Tuesday, 29 April 2008

uh oh

Cow Fight!

sorry I haven't made a post in a while, I've been busy adjusting to being back home!

anyway on the 13th of April....

we started the day at Bastiens mothers house for pancakes and coffee, i also tried every single jam under the sun from hazelnut to kiwi all really great and all homemade by Bastiens mum! I even got given a jar of Quince jam home with me!

we piled into two cars (Me, Bastien, Julie, Nadia, Pablo & Bastiens Mother) and set off down the straight road through the centre of the valley to a small village near sion for an afternoon of cow fighting & raclette. Both of these I knew very little about!

the place was packed with excited specatators, proud owners and of course the cows themselves, I was suprised bulls weren't the ones fighting but the local herens breed of cow is used and apparently the cows fight naturally in the mountains to establish hierarchy
 in the herd. hence the name of the sport 'combats de reines' (combat of the queens)
the prizes are shiny new bells!

its traditional for people to drink white wine and eat the mysterious local delicacy 'raclette' 
i had heard so much about whilst watching the cows fight, so we headed straight over to the food and drink tent! If i haven't mentioned already, swiss white wine is great, really fresh lots of peach and pear notes, not too dry and a great length.
They don't have much room to grow the wine though so not much gets exported, they just drink it all! Raclette turned out to be anothe cheese based meal, basically the raclette cheese is put under a heater until the top layer starts melting, this is then scraped off with a knife onto a plate, the melted cheese is served with a gherkin, some pickles and a potato. you don't need any salt but i found black pepper went down a treat! Raclette is even more localised than fondue, being a completely Valaisian tradition (Valais, the region of switzerland i spent most of my time in!)

this is pablo eating raclette!

Then it was up to the arena where we found some wooden supports on a hill to sit on giving us a great view of the action, behind us two cow fight enthusiasts talked excitedly, Bastien found out what we had missed and which cows we should look out for! then it began! its a lot like arm wrestling really except instead of them just using their arm they use their whole humongous body to try and push their opponent to the point of giving up! its quite exciting, especially when the dust is flying and the crowd is cheering! everyone reassured me that its rare for a cow to get more than a chipped horn in combat, which made the animal activist part of me feel alot better however in the similar japanese sport 'Tōgyū' they apparently sharpen the horns!

after a few hours of watching cows tussle in the beautiful sunshine , drinking white wine I felt i had absorbed enough swiss tradition for the entire trip but the day (my last day) wasn't over yet! so we hitched a ride down to Sion, one of my favourite places in switzerlan and went to went o one of my favourite bars of the trip, La Grenette! owned by a crazy bearded dude, this tiny place is overflowing with characters, traditional swiss wood layouts and probably just about enough room to swing un petit chat! cheap beer and everybody smillng! we met up with Bastiens friends (and now mine I guess) Christian, Eilda & Frederic who had come straight from a birthday party and we spent the majority of the evening with them talking and laughing before catching a train to sion, grabbing a great pizza and chilling at the appartment.

it was my last night and I thanked Bastien for the amazing hospitality he had shown me, it was great to hang out with someone so far from home who was exactly the kind of person i would hang out with now im back here! Can't wait for him to come to manchester in a few months and i can buy him a beer!

The next day i caught a train through the longest tunnel in switzerland to the german speaking city of Basel where i caught a flight to Liverpool airport, I've been back for a week or so now and although its great to see some familiar faces, i'd love to get away again! I've got the bug!

Stay Safe
Sam x

Friday, 11 April 2008

Venice Is Sinking!

hi I just spent a night and two days in venice it was really magnificent i couldnt really fully imagine it until i saw it, there are NO roads! all canals and they still use them for transporting building materials getting rid of rubbish and as floating shops, it was really cool, I went St Marcos square and got lost in the maze of streets thousands of times it was crazy

this is my `help im lost in venice face`
if you want masks you go to venice, this is the shop where Stanley Kubrick got his masks for the Movie èyes wide shut`

so the weather wasnt sunny but rain in venice is pretty magical everywhere you go you can hear a thousand raindrops hitting water and a million little splashes appearing all over the canals!

anyway im back in switzerland today we`re making music and sushi and on sunday I get to see some legendary swiss COW FIGHTS!!!

stay safe

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

more photos from switzerland

hey guys thought id let you know i`ve booked a train to venice tommorow morning where I will be staying for one night before returning to martigny until my flight home on the 14th!
ok heres some more photos from switzerland its a really beautiful place but very expensive!

learnt how to cook tomato fondue at Bastiens mothers house, it turned out super super tasty!
fork in the lake outside the food mueseum in Vevey

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Friday, 4 April 2008

Better Late Than Never!

Oops I just realised I never posted much of a blog about amsterdam or the hague, i was seriously just trying to cram so much in I never had much time!

this is a bunch of bikes, they are everywhere in the Netherlands , dean is probably the only person without one! apparently when they dredge the canals in amsterdam they just pull out tons and tons of bikes and have to put more water in because so many bikes have been removed haha.

ok so on the Monday before I left Holland i met up with this really nice lady called Lies who I had met when I was barcelona, she lives in The Hague and agreed to take me around the sights and then eat somewhere awesome.

we had a guided tour of the dutch parliament buildings and heres some photos of me looking peevish next to the queens throne
we also visited the second chamber where they do a lot of arguing but because of that crazy dutch guy who's in the news at the moment for making some offensive cartoon to muslims (when will they ever learn) they didn`t allow any cameras in, anyway it was really fancy and green and i sat at a press desk.
for lunch I ate traditional dutch meatballs with mustard which was so so yummy and also a croquette (traditional dutch one) stuffed with a mix of wheat and veal , I ate it but it wasn't as good as the meatball haha the texture was just bizzare and pulpy

then we walked around the Hagues older part and I learnt some History and saw the queens palace (flags up that means she was at home!)

down by one of the upmarket canals was Lies nephews restaurant (bottom right of this photo you can see the boat beergarden) and this is where we ate amazing food a perfect chicken sate with a peanut butter dip , a awesome side salad and chips it was so so so yummy one of the best meals on the trip so far
now im in switzerland though im eating so well all of the time trying tons of new things and rediscovering old things (espressos, for instance are amazing here!) the dav I arrived Bastien just baked us a pie from scratch for lunch, everyone here knows how eat and drink well!
ok its time to leave the house I guess, so much to see and the sun is shining!
speak to you guys soon!
sam x

ps. hey grandma did you get my postcard yet??

les jour du tshirt rouge en martigny!

yes today was red tshirt day but everyone here is french so im kindof forgetting how to speak anglais haha anyway martigny is amazing and beautiful, today we climbed a mountain, walked through the apricot orchards and then ate traditional swiss fondue.

the fonduewas actually really nice! then we played some babyfoot (table football) in some traditional swiss bar with some reallyy nice french and english speaking people from france, russia, australia and obviously switzerland. anyway im having an awesome time been so busy so theres been no time for blogs but hopefully tommorow morning ill post a full update of whats going on! tommorow evening we are going to a recording studio in the mountains near montreaux to record some music and hopefully i can upload that here too!
also my french is improving!
aussi mon francais s'améliore!

staying safe
sam x

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


my flight was delayed by agesss but ive arrived in Martigny Switzerland now and its amazing! tonight me and bastien watched the roma vs manchester united match in some crazy bar full of rock formations but mainly my day was travelling! tommorow we will see the world!