By special delivery A Swissepistle

We begin with our sightings of interesting creatures. Over the last week in Switzerland, we sought high and low, but in vain, for Pokémons and their followers. But we did see an alpine salamander, an endangered European eel, a slow worm (a limbless lizard) and a dead shrew. We heard marmots whistling their danger calls and saw the carved work of beavers. We witnessed a flock of Valais Blacknose sheep descending from their summer pastures and met many cows ringing their bells. Spot which of these are pictured below.

As for birds, the Three-toed Woodpecker, the Red Kite and the Golden Eagle have been highlights. For the birdwatchers among you, here is an ID exercise taken from a bird hide near Wil.

The Australian Magpie we brought with us is enjoying its new home carolling over the pond of our hosts, Vreni and Bruno. Their home in Wil, a small village near the German border, has been the base for us and also for Rosmarie (Vreni's sister) and Rinze Marten, our friends from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Vreni and Rosmarie grew up on a farm on the edge of Wil and their family goes back generations here.

We'll remember Wil.

A bit over a week ago, the six of us piled into a van and set off. Geoff and I are not in the habit of taking guided tours but this was a guided tour to beat all guided tours. It was customised by our good friends. It took us into the high alps and deep valleys around countless hairpin bends and what Geoff's mother would have called 'shut-eye views'. It included home-cooked Swiss meals. And the weather was glorious late summer sunshine. Our refrain was 'wunderbar' and 'Why are we so lucky?' It was if we were living in a series of Swiss postcards.

A day trip on the World Heritage Bernina Express, a drive over a 2500 m pass, and a stay in the high village of Feldis were just some of the highlights crammed in to the tour.

If I (Chris) keep writing, I'll just gush. So I will let pictures tell the rest of the story except to say it was a wonderful way to celebrate turning sixty. The thrill of getting a seniors card on my return cannot compete with the adventures of the last week.

We walked by rivers, high above the tree line, through fields where barefoot walkers roamed and farmers gathered grass.
We followed the Rhine to its source. Or did the Rhine follow us?
We went to Grindelwald. Chris turned old in the youth hostel there. Geoff and Rinze Marten played in the glacier gorge where the rushing water was ice way back when Chris was born.
We even saw Edelweiss growing.
Friends forever.

As always, this comes with our love and best wishes,

Chris and Geoff

P.S. Geoff has decided that CH, the abbreviation for Switzerland, stands for CHeese and CHocolate.

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