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Switzerland 1947

B.D.S., after a most handsome tribute to the staff, continued:  “I will attempt to reconstruct our journey from the county of Dorset to the shores of Lake Lucerne. At 7:30 in the morning of April 1st our contingent was beginning to gather at Ferndown prior to the arrival of the Royal Blue which was to carry us on the first stage of our journey. The coach finally arrived (needless to say a few minutes late) and all comfortably aboard, we set off in high spirits for Winchester, Little time could be spared for refreshments but everyone made full use of the few minutes at his disposal. At this stage it was thought fit to give a roll-call. Everyone was assembled, numbers scrupulously checked and finally, all present and correct, we prepared for the final lap of the coach journey."
A.D.P. gave a faithful account of the Lion Monument at Lucerne mostly in Latin and another young chronicler recorded his visit to Fluelen concentrating chiefly on William Tell.
E.Y., it is true, provided an original account of a Swiss walk, the originality consisting not only in the spellings, but in the way that he had written up a quiet stroll along clearly defined mountain paths into hazardous climb from which it was nothing short of miraculous that anybody returned alive. Perhaps a few paragraphs are worth rescuing.
"At last we reached the difficult part of the climb, a wooded belt which was ridged by layers of rock. Some of the trees were rotten and we had to be very careful of the ones to which we clung.  At this stage progress was very slow and it was a long time before we reached a path above the trees.  As we left the woods a frightened Chamois leapt and bounded down the mountainside.
We were now on the verge of the snow line and we did not continue to climb, but followed the path and were soon directly above Gersau.  Then we decided that it was time to go down again, fearing that we might find ourselves on a precipice if we continued to go round the mountain.
The descent was quite dangerous and the first part of it was tackled on hands and knees.  However, by creeping from tree to tree we eventually regained the grass slope.  The boys thought that it would be easier going on the grass, but we were soon disillusioned, for we found the slippery turf was even more treacherous than the rocky ground.  Eventually we reached the safety of the broad path, and by this route we soon reached the lower ground.  Mr. Maiden then took us into an Inn and treated us all to a glass of lemonade.
The time was by then about half past one in the afternoon and we started out once more, but this time it was a smaller peak we chose to climb.  Mr Maiden set a hot pace and soon we were all panting and very glad when we were given half an hour’s rest to have our meal.  When the meal was finished and we had burnt our packages, we once again began to climb and we had soon reached a considerable height.  We followed a path which became progressively less visible and more rock strewn as we progressed.
After a short rest we started down again but progress was very slow because of the bushes.  The descent was made on hands and knees as before, because the loose stones made it impossible to walk.   However we soon discovered a gully and the pace quickened a little, and we were surprised to find we had taken one and a quarter hours to descend.”
The rest had better be passed over in silence, broken only by Mr Huntington’s:


It would be an understatement, to say the least, if I told you that Mr Maiden invited me to write “something for the magazine; a mere two hundred words or so, old chap!”  he talked me into it; he gave me no peace until one day in self-defence I weakly said, “Oh very well, but what shall I write about?”  “Oh general impressions, you know.”  Said he.
I can easily sum up my general impressions, everyone in the party enjoyed himself, with one possible exception, Robert Holt, who was the unfortunate victim of an accident which kept him in bed and gave him a most painful time.  We are glad to see him back at school again and hope it will not be long before his leg is well.
It was a great joy to me to revisit places I had seen as a student in 1933.  The beautiful clean Swiss countryside was most refreshing after the tedious journey over a war-ravaged Europe.
The evening sun was lighting up the snow covered slopes of the Alps as we approached Lucerne and I think our strongest impressions of Swiss mountain and Lakeland scenery were made then, during our first few hours in Switzerland.
The following days were well occupied with steamer excursions, walks, a visit to Lucerne, and a trip up the Rigi to a point well above the snow line.  Now, on a quiet June evening in Wimborne, as I think again of those days, a multitude of scenes come pressing into my mind.  I see Mr Maiden sleeping in the train while Mr. Mottram, having tried for hours at last gives up the struggle and looks with wonder and admiration at one so able to sleep under such conditions.  I suspect he learnt to sleep like that in Burma.
Who is this?  A boy with a purpose?  Whit is that he asks?  “Please sir, is there a fish and chip shop in Gersau?” And so to food.  I see sausages hard and soft, cheese, potatoes and boiled apples, and stews; and can this be tea?
By the lake a small irregular strip of grass became an outpost of the Empire.  There were fought to a breathless close many a thrilling game of Cricket, and because we were versatile, football too.
One or two with sturdy independence kept their own pace on all excursions whatever that set by the remainder, and so I recall two figures, one in navy blue and the other in brown tweed, proceeding calmly on their own, usually well to the rear.
I remember Turtle’s cap and Young’s musical box; arguing with officials in a Lucerne bank, on ships and in trains; a shopping expedition with Mr. and Mrs. Clark and seeing goods only heard of in this country.
I remember how well the party worked as one, how remarkably well-behaved.  If there was a job to be done there were always more volunteers than were needed.
Finally I remember that this is 1947 and we must soon start thinking about 1948.  I wonder what and where Mr. Maiden will be “inviting” me to write about next year?

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