"Hi Dad, just to let you know that Max was born this morning at 2.26am, weighing 6lbs 3. He's a lovely little thing. I have him in my arms right now so I'm typing with one finger, so I'll keep this brief for now. I'll send you some pictures soon."
That was an email from my son Matt, sent two days ago. I am a grandfather again (he also has young Rufus). Well done Matt and Louise. Max, I wish you all the love in the world.
So what have I been doing? It's been a week of non-stop drawing. Every day I've been re-acquainting myself with a job I left a couple of years ago, but I'm back into the swing of things now. But there were exciting events too. Since last I wrote, Frank and I went in a cable-car to a world of skiing and beautiful people. A mountain called Vogel.
That's right. Imagine a place with no snow, warmth, birds in the trees and cars on the roads. Then you step into a cable car that's 10 minutes away from your house to find yourself in a magical winter wonderland. There are snow-covered pine trees, little wooden buildings with steep roofs and cartoon snow. There are people skiing everywhere, some super fast and some bent over and uncertain. Chair lifts carry them over your head and the bright blue sunshine dazzles you in every direction. You are surrounded by lesser peaks, zinc-nosed children, expensive clothes and beautiful women. You can buy a beer or a coffee, dinner or a snack. It is so unlike the world at the bottom of the mountain that it feels oddly impossible.
My fear of heights becomes more acute with age, and it was perhaps a lack of imagination that led me to walk so casually into the cable-car. Once it got going my vision swam and I clung to the rails while small children and experienced cable-car-types looked out and pointed to objects far below. When it went over whatever cable cars go over to stop the lines from sagging, it swung and everyone went "Ooooh!". I don't think my fixed grin fooled anyone. Strangely horrible was the creeping slowness of the thing as it got the top. Finally it docked and we got out. I didn't like it.
Once among the beautiful people I was fine. We had no skis and I don't look like someone who embraces the ski lifestyle, but I loved it. The cafe has the most incredible view of the valley and surrounding peaks. Frank took a photo (Bohinjska Bistrica is arrowed, just down the valley).
And so, to wrap up this tale of Shangri La, we went for a drive yesterday to a place called Kranjska Gora, a ski resort near the Italian and Austrian borders. It was a bit crass, I thought, lacking the sophisticated ambiance of Vogel. Hotels played pop music into the street from vulgar speakers and the restaurant menus had pictures of the food. But a mile down the road is where they ski jump. The world championships were held there and never before have I witnessed such bravery. It's scary to watch on the telly, and mind-boggling to watch up close. Animals must see us humans at play and wonder how we dream up such madness.
And then we went to Italy for a while, and returned home.
I don't want my new grandson to ski jump, but how nice it would be for Max and Rufus to come visit grandpa and slide with confidence in this beautiful place.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things