5 July, Switzerland – ‘All Over The Place – Europe’
I know this might sound a bit weird, but I always thought I was quite good at yodelling. Anyone who has lived with me for any length of time will tell you that when left to my own devices I spend a lot of time subconsciously whistling and singing round the house, and every now and then I have been known to break out into a yodel. So I fancied my chances when I was told that for the first day of this month’s filming of ‘All Over The Place – Europe’ I would be taking part in a yodelling competition in Switzerland.
Yodelerfest is an annual travelling celebration of traditional Swiss entertainment, which is taking place this year in Davos in the Alps. As my co-presenter Michelle Ackerley and I snaked our way up the mountains with the rest of the crew in our minibus bus I realised that I’d been skiing here in nearby Klosters nearly 20 years ago, which made me feel older than I thought I was. It was looking a bit different today though, as the snow had been replaced with lush greenery, ridiculously blue rivers and waterfalls.
The event stretches over a few days and although we were quite early there were already plenty of people in traditional Swiss dress packing out the beer tents. When I first walked past one I thought there was music being piped in, but soon realised that it was people breaking out into spontaneous yodelling, at which point everyone gathered around throws themselves into whatever folk tune they’re singing. In the build up to our main event we got to try out alpine horn blowing (by accosting a woman walking past with one on her back and asking if we could have a blow) and flag waving, which is one of the dullest competitive sports I think I’ve ever witnessed, with points awarded for who waves their flag the most gracefully.
Our yodelling practice with a buxom lady going by the name of Sisi came and went in a flash and before we knew it Michelle and I were standing in a wooded glade surrounded by a child choir, trying to impress passers-by with our skills. I don’t think we did. My yodelling turned out to be quite appalling and I couldn’t hold the tune at all, much to the delight of the kids in the choir who thought it was hilarious to see someone completely butchering something they find extremely easy to do. I lost the audience vote and Michelle was crowned the winner. I left Davos with considerably less yodelling confidence than I arrived with.