This entry could also be titled, “How is it September already?!”, because I am, once again, over a month behind in adding my monthly review. Until I pulled the brake lever a couple of weeks ago, I’d been working long days, evenings and across the majority of weekend days to try and keep up with two big projects. Both of them are very interesting and lucrative, both are going well from a technical standpoint, but one of them had been scheduled in far too tightly. I last went through a similar experience early in 2018 and when I recognised the similar emotions and felt the similar exhaustion as back then, I knew to be honest with the client and ask for more time.
This focus on work has meant that I’ve been out and about less than usual this summer. Although I recognise that Jo and I still do a lot more than many, I realised that I wasn’t getting out and about enough. July wasn’t too bad, but photographable activity was constrained to just a few days out. The trips were great, though, which was a nudge to try and gain time for more in August.
By far the best day out in July was to canton Valais, where our primary goal was the underground lake at St. Léonard: a destination which we can now properly recommend after a fascinating trip with a trilingual guide (German, French and English). We then decided spontaneously to go and have a look at one of the fascinating historic irrigation systems which have diverted water from the high mountains to the vineyards and farmland for hundreds of years.
The Grand Bisse d’Ayent in the mountains near Crans-Montana is a remarkable feat of engineering, being partly formed of famous wooden channels bolted to the cliffs, and partly by channels and streams cut into the earth and even rock. The angle is just right over several kilometres to ensure a suitable flow—even rising 150m over part of its course—and has been a lifeline for many farms since the fifteenth century. The wooden section in the photo above is maintained for historic purposes, but the water was diverted into a tunnel through the adjacent cliff in the early 19th century after a series of rock falls and avalanches proved the folly of relying on the older, more precipitous construction.
As the trip through the Lötschberg tunnel isn’t inexpensive at Fr. 27 in each direction, we usually make a big trip out of it and after visiting a couple of places in the canton, we usually take the “long way” home by motorway, stopping at Montreux or Vevey for dinner. It’s a couple of hours’ drive to avoid the tunnel, but surprisingly only 20 minutes longer to go all the way around the mountains, because of the winding mountain routes up to the tunnel entrances and the necessity to queue. The weather was great when we arrived on the shores of Lac Léman, and we had a good pizza and take-away ice-cream near the lake shore at Montreux, then wandered along the promenade for a while before heading home.