I say, this weather’s getting a bit serious. A good rule of thumb, I’ve always thought, is if you can’t physically get to – or indeed see – your vehicle, it might as well stay where it is. Sound sensible? Yes, well let’s hope the beer truck can get through; surely this qualifies, even in snowy Switzerland, as hazardous driving conditions.
Having unloaded my ankylosaurus at Zurich’s Hallenstadion for the Walking With Dinosaurs show – yes, I know, you’d think she’d lumber in of her own accord after so many months – an adventure begins. Swiss Jules, my pal of 25 odd years, invites me to a place called Altdorf. (It’s about an hour south of Zurich, to save you fooling about on Google Earth.)
Pub quiz Bonus Round
And what is Altdorf famous for? The clue is an apple. Christ, it’s like pulling teeth with you lot. OK, what if I mentioned a bow and arrow and added that this chap had to shoot an apple from his son’s head to avoid execution? That’s right, the legend of William Tell. The trouble with legends, of course, is that they’re tricky to prove; William may really have been called Dave, for example.
Sure, he is still the national hero of Switzerland, prominent on the back of the five-franc piece. But that arrow may have been a wet sponge rather than a deadly weapon. And he may simply have been munching a Granny Smith at the time of launching the sponge. We’ll never know. Probably wasn’t even his son, come to think of it. Anyway, after 704 years, you’d think Switzerland might be due a new hero?
Switzerland’s National Hero
Enter Swiss Jules, a national treasure, braving the lion’s maw beneath a gibbous moon, parrying and crushing Barbary privateers in his wake. Well, more like making the tea and picking up actors, really, but let’s not split hairs.
He’s here working on a film called – predictably – National Hero. And there happens to be a day off from shooting and a spare hotel room for me. And a lift in a 4WD. Oh, and the beer truck has made it through, so all is tickety-boo.
But why dally in Altdorf when there is 50cm of fresh snow on the mountain. Ski-ing, I hear you ask? I consider it, of course, but discount it swiftly, weighing how a shattered tibia might affect the drive to Prague later this week. But there are snowshoes for rent from nearby Fluelen and a jolly cable car ride up to Eggbergen.
Ooh, things have come on a bit since Scott of the Antarctic’s day. Here I am expecting a couple of tennis rackets to walk on, yet these modern things with clever buckles appear, scarcely weighing more than a sheet of A4. Remarkable. They’ll soon be able to put man on the moon at this rate.
Oh, and if anybody happens to go up to Eggbergen – it’s also lovely in summer – do pop into Bistro Romy for me. The lady in there gave me meat and potatoes instead of soup and then took a photo for her visitors’ book. I’d love to know whether she captured my best side – I look pretty dishy from the back…