After a beautiful Summer, Winter is finally arriving in Zürich. Which means it's going to get cold. And very, very grey.
As I hail from the north west of England, grey skies are not unfamiliar to me. But here they are different. When we arrived in February we caught the end of a pretty tough winter. It was bleak. For some reason the grey blanket of cloud that covers the sky seems to sit a little lower here, topping the surrounding hills like icing.
But there is nothing sweet about the frosting that covers the ground and makes walking about treacherous. Before long it will soon be bitterly cold again too. To forget the temperatures and find some sun most Swiss folk tend to head in one direction. Up.
If you can get high enough among the alps you can battle through the murk and mist to rediscover the sun. Zoe and I unfortunately don't ski, which may make us social pariahs here during the winter months. There are, however, other actives to explore in the winter - sledding, snow-shoeing etc and we might well give those a try. We'll keep you posted.
There is, however, one source of colour in Swiss life that will not fade when the days get shorter and the mercury plummets. It's their trousers.
At odds to their conservative stereotype, it seems the Swiss blokes love to wear brightly coloured trousers. And I mean neon rave, highlighter pen bright. It isn't just me that's noticed it either. My colleagues from other parts of the world have also pointed it out. Once, when we headed for a post-work drink, our Swiss workmate Christian wore pants in such a bright shade of blue that we were worried papa smurf would come crawling up asking for his legs back. At least it made him easy to spot in the beer queue.
In "Swiss Watching", Diccon Bewes' excellent book about Swiss culture, he references that Swiss people seem to wear red shoes a lot. I must say, I haven't actually noticed a lot of feet in the national colour during my time here. But I have seen red pants. And builders' jacket lumo yellow ones. And traffic-cone orange ones. And in a shop I saw a pair of purple ones even Prince (or the artist formerly known as such) would have considered too garish.
For all I know this is a worldwide fashion trend that I've somehow missed out on, and in a few months you'll be reminding me of this post as I strut around in chinos of blinding mauve. Or perhaps the Winter will be so grey that seasonal affective disorder will drive me to purchase an amazing technicolor shellsuit. Well, I suppose I am from Liverpool. Sometimes things come full circle...
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.