When Switzerland came to Hampshire

June 7, 2010, No comments

Last Friday there was a corner of deepest Hampshire that became an honorary part of Switzerland, at least for a couple of hours. Alphorns rang out (of the CD player), holey cheese was eaten and chocolate could be found everywhere. And of course, a certain new book about the Alpine republic was on sale in Britain at last. Yes, it was the first launch for Swiss Watching, and the honour went to my hometown of Petersfield and the bookshop where I used to work. Well, sort of used to work (it’s a long story). It was a double celebration as One Tree Books had just won the Independent Bookseller of the Year award. Well done Tim and his team!

After all the research, the writing, the editing and the anticipation, it was great to get to this point, where friends and family could actually buy the book. Over fifty people turned up, despite it being a rather hot and sultry evening, and it was lovely to see some familiar faces. That’s the thing about living abroad: it’s so easy to lose touch with others, even in the age of Facebook and Skype, and sometimes texting or emailing just isn’t satisfying enough. Face time with old friends is something I miss about no longer living in this green and pleasant land. An unexpected bonus about publishing a book is that so many old friends have come out of the woodwork, thanks to book launches and Google. Hurrah for that.

These good citizens of Hampshire were introduced to the Swiss culinary delights of Landjaeger (square salami), Appenzeller (my favourite Swiss cheese), Laeckerli (hard cinnamon biscuits) and Sugus (Swiss Starburst). Switzerland is the land of milk and money, so we got the curious to try two milk-based products that are the staples in every Swiss household – Rivella, the national soft drink made from milk whey, and freshly-baked Zopf, a plaited milk bread that Gregor made with his own fair hands. And a Swiss event wouldn’t be Swiss without chocolate, this time in the delectable form of Cailler neapolitans.

By the end of the evening there were only nine books, and luckily for me lots of individually wrapped chocolates, left. A great start to Swiss Watching in Britain. Next stop, the official launch in London tomorrow. Far more people, many more books, and a lot more chocolate. Sounds like my kind of evening.

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