Thursday, 25 May 2017

Lake and Garden

While we were waiting to be rescued from our smoke-filled boat, we had ample time to enjoy the views across the water. In the foreground, the slight form of Monte Bre sat in front of larger Monte Boglia which marks another border between Switzerland and Italy. Away in the distance and shrouded in misty low cloud, the higher peak of Gazzirola sat between us and Bellinzona, the capital of the Ticino Canton.
Looking towards the city of Lugano we got a panoramic view of the various hotels and apartment buildings which lined the lakefront. Behind, the higher ground was that of the Parco del Tassino.
Looming over the southern part of the city, Monte San Salvatore dominated the scene.
All along the lake between Lugano and Gandria, houses seemed to cling to the edge of the land, dipping their toes into the lake. Whoever owns this house would certainly not be troubled by noisy neighbours.
Back on dry land, we walked around the beautiful, civic park. Known as the Parco Ciani, it was once the private garden around the Villa Ciani which still stands at its centre. Built by two brothers, Giacomo and Filippo Ciani between 1840 and 1843, it is now used for temporary art and historical exhibitions.
The grounds were well kept and planted with colourful bedding plants...
and a large number of specimen trees, some clipped into weird and wonderful shapes.
More of that tomorrow...

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Boating Drama

On Thursday last week, we set out on a boat trip to the delightful water-side village of Gandria. The centre of the village is not accessible by motor vehicle, so there was a bit of climbing up and down some pretty steep streets as we explored the area.
There have been people living in the area for at least 2800 years and the first written records of the village date back to 1237. Many of the buildings in the village appeared quite ancient and the amount of restoration work which was being carried out seemed to back this up.
The village was well known for olive oil production until 1709 when a particularly cold winter, killed all the Olive trees. in 1856, silk production began, making the most of the area's abundant Mulberry trees which provided food for the silkworms. Being on the lake and so close to the border, it proved difficult for the village to control those borders and smuggling also became big business.
The village is dominated by the church of Saint Vigilio (a 4th century Bishop of Trento) who was supposedly stoned to death by shepherds who didn't like him sticking his nose into their age-old religious beliefs and trying to convert them to Christianity. The church itself, dates back to 1463 with many later additions.
All round the village, there were more flights of steps leading to different levels...
But from the top, we had some magnificent views out over the lake.
Looking along the valley towards the Italian towns of Porlezza in the distance and at the base of the rather pointy mountain to the left, Cima.
Soon it was time to leave and take an over-all look at the village from the water...
From this vantage point, the precipitous nature of the village can clearly be seen as its buildings cling to the side of the mountain.
Soon after these pictures were taken and as we were heading back to Lugano, the boat on which we were sailing, started to belch smoke from below deck and within a few minutes, we were drifting in the middle of the lake with the engine on fire, awaiting rescue from another launch. Fortunately, we were in no immediate danger from the engine - the real headache was provided by the large and extremely noisy group of Brazilian tourists who were on our boat. It might have been worth abandoning ship to get away from them alone! Still, no-one can say we don't see life!
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

San Salvatore

Standing just shy of 3000ft Monte San Salvatore may not be the highest or grandest of peaks, but it certainly has a commanding position overlooking the city of Lugano and the northern 'arm' of the lake.
The three of us took the funicular railway from its base right behind our hotel, to the top of San Salvatore, on Wednesday afternoon and were very glad we did. We had some excellent views from the summit. Looking south, we took in the Melide causeway which carries the main road and railways into Lugano. Behind this, the highest peak to the far left is that of Monte Generoso with the smaller one, sitting in the middle of the two forks of lake Lugano, is Monte San Giorgio.
Further round and the ridge of San Salvatore runs into the town of Carona and the botanic gardens of the Parco San Grato.
Luckily, we were not crowded out by other tourists as we enjoyed the views and for much of the time, seemed to have the whole place to ourselves. This gave us the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet too and also enabled us to hear the deep crowing sound of some displaying Ravens.
As always, they were tricky to catch on camera as they performed their aerial dance...
Turning the other way, we were looking across the city of Lugano and its small airport, towards the higher Alps far beyond.
Far off lay the still snow-capped peaks around Glifertenstock in the Glarus Alps.
At the top of San Salvatore, sits a small church dedicated - unsurprisingly -  to San Salvatore.
The church also offers another viewing platform, accessed up some rather precipitous stairs on the outside of the building.
That's all for today, but there's still more to come...

Monday, 22 May 2017

Lugano

More views today, from our walks along the delightful promenade in Lugano. In parts, the path is lined with well-clipped Lime trees which provide some welcome shade on a sunny day.
Where the Limes stop, other trees take over the job. Here, a Cedar provided not only shade, but a nice frame to the scene. Across the water, we were looking from Switzerland, into Italy and the peak of Sighignola. The Swiss-Italian border practically bisects this mountain.
Malcolm was busy snapping away at the scene too...
Leaving the waterside for a moment, we sat for a while by the fountain in the Piazza Alessandro Manzoni (named after an Italian Poet.)
Hiding behind the trees, you could justmake out the imposing, colonnaded edifice of the Banca Della Svizzera Italiana, the oldest bank in the Ticino region, founded in 1873.
Back to the promenade and the return stroll along the Lime trees, to 'our' part of the city, rather optimistically known as 'Paradiso'.
Much more still to come...

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Lake and City

Malcolm, his mum and I, returned home yesterday from a short break in Switzerland again. This time, we visited the south of the country, staying in the city of Lugano, the largest city in the canton of Ticino (although not its capital). We arrived in the sunshine.
The city also gives its name to the lake, a beautiful expanse of water covering nearly 19 square miles and some fantastic views.
After checking in to the hotel and showering off the grime of travel, our first job was to take a stroll along the lakeside promenade to 'get our bearings' for the next few days.
From here, we got our first look at Monte San Salvatore - more of that later.
Looking the other way, Monte Brรจ overlooked the lake (more of that to come too).
But for now, just some lovely views across the waters of Lake and the city of Lugano.
Much more to come....

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Lakes and Sunshine

Following a few days of dull and cold weather, it was nice to be out and about once again this morning, in the warm sunshine. We decided on a shorter stroll around the lakes of Manor Flood and Straw's Bridge. First, down to the Manor Flood and a chance for some larger, panoramic pictures.
Surprisingly, there was not much bird life to be seen on the lake, just an odd Coot picking around in the reeds, a lone Moorhen making a great fuss as it fluttered away from us and the usual pair of Great Crested Grebes. Apart from that, all was quiet on the lake.
From here, we set out around the smaller lakes which go to make up Straw's Bridge. Here too, all was peaceful.
The Hawthorn bushes are all coming into full bloom right now and in the sunshine, their rather strange fragrance filled the air. It's something of a acquired taste!
But the blossom is wonderful to look at - if not to smell. Time for one more panorama...

Friday, 5 May 2017

Exercise

Another fine, but rather windy day, saw Malcolm and I taking a longer walk than usual around Shipley Park. We started out by climbing Shipley Hill to take in those wonderful Bluebells once more before they begin to fade. Above the Bluebells, the Rhododendrons are now starting to display their finest colours.
Among those which grow around the grounds of the old hall, a couple of pink flowered beauties particularly stand out.
Onward across the meadows towards Cinder Hill, we took advantage of the exercise machines there. Malcolm likes this one in particular. Keep in time now. 'Up, one..two..
down, one..two..
All together now.... Keep young and beautiful....!
That's more than enough of that!
Further on and the Apple trees on Cinder Hill were in full bloom looking lovely against the blue sky.
We diverted from our intended path for a while, so that we might take in some of the fantastic new paths laid down across what had, until recently been, open cast mining. These new paths make for some fine walking with great views across the fields.
In the distance, a Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) was singing his heart out on a tree. Having recently returned to Britain all the way from South Africa, it's a wonder he still has enough energy to sing at all.
It was a 'flask day' today, so we stopped for coffee by Mapperley Reservoir on our way back. Unfortunately the chilly wind curtailed our rest somewhat, so as soon as the coffee was finished, it was off again, returning home via Mapperley (Bluebell) woods. A grand morning all round and having walked nearly seven miles, we'd had plenty of exercise too.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bluebells and Cherries

Our warm walk this morning, took us up Shipley Hill once more in order to check on the Bluebells.
Yet again, we were not disappointed by the spectacle which greeted us.
The scent coming from the flowers as they warmed in the sun, was heady and intoxicating.
They just keep getting better and better.
Close by, a late flowering Cherry Tree was also in full bloom, with myriad pink, double flowers.
In the sunshine - which has been in short supply over the Bank Holiday weekend - this tree seemed to be offering a last hurrah for the season's cherries.