April Fool

Posted on: 03 May 2018

After all the marathon and ultra excitement of recent weeks, it seems a little dull to be documenting my walks and training runs, but hey ho, here goes.

Untidily, I still have one from March before I can move on to April. 30th March: in halfway springlike conditions, a round walk from Liestal and back. I chose this one out of a book because with a bit of adapting, we could combine it with going to visit the ruins of a Roman villa I had long wanted to see. So train to Liestal, then a bus. The villa was marginally disappointing - quite large, but in poor condition, with remaining fragments of wall crumbling and neglected, and litter and garden waste lying around. The website had described impressive mosaics, but these had evidently been removed to some museum, and only some monochrome fragments of path remained. Ah well, seen it now. Off we go on the walk. Up through some woodland, emerging onto a road for a while. The sun was unexpectedly strong, so off came a layer; glad of more woodland. Wood anemones; the odd butterfly; an unafraid deer who regarded us with frank curiosity from only a few metres away before ambling unconcernedly off into the undergrowth. Crossing another road, we encountered an amphibian fence to funnel frogs?/toads?/salamanders? into a little tunnel under the road; and beyond that, a fish farm, where a hungry heron stalked along the long, rectangular pools, frustrated by wire mesh fences protecting them from his attentions. Following a track along the wood margin to Lupsingen, we found the restaurant there closed (it was Good Friday), so walked on a bit further and ate a snack (the inevitable apple and nuts - time for a change of menu, methinks) sitting on a bench on the hillside. More woodland, then a road took us down the long hill to Ziefen. By now I was ready for a cafe, but didn't rate our chances of finding anywhere open, so was very happy to spot a sign advertising coffee. It wasn't exactly a cafe, it described itself as a 'Kultur Zentrum' ('culture centre'), but the man who owned and ran it was quite happy to provide us with drinks - coffee for me, herb tea for J - plus a couple of slices of carrot cake. He was an interesting character: a Serb who had lived there for some 30 years, he had single-handedly rebuilt this place from a derelict barn, while also retraining as a computer programmer after finding his engineering qualifications not recognized in Switzerland. He also turned out to be a runner! - an ultra runner, no less - though he certainly didn't look like one, more like a wrestler or a rugby player. One piece of carrot cake became two, as we chatted away. J, in particular, had found a kindred spirit, as he showed us a cellar (complete with a well in the middle of it) he was renovating, and they conversed at length about building techniques, the correct composition of lime plaster, etc. etc. I began to fret a bit about the time, as we still had to get back to Liestal. Finally we said goodbye and set off. By now the sun had gone, and it had turned cold and cloudy. A bit before Bubendorf, it began to rain. Harder and harder it came down; faster and faster we walked, down an endless-seeming road into Liestal. By the time we reached the station, we were soaked, marching soddenly up and down the platform (earning some quizzical looks in the process) to try to keep warm. I can report that sitting on a train with cold, wet trousers clinging to your legs for an hour or so is not the most comfortable of experiences! 19.5 kms, 3 hrs 43.

So March ended with a total of 176 kms exactly! - you have to go right back to 2012 to match that. Well pleased. But it ended pretty much how it began, weather-wise, and a new month began in the same cheerless vein: cold, wet, windy, with Rigi & co. once more covered with snow. "The year can't seem to get going, can it?!" I thought in exasperation. Back in full winter kit again, off we went to the school track for the usual 5k exercise, trying (unsuccessfully) to time the outing between episodes of rain. My heart wasn't in it at first, and when the first km came in at 6:29, I felt there was no chance of getting under 30 minutes this time. But each km improved, and after the third one in 6:04, I decided I would at least get the last two under 6 minutes; and helped by some pacing from J, did so (the last one a lung-searing 5:34)  - this despite the strong wind. (The storm warning lights were flashing across the lake, and my pony tail kept getting blown over my shoulder and flagellating me across the face.) Final result 30:16 - okay in the circumstances. Felt it afterwards though, so it was run/walk home, for a total of 11 kms and 1:25.

2nd April: the weather gods seemed to have taken note of my complaints, and gifted us a lovely sunny morning......... though it clouded over mid-afternoon and became quite cold again. Grateful and optimistic, we set off on another walk - leg 2 of the 15 of the Jura Höhenweg (Jura High Path), one of Switzerland's classic long distance footpaths. We started in Brugg, and despite a couple of pathfinding hiccups in the first couple of kms, lunchtime found us at the Linner Linde, a famous ancient lime tree. According to legend, this was planted by the village's only survivor of the Plague in the 1600s, but it is actually believed to be much older than this, possibly dating from as far back as the 1300s. The crown has suffered a bit over the centuries (though maybe this is less obvious when it has leaves), but the trunk is massive. It has benches round it, so it seemed a good place to stop off for lunch, if a bit populous. (Cheese sandwich and a banana today - a change from the usual apples.)