Sunday 5th November 2017
I have been in Switzerland recently, visiting my son who lives in Basel. We have seen all of the usual tourist attractions but this week the annual Herbstmesse is in full swing. This is their autumn festival, with fairground rides, craft stalls and all sorts of food vendors dotted around in various squares throughout the city. It is a fantastic event and draws in huge crowds; the main squares were packed yesterday and it was quite amusing to see trams trundling along with children's helium balloons bobbling about inside. The main attraction is an enormous wheel, set up outside the cathedral, which is a bit smaller than the London Eye but gives wonderful views over the city. We had to give it a try, despite some initial misgivings about the stability of the structure, and it was brilliant! Today we'll go to the wine exhibition and perhaps be brave enough to try some more fairground rides.
Escaping from the city the other day, we visited a place called Arlesheim and sat outside a little café in the centre of the village, drinking coffee and watching the world go by. We soon noticed small groups of people congregating in the square, all dressed to the nines, disappearing into a nearby building and later emerging to pose for photographs. We had stumbled upon the Zivilstandsamt, which is the Swiss equivalent of our Registry Office. The ceremony seems to be very short and the wedding parties were each waiting their turn outside. Not quite a conveyor belt system but getting close to it. The strangest thing about it, however, was that nobody had a wedding car. Shocking! It occurred to me that I should open a branch of Heritage Classic Cars in Switzerland; it would be a novelty for them and there is no competition. Watch this space!