Barcelona … small pics of a big city

My wife and I went to Barcelona last week. We did a lot of walking and looked around. The sunnier and warmer than home weather was nice. And the coffee … I miss that already.

Check out what I saw.

In my next blog post I’m going to try and capture my new found like for that famously tasty and just a bit addicting Spanish ‘jamon’. You may have heard about it 😉

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Random Saturday

these images are a few of the things that grabbed my attention yesterday

Radish & Party = Impossible? You decide

 

 

 

 

 

Fathers day, German style … Serious radish party/FEST. Really.

Seems like in late spring any reason is a good reason for a party. Bikes were leaned everywhere, strollers wedged in available spaces in between and everyone clamored for a seat at some orange table.

I was surprised by the hoards of enthusiastic party goers who made it up the hillside to sit on orange benches at orange tables and eat long radishes, drink either beer or wine and have a good time.

Did I mention the reason for the party surprised me? I believe I did. But then again, I also made my way up the hillside to check out the craziness.

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Radish lovers or party likers or both

 

The sun blessed the goings on with shine and for 2.20Euros your plate looked like the ones below.

Long lines at the drinks/eats ticket booths, long lines at the radish tables, longer lines at the drinks tables, long lines at the sausage grill table and lines at the two porta potties way in the back.

gour·mand [goor-mahnd, goor-muhnd] 1. a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminatingly and to excess.

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Gourmands radish perspective: salted radish with a piece of ‘Bauernbrot’ (farmer bread) with butter

Eat your radishes. They’re good for you.

Radishes and their greens  provide an excellent source of vitamin C.  Radish leaves contain almost six times the vitamin C content of their root and are also a good source of calcium.  Red Globes also offer a very good source of the trace mineral molybdenum and are a good source of potassium and folic acid.   Daikons provide a very good source of potassium and copper.   

Radishes, like other member of the cruciferous family (cabbage,kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), contain cancer-protective properties.  Throughout history radishes have been effective when used as a medicinal food for liver disorders.  They contain a variety of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile.  Therefore, they help to maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver, and improve digestion.  Fresh radish roots contain a larger amount of vitamin C than cooked radish roots.  Radish greens, contain far more vitamin C, calcium, and protein than the roots.  

Sources:

Murray , Michael N.D.. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention-5 A Day.

National Agricultural Library-USDA. usda.gov.

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia

 

Natural Cat Toys or Feline Fun

Are you also owned by a cat? Do you let it outside? We are and we do. They … two of those irresistible feline creatures own us. We’re all in.  And they on occasion, either one or the other or arguably in concert commit heinous acts that are more acceptable if referred to simply as hunting. We are helpless or is that hapless?

If you also allow for their oft somewhat irritating mewling wishes to be let out into the great outdoors your feline overlord probably also exhibits similar borderline criminal habits and/or commits similar violent crimes.

Feline Hunter 1

Feline Hunter 1

Perhaps your pet felines’ victims are more typical, like slow birds, the odd butterfly or deaf&blind mice. Not ours, no. Although from the speed with which they race up into the  tree in the corner of our small back yard, you’d believe that they believe that this time they could really actually fuckin’ do it, catch one of them birds that is. But the birds always have the lats laugh/chirp. And fly away unscathed if a bit ruffled.

And lets not forget the one time not too long ago… I was enjoying my first of two Sunday morning coffees on the patio when I heard what my brain encyclopedia construed to be pathetic bird screeching noises, which in turn led me to turned towards the noise and to look and to believe for a brief moment in the very possible fact that ‘they’ had finally snagged one of their feathered and unsuspecting tormentors.

My brain had been wrong that early morning, very wrong. That while it was true that one of the feline hunters had indeed snagged some prey, it was not a wee bird, nope. It was a mouse. And that mouse was reacting rather violently to being disturbed by a cat. Loudly too may I add. The funny thing was that said cat became a bit clumsy and more to it, even surprised I think judging by her reactions to/by the reactions of said mouse. So surprised in fact that  any skill connected to such a speedy catch simply disappeared and cat appeared to fumble about even more clumsily while the vociferous mouse employed every trick in its power and rapidly extricated itself from clumsy cat and raced for the safety ofsome hole in the ground, leaving a slightly bewildered feline scratching her chin. A good laugh, that. For me and the mouse, not the cat.

No dear reader, our two lethally clawed, sharp fanged murdering pets appear to be specializing in the slithering kind of prey, something one could at a glance think of as a snake. But it is not a real snake.

As the weather is warming up nicely, it seems that these snake like lizards litter the cats’ territory. I say litter because it is becoming a daily event, one or both of show up in the yard or sometimes inside with a long writhing surprise. A prize they play with, puncture, toss about but never devour or visible disfigure. They don’t even appear to nibble on the poor things, not even a bit, but they certainly perforate the smooth skin with their super sharp finger tips.

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

The given name is Blindschleiche aka Anguis Fragilis, although it is not blind. It is found all over Europe and loves to hang out in damp areas such as gardens, among foliage, compost heaps, soil or among sheltering rocks or stones. They loose their tails just like lizards, don’t have legs nor do they sport the distinctive arrowhead shape snake head. They eat slugs and worms and on average are 35045cm in length with some even stretching to 52cm long.

Ideal cat toys according to the enthusiasm our feline hunters exhibit when showing off their latest catch. And don’t fool yourselves. Cat’s don’t care about fragile when they hunt or play, they simply don’t give a shit.

Feline Hunter #2

Feline Hunter #2

We save as many as we possibly can by distracting the felines and then perform a simple yet magic trick that always leaves the cats guessing…  with a WTF look on their focused fury faces … “hey man, it was right here just a second ago” 😉

Midieval Fantasy, Pirates, a Druid and Pagan Folk Music

Once upon a time …well yesterday actually. In a land somewhere …  as in Germany.

Celebrating 21 years of going way way back in time, the MPS14 or ‘Mittelalterlich Phantasie Spectaculum‘  or in English ‘Mediaeval Fantasy Spectacular’  put on the annual traveling show with this and that for everyone and this is what I saw …

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Ye Banished Privateers, and pirates too … the lot o’ them

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Skater Privateer

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the eyes have it

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family fun

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friends and family and large dog

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spices and herbs or herbs and spices

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scottish warrior from behind

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scottish warrior from the front

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drinking horn and knife on belt

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shopping old timey style

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dress fit for m’lady

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m’lady with headdress

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please don’t touch! much thanks! In Germanic

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knives for sale

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man in kilt

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faerly  floating above it all

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bottle of themed drink

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seated with large sword

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enjoying a brew

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or two’s company

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drawn together by interest

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fantastic fantasy

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dreaded and jeweled

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checking out the wares as well as the wearers

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reindeer furs for sale

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Celtic Druid

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Saor Patrol piper Charlie Allan

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good music and dancing

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On guitar, Steve Legget of Saor Patrol

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Mark Monaghan of Saor Patrol beats the drum

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wee lad on air percussion rocking out to Saor Patrol

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appreciative audience

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dancing foot… really

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jester waiting for an audience

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staffs and other stuff for sale in many festival booths

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other stuff for sale

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black dog and man in black

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craftsman making his wares

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Steve “Sic” Evans van der Harten (left) and Jennifer “Jenny” Evans van der Harten (right) Omnia warming up to share their neoceltic pagan folk tunes with their fans

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Daphyd “Crow” Sens of Omnia scans the crowd while holding his slideridoo, a modern sliding didgeridoo

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Omnia in concert

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Ominous clouds opened up on the audience during the Omnia concert and the hardcore danced on in the hail

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knight with shiny shoulder

Yes, this event was certainly a spectacle to behold.

The Wood is the Journey

Wood. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. I’m looking at some right now. My feet are firmly planted on some too. I like it. I’ve always liked wood. That’s an ingrained thing. Wood makes me feel good.

I’ve always done things with wood, carving walking sticks or carving other things. But many years ago I put the more serious carving aside. You just know.

Perhaps you dear reader have experienced something similar with your toolbox of human talents and creative skills. You sense it and you can’t really ignore when something within you refuses to be abandoned, when the pilot light of creativity remains alight. Time goes by but the thoughts, ideas and dreams keep coming. And so it was. And so it is. And so I returned to the tools, the feel and the wood.

A dear friend was instrumental in this return and I am thankful for that. I simply joined the wood sculpting course he was in an the rest took and is taking care if itself. The feeling of relief a sure sign that I was doing the right thing. That I was doing what I should be doing. That it was good to touch the wood and to reconnect with the familiar. I began with a warmup piece, creating in a larger scale the same spiral lines I usually use on walking sticks, this time on a birch log. I still need to finish that one, it is roughed out and ready for finishing work it was a warmup piece and remains a work in progress.

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When the wood feeling firmed up, I bought tools and will buy more tools

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A second piece began to take shape and is leading me along an unfamiliar path which is intriguing and a bit frustrating at the same time because it is drawing me out of my comfort zone.

And then I found olive, or it found me. Actually a largish chunk of olive trunk wood. Wow. What a find. The possibilities …

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top view with wet core

The piece was wet wood, freshly cut when I put it in storage for observation and to let it dry out. Over the next few weeks I peeled off the rough bark, giddy with impatience to expose the fantasy shapes, twists, hollows and bulges that are this piece of wood. Ok, so olive wood is fairly rare in these southern parts of Germany. Finding a piece like that not an everyday occurrence and no, I didn’t find it digitally although a few of my carving colleagues in the course found and bought olive wood pieces online. I am fully aware of the coolness of this score. The trunk is approx. 45cm in diameter and 65cm tall and I guess that the tree must have been close to 60 years old when it succumbed to the worms that were working their way through the centre core.

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peeled with mirror

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rough start

It is one thing to begin a piece. It is another to finish it. And yet another to turn a project into firewood. THAT is not an option and so I bridled my excitement and only then laid tool to the wood when the moment felt right. But once I began the project grabbed my by the neck with such intensity and urgency that the first 60 hours few by.

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roughed out

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smoother

chiseled and riffled

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roughing out

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roughing out

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opening at bottom

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impression

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exposed and finishing

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hollow

So far I’ve whacked away at the piece with carving tools letting the mouthwatering olive smelling chips fly. I’ve spent days in an intensely focused meditative state with long thin riflers in nearly cramped gloved hands creating shapes, rasping lines and following as best I can the dictating flow of the myriad emerging flowing grains and contrasting dark/light patterns that make this wood so unique. And to satisfy my most irritating perfectionist urges, countless pieces of paper parted from sand in varying grades, shimmied to and fro, back and forth, across and with the grain to render by hand a nearly baby bottom smooth finish.

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riffling

 

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shapes

 

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lines & grain

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interior view

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smoothed surface

At this stage of the project I can see at least 60 hours into the future and perhaps beyond but there is not real rush and I have no deadline other than to create something interesting, something that takes the eye on a visual journey … into the olive wood and I have the finished piece also firmly in mind, yet open to changes as fluid as its grain. The openings into the core of the piece drawing the eye inward, the colorful grain triggering day dreams. All that said, a photo of the finished piece will be added as an update.  Das Holz ist der Weg

A Peak into The Switzer Land

It’s been a while. The last time I laid eyes on real mountains. A long while actually, well over a year ago if you don’t count two or three short teasing ‘glimpses’. Yesterday I saw some real frikkin’ big ones. Up close. Made me feel small. Made me feel good.

explanatory mountain infographic

explanatory mountain infographic

The weather was … well it couldn’t have been any nicer … pure blue sky and sunshine. My face is red and the skin hurts to touch, a bit. I blame that on the sunshine and snow. Oh yeah … snow played a supporting role. The place was Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland, deep in the Switzer Land. No, it didn’t smell like cheese nor look like chocolate although on a side note the super delicious Lindt chocolate easter bunnies were on sale in one shop at 75% of the usual not super cheap price. Scored and enjoyed 🙂

©iphoneographythis2014,©2014myronunrau

Temptation … yummi

My personal way back machine contains memory data of my having visited the area in my early teen years. This being a few years later and my interest and curiosity in the area still going strong, wife and I decided to head down there on a day trip. This we accomplished without using our car. Instead we made use of a very practical rail pass that can be purchased in advance for a specific date and what makes it oh so über cool is that you can travel with depth and breadth of the Switzer Lands by rail, city transit, water and cable car for one very cheapo cost (note: most cable car rides will cost you half the normal price and are generally not included as ‘free’ on the day ticket). Cost 40Chf per person = 32Euros = 50Cdn$ approx. Not a bad deal considering that rail travel in Europe is not that cheap. Doing the exploring of smaller countries in this fashion saves you wear and tear on your own vehicle, the stresses of navigating to new places and the near insurmountable obstacle of finding reasonable parking when you get to where you go. We hoped on the bus right in front of our place (convenience +), hopped off at the Badischer Bahnhof in Basel and this is where the fun part of the early morning began. You see, while I’d looked up various departure times from there to where we wanted to go, I neglected to also take a careful look at the multiple rail connections the various options had, i.e. times and track numbers as well as something as silly as which cities that we would have to get on and off the train and connections, hmmm.

screenshot of departures, sans specifics ... oops

screenshot of departures, sans specifics … oops

My wife was not impressed that I’d neglected that simple yet important factoid in planning … well that I’d not planned well enough. Ok, so that added a bit of stress but we managed to make the three connections without any real issues and didn’t miss any trains either, and that averted further stress. We also discovered that we could ride the ICE train in the Switzer Land without additional costs, coolio that. Note: the higher speeds this train is known for slowed to nearly a crawl in many of the more winding sections on our three hour trip. The speeds were ok from Basel to Bern.

riding the rains towards the  jagged peaks

racing on rails towards the jagged peaks

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

In Interlaken, (567m above sea level)  the Thuner See to the north and the Brienzersee to the south, we switched to the regional train that took us up through Wilderswil and on to Zweilütschinen. Instead of continuing on up to the town of Grindelwald (1034m above sea level), we hoped onto a bus for that (20minute) stretch as work was being done on that section of the rail line.

on-board windowsill graphic/map

on-board windowsill graphic/map

It was not yet noon when we arrived at our destination. What struck me most of all as soon as I got off the bus and raised my eyes to the view was the immensity of the surrounding mountains that ranged just west of the small valley; not a narrow valley but not that large either.

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

It felt good. Really good. I always feel good when I am in the mountains, when I can see them … feel them. My wife also has a similar reaction and adds that she feels like she’s come home when she’s in the mountains. These fuckers however made me feel small. Real small. It was weird. I’m walking around, looking at this or that chalet and taking in how people live here and then I look up and am blown away, overpowered by the magnitude of the towering mountain peaks right above my head. Overwhelming in the best possible sense. And to see that residents of this town had such spectacular backdrops to their everyday lives … very cool indeed.

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It's the Eiger

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It’s only one of most famous mountains on earth – the Eiger

And to the left of the spectacle continues to impress. One could spend days, nay weeks absorbing the wonder of it all.

on foot

feet

We decided to poke about a bit and set off on foot.

Wanderweg Sign

Wanderweg Signage. Eiger behind sign

we went left

we went left towards the Wetterhorn

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ferien wohnung rental accomodation

and hiked up narrow climbing paved roadways, past idylic chalet settings bedeked with small to large cow bells, and hillside pasture used by goats with jangling bells. We also saw several signs advertising ‘Alpen cheese’ for sale. This is where it gets silly. We packed a lunch, a good lunch because things are esspensivo in the Switzer Lands. Hell, we even packed a chunk of Gruyere cheese but then couldn’t resist the urge to buy more cheese at one of the local shops along with a Swiss air cured beef specialty to add to our packed lunch; of which we only ate the bread. On our meandering way back towards town and the gondola ride upwards to the First peak, we stopped and sat on a bench at a small old barn for a rustic lunch in the sunshine with a view on the Eiger.

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lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald from lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald

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more valley view

On our way back to town we heard some odd noise that clashed violently with the stillness of this alpine idyll, a loud reverberating roar that bounced out of the blue sky and off the mountainsides above and behind us.  Two Swiss airforce fighter jet aircraft were engaged in close  maneuvers, a tight circling airborne dance lest they fly or rocket out of bounds (Switzerland being smallish in size). The country has a strong and clear sense of defense. On our journey there we saw two individual soldiers in full gear including the rifle slung in front of the body with folded stock,a reminder that this folk is prepared, willing and ready to defend at a moments notice it seems. Actually we had wanted to hike up to the First peak (2168m above sea level) but were told that since the recent ski season had wrapped up not too long ago that conditions on the upper hiking trails were ‘difficult’ and for the most part closed. Ok, gondola time. With our special travel day pass we scored half price tickets and hopped into a small four person gondola for the (much to our uniformed surprise) half hour trip up to the peak from 1034m in Grindelwald.

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald, Schreckhorn 4075m

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Eiger 3970m center image

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Finsteraarhorn 4274m above the valley floor

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Schreckfeld gondola station, turns 90º and heads up the last little stretch to the First.

author way above sea level

author way above sea level

We hung out a bit up there, soaked up the brutal sunshine, ate a few of our packed goodies, ordered something to drink and headed back down to the Bort gondola station at 1570m from the First  From there we decided to hike back down the rest of the way to town because it was such a beautiful day and after all we’d wanted to hike in the first place.

hiking down towards Grindelwald

hiking down towards Grindelwald

alpine spectacle

alpine spectacle

idyllic scenery

idyllic scenery

Edelweiss flower info The day after: our legs are a bit sore, our exposed skin got burned, our spirits are lifted and the memories rock. Go visit off season, it’s less busy 😉

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it's really big too.

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it’s really big too.