• Mind / Body,  Places

    fall into winter

    Light. Texture. Pattern. The way it plays out through the seasons. The way it morphs. I think I failed to properly acknowledge the transitioning from autumn to winter this year. A process that should not go unobserved, outwardly or inwardly. The way the warm soft golden green hues give way to blue grey tones and cycle once more back into the world, and, ultimately, into you. Wander into wonder. The mystery, is ever present. Spring approaches, and with it, a another shade of the same beauty. Revel in the shift.

  • Places

    memories of chios

    This time of year it’s hard not to reminisce on summers passed. The clouds start to lift. A reminder of a different kind of light grows, another world, rocky and spare, washed in bands of blueness unlike elsewhere. Chios now calls like the echo of waves. A tide swirling, tugging at my ankles as if to prompt my feet. It is not much like other islands. The Aegean. A sea flecked by the dust and rubble of ancient civilizations. Fragments. Faded postcards, from which Chios stands apart. It almost seems disinterested in being known, or iconic in the manner of the other islands with which it shares its sea. Make no mistake, though, there is history, both personal and grand, carved deep into the land, memory jagged as its coast. A haven for families seeking refuge from the daily weirdness of life. There is much memory, but it can also…

  • Books & Lit

    beer hiking switzerland: a test walk

    Lately Zürich, though not especially cold, has been relentlessly grey. Some days the impenetrable, overcast sky seems to descend on your head, which makes it all the more unappealing to move yet all the more important to do so. However, thanks to Monika Saxer, and her book, BEER HIKING SWITZERLAND: The Most Refreshing Way To Discover Switzerland, there’s plenty of motivation to go outdoors. So weather notwithstanding, I decided to test it out over the last week or so. Full disclosure: the book was given to me by its publisher, Hadi Barkat of Helvetiq, but it had already caught my eye at Orell Füssli. Either way, I was inclined to like the title as it’s the kind of idea I wish I had conceived. The book is also attractively designed with superb typography and easy to use, allowing you to choose your journey based on the location or the beer. For my…

  • Places

    what’s ahead 2018?

    The last couple of years have been strange for just about every soul I know in this world. All the things we face: the pressures of time, the rapidity of change, the demands of work and looming above it with an oppressive shadow the threat to our very existence, which, thanks to some bizarre decisions made by electorates around the world, can sometimes seem greater than ever. Yet strangely, I’m still optimistic, even grateful. Why? Because you’re reading this right now. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time. Just know that it’s a lot. Which is why I will do my best to update this page weekly, so that you can count on some fresh content. Please share your thoughts with me, on the stories you like and why you like them. Also feel free to send me some ideas. I’ve had a busy couple of years.…

  • Places

    goldau nature park

    Until we find a way to restore this planet to its former glory, the ethics of animals in confinement will remain contentious. However, an appreciation of nature in all its many forms is something I’m completely behind. As a species inhabiting so many artificial environments which seem to cater to our needs we humans seem to forget that we are not separate from this Earth but of it. Contact with living, breathing animals other than ourselves might help us to appreciate all that we could gain by caring for our world rather than simply exploiting it as a stockpile of resources. At Goldau, amid the rubble of he 1806 landslide tragedy, has risen a wildlife centre where you can take an up-close look at a variety of wildlife, from fierce and formidable predators including bears, wolves and lynxes and much more docile and approachable fauna such as deer and mountain sheep.…

  • Places

    wintery wonder in poschiavo

    Southeast of St. Moritz is a remarkable little town called Poschiavo in the Graubünden canton. Accessible on the Bernina Express, which begins in Chur and terminates in Tirano, Italy is well worth the effort, especially if you kick your legs out on the train and watch the incredible landscape wash by your window. Craving a little change after the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we took a little journey to this Italian-speaking locale and soon saw ourselves in the grip of a snow heavy spell while Zürich became quite balmy as of New Year’s Eve. Surrounded by mountains, intersected by the Poschiavino River, there seems to be a disproportionate number of excellent eateries and organic labels – 87% of the Valposchiavo farmland products are certified by Bio-Suisse. During the heavy snowfall we were content to hunker down and be catered to by the staff of the Hotel Albrici, a palace…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit,  People

    basel creators: hadi barkat

    One of the things that is always satisfying about the season ahead, and the memories I have of those behind, are some of the amazing books I have read and the joy of relaxing and playing a raucous game or two together with family and friends. Recently I sat down with a man who has made the pursuit of a good read and an entertaining challenge his business. While working in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a successful CEO coach in the field of venture vapital, Hadi Barkat was also studying to take his Swiss citizenship test. Already responsible for his company’s gatherings and offsite entertainment, he employed the services of a game designer, and decided to brainstorm a way to turn his study into a form of entertainment. Out of this was born Helvetiq, initially a trivia game based on Swiss knowledge, and two years on, a fully fledged Swiss publishing house, committed to…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    swissmas at bellevue

    If you are one of the bah humbug set and in Zürich, avoid Bellevue’s Zürcher Wienachtsdorf at all costs. There is so much Christmas cheer it could quite possibly kill you. We experienced it for the first time last year before we moved and were duly impressed by the show put on by Zürich in general, but with special mention going to the organizers responsible for Bellevue. So at the risk of imperilling anyone who loves to cringe at Christmas, here are some shots of all the mania from this year and last year. And anyone who needs gift ideas for me can also check out the cool stands by Lekka, Circle Sustainable store and Freitag among the many stalls with some pretty good swag. Just saying. So perhaps I’ll see you around for some mulled wine and some hot smoked salmon … thinking perhaps this Christmas thing might just catch on.

  • Mind / Body,  Places

    masaola regenwald – another zürich hotspot

    Winter, when it arrives, can knock me sideways. This year, with the change in city, being farther north was a doozy. So for a dose of wellness and a mental escape from pervasive greyness, I sometimes like to visit Masaola Regenwald, a simulation of a Madagascar Rainforest at the Zürich zoo. This 11,000 m2 lush, oxygen-infused dome teems with life. Flora and fauna abound. Razor-edged ferns and soaring bamboo, trees and countless other species of plant provide a home to low swooping fruit bats and colourful birds to tiny geckos and multi-hued chameleons, tortoises and even tree-clambering lemurs. It’s more economic than a plane ticket, and yet still a transporting, mind-bending experience. The Treetop Walkway is particularly elevating, like a path to endless summer. And who doesn’t dream of that?

  • Food & Drink,  People

    zürich creators: shem leupin

    At consumer-level, Zurich is not a trend-setting place. The Swiss have built a world class reputation perfecting products of enduring quality, not flash fads. In my opinion that’s a good thing. In such a culture, innovating profitable products, or commodities, especially those that already work so well and satisfy so many, without apparent reason, can hardly be seen as a worthwhile venture. Unlike hugely populated markets hungry for the next big thing – places where creating novelty is a relentless thirst, here in established Zurich it’s a difficult proposition. Yet Zurich doesn’t lack for creativity. In fact, the creativity that succeeds here might just be the kind that matters. For instance: coffee. An essential, mostly overlooked daily ritual, your cup of joe is what it is, and as long as it performs and tastes in the manner expected, who cares? A perfectly valid viewpoint. Food and beverage snobbery is often tiresome,…