Friday thought #77 Cows with attitude!

You will often come across animals when out and about in the mountains; mostly cows, goats, sheep, or the occasional marmot. They are always nice to see, I like sharing my mountains with animals, but in general I wouldn’t normally describe any of them as having a great deal of character, and I’ve certainly never seen one pose for the camera! However on a recent mountaineering trip we came across most definitely the coolest, most characterful cow I have ever seen, almost a cow with attitude!

She was in the middle of the hiking trail, and stood her ground as we approached, then as soon as the camera was on her, she tilted her chin upwards, looked nonchalantly in to the distance and struck a pose, no two ways about it. Judge for yourself, she was just marvellous!

What a poser!

What a poser!

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Friday thought #76 English grammar rant…!

I love languages, they are endlessly interesting, and I am always comparing and questioning different aspects of language. In particular I love the English language. This probably has a lot to do with it being my first language, and also the fact that I spend a lot of my time teaching English to foreign students… ! But even so, I think it’s a fascinating language; so complex, so expressive, and much of it with seemingly no rules at all!

Teaching advanced English has been a very interesting experience for me as it has really made me stop and ponder questions that as a native speaker I would never even consider. It also makes you realise just how many mistakes we make as native speakers, mistakes which have, over the course of time, become acceptable. With the enormous rise in popularity of blogs, I find myself seeing more and more mistakes, and not just typos – we are all guilty of occasionally typing too quickly and not having time to proofread – but serious grammatical errors that are clearly not thought of as incorrect by the writer. Why is it now ok to say “there’s lots of people?” Spoken slang is one thing, but I can’t tolerate poorly written English. Another of my favourites is “I should of gone home earlier”. We all went to school and learnt how to read, write and speak. No wonder so many foreign speakers find English so difficult to learn.

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And don’t even get me started on apostrophes. Why do so many people think if a word ends in ’s’, it must need an apostrophe?

“Sofa’s for sale”

“Fresh drink’s available”

“Live sport’s shown here”

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The list is literally never-ending; outside bars, restaurants, even at universities. True story, I once saw this sign at a British university:

“Student’s Union”

Just for the one student then?

Apostrophes have very simple rules, we all learnt them at school, yet it seems most people have completely forgotten them by the time they reach adulthood.

I would never claim to always use flawless spoken or written grammar, far from it, but I think laziness, far too much time spent typing on phones, and the rise of slang is starting to destroy our language. And what a beautiful language it is, I hate the thought of it slipping away. If grammar is not your strong point, no problem, but just ask someone to check it before you publish it!

Then there are occasionally grammar points which present themselves and become the subject of debate, such as the following safety precaution commonly found on the back of headrests on aeroplanes. Is one right and one wrong, or are they both acceptable? And if they’re both ok, why?!

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It’s a wonderful language, but it could be made a whole lot easier if there was just one word for something, rather than 10, and if each word just meant one thing, not 10…!

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Friday thought #75 Penguins!

A recent visit to Edinburgh zoo reinforced my opinion that penguins are one of the funniest, cutest, yet oddest animals on earth! The zoo has a fantastic water complex for a huge number of penguins, which cannot fail to make you smile simply by moving, or even just by lying down! The way they walk seems so desperately inefficient, and their ‘relaxed’ position couldn’t look more uncomfortable. Yet when they enter the water they become a different species; graceful, elegant and beautiful. I could have watched these little guys all day, but sadly there were many other animals to see!

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Friday thought #74 Forest tracks and tall trees

There’s something about being in a forest that I really love, I don’t know why, but they are mysterious, always quiet, regardless of the time of year, and almost certainly beautiful. For me a forest walking trail is hard to beat, especially one with gnarled tree roots criss-crossing your path, and flanked by perfectly straight trees, all desperate for their place in the sun…

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Spot the horse!

Spot the horse!

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Friday thought #73 Discovering the lakes of Tirol

Living in a landlocked country I’m always keen to spend time near water whenever possible. Innsbruck isn’t inundated with nearby lakes, but if you are willing to get in the car there are some stunners within an hour’s drive.

We recently discovered Piburgersee, a small, enclosed and incredibly peaceful lake. Unlike many other such lakes, there are no big grassy areas for people to lounge around on, just tiny, private ‘beach’ areas right next to the water, nestled in between the tree roots and the atmospheric overhanging branches. The lake never gets very busy, and regardless of the other people, the enclosed nature of it always means that you feel like you’re on your own.

A lovely forest path circumnavigates the lake, with further trails leading off it for those who want a longer walk, and it is also possible to rent a boat for a bit of lake time without getting wet! Plus there are 2 lovely restaurants on the far side to eat, drink or simply chill out in the sun! A wonderful discovery!

The water is a lovely temperature, and the fish are very friendly!

The water is a lovely temperature, and the fish are very friendly!

Stunning reflections

Stunning reflections from our ‘private beach’

You can't fail to feel relaxed here

You can’t fail to feel relaxed here

 

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Friday thought #72 A superb via ferrata and an amazing day out

Yesterday dawned beautiful, bright and sunny in Innsbruck, so we made the most of a day off by heading in to the Stubai Valley to do the Schlicker via ferrata, one that had been on our to-do list for a while. We have skied in the Schlick resort, but this was our first time outside of winter, and the stunning rock pillars that tower so majestically over the pistes were, if possible, even more impressive in the summer.

It was a full day out, with a 1.5 hour walk-in, around 3 hours climbing, and about 2.5 hours walk down, but the views were simply breathtaking all day, the climbing superb, and the location second to none. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough, it is described as one of the best via ferratas in the area, and rightly so.

Not a bad lunch spot...

Not a bad lunch spot…

Stunning rock formations along the ridge

Stunning rock formations along the ridge

The view from the top, across to the Axamer Lizum ski area

One of the views from the top, back down in to the Stubai Valley

What a spectacular place to be climbing

What a spectacular place to be climbing

Just one of the incredible rock towers, where did it come from?!

Just one of the incredible rock towers, where did it come from?!

 

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Friday thought #71 Inspirational families (who take their kids climbing!)

Today we headed out for a day climbing above Achensee, a beautiful lake around 40 minutes drive from Innsbruck. There are several climbing areas at the top of this cable car, and the views from the top, across the lake itself and over towards the Karwendel National Park, are just incredible, in my opinion some of the best to be found in Austria.

The climbing was superb; brilliant, slabby limestone, but the real highlight of the day came from the only other team we saw climbing all day. A mum and dad were out climbing with their 2 daughters – aged around 7 and 10. Dad led, mum belayed, and the 2 girls top roped every route, from grade 4 up to 6a! And what topped the whole thing off was that after the girls had climbed, grandpa tied in and climbed the routes too!

We were absolutely amazed, and utterly inspired. 3 generations of the same family out climbing together on a beautiful sunny day. Many people could learn a great deal from people like this, long live families who do stuff outdoors with their kids!

Just a sample of the stunning area

Just a sample of the area with its stunning rock formations

Looking over in to the Karwendel

Looking over in to the Karwendel

The inspirational family - mum, dad, kids and grandpa - all climbing!

The inspirational family – mum, dad, kids and grandpa – all climbing!

Achensee from the cable car station with the Karwendel National Park behind. Wow.

Achensee from the cable car station with the Karwendel National Park behind. Wow

 

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