top of page


Cycling through Hornnussen country

Another Sunday, another brilliant bike ride. A fairly short loop taking in a lake, a river, various forests and a couple of Hornnussen clubs.

Let’s start with the Hornnussen. I’d never seen this Swiss sport before and had no idea about its rules or objectives. It turns out that it’s about hitting a rubber ball as far as possible. You probably imagine that a baseball bat or similar implement is used to hit the ball, but no, the players use something that looks more like a fishing rod, swung around the air then guided on metal rails before the point of impact at which point the ball is launched, flying through the air for up to about 300 metres and possibly even further! Meanwhile a team of defenders try to stop it. They are carrying big wooden shovels which can be hoisted in the air to bring the ball to an abrupt stop. I’m not sure whether the defenders are allowed to jump but it seems that they are allowed to fling the wooden shovel high in the air in the hope of securing a timely interception. Not the most entertaining spectator sport as it's so difficult to see the ball but luckily a fellow former Hornnussen player was watching and could give us a brief rundown of the action.

Aside from the sporting fun, there were plenty of other things to enjoy. The whole route was through gorgeous countryside, passing through forests, crossing fields, winding through villages, and skirting the edges of lakes and rivers. We saw a deer leaping through corn fields, swans gliding elegantly along the River Aare, a few goats and the usual cows and kites that are seen all over Switzerland.

This time the starting point was the lovely hotel Auberge in Langenthal, Canton Bern. We followed routes 84, 802, 34 & 71, taking in Herzogenbuchsee and Aarwangen.

Language tip

This time we’ll look at verb agreement with collective nouns such as team, audience and government.

In English you can generally use singular or plural verb forms with these words.

The team is … (here we are thinking about the team)

The team are…. (here we are thinking about the individual members of the team)

The first option is perhaps more logical but actually I tend to use plural verbs with these words, as you can see in the paragraph above.

How do these words work in your language? Do they require singular or plural nouns or do you also have a choice, as in English?


bottom of page