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Time off offers the chance to hit the heights with a trip to Zermatt

I took a week off to work on my fitness this week.  There was an event in Holland on a links course that I really enjoy playing but it would have been 6 weeks in a row for me had I played in it.  I find I play my best golf if I limit the number of events to three in a row, so unfortunately I had to miss the event in Holland.  Instead we headed to Zermatt for a week of hiking up the mountains with either a rucksack or Erin on my back.  It's the best fitness regime i've found for golf!

It was the easiest trip of the year.  A car collected us at 7:30 and dropped us to the train station at Sierre by 8:00 and we were on the train to Visp by 8:20.  An hour and a half later we were in Zermatt being meeting our host for the week.  It really is one of my favourite locations!  Last year we arrived Sunday and bumped into Pablo Martin as we left the train station.  He lost his job last year and his girlfriend had a baby in February this year, so I'm not sure if he still lives in Zermatt - it's an expensive place!  The fitness week fits perfectly into the calendar as the Italian Open is only a few hours away by train.

This year we rented a beautiful apartment as we had Erin, along with Bev's parents for a few days.  It also means I can stick to the gluten free dairy free diet more easily when we're eating in all the time.  The lady we'd rented the apartment from had recently climbed the Matterhorn, a birthday present from her three girls.  600 people have died climbing it, it's definitely not for the faint hearted!  She's very brave!  She walked up with me to the Hornlihutte, the "base camp" for the climb.  I desperately wanted to go last year but there was too much snow to do it safely and Bev being cautious said no.  This year she was disappointed as 12 weeks out from a Caesarean section it was going to be too much!  Ashley walked with me instead.  We left Zermatt at 8am and made it to the hut by 13:30' straight up hill.  It's at 3208m, was freezing cold; I think the weather station said -2!  There was still some snow, and some of the path was bolted onto the side of the mountain with the drop visible through the grills beneath you feet.  It was all about endurance and keeping a constant speed, something I'm not generally all that good at, I tend to be more of a sprinter!  In hindsight I don't think Bev would have enjoyed the walk up had she been fit, but the views were amazing!  Ashley took me a little way past the hut itself and showed me the start of the ascent to the peak, I ventured about 2m up and then thought better of it, you need proper equipment and I had none.  So off we went to the hut for lunch, curry soup and tales from the climbers on the way back down.  It was altogether an awesome experience!

I didn't get to venture so high again, its not recommended to take small kids about about 2500m so Bev and I stuck to some of the lower trails.  They're still pretty steep in sections and Erin now weighs over 5kg, so when you've her in the baby harness you must be carrying an extra 7kgs at least.  It's hard work! We took a wrong turn on Saturday and ended up climbing straight up a mountain instead of the more leisurely path we'd planned, an extra hour and a half of walking later and we eventually found the restaurant we'd been headed for, luckily just before they closed the kitchen.  We had the biggest lunch you've ever seen!  All in all it was an excellent week, just what was needed to clear the head before the Italian Open and the Dunhill.

I spent Saturday night surfing the net trying to find all the coverage of Furyk shooting 59 in the BMW.  What made it even more remarkable was that the next best score was a 65, so the course really wasn't playing easy!  Seems tough for Rory as he's still under a lot of scrutiny but that's golf at the highest level.  I'm sure he'll be looking forward to a bit of time off and then the final series in Europe. 

Bev and I headed onto the train at lunchtime on Sunday with Erin, our journey to Turin just starting.  We'd a lot of bags and sat in the wrong seats on our train to Milan so had to move our cases, the buggy and several smaller bags through a few carriages.  I think I must have hit everyone on that train with the buggy on the way past!  It was almost a disaster as we double checked our accommodation, the apartment we stayed in last year only to find Bev had booked it for Monday, a frantic email later and we had it for the Sunday night as well.  Simple mistakes can end up costing you a fortune out here when flights or hotels are booked for the wrong days!  I was checking the scores from Holland between lugging the bags about and was pleased to see Joost Luiten had won his national tournament that must be a great feeling.  It's Joost's second title this season, hopefully I can emulate him in the final few weeks to make sure I'm playing in some of the final series events!