Felix

Tanya and I are beyond thrilled to welcome our beautiful son Felix Michael Raupach to the world!

Brand new.

Felix was born on his due date, in September, at the beginning of the Swiss autumn. It looked for a few days like he might arrive a little late, but in the event labour kicked off in the middle of the night and he was born safely in the early afternoon, right on time. Tanya was incredibly strong and brave.

This was the fairytale view from the maternity ward. We were extremely well looked after and supported.
At home.
Out walking in Bern.

I don’t believe in miracles in the ordinary sense of the word, but I do believe in miraculous things. And Felix is miraculous — he is perfect! He has bright eyes and a smile that lights up the room, he has determination and an amusing sense of timing, he’s very patient with us and he surprises us with something new every day.

Early days and two months later.
Smiley!

Since he was born, the leaves have turned and fallen and our lives have changed entirely, and all for the better. Our days are filled with making sure Felix is happy, and he makes us happiest of all. We’re delighted with him, and we love him very much.

November 24, 2019
Comments (1)
Permalink

Chamonix and Val Ferret

At the start of August, Tanya and I took our summer holiday, and we spent a few days in Chamonix. Chamonix is a special place and still holds a mythical status in my mind. We caught the cablecar up to Planpraz and walked up to the Col du Lac Cornu.

Mont Blanc and Planpraz.
Tanya the unstoppable!
Lac Cornu.
Mythical summits: l’Aiguille Verte and Grand Dru.
Indefatigable.
Moody Mont Blanc massif.
Tanya and Mont Blanc.
A peek of the Mer de Glace.
Chemin lacet.
What a trooper.
The weather got a bit moody as we got back to Planpraz.
The cable car to Le Brévent.

We also took the little train to Montenvers to see the Mer de Glace. It was depressing because the glacier has melted terribly.

The Mer de Glace.
The view up from Chamonix at sunset.

On the way home we stopped into a favourite haunt in Valais – Val Ferret, just on the Swiss side of the Mont Blanc massif. Val Ferret has been the backdrop to many happy days in the mountains, whether it be walking in summer, autumn, or (early) winter, ski touring in the valley or to its edge to peer in, or on two avalanche safety courses. It was excellent just to spend an afternoon there soaking in the atmosphere of the big hills.

September 1, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Summer recap, 2019

So what happened in the summer of 2019? Well, Alex and Steph came to visit and we went on a hike from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen, and there were flowers:

Lauterbrunnen.

Tanya’s parents Cathy and Greg came to stay, and we drove across various mountain passes:

Tanya in Italy.
Lucerne.
Simplon pass.
Simplon pass.
Between Simplon and Brig.
The source of the Rhône.
The building you can see in the previous picture.
Cloud rolling over the Grimsel pass.
In the cloud at the Grimsel pass.

We also spent a great couple of days in Kandersteg:

Oeschinensee.
Oeschinensee.
Mountains at the end of Oeschinensee.
Above Kandersteg.
Tanya among the rhododendrons.
Looking up in the direction of Schwarenbach and Gemmipass.
Ski jumps in summer.

There were impressive thunderstorms in Thun and in Bern:

Rainbow in Thun.
Mammatus clouds in Bern.

And we did some great hanging out in Bern!

September 1, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Atlantic flight

Although I am conscious of the environmental damage of flying, so I try to reduce how often I do it, I still adore the window seat in a plane. This summer I went to a conference in Los Angeles, and on the flights there and back I was lucky to get the most incredible views, mostly of vast and wild and frozen northern landscapes. Here are some pictures from the window. (The emissions from these flights were offset through myclimate).

The east coast of Greenland – 63°12’37.9″N 42°10’19.1″W.
The frozen north of Canada.
Sea ice on Hudson Bay.
Lake country in northern Canada.
Los Angeles – 33°57’32.6″N 118°16’51.1″W.
Plane storage at Victorville – 34°36’45.1″N 117°22’45.1″W.
Flaherty Island in Hudson Bay – 56°08’59.5″N 79°23’55.6″W.
Sunset over the north of Canada.
August 28, 2019
Comments (2)
Permalink

Croatia II: Dubrovnik

If you can get around the heaving throngs of Game of Thrones fans, Dubrovnik is a really lovely place to visit. The highlight for me was walking around the town on top of the walls that fortify it, which you can do in an unbroken loop. From the walls you can see over the town and the ocean, spot cats lounging in little streets, and watch the ships coming and going from the harbor. Here are some photos from Dubrovnik.

August 27, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Croatia I – Plitviče and Ugljan

It only occurred to me after arriving in Croatia, where I was traveling with Tanya and with my Mum, that this might be an opportunity to go and visit a spomenik — one of the many incredible World War II memorials built within the former Yugoslavia. Sure enough there is one just to north of Zagreb, so we jumped in our hire car and drove to the spomenik at Podgarić. And there it was, entirely unsignposted, sad and huge above a field.

The Spomenik at Podgarić.

Our trip into the countryside also took us into little towns that we wouldn’t otherwise have gone through. It was pretty country, and we stopped for a lunch of cevapi – fried meatballs served with raw onion and bread. We had spent the morning in Zagreb, exploring the markets and keeping out of the heat of the sun, and our destination for the night was Plitviče, to the south.

We stayed that night just outside the Plitviče Lakes National Park, at a little guesthouse with a friendly host who ran a large outdoor fireplace to cook each night. The next day we spent the whole day in the park and walked the lakes from south to north. They were just spectacular — Plitviče is a series of aquablue lakes of astonishing luminosity, with waterfalls between. Each lake is a natural infinity pool, so from above you can’t see the waterfalls on the edge, and from below water appears from everywhere, through trees and grasses and rocks.

Water everywhere.

Although you can’t see it in the photos, the walk through the lakes is essentially on one path shared with thousands of other visitors. They control the numbers quite well but there are inevitable traffic jams near the best waterfalls. We queued for a boat across one lake to the start of the next path.

Plitviče Lakes.
Happy fish (I guess, I didn’t ask them) at Plitviče Lakes.
The colour of the water!

Walking the direction we did, we ended the day at the tallest, but not the most spectacular, waterfall. From there it was a short uphill walk back to the park entrance. We ate dinner that night at a restaurant — the only one for miles — next to a flattish ski field abandoned for the summer. And the next day we drove further south.

On the drive to the coast we passed through fields and fields of wildflowers bursting by the side of the road. There were stalls selling cheese, honey, and mushrooms every so often. The mushroom sellers seemed to have only a few actual mushrooms for sale, but they were big and frightening ones (we didn’t stop). Nearer to the coast was a range of hills that was forested on one side; we went under them by tunnel to absolute aridity on the coastal side, and wound our way down through the rocks to the sea at Zadar.

So many flowers!
Arid coastal country.
Updraft.
Zadar, Croatia.

Zadar is an interesting walled city with stone-paved streets that are so worn as to be slippery to walk on. It also has a fascinating sea organ that plays music by use of the waves and tide; water moving under the concrete steps at the foreshore pushes air through tubes that make different pitches. Its music is ephemeral and beautiful and never the same again.

Red boat on Ugljan.
The tiny island off Preko that holds a monastery.

We took a boat (last minute, we essentially ran onto it) to the island of Ugljan, which was peaceful and warm in the sun. There were only a few people around, and we swam in the sea and looked at the little island off the main town of Preko, and missed our planned boat back in favour of getting dinner on the island. Good times in Croatia!

An interesting wall in Preko.
Looking back to Zadar.
Otok Ošljak.
August 24, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Stockhorn

You get a pretty great view from the top of the Stockhorn, a peak in the Bernese Alps which is conveniently served by a cablecar. Here’s what you can see if you hitch a ride to the top and walk down again, as Tanya and I did in June.

Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, and most of the Bernese Alps.
A view so good it broke the chair.

From the top of the cablecar you can walk through a short (and cold) tunnel to a platform built into the cliff on Stockhorn’s steep north side; from there you can see Thun and the plains around.

Thun and its Thunersee.

We walked down from the top towards the Oberstocksee (which was still frozen, a solid white amidst the spring grasses), and through the crockus flowers to the mid-station of the cablecar.

The Big Three.
Oberstocksee.
The place was filled with crockus flowers.
The Berggasthaus Oberstockenalp.
Snow drifts still melting at the Hinderstockesee.
Green spring valleys.
Hinderstockesee and the Chrindi cablecar stop.
August 4, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Aareschlucht

The Aareschlucht is a gorge formed by the Aare river between Innertkirchen and Meiringen in the Bernese Alps. To get there you can take a little (and recently upgraded) train from Meiringen, and hop out a few minutes later at an underground-lair of a station. You emerge directly from the rock face at the start of the gorge.

Train station or bunker? Or both?

A narrow path built onto and into the cliff face lets you walk above the rushing waters of the Aare as you go through the gorge. On the day we went there, my Mum was visiting from Australia, and it also happened to be election day back home. I checked the election results as we walked — the news wasn’t good, but the water kept flowing.

The Aareschlucht.

At its narrowest point, the Aareschlucht has only about a metre between the two tall rock walls, and the pathway through takes up the entire space. As we got to the end of the gorge, the warm air from the sunny fields on the other side washed over us.

Coordinated colours in the Aareschlucht.
Tall cliffs!
Looking at a glacial mill.

After we emerged from the gorge, we took a little funicular up to the Reichenbach Falls, where the (entirely fictional) detective Sherlock Holmes (both supposedly and fictionally) fell to his death. Everything in Meiringen and at the falls is Holmes-related. There’s even a sign pointing to the (hypothetical) spot where he (at no time actually) fell. The waterfall is very pretty.

This is actually just above the main Reichenbach falls. You wouldn’t set a detective fight here.

We took a post-bus up into the exceedingly pretty Reichenbachtal, along the same route that Tanya and I previously biked up to get to Grosse Sheidegg. Up there the flowers were starting to come out after the snow melt, but there was still too much snow up high for the bus to continue to the pass.

Back in Meiringen, all that was left to do was to walk past the Sherlock statues to get to the train and head back to Bern.

July 30, 2019
Comment
Permalink

Ticino for Easter

For Easter 2019 Tanya and I whittled our options for places to go — we wanted somewhere reachable by train, different but close, and preferably with a lake. In the end one destination stood out, and luckily for us we found somewhere to stay at the very last minute. We went to Lake Lugano and to a tiny town on its far shore called Brusino Arsizio.

Monte Brè above Lugano.
Lago di Lugano.
Tanya loves balconies and lake views.

Once there we spent a lovely few days just chilling out. I’m drawn to high viewpoints like a moth to a bright light, so we took a little cog raily up Monte Generoso one day, and on another we checked out the viewpoint at Monte Lema, from where you can see down to Lago Maggiore.

The view from Monte Generoso.
Blooming crocus.
The little town of Brusino Arsizio, where we stayed.
Lago di Lugano from Monte Lema.
At Monte Lema.
Crocus flowers on Monte Lema.

We also explored the gorgeous villages around the lake, including the particularly charming town of Gandria which is set on a steep section above the lake. The towns were filled with heavy traffic and bedecked with flowers for the spring. It was a fantastic few days in the south of Switzerland!

Flowers in Lugano.
Helidon Xhixha’s Reflections of Light in Lugano.
Monte San Salvatore.

Max Raupach, 1925-2019

My grandfather Max Raupach died at the age of 93 on the 21st May 2019. Here is a tribute I wrote for him.

When I think of my grandpa, Max, I think of his love for his family and his curiosity about the world. He loved his family very much. His curiosity drove his excellent science, I’m sure, but it also led to a large array of interests and activities that were ever-changing and constantly updating, because his fascination with technology meant he was always up to date.

I think of him talking science with my dad, or programming in Fortran on a laptop in the study. I think of his interest in other cultures and ways of thinking, from haiku writing and zen books, to painting and drawing, to the precise ordering of brush-strokes in Japanese characters. The curious scientist was always present — on occasion he checked my photographs with callipers to see if they obeyed the golden ratio.

I think of him growing fruit and bottling it, crawling under the house to retrieve a dusty bottle of red wine, and showing us, as kids and adults alike, the mysterious shed with its chemicals and printing presses. He was endlessly supportive of all his family’s endeavours and always curious to know what we were up to. My grandfather Max was multi-faceted; a scientist, an artist, and a thinker. He was good, and we were lucky to have him, and I will miss him sorely.

This is a painting of his that he gave to his son, my father, when Dad was very ill. It shows Encounter Bay, in South Australia.

Next Page »