Jun 19, 2019

Alpine Style – the things you discover on a research trip! By Annie West

Old houses in Brienz
As some of you know I was recently in Europe for a couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to attend a reader festival in France and also visit some locations I thought would be useful for current and future books. If that sounds like a convenient excuse for travel, I can tell you I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve written that have been inspired by places, people, events, traditions and stories that I’ve come across in my travels. Of course, travel is fun too! J

The book I’m working on is set partly in the Alps. Naturally, since I was in Europe it was a perfect time to explore there, soak up the atmosphere and check a few things. 

Window boxes
But in addition to the very specific things I wanted to find out for my story, of course I discovered a lot more. One of those was the alpine affinity for wood! Not just for buildings but for so much more. It’s used in everything from decorative flower boxes to fancy trim on gorgeous alpine houses, water fountains, fences, signs and statues. Even for fashion! 

In case you can't read German and you're looking for a hotel - look for bears carrying luggage!
Everywhere I looked there was something useful or pretty or downright quirky to admire.

Carvings for each hotel door.
Have a look at these and see what you think. They’re all taken around the small town of Brienz in Switzerland where I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days. It turns out that Brienz is home to a Schule für Holzbildhauerei or school for wood sculpture, so perhaps that explains the amount of wonderful carvings I discovered there.

Sign for the wharf and lakeside cruises
In case you want to go on an elegant stroll to the lookout
Or if you're looking for the beach
Or maybe you want to climb the Rothorn Mountain on foot, or better yet, on the steam cog railway
When you get to the top there'll be someone waiting with an oil can to inspect the steam engine
Jolly life-sized locals by the lake
And for the fashion conscious - wooden bow ties!

Several of the men in my family – father, uncle and grandfather – were good with wood and I have a couple of treasured pieces of inherited wooden furniture. Now I’m thinking I missed out at school when the boys learned woodwork and I didn’t. How about you? Do you like handmade wooden items or do you prefer things more modern and streamlined? 


  1. WOW Annie these are fabulous photos and the wood carvings are beautiful I could spend all day admiring them, I do love wood as well although I don't have anything major I do have a linen box that was made for my Mum by one of my uncles and he was really good at making dolls high chairs and cribs for his nieces when we were young he only had sons so they got lots of cars and trucks :)

    Have Fun


    1. Helen, I was fascinated by the creativity of the woodworkers in Switzerland. I bet your uncle got a lot of satisfaction, making things for the family!

  2. Wow! I never knew that. The woodwork is phenomenal. I would love to see that some day.

  3. You're pics are gorgeous, Annie! I love all of those wooden carvings and the signs are fabulous. What an absolutely wonderful research trip. I can't wait to discover it in an upcoming story (or three) of yours. :-D

  4. What wonderful photos, Annie! I love both the places you show and the gorgeous examples of woodcarving. They're brilliant.