perhaps from east Europe as she did have an accent (we speak Swiss German which is not very high and difficult to understand if you are not Swiss).

“Excuse me” the lady said “but I though I would inform you that opposite the hermit’s house there is a hole in the rocks. If you put your hand into it and make a wish the holy Verena will grant the wish and you will have no more problems.”

I knew of this wonder and so I looked at the lady and my reply was in a friendly voice but probably because I was not in such a good mood with all those people my answer was not so co-operative.

“Yes I know of this, but I am an unbeliever” or something to that effect. She apologised (although I do not know why) and moved on.

We eventually returned home and were glad to escape from the maddening crowds. I don’t know how that hermit manages to do her job. It was almost worst than the rush hour in the city of London. I think she also visits a Kloster for a few months now and again to get away from it all.

A Sunday afternoon walk through the Einsiedelei, Rüttenen

Here is a photo of one of the many waterfalls you can see in the gorge which does help to cool down on a hot day. I will back with more at another time when I am not very much prompted by the prompt.

Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ – A visit to see the hermit

Daily Prompt: Group Think – a call home

Write a post that includes dialogue between two people — other than you. (For more of a challenge, try three or more people.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to my younger days when I was 10 years younger. It was the only photo I found with me and a telephone when I was doing a simultaneous German to English translation for visitors from England. Ok, doesn’t have much to do with the subject of the blog.

Today is Sunday and the day when I call my 99+ dad in England (100 in September).

Mr. Swiss and I just returned from a marathon walk.

“I should call my dad.”

“Ok, give him my best wishes.”

I used the normal telephone because Skype does not work when the telephone partner no longer hears so well and the connection is dodgy and my iPhone costs me money. Using the normal connection always works and Mr. Swiss pays the telephone bill, so I dialled the number and the telephone was ringing at the other end. After about ten rings the phone was picked up.

“Hello dad, hello dad, HELLO dad, HELLO DAD” and then the telephone seemed to make a plonking noise and there was nothing. Dad had picked up the phone and dropped it again. No worry, at least you knew he was there and so I tried again. The telephone was picked up again.

“Hello dad, dad, dad, it’s me Pat.”

“Oh hello Pat, is that you. I was having a little sleep.”

“How are you dad.”

“OK, fine except for the usual aches and pains.”

“How did your trip go to the hospital this week about your pacemaker.”

“Not good at all.”

Now a worried daughter of course.

“What happened.”

“What happened? Nothing happened. They were supposed to pick me up at 11.0 a.m. and only turned up at 3.00 p.m” he was still annoyed with them.

“Typical National Health Service” was my answer, but dad was not finished.

“When the ambulance bus came it had about 6 other people in it and they were all being taken to other hospitals, so I didn’t arrive at the hospital until about 5.00 p.m and so when they were finished I only arrived home at 8.00 in the evening. My carer was waiting for me outside to see how I was.” The lady who is responsible for my dad is a wonderful person as I am sure she did not have to stay so long until he arrived. She also has her own family to look after.

I then spent the next few minutes telling him how good our health system is in Switzerland despite the fact that we have to pay. It might be free in England, but it has its price in nerves and lack of information.

“Can I complain dad, is there somewhere I can write.”

“Forget it, no chance.”

“How are things otherwise.”

“Well sometimes when I sit here and think, it don’t seem possible that I will be 100 years old in a couple of months.”

“Dad I always told you we would celebrate that birthday together and we will when I arrive in September. Make the most of it and enjoy it. There might even be a telegramme from the Queen.”

I had already checked on this and it seems that I can organise the telegramme online if I send a copy of his birth certificate and all the information. My friend told me I could do it, but I was not sure if dad really wanted it.

“No, no, don’t bother. I don’t want anything from the queen, I couldn’t care less.” was the answer.

As I am an anti monarchist myself, and dad is not far behind, I decided to drop the whole thing. Why bother her majesty with dad’s birthday, she definitely has other things to do more important. Perhaps one of her Corgi dogs also has a birthday.

And so our weekly conversation continued with checking on the weather in England and whether he was OK with his food.

I am now a little more settled that things are OK on the other side of the channel with dad. It’s a weekly conversation, I live too far away to do more, but it puts my mind at rest. I often think for someone that will soon be 100 years old the conversation is important to both of us, even if my voice is in the highest decibel volume possible to make sure he hears me.

Daily Prompt: Group think – a call home”

Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times – if your body still allows it

You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?

It seems that in September 2013 I was not around to do this daily prompt, but now I am here and still have not received my wonderful, probably, hoped-for good news. No big problem, I am still alive enough to realise what a silly prompt this is. Of course the good news is that I am still breathing and taking an active part in life, so what more could you want.

Citroen légère

I did a little celebration when I entered my local town of Solothurn from the local train station and saw this golden oldie car parked. I realised that not only I am a golden oldie, but even cars leave their mark on the history of mankind. It is a Citroen légère, the first car with front wheel drive manufactured from 1934 to approximately 1955 and you do not often see them on the roads today. This particular model had a so-called Swiss garage number, meaning it was not in private ownership but owned by a garage and probably just used for the odd excursion now and again and perhaps as a special for weddings. When I saw it I immediately took the photo realising that it is a rarity to see one today, especially in our little market town.

To continue – not that I am a misery guts and now and again I do break out to celebrate in my own way of things. Too much excitement for a golden oldie is not advisable, it might be the cause of various body breakdowns. So how do I celebrate? No problem, I don’t drink and don’t smoke, although these pastimes are not exactly the essence of celebration. I don’t even dance, because dancing is not one of my natural talents and Mr. Swiss was never a No. 2 Fred Astaire. In my younger years I did sort of make strange movements on the dance floor, known as twisting the night away, but today the twists and turns my body makes are more a cause for aches and pains than something connected with celebrations.

Our town is celebrating this week-end with it so-called market festival. The streets are lined with various refreshment stands and stalls selling this and that. All the more reason to stay at home. When I was younger, about four years ago, I was still a member of the local first aid group, also in charge of their web site and would be attending our stand at the market to assist in unforeseen injuries, such as overheating in the sun and perhaps the odd blister on the feet. I usually did the afternoon shift, avoiding the evening hours. The market is an all night thing packed with celebrations, beer and other alcoholic beverages, and the injuries at the late hours were generally in connection with alcohol intoxication and the injuries sustained in connection. This was not my sort of thing.

I do not have a photo of myself attending to the physical needs of the public during this festival, but again was the photographer, so here you can see our tent and fellow first aid workers. I still have my brilliant yellow t-shirt to prove it. This photo was taken in 2012, but they will also be attending today.

Märetfescht 2012

Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times – if your body still allows it

Daily Prompt: Take it From me – at your own risk

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?

There are many. The last time I had this prompt in December 2012 I was a newbie to the game of daily prompts and believed in the daily prompts to keep me out of mischief and to learn something new. Today I am deep into mischief, still doing the daily prompts and have learnt that if you miss out on one, don’t worry, it will guaranteed appear again in a year or so. The conclusion is ignore any advice I give you, it will not work. River Aare Yesterday I went on one of my death defying walks along the banks of the local River Aare. Death defying because you never know if you fall in to be swallowed by a local sea serpent who has been brought up by his family to only eat human meat. Not that a sea serpent has actually been seen, but you never know what is lurking in the depths. I am losing the thread here somewhere, of course we don’t have sea serpents, at least I have never seen one. However as I was walking along the bank I did see this. Stork It is a stork, we have a colony of storks further along the river at a place called Altreu. They used to be kept in their nests – probably because it was feared that the population would increase dramatically if the storks were allowed to delver babies all over the place. Now they are allowed to fly and now and again one is seen perching on a lamp post or a roof. If they perch on roofs, then avoid the ground below. You might be the target for their recycling system. This particular stork seemed to be enjoying his excursion to the river bank and he paused in his efforts for a photo. The idea is that they fly to warmer countries, like Africa, in Winter, but no. Why go somewhere where you have to search for food and no-one knows you, so they now stay in the colony in the Winter.

I was on this walk on my own, Mr. Swiss preferred to stay at home. There were other walkers also making the most out of the warm sunny weather, so I was permanently moving to one side to avoid being trampled by the older male members of the geriatric male population who were doing their best to set up a running record and proving that they could still do it. Dressed in their running shoes and athletic short trousers showing their muscular legs (well they were more muscular than mine) they pounded their way on the path ignoring all obstacles.

Now and again I could hear the sound of wheels on gravel and a bell. These were the wannabe Lance Armstrong types, training for their success in the Tour de whatever. They are dangerous. If you are walking and hear their bells then move, preferably into the next field and let them pass. They mow any object down that is in their way with their bikes. Yes, there are many dangers on the riverside paths. Now and again you might just hear the sound of an ambulance approaching to pick up any victims of exhaustion. I notice I never see young men doing these risky manoeuvres by foot or bike. Perhaps the older generation want to show that they can still do it, even with grey hair and rheumatic joints. Now and again a member of the female section will pass by, but they are sensible. They even say “hello” and smile as they go pass, whereas the male members just look ahead, grimly keeping their eyes on the end of the trail and baring their teeth at anyone getting in their way. Swan on River Aare Even the swans were bent on doing their swan things.

“Good morning Mrs. Swan.”

“No time for conversations human, there is something moving down here and it looks edible.”

And so this was the only view I got of a stately bird, she had better things to do. Today I am having a quiet day, reading my book on my Kindle and cleaning a few windows, but tomorrow who knows. I heard there might be a mllking competition at the local farm, Yes, such is life in Switzerland, never a dull moment.

Daily Prompt: Take it from me – never follow the advice of a golden oldie