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Hiking in the Black Forest and skiing in ...

Updated: Feb 26

I'm coming to the end of the February holidays, the time when Swiss kids traditionally go skiing.

I've had a really good holiday!

At the start of the first week we headed to the Black Forest in Germany. The idea had been to do some Langlauf (cross-country skiing) but given that this is the warmest February ever, there was very little snow to be seen at 800metres. Instead of skiing, we did three lovely hikes - one starting near Schönau, a loop from Wiedener Eck and my favourite hike up to the Nonnenmattweiher from Bürchau (and back). Apart from a small section of the Wiedener Eck hike, we saw very few other people. We were really away from it all, exploring forests dotted with streams, spotting the occasional wild animal (mostly squirrels) and listening to the birds. One of the forests was being 'developed' to be an 'Urwald' - basically the plan is to leave the forest to its own devices as much as possible in the hope that it becomes the type of place it once was. I wandered around and imagined dinosuars roaming through the trees and flying above the canopies, as they surely did 65 million years ago.

The place we stayed was great - lots of plants inside and a magical birdsong box in the bathroom. A real log fire to keep us warm and jigsaws and games for entertainment. Not that I needed the jigsaw though as I was completely hooked on the book I was reading for book club - Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf - it was such a simple read and yet captivating at the same time. I can't wait to see whether the others in the book club enjoyed it as much as I did. After the Black Forest, I headed back to Zurich and then took the train to Scuol the following morning for a very short holiday (one night) with one of my former students. It's the first time I've been on the slopes in quite a while so I was a bit nervous. Hiring the skis made me laugh as the dude guessed I was about 165cm tall - I'm not! Luckily, the conditions were better than I'd hoped and I got a lot of practice doing the same blue slope over and over again. After lunch I tried a few other slopes which were a bit more challenging and was really delighted to take the gondola back down to the village at the end of the day.

Aside from the hiking and skiing, I've spent the holidays reading and playing the piano. It's been bliss! As well as the book club choice, I also enjoyed reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. And on Monday I went to the cinema for the first time in years to see Poor Things which was both funny and thought-provoking.

Hope you're enjoying some free time wherever you are.

Language Tip

This time we're going to pay attention to grammatical words - the small words that hold a piece of text together. See if you can fill in the missing words in each of the sentences below, all of which are based on the text.

  1. I ___________ had a really good holiday!

  2. We headed ____________ the Black Forest...

  3. there was very little snow to __________ seen at ...

  4. Instead ______________ skiing ...

  5. Apart ____________ a small section

  6. I tried a few other slopes _____________ were a bit more challenging

If you need to find the answers, just check the text above!

PS This is a really simple exercise that you can create for yourself from any piece of writing and is great practice if you are interested in taking a Cambridge exam.


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