Switzerland – HelpX 2.0

So, the light is enough that it wakes us gently.

The sky is light before the sun really crack’s the top of the mountain range, and we are met with views of these stupidly brilliant snow capped mountains straight out our window. It’s absolutely brilliant.

We are right in the valley, and any direction you look from the house, you will be met with mountain ranges.

Switzerland is winning brownie points pretty damn quickly.

The guys said that they were going to just take the morning easy, and that their friends were coming over to have a brunch with them for Easter, so we are keen to be part of a Swiss easter breakfast.

We join the guys upstairs, and Emilie does a quick tour of what needs to be done today. We were meant to do 2 hours yesterday, but since we didn’t end up having the time, we’re just gonna do 6 hours today. They give us a list of things to do, and Bec and I know that we are going to nail this pretty easily.

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We head back upstairs, and get stuck into helping the prep for the easter celebrations. I am in charge of portioning the mini cookies, and Bec is in charge of being chief food advisor, throwing tips and tricks around the kitchen like its nothing, while making friends with Clelie. I’m a but Jelly cos Bec is always straight in the good books with the kids. Takes them a good couple days before they’re my friends.

Damien & Emilie’s mates rock up, and we all sit down to enjoy the festivities. There is so much French being spoken, that Bec and I have no idea what is going on. It’s a touch awkward, but Emilie does a good job of filling us in with the important parts of the conversation. We enjoy all kinds of savour and sweet foods, and it’s pretty much just a whole variety of anything that is delicious.

As soon as brunch is finished, we get our gear on and get stuck into the work.

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Through the tasks we end up doing, we end up learning a little bit about permaculture. I haven’t done the research, but from what I can gather, permaculture is more about facilitating nature in doing what it does best, rather than trying to push the plants to their limits.

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It’s a pretty cool system, and there is always a way to use the scraps of one thing, for the benefit of something else in the garden. It’s pretty good.

We tuck into the work, and we spend the next 6 hours clearing paths, using cardboard and wood chips to kill bulk amounts of weeds, poking holes in the garden to let them breathe a bit, finding and throwing slugs as far as we can, spreading wood chips around plants, and weeding gardens of the most unholy bloody weeds that you might be able to imagine.

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You think I am joking…

They don’t big, but they grow in bulk.

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This means that there might be a little cluster of these bastards a good half meter square. In this case, you would do the cardboard and wood chip trick to kill a heap of them, but the ones that are scattered around other plants, you need to get down on all fours, and use one of those spades which are really long and thin to follow the roots down into the soil.

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Their roots are about twice as long as the little sprout, but they snap off really easy, so that means it will just grow back later. We ended up spending a good hour and a half working in this garden to get rid of them, and I reckon we only got through half of it, and this wasn’t an overly big garden bed either.

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The kids come out and run around finding all the easter eggs that Emilie and her friend, Nat had hidden. However, the best bit was when Damien and his mate were trying to find the Lindt chocolate bunny. It took them both a good 15 or more mins, and it was just sitting in plain sight.

Typical.

We keep powering on while the guys have lunch. Their mates head home, and Damien and Emilie decide to take a chill pill and just take a nap for the arvo. A good 15/20 mins later, I ask Bec if she’s keen for a break, of which, she is in favour, so we take a half hour break, and watch another episode of Brooklyn 99. I head down and get the movie loaded, while Bec follows with the remaining lunch and snacks. She asked me what I think we should take, and I’m just like “Mate… Bring it all”
“You sure?”
“Yeah, I am sure”, while I beeline for the bedroom.

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Bec is feeling bad cos we have got all the food with us, but what makes is worse, is that as she was on her way down, Damien came out from his napping den, and caught her red handed. She’s feeling even more dodge than before, so we make sure not to eat everything, which took a whole heap of self control on my part.

Largely, because I have acquired a whole new respect for anything that can enter the cavity that I call my stomach.

We finish our episode, and head back to finish the gardening off.

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We wrap up an hour or so later, and head inside to join the family for dinner. Emilie cooks up this epic eggplant lasagne thing, which is all kinds of flavoursome and delicious. Much like France, Spain, and Italy, the produce is so flavour rich, that it doesn’t need seasoning. Add the fact that they’re using their own rocket from the garden for the salads, and wholemeal pasta for the meal, there is so much brilliant flavour, that its not even funny.

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Emilie and Damien tell us about how they started eating really clean when Clelie came on the scene, then they thought that it was absolutely absurd that they would do that for their daughter, but not for themselves, which is when they decided that they would start eating clean and begin to look after their diet a lot better. Since then, they have added all kinds of knowledge to their arsenal when it comes to good and clean eating and permaculture.

Damien has got a table tennis table out the back, so that is us.

We finish dinner, the guys put Clelie to bed, and we get stuck into a few hearty games of Table Tennis.

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Despite my ambitiousness by telling Bec that I was going to “give him a proper flogging”, I didn’t win a single game. We played 5 games, all the way through to 21 points, and every time, I came up short. My topspin smash was definitely the thing that let me down. I kept going hard, and over shooting it something chronic.

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We wrap up the game, drink our cups of tea outside in the cool of the night, and talk about life in Switzerland. I ask them what the average wage, not the minimum is in Swiss terms, and they tell us that 6000 francs per month is a pretty standard wage. In Australia, that is a good wage, not a standard one.

No wonder things are so expensive in Switzerland, but at least things are affordable for those who live here.

We head to bed, and Damien shows us the laundry, but it’s not the washing machines that catch my attention. I spot this big concrete and steel door at the end of the laundry, and ask him what this behemoth is. This is when he shows us the Nuclear Fallout shelter. Not even joking. This little room is kitted out so that you can survive a nuclear blast. How mental is that? The concrete is thicker than my head. This thing is a beast, and it is even a beast to have to try and close.

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Back in the 70s, it was mandatory that every house was built with a nuclear shelter.

This is where we learn that the swiss take their precautions seriously.

We are super impressed. This is the first nuclear shelter I have ever seen, and it did not disappoint.

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We head to bed, and sleep like babies.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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