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Exhibition at the Musée gruérien in Bulle

lundi, 22 mai 2006  
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Like most of you, my childhood was made up of chops and changes. New schools, new friends and new surroundings just about every other year as the family followed my father’s “relocations” around the world. Holidays were spent with my grandmother who, though English, lived in Lausanne. There things didn’t change much, nor did she. My grandmother was my anchor and when, as a young teenager in the fifties I came to Ecolint, my life settled down.

I graduated in 1958 and went on to study “Educational and Social Sciences” at Geneva University. Since then I have lived in Switzerland, chiefly in the district of Gruyère, where I have brought up a family of four adopted children, taught English, danced with a Gruyère folklore group and run holiday camps for the Mouvement de la Jeunesse Suisse Romande. In 1990. I took a break and went to London to follow a post-grad course in conference interpretation. Now, after a spell of free-lancing in conference interpretation, I am retired and have settled again in Gruyère, my old stamping ground.

As I said, my grandmother, Jean Playfair Agard Evans, was my anchor. She had quite a life. About a century ago, she and her husband Ernest were pioneers in their day. They settled in Lausanne in 1890 and published a travel guide where they advertised hotels and provided useful travelling tips for the ever-increasing number of English and American tourists who were then “discovering” the Alps. My grandparents imported skis from Norway, took them to Zermatt and showed the hotelier Alexander Seiler how to use them. Skiing in the Alps became fashionable. Together they also climbed innumerable Alpine peaks including Mont-Blanc, the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. They also visited all the hotels they advertised to make sure they were up to standard and as my grandmother never travelled without her painting box, trestle and bag of canvasses, she painted an impressive number of water-colours of Alpine scenes and various European cities.

These paintings, as well as the travel guides of the “golden age of Alpine tourism” are our family heritage. The exhibition team of the Musée gruérien in Bulle latched onto the important part my grandparents played in promoting tourism in the Alps and have set it into its historical context. The result of their insight and work is impressive and is on show until October 2006. It’s as good an excuse as any for taking a trip up here to discover how the skiing scene stared up. 

Stella bonnet /58
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