Sunday, 23 August 2009

Some things never change - even on holiday

The hill was steep and the steps were plenty.

Mr A reached the top before me, a rubbish bag in one hand, balanced by a box of cardboard tucked under the other. I'm not sure how he managed the bag of plastic bottles too, but he did.

We'd already locked up the Swiss holiday house where we'd spent the week exploring the beautiful Lake Maggiore - all packed up just in time to hand the keys to the contracted cleaner.

Well I think she was the cleaner. She turned up at the exact time we'd been instructed to depart, but she didn't speak English and I hadn't mastered enough Italian to ask. But she managed to mime a sweeping action so I guessed she was the designated lady with the mop.

Dropping off our rubbish was the last duty before we left the popular resort of San Nazarro and its stunning views over the lake.

Catching our breath from the steep climb, we finally made it to the communal waste collection point. There was no luxury of a domestic kerbside collection in this part of the continent.

And in temperatures of over 30C, lugging our rubbish to the top of the hill felt more than a mere inconvenience. If truth be told, it felt like a real burden. The only relief was that after a week in the holiday home our rubbish bag was still quite small

So Mr A bunged the rubbish bag into the garbage container - in a plastic sack as instructed by the local council.

The plastic PET bottles went into a separate collection bank.

Then clutching the box of cardboard, he hunted high-and-low for the paper bank.

But there wasn't one.

Defeated by the lack of facilities, he headed back towards the rubbish bin and began to lift the lid.

"Don't you dare!" I squealed, not quite realising that it sounded like a major threat.

Well I know it was only cardboard and that it would have been used to create energy in one of Switzerland's incinerators, but I couldn't let him just drop it into the rubbish bin. Not when there were other options

"It's only a bit of rubbish" came the reply.


Blimmin' 'eck. I thought he'd got the message. It was time to dig in my heels in order to hold my ground.

"It's not flippin' rubbish it's a very useful resource!" I maintained. "Let's just bung it in the car until we get to our next destination, where I know there is a paper bank."

Then came the stony face.

"You're having a laugh!"

"Have you seen how jam-packed it is?"

The mood was definitely getting serious and with gestures worthy of our continental location he thrusted the bundle of cardboard into my arms.

"If you're that determined, you can bloody well sit with it on your lap!"

And that's how we left the rubbish bins, with me prepared to sit with a bundle of cardboard on a car journey around the lake, through Locarno, around the twisting bends of Centovalli, entering Italy and leaving again amidst the dramatic landscape of the Swiss Alps; a 5 hour trip culminating in a visit to the cardboard bank in Leysin, our next stopover on our Swiss road-trip.

I should be relieved that Mr A hasn't divorced me for my determination.

I can picture the scene:

"She insisted on recycling the cardboard Your Honour! It was the finale of an unhealthy decline and I could take no more."

It's a good job my brother-in-law made an unexpected intervention.

As we bid our farewells - or rather arrivederci - to my sister and her family who we'd travelled all the way to Switzerland to visit, he kindly offered to take the bundle off my hands and drop it into the recycling point at the local train station.

Such a simple gesture leaving me to concentrate on managing the passports and enjoying the view from the car window.

And enjoy the view I did...

...while feeling relieved that Mr A hadn't noticed the empty sweetcorn cans I'd sneaked into the car only hours earlier.

Perhaps I need another holiday. I know Mr A certainly does to recover.



Sam said...

Lol! I did that when we left our holiday cottage in cornwall. I had a small bag of rubbish that I knew could be recycled at home, and I buried it under all our other bags in the boot, so that dearest hubby wouldn't see it :-) There would have been steam coming out of his ears if he had!

Wonderful view.

Unknown said...


We went there for our Primary 7 school trip in 1982.

To be honest, I don't remember much about the place as I only had eyes for Susan Holloway (sigh) but I do remember it seemed to be built on a bloody hillside! There was an ice-skating rink at the bottom of the hill which even at the height of summer still had ice on it. Susan let me hold her hand for one circuit of the rink (sigh).

Oh yeah, and the hotel manager screamed at you if you didn't eat your peas.

mrs green said...

:D welcome home Mrs A. Finding the recycling facilities is always first on my list of sight seeing LOL!

Bird said...

I'm behind you all the way, why should recycling when away from home be seen as weird or inconvenient? It's just a habit, and a good one, and it's no biggie if you are carrying a little bit extra in the car (I mean it's not like it's heavy). Good for you!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Definitely a hard habit to break Mrs A. But why would you just because you are on holiday. Good for you for sticking to your guns and bravo to BIL for coming to your rescue. Fabulous view by the way. Glad you had a good holiday. A x

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Good to see you back on site. I hope you all had a great time in Switzerland. Have things changed at all there since last year's holiday?

I look forward to further activities promoting Zero Waste. Our varied approaches give the trend strength in depth.

Anonymous said...

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Jo Beaufoix said...

Hee hee. You are brilliant. x

Unknown said...

It seems like this was the only threat you had on holidays, however the episode ended in a good way, thanks to your belief and determination!
The place you visit was wonderful and I'm still sorry as we couldn't meet there... but I'll consider it as suggestion for another holiday in the future, even if I'll need to find a place to recycle cartons :)... but you shouldn't have to wonder about recycling facilities... you were very near to Italy where unfortunately the lack of a good recycling system is the normality... :(
But glad to see you've survived (at the heat too) and I hope that you enjoyed most of your holidays!

A Modern Mother said...


My mother's family is from Locarno! Actually from a small village in the hills, and they spent the summers in the "city". I LOVE it there. Very clean too.

Ciao, ciao!

lunarossa said...

In spite of all this, I hope you had a great holiday. The Italian part of Switzerland is fantastic. I had edear friends who live in Lugano and near Locarno. Beautiful! I must say that Mr A is really fantastic, his patience is almost unreal. My hubby would have chucked me in the rubbish bin too!!! All the best. Ciao. A.

Proactol said...

I don't remember much about the place as I only had eyes for Susan Holloway (sigh) but I do remember it seemed to be built on a bloody hillside!

Almost Mrs Average said...

So sorry folks for the long time in replying....I've had a bit of an injury that has taken it's toll but for a brief moment, I am back in er...action. :-D

Sam - I'm so glad I'm not the only one. The things we do to keep us and our other halves as sane as possible. Hee hee. Perhaps we should set up a Recyclers Anonymous group. :-D

LOL Despairing - I love your account of Leysin and it cheered me up enormously. That ice rink is still there AND it still had ice in it this summer. Our favourite memory just had to be going on the cog-train down the mountain into Aigle - now that was an experience and a half :-D

Ha ha - thank you Mrs G. Yes after my initial recce, I had notice a lack of particular bins in the neighbourhood, so the cardboard didn't come as a complete surprise. It was frustrating that they didn't make these things more obvious to newcomers. Ne'er mind. Things might change :-D

Hi Bird and thank you for dropping by with your support. You're right. Last year I entered an argument with a radio presenter justifying that you can't leave responsibilities behind just because you're on holiday. He didn't quite get but that might have just been his banter. Your comments however are very reassuring that I'm not as potty as I sometimes think :-D

Hi Anne - My brother-in-law was fab to take it off my hands, especially as he had to go out of his way too. The views were indeed stunning. I wish I could have included loads more photos. Perhaps I should put some up on Flickr - if I should ever get the chance....wishful thinking :-D

Hi John - No, in the cantons we visited nothing has changed in terms of extended collections or even the way collections are managed. My brother-in-law wishes the pay-per-bag system would come to Leysin, but there are no plans for that as far as he's aware. One thing is certain though...even though I praised Switzerland for its collections during my visit last year, I now feel that where relevant facilities exist in the the UK our authorities make recycling far more convenient for convenient. It would keep me fit though if I had to cart my rubbish bags and recycling up a huge hill every week. :-D

Hi Jo - sweetie. Promise to catch up soon. :-D x

Hi Danda - it was such a great visit and it is such a shame we couldn't meet up but never mind...maybe next year. However, I did think of you regularly during the holiday with my various attempts at basic (very basic Italian). It's a pity I didn't get your tel number beforehand because as we were passing through Italy I could even have phoned you for free for some lessons LOL...I think you had a lucky escape.

And you'll never guess what souvenirs I brought back....three boxes of Barilla pasta....yep I couldn't resist :-D

LOL Modern Mother, well you are a dark horse. Locarno eh. How fabulous. It really is a wonderful place. We were there at the time of the Locarno film festival, but unfortunately never managed to see a film...we were just too tired to stay up late. Ciao ciao (hee hee) :-D

Hee hee Antonella - I could have got lessons from you too. In fact if I had your number I could have rung you to talk to the cleaner who arrived early and to whom I had to explain I needed another half and hour. All I could manage was Trento Minuto. I pointed at my watch and she seemed to understand mutterings. We had a fabulous time there and saw many beautiful sites. Ascona was one of my favourite visits. Next time, I want to venture into Italy to visit the Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore. It looks wonderful but was too far for small children this time. Ciao (looks like I'm getting the lingo) :-D

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