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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
….or was it an extended hibernation? On our return shortly before Christmas (2020), we were full of confidence that the whole Corona spat would soon be over. To be sure, the second wave of infection was already shutting down many things again and putting human togetherness into a crawl.
On our return from southern Europe, I (Tom) had made a lot of plans for myself and as a snow sports fan, I was already dreaming of many snow sports camps where I would be appointed youth leader. I hardly considered the fact that these camps had been cancelled for a long time beforehand and was slightly disappointed when browsing through any search requests for snow sports leaders. So my winter season said goodbye before it had even begun. Without any source of income, our travel budget did not allow me to buy new winter sports equipment.
So I made do with hikes in the immediate vicinity and a few bike tours. In addition to the trekking boots, I still had my old bike at my disposal, so that I could enjoy a few wonderful tours through the wintry Jura in good weather. Unfortunately, my old beloved bike failed shortly after Easter and with a broken chain stay, no further trips can be made. So I definitely became a hiker.
For our jeep we had already made a few more adjustments and changes. When we returned, the spare wheel carrier, bought as a bargain, was already in the workshop at my mother’s house ready to be fitted. The existing spare wheel is simply too heavy for the original carrier on the rear door and this load kept causing problems with the closing mechanism of the door. In addition to other minor repairs to the camping kit, we also planned to change the awning from the pop-up roof. The almost three years of use left traces on the tent fabric and due to the abrasion it was no longer completely watertight everywhere.
While Chantal attended to her medical problems and clarifications, I deepened my skills in planning the frame extension of our basic vehicle so that we could mount the new spare wheel carrier accordingly. The technical drawings were soon prepared, but the procurement of materials was another hurdle; small and private customers are supplied by dealers only reluctantly or not at all. In the end, previous relationships helped. Although we were sometimes charged incomprehensible surcharges for small purchases, they were no longer able to harm my work on the frame extension. Among other things, I needed 20 screws of a certain size and strength and had to grudgingly accept the package with 100 screws.
It should be self-evident that such tinkering work, which has to be designed exactly for an existing product, often costs a lot of money. If a part is welded together incorrectly, this often only means disposal in the scrap bin. Despite the mistakes during the whole construction around the new suspension at the rear of the car, I enjoyed the whole work a lot, and I was almost a little disappointed when the work was successfully finished. The other small jobs bogged me down in time and every now and then, after solving one problem, there were two more to be solved; or even bigger ones that also had to be solved. But I had more than enough time, because the restrictions around the Corona pandemic didn’t seem to stop and the authorities gave me one excuse after another. This was truly a bad time for travelling!
So I devoted myself to a completely new experiment and tried my hand at arboriculture. During my walks around Aesch, I always observe the different tree prunings and how they were cut. In our community of inheritance there is still a piece of land on which cherry and apple trees stand, and their last care was more than fifteen years ago. I bravely took action and thinned out the trees heavily, cut out the dead wood completely and reduced the appearance both in height and width. The future fruit yields played a subordinate role, as we don’t want to treat these old trees with chemicals and thus can hardly harvest top fruits. In any case, I am curious to see how the trees will revitalise after my pruning and whether they will continue to delight us with their flowering splendour for a few more years. In addition, they will certainly bind a few kilos of CO² and reduce the poor ecological footprint of our mobile home.
Towards Easter, restrictions were tightened again in many countries, and the authorities had a huge amount of respect for a third wave of disease in connection with the Corona pandemic. In comparison, the Swiss measures with regard to the foreign environment were just harmless and allowed us relatively great freedom. But this Swiss looseness also had its price: I had hardly visited someone when the cantonal crisis management team called and imposed a ten-day quarantine on me. It can happen so quickly sometimes, and you’re already in the middle of the action and trapped in your own room with an extremely short escape route.
….By the way, my second birthday in quarantine! Well then, cheers and all the best for your future plans.
Ascension Day and Whitsun were rather damp in Central Europe and unsuitable for trips across Switzerland. We preferred the warm and dry room in Alain’s flat to the wet camps, especially as the temperatures dropped again and snow fell from 1300 metres.
Before Whitsun, we both soon went for the first Corona vaccination, followed by the second vaccination, and we hoped that thanks to this vaccine in the bloodstream, our adventure would soon be able to continue. But, far from it, the official mills grind very slowly at times, new variants and findings emerged and again a lot of patience was needed. We also planned a lot of new destinations and had to “give in” again and again; there was simply no security in planning anything outside Central Europe. For individual tourists, the world almost stands still!
Well, we were actually ready – the jeep packed and we were in the “starting blocks”.
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