If you go down to the woods today…


Es war einmal
“Once upon a time…”

No, you won’t see any teddy bears… not in these particular woods anyway! Last year, at around this time, we wanted to do something on a sunny day that just happened to also be a public holiday in both Germany and Switzerland. I had read about a fairytale sculpture trail in some nearby woods, so we hopped on a tram to Reinach and went exploring.

The sculpture path originally opened in 2005 with 12 sculptures. More were added in 2008, 2009 and 2011, for a total of 46 fairytale characters by 22 artists today. Obviously the later ones are in better condition than the earlier ones. Some of the sculptures represent specific fairytales that I recognised, some are Swiss tales that I didn’t know and others seem to just be general fairytale themes, for example a palace or witch that didn’t seem to be from any particular story.

fairytale palace

The palace above is actually a marble run, which is pretty cool. We found a marble on the floor and managed to give it a go. Then, later on the trail, we found this:

We spent quite a while playing with it because… well, you just would, wouldn’t you? So fun!

Poor Puss in Boots appeared to have fallen victim to a madman with an axe, and Pinnochio had lost his famous nose completely. Does that mean he had been telling too many truths? Telling tales unnecessarily, perhaps?

We found Red Riding Hood, hiding from a rather young looking wolf.

I immediately recognised the following sculpture as a mirror and assumed it was SNow White, but its sign informed me it’s actually Momo’s mirror. Momo is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, which I started reading ages ago and never finished so I’m not sure where the mirror comes in!

Momo's mirror

Of course, no fairytale trail would be complete without an actual fairy!

fairy sculpture

We didn’t bring any food with us, but there is a picnic area in the woods including a place where you can “grill” over an open fire. The sculpture trail is only in a small part of the woods, and there is also a nature trail throughout the whole thing – the signs are only in German but I’m sure you can still have a nice walk. The photos I’ve shown here are, obviously, just a few of the sculptures. There are plenty more to discover. I can recommend this to anyone visiting Basel who has children or – like me – just loves fairytales!

To get to the sculpture trail, take tram number 11 from Basel to the stop called “Reinach Süd”. The start of the trail is a short walk – about 10-15 minutes. Follow signs for “Schulhaus Fiechten”.

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Wooden watchers

I was off work last week, using up some holiday, but since Jan didn’t have any holiday left and had to work, I didn’t actually go anywhere. Instead I read, did some cleaning and explored the local area a bit. On one of the days, I went for a two hour walk and ended up in the woods near Allschwil. At first it was all trees and birdsong, but then I turned a corner and saw these guys:

no-evil

“Hear no evil” seems to have had a bit of an accident… and I’m not sure who their weird looking friend is!

I thought that was everything, but then further down the path I found a whole collection of wooden carvings, watching me from among the trees…

Later, I spotted this friendly looking fellow in an entirely different part of the woods:

tree-man

A nice little local find that I really wasn’t expecting 🙂

What do you think of these wood carvings? Any favourites?

The Art of the Brick in Zurich

I still have some things from last year to write about, but I’m skipping ahead a bit since this exhibition is still on and some people reading this might be interested in it.

I had seen photos from this Lego exhibition on various blogs and really wanted to go to it, but so far it had never been anywhere near me, so when I discovered that it was coming to Zurich I was determined to go. It’s on until 10th January, but Jan is back at work today and on Wednesday we fly to England, so if we were going to go, it had to be yesterday. We took advantage of a RailAway offer, which gave us 10% off the train ticket and entrance fee and also included a day ticket for the Zurich tram network, and caught a train at just after 1 p.m.

The exhibition contained more than I expected considering it took up such a small space. The sculptures were amazing and I can recommend a visit if the exhibition is anywhere near you. The one thing both of us found slightly annoying was that the audio guide and most of the explanatory signs focused on the artist and how amazing it is that he was the first person ever to make art from Lego (was he really? Not sure!). Jan described it as being a little egoistic. Anyway, here are some photos of some of my favourite sculptures:

Of course, the iconic sculpture that’s used on all the posters, entitled “Yellow”, was also on display:

Lego sculpture

One section contained replicas of famous sculptures and paintings:

Finally, I loved this stained glass window, made from transparent coloured Lego bricks. It was hung in front of a light and the blue photo below shows the reflection it made on the floor.

Being in Zurich, we obviously couldn’t go straight home after the exhibition but just had to stop by the Sprüngli cafe for some hot chocolate and cake. Jan rolled his eyes at me for taking the photo below, but I don’t care 😉

DSCN5232

The Art of the Brick is being shown at Puls 5 in Zurich until 10 January 2016. Adult tickets cost CHF 24, or if you live elsewhere in Switzerland you can get a RailAway combi offer with 10% off the train fare and entrance fee plus a day ticket for the Zurich tram network. The offer is only available by phone or at the train station – it can’t be purchased online.

I’m linking this up with the first 2016 edition of Monday Escapes.

Travel Monkey

Yorkshire Sculpture Park and “Wave”

Months before we had even booked our flights to England, Jan and I had decided to hire a car while we were over there this time – party to give us a bit of freedom from relying on other people/buses, but also so we could go away by ourselves for a few days. This was my first holiday since New Year and I wanted us to have at least some time to ourselves! Much as I love my family, visiting them doesn’t count as a “real” holiday for me. We had discussed a few options for where to go, but when I saw an article about a part of the poppies exhibition from the Tower of London was visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park and would be there while we were over the decision was instantly made for me. I was disappointed not to get to see the poppies in London so I knew I had to see them in Yorkshire. Luckily Jan agreed – since he’s the driver forcing the issue might have been a bit difficult 😉

While we were driving down to Yorkshire, it started raining heavily, as in can barely see through the windscreen heavily! It calmed down a little afer a bit, and  after we stopped at Woolley Edge Services for food and coffee (or chai latte in my case) it had slowed to a mere drizzle. It still made for a rather damp visit to the park, but the gorgeous autumn colours at least partially made up for that. And also being a rainy Monday in October meant it wasn’t as crowded as it might have been 😉

As soon as we entered the park, we saw signs for Wave, but there are plenty of other things to see on the way there. Some sculptures were more interesting than others (and some were just downright weird!). Here are a few of my favourites:

I guessed as soon as I saw this next sculpture that it was by Nike de Saint Phalle, even though it’s not her usual style – the colours fit, but her “people” are normally less recognisable for what they are.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There’s a country house in the middle of the park, Bretton Hall. Apparently at one point it was used as a college and the latest plan is to turn it into a hotel.

By the way, that metal slab on the right-hand photo is one of the sculptures. Told you some of them were odd!

Finally, we reached the main attraction and let me tell you it was worth the wait!First we went into a little hut where there were copies of poems about WW1 on the wall and a notice board where people could put their tributes to people who had fought or died in the war, plus a giant window to catch your first glimpse of the bridge where the sculpture was dsiplayed, then it was on to the sculpture itself. I may have gone overboard taking photos – this isn’t even all of them!

We walked all the way up to the Longside Gallery (through a field of cows, but no sculptures!) only to find that the current exhibition is very modern-arty and not that interesting. Random sculptures that even I could have made! Then we took the free shuttle bus back down to the main park and had a look at the last remaining sculptures.

Overall, we were there for about 3 and a half hours, including a stop at the end for a cuppa and some cake. If it hadn’t been such a miserable day, we could probably have taken even more time walking around! Parking costs 8 pounds for the entire day but entrance to the park is free, so I think it’s worth it (especially if you have a car full!). There are also buses from Barnsely and Wakefield that stop directly outside the park if paying for parking bothers you.

Even with the rain we had a good time and the poppies definitely met my expectations. The “Wave” sculpture is there until 10th January 2016 if you want to visit it, but otherwise the park is a great place for a day out in the fresh air at any time.

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. For more information and to join in click the button below.

Packing my Suitcase

Tinguely Museum, Basel

The Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely was born in Fribourg but grew up in the Gundeldingen area of Basel (before moving to France in 1952), so obviously the people of Basel like him a lot. He has his very own fountain on Theaterplatz (Theatre Square) and also has a museum in Basel. As we had a friend visiting this weekend and yesterday was supposed to be rainy (which ended up being a lie!) we decided to go to the Tinguely museum. Jean Tinguely is best known for his mechanical, moving sculptures, known officially as metamechanics. I would show you a video of a fountain that was outside the museum (you were allowed to take photos inside the museum without a flash, but not videos – although it didn’t say no filming anywhere so I did make one video before being told off my a member of staff. Oops!), but it’s in a format that WordPress doesn’t accept so… sorry! Here are some photos:

You get the idea, right?

Some of Tinguely’s works are really cool… others are weird or slightly disturbing. A few examples:

If you’re thinking all of those look cool it’s because I didn’t take photos of the really weird ones 😉

The machines in the following galleries are all drawing machines. There was one in the gift shop which you could purchase a token and a piece of paper for and then have it draw you your very own picture. I didn’t do one but we did see that machine in use while browsing in the shop.

Currently the museum is also exhibiting works by the Swiss artist Eva Aeppli in one of its rooms. Aeppli was married to Tinguely from 1951 to 1961 and died on 4 May 2015. I only took a photo of one of her sculptures… how creepy is this?

Tinguely museumIt’s called The Five Widows.

My favourite thing in the whole museum was this sculpture that you were allowed to climb on. Parts of it also moved.

I was disappointed that the spiral staircase was off-limits!

Tinguely’s sculptures are not exactly what you’d call “classical” art, and neither are they particularly, pretty/decorative, but they’re definitely interesting! The museum is a great place to spend an afternoon, and I imagine children would like the moving sculptures as well (even though you’re not allowed to touch!). I really enjoyed our visit to the museum and will definitely take future visitors there.

I’m linking this post up with My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase for Monday Escapes. Click the button to find out more!

My Travel Monkey