This time the music was more familiar. ‘Simply having a wonderful Christmas time’ was played as we jolted our way across the beautiful Swiss countryside. Initially we passed a large lake, that was so vast, it could well have been an ocean. Soon, we came to woodland. The evergreen trees were scattered with flakes of crisp snow and it wouldn’t have been hard to imagine Santa popping out from between the branches or ushering us into his workshop nearby. The whole place looked dreamy and Fiona was in good spirits.
“Just had a text from Lauren,’ she said as I tried hard to get a good shot of the surrounding trees, always looking for a perfect Instagram post.
“Is she chasing us?” I asked. “Does she want us to turn round and go after something else instead?”
“No. She just wanted to know if we had an angle yet. I must admit, a few tag lines have been going through my head.”
“Party Jesus performs miracle of riding a reindeer in the buff.”
I had to look her in the eyes to see whether or not she was being genuine. Apparently she was.
“Erm. Anything else? Maybe something slightly more appropriate?” I jested.
“Jesus reappears in Santa’s backyard, surrounded by hippies?”
I snorted this time. Now I was glad she was the camera girl and not the journalist.
I looked at my own notes on my phone and realised that I had nothing better to offer but quickly she urged me to make a suggestion or two.
“Switzerland’s messiah promotes countryside living…?” I said feebly.
“Well we really are clutching at straws,” she said as she began to check through her camera bag.
Seeing her lovingly check each item in her bag and gently clean one of her lenses with a cloth, I could tell that she was serious about her work. Her smile was sweet and I found myself drawn to her. She was so intriguing and seemed to be honest as well as incredibly clever. She started to tell me random facts about Switzerland as we carried on our journey and the train continued through tunnel after tunnel, crossing lakes and sweeping past enormous mountains. She knew everything there was to know about the country’s history as a famously neutral country and about its wildlife. I was learning lots and time seemed to fly by. Before long we were getting off at a station which was situated in the heart of a small village, sidled alongside a steep mountain.
Apparently the only way to get to Jesus’s village from here was by bus and then funicular. His village was not approachable by road as it was high up in a ski resort. We both shivered as we left the station and walked around looking for the relevant bus. Finding it, we were able to sit on it for a while before it departed, warming ourselves by rubbing our hands together and taking small sips from coffee cups, trying to make them last as long as possible. Fiona wanted me to play a game of impressions. Each of us had to try and do a different accent and the other must guess where it came from. Three guesses was the limit. The winner was the first person to guess five accents. I was right in the middle of trying to sound Welsh when the bus started off and we became aware of the thick layer of snow that was blanketing the village roads.
AD – If you enjoyed this, keep looking out for the next instalment or check out my book below. This book of short stories is about first impressions being often misleading.