Posted on November 25, 2007 - by MG
Tree opposite my brother’s Swiss chalet.
I’m back. It was an awesome week in which I got to swap being a mother/wife for being sister/aunt.
My nieces and nephews are so cute it hurts. I miss them already. My brother and his wife’s twin babies are still at that adorable little baby phase where they make cute little sounds and curl up against you to burp, and stare into your eyes as you rock them to sleep.
Broodiness alert…beware of spending a week with small ultra-cute babies!
My sister’s kids are also fabulous. I hadn’t seen my 22-month old nephew since he was 4 months old. Now he’s racing around, but occasionally stops asking to ‘Cuddle’ or ‘Kiss you’. And my ten-year old niece/goddaughter listened to me read out my new opening chapter of ‘Jaguar’s Realm’, and spent quality time with my sister and me down at Charly’s Tea Room.
But I’m back now, full of useful information for fellow travelers. Such as:
1. A winter’s supply of wood for a wood-burning stove costs around £45 and takes 4 hours to carry up stairs and stack in neat little piles near the door. In my brother’s Swiss mountain village, all houses have a lovely pile of wood outside the door. It’s probably an offence to stack it wrongly. Neatness is very high on the agenda in Switzerland.
2. Charly’s Tea Room will make any cake you like to order for a reasonable price and deliver it. After scouring the bakeries my sister-in-law was about to resort to baking her babies’ christening cake herself, until her older sister told her this useful bit of information. The chef at Charly’s loves to make imaginative cakes. He did wonders with a request for lemon sponge and white glaze icing. He’s quite some pastry chef, his mille-feuille is to die for.
3. The older version of the Catholic Rite of Baptism includes a mini exorcism, just in case the Devil’s already starting to get ideas…A few grains of salt in the mouth of the babes and a few exorcising prayers (which are best said in Latin) go a very long way with innocents. Fr. Julian of the London Oratory flew out to perform the ceremony and explained all the way through a very full-on christening service. My nephew and niece were good and baptised!
4. You can leave Gstaad at 3pm and take a train, plane and then bus to Oxford without waiting more than a few minutes for anything, except for the long airport check-in.
5. Even though the official ski season starts in December, an early dump of snow on the mountains will prompt the efficient Swiss to start preparing pistes and running the ski lifts. My brother and sister-in-law managed to get some skiing in on the Wispile, before the early gift of snow melted away.
6. You should eat a mille-feuille (vanilla slice) by first knocking it over and then tackling it side on, using the tines of the fork to snap the delicate layers of crunchy pastry, mixing in enough creme patissiere and jam to make each mouthful a little slice of heaven. If you don’t have jam on your mille feuille it is substandard; you have been ripped off.
7. Skiing is for people with strong legs. I learned that one a few years ago. Don’t ski unless you are fit and strong!
See, this is the kind of thing you won’t hear from Taki – a famous resident of Gstaad – in his Spectator column. With him it’s all about the Eagle Club and the Palace Hotel…