I have climbed many stairs in my life, so many that my body now cringes and refuses to do it effectively. We had stairs in our home, it was a simple house built in 1884 and there were two floors. We lived on the top floor, grandad on the bottom floor, so we had to climb the stairs to arrive. There were even three further stairs leading to the bedrooms. As the house was built in the years without gas or eletricity, the gas cooker was added as an extra and it was perched on the top of the three stairs. Oh how mum complained every time she had to cook. Once she knocked her foot on the stairs. Now in addition to a bunion on each foot (caused by cheap shoes as a kid), she also had a so-called “hammer toe”. Mum did not believe in doctors or hospitals, so these things were just left to develop.
My first experience of real stairs was St. Pauls Cathedral in London. Mum and paid a visit now and again. There was a stairway into the dome. It began quite nicely: big curve and wide steps which was misleading. As you reached the top the stairs had diminished in width. Inside the dome there was seating lining the inside walls. You took a seat and put your ear to the wall, I was now in the whispering gallery. Due to its construction the guide would whisper something to the wall and it carried around the inside of the dome. You could understand every word. I think mum enjoyed the experience more than me. The staircaise continued to the smaller dome in the middle. You had to pay more to cotinue and once we did it. It was not exactly a great experience. It was an open staircase suspended in the middle. We only did it once as we decided it was not worth the fear of falling to immediate death. Pictures of the Hitchcock film Vertigo came to my mind. It remained a unique experience.
I have climbed many stairways in my life and have also fallen down quite a few. I even knew where it was a good place to fall and where not. We had a small staircase in the company where I worked. I was descending, slipped and fell.Actually I rolled down the stairs. This was an advantage as it helped to avoid broken bones and similar injuries. When I arrived at the bottom I checked and found I was still breathing and could move. I looked up to a familiar face, it was the owner of the company. “You could have been dead” he said, probably wondering how good our insurance was and whether I could sue him for neglect. I stood up, he helped me. He was concerned. Luckily the only injuries were bruises, which I did feel for some time afterwards.
Switzerland is a country of slopes, but now and again stairs are constructed, probably for golden oldies like myself. The photo on the right shows the stairs to our village church on top of a hill. Luckily you can avoid these death defying stairs, by walking along the curved path (I though we had curves yesterday) to reach the actual church. I do not really have problems going up, it is the descent where I tend to lose my balance. Sometimes I can even lose my balance just by standing, especially when I am taking a photo at the same time.
If I go for one of the quicker walks along the river I climb the stairs in the photo. It is half hour walk. If I take a longer walk along the river, I still climb these stais to reach home, so it makes no big difference. Mr. Swiss finds it would be better if he walked behind me. If I fell he could catch me. They were the days gone by when he was stronger and heavier than me. He is still stronger, but I now beat him by about 5 Kilo. There would be no point if I fell and dragged him with me (something like the conquest of the Eiger mountain). There are approximately 70 stairs to the top and if I grip the banisters with both hands and walk sideways I can do it without taking a break. Parallel to the banisters there is an electric fence to stop people getting in, or the animals getting out – I am not sure. There is a feeling of success when you arrive at the top and see a bench waiting for you. Be careful when approaching the bench, there is a small slope to climb and if your legs are still shaking from the climb, it could be tricky.
We have a cathedral in our local town of Solothurn, it also has a dome and guess what? Yes, you can climb to the top and have a wonderful view over the town, our river and the hills beyond. Now who could refuse the opportunity. I lived in Solothurn for at least 10 years before I tried it. I did it all on my own. I was in town, Mr. Swiss at home. I saw the sign “Gallery open – entrance 1 franc” so decided now or never. It was quite good at the beginning, but these things always are. Now and again I paused. I would mention I was again wearing leather shoes with higher heels. As the stairs were narrower than the length of my foot I had to walk with a sort of sideways step, but I arrived. The last part was quite exciting. After the belfry. I arrived in a room where there were other climbers and a man at a desk taking the money for the trip and selling postcards. I was still a little shaky on my legs, so naturally fell, pushing his table over on the way down. This was quite an embarrasing moment, but undaunted I proceeded to the outside balcony to appreaciate the view and take some photos. Of course after helping to collect the postcards scattered over the floor.
Here is a photo of the view from the top to prove I did it. When I arrived home I did not mention my little accident to Mr. Swiss, no point in making him nervous was there?
I remember the words of my last boss when I was a working woman and we had moved into a new modern office building with a staircase and a lift. Everyone was walking up the stairs to maintain their fitness probably. He said “Mrs. Angloswiss you will take the lift” Yes, my reputation as the great stair climber had reached him as well.