Dear Readers, it’s an unalloyed truth that however horrible the weather has been for the past two weeks, on the last day the sun will come up and the Oetz valley will look as beautiful as it’s ever looked. It will be even better tomorrow, for sure. I think the weather gods do it on purpose to remind us of how beautiful this place can be, and to encourage us to come back next year. And so today we decided to wander through the meadows for the last time this year, and so off we trotted.
The river Gurgl is looking very fine in all its incarnations. I’m guessing that the name is onomatopoeic, but it should actually be ‘roar’ rather than gurgle, at least at this time of year when all the snow is melting.
I haven’t seen many beetles this year (the rose chafers are my favourites and can often be spotted on the melancholy thistles) but there are masses of other pollinators about.
And just look at the mountains!
One reason that the meadows are so spectacular is that people are very respectful of them – no one runs through them, and dogs are kept off.
Many of the Highland cows are feeling the heat, but at least they have some shade…
I think this plant might be European Goldenrod (Senecio virgaurea) – it grows right across Europe, North Africa and Asia. and is held in high regard as a medicinal plant.
And how about this beauty – Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum). I hadn’t noticed it in Obergurgl before, but it’s another flower of clearest blue. It likes damp places with some shade, so it’s not surprising that it was in dense cover beside the Gurgl.
And here is another butterfly on Melancholy Thistle – not sure what species this one is, so feel free to chip in if you know! Its wings remained resolutely closed, which wasn’t helpful.
And then on, across another tributary of the Gurgl…
This little Houseleek was growing in the middle of the river on a massive boulder. If you follow the river down, you reach the cascades at Zwieselstein that we visited on our second day.
And then we reach the Frog Pond – we’d walked right past this earlier in the week without paying the slightest attention, but today we actually stopped, and sat, and watched the many, many tadpoles going about their business. It makes me homesick for ‘my’ frogs in East Finchley. I suspect that there will be a need for a whole lot of duckweed removal on Sunday.
And what’s that terrible noise in the background? Well, the warm weather can mean only one thing – time to cut and bring in the hay, and there were several tractors/cutters doing exactly that. On the steeper slopes people use hand-held mowers or even scythes, but the flatter fields get done by more intensive methods.
And who is this, taking advantage of fallen seeds and small insects? I do believe it’s a fieldfare. I had no idea that they came this far south.
And then, because of a landslide which means that we can’t proceed any further, we get the bus down to Solden for some lunch at this spot.
We like it because there’s always something going on – there are mountain bikers heading up the Gaislach to use the trail down, there are house martins and alpine swallows nesting in the Parkhaus opposite (as there have been for many years), sometimes a parade of multi-coloured Porsches come past, and the food is good and cheap-ish for the Oetz Valley.
And then, since we’re here we clearly have to go up the Gaislachkoglbahn again. It would be churlish not to.
Yet again, we had some very chatty people in our gondola to the top, not helped by the fact that suddenly the theme tunes from the James Bond movies started to play. Dad always loved James Bond, and every Christmas involved getting into the Christmas spirit by watching Sean Connery indulging in the usual sex and violence. Still, the music for some of those films was great. Who can forget Louis Armstrong’s ‘We Have All the Time In the World’?
And that seems like a rather nice segue into my exciting news – I’ve decided to retire! Because we don’t have All the Time in the World, and there are a lot of things that I want to do – travel a bit more, devote more time to my degree, find some more exciting things to share with you, Readers, here on the blog, and even learn some German so that I’m not completely flummoxed every time I look at a road sign. I also want to do some more work in the East Finchley community, especially regarding our wood and new meadow. So, I leave my job on Friday 15th September (hopefully giving them enough time to find a replacement, and for me to help train them up). It feels like a bit of a leap in the dark, but I have no doubt at all that I will wonder how on earth I found the time to work once I’ve given it up. I realise how fortunate I am to be able to grab back a few years (I’m 63, so my actual retirement age is 66), and I intend to make the most of it. Any thoughts, those of you who are contemplating/have already retired? Do share!
For one thing, it always feels like I’m just about getting in the swing of things here when it’s time to go home. 3 weeks in Obergurgl next year, maybe?