Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in 2024!

Christmas 2023 Swiss Bells Blog see below

And that was 2023!!! 

2023 Christmas Swiss Bells  Blog 


2023 has been yet another very exciting year for the Swiss Bells. We have had a graduation, a family wedding, special birthdays and other events  celebrated in the family, trips of a lifetime completed and good business done and new jobs started.


Last weekend in November, we met up with Kathi in Bern, Andrea's good friend and former work colleague who now lives in Perth Australia - we found an excellent restaurant and accompanied our meal with some very fine wine from a vineyard I worked at when I was just 19 years old in France. 


 Then it was Samiklaus time at The Good Shepherd’s Church in Zug to mark the start of advent 2022.

On Saturday 3rd December we made a flying visit to Dublin for our good friend Emma’s significant birthday and Piper Bell piped her into her party - it was a great night! We stayed at a Harrington House Hotel with a fabulous Italian restaurant where we absolutely must go back to - Oliveto at Haddington House -



The 10-14th December Cameron and I managed to spend a few days skiing in Davos - it was early in the season but we managed to make the most of the snow - Winter 2022-2023 turned out to be a very poor season in Europe.




The following weekend 17th December , we celebrated Christmas early as we had a big trip planned to Mendoza in Argentina - we were joined with the Basel Bells (Gordon, Marianna, Mia and Seraphina)  and Andrea’s Mum & Dad - we had a lovely meal and great conversation. We especially enjoyed both Mia and Seraphina’s company. Piper Bell had to play at a huge funeral in Büttisholz in Canton Luzern - the whole village turned out - a young chef died while going home - very popular chap and sadly missed.


Mendoza Trip 25.12.2022 - 8.1.2023


We celebrated Christmas while travelling to Mendoza, actually arriving in Mendoza on Christmas Day. We had an absolutely fabulous trip - every day we made day trips from the hotel with our taxi driver Juan Pablo - we learned a lot about wine making in Argentina and also about the Blue dollar exchange rate where it all seems a bit dodgy but if you can make yourself - you can save almost 50% on the official exchange rate - but you need to travel with US dollars and the bigger the notes the better. Our favourite vineyard was Ojo de Agua owned by the famous swiss singer from the 80s group Yello, Dieter Meier - the wine is simply amazing and the food delicious but the other vineyards are also well worth a visit. We had a fabulous visit to Mendoza and we can only recommend it.

January 2023 

The New Year was celebrated in Mendoza Argentina - piping in the New Year in our Messi strips celebrating Argentina’s amazing World Cup Victory!. We spent another few magnificent days in Mendoza and returned back to reality to Zug in Switzerland. 


The end of January saw us attend for the first time the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Burns Supper - held by the Zurich chapter in Zurich at Zunfthaus zur Schmiden. Where we met new and old friends - great night was had by all - there was a four course meal, with the haggis being piped in (not by Piper Bell) and speeches followed by whisky tasting and ceilidh dancing. Piper Bell was in action with Mark Chesterfield and the Whisky Experience with Robin Laing and Flora Dance at the Park Hotel in Zug - a very enjoyable evening by the end of which we really were all haggised out!



February 2023
The beginning of February saw the Boys Annual Golf Trip resume after too many years of no travelling, to Thailand organised by Asia Golf who did a superb job with Richard there for the duration and David joining us for a few days. While there it was also the rugby six nations so the bars were full of rugby fans watching the matches - a bit bizarre watching rugby in Thailand. While we were there we met up with our guide from our Everest trip Phuno and his girlfriend, Suzanne.They were making a fabulous tour of Thailand and inspired me to organise a trip rather than just golf - lets see - watch this space.



Roma & Joshs’ Wedding February 14th 2023


The big highlight for February was however the wedding of Joshua to my daughter Roma - on February 14th at Saint Lawrence’s  Roman Catholic Church in Feltham, West London - we were very happy to attend the mass and celebration afterwards which were fabulous reflecting both Josh and Romas’ diverse backgrounds. They are a beautiful couple! There are too many photos to put them all on here so I will share the link to the google photos album - but here are some to wet your pallet.


The rest of February was back to work and Pizzaiolo Damiano was at his usual spots in Küssnacht am Rigi and Unterägeri on Thursdays and some Fridays too. Andrea was working at her dental hygiene job in Zug and also Unterägeri. There were a few piping jobs for Piper Bell. One that was repeat business from last year with Karl Meier organised by his wife Fazeela. Its always quite an extravagant affair with not only bagpipes but alp horns and a jazz group and harp players and violinists.

We also attended a dinner in celebration of Martin (Sigi) achieving his RYA Yatch Master Certificate at a restaurant in Babental Schleithein - so well done to Siggi - hoping to be able to crew for him sometime next year. Unfortunately we have no photos to share.


March 2023

Early March we had a lovely evening out at Olive & Oregano, Our favourite Greek restaurant in Zug where we met up with Tim and Laura Ross.

The highlight for Damian was his trip to Jackson Hole - skiing with Richard and his friends from New York - Damian just about managed to keep up - some of the moguls were a bit challenging! Unlike in Europe the ski season in Wyoming USA was immense - so much so that the ski lifts had to be dug out of the snow! The local bar became our haunt at night - called the Cowboy bar where there was always live music and friendly bar staff. Eating out there were lots of options - Thai, Mexican, Traditional American, and even their pizza was pretty good. We also spent a day skiing at another resort called Targhee which was well worth it. It probably would have deserved an overnight as the apres ski was heating up to be good fun but we had to leave. For the last  evening we managed to go and see a local hockey match - Piper Bell should have brought his pipes for the interval entertainment.  Overall a great trip and looking forward to seeing all the lads again in 2024.




Then it was back to Switzerland for a week of pizza making and service and then Saint Patrick’s Day March 17th  in Frankfurt am Main to go busking with Piper Bell’s good friend and fellow piper Robert Gunther round the Irish Pubs - we did very well indeed and are planning to do it again in 2024.

On the way back from Frankfurt am Main - Piper Bell stopped into Basel to see his brother Gordon and niece Seraphina. Then it was back to Zug for dinner with the neighbours. The remainder of March saw a trip up to visit Zermatt to spend some time with Richard and his daughter Anna Sophia who were visiting from the USA but there really was no snow - even though it was quite cold but we managed to have fun and found some old haunts and even managed a game of pool in our favourite Portuguese bar. The usual six nations kept us amused as Scotland did better than expected in pretty much all of their matches and looked in good form for the upcoming World Cup in September - October but as we now know was not to go too well for them as they had an extremely difficult group containing Ireland then no 1 team in the World and South Africa who ended up winning the World Cup again! We were looking forward to seeing Ireland vs Scotland in September!




April 2023


The start of April saw Pizziaolo Damiano’s return and Piper Bell doing a few gigs - the most memorable was a 50th Birthday party for Angelika in an Irish bar in deepest darkest Aargau, Schongau. The party goers were all very welcoming and seemed to really enjoy the spectacle. Thank you to her sister Judith for booking me.



The other main highlight of April was Elouisa’s 23rd birthday party on April 19th in Eastcote. We all went out for an enjoyable meal.



The end of April saw a private pizza gig for Eastmans, an American chemicals company that has its European HQ in Zug at the Herti  - Pizzaiolo Damiano was asked to produce a full menu which he did but in the end all Americans wanted was pizza!! The clients really enjoyed the pizza.



May 2023
May saw us start with back to back meals out at the Ojo de Agua restaurant in Zürich firstly with our french friends Quentin and Estelle and then a couple of days later with our good friends Nadia and Evelyne. We really enjoyed their company and were able to share our memories of our fabulous trip to Mendoza in December and January. The restaurant is also owned by Dieter Meier - see earlier comment above. The restaurant uses the meat and wine produced in Argentina and the staff, unusually for Zürich, were extremely friendly and the service was outstanding.



Then Piper Bell was off on his travels again - this time with his old friends from Reading Scottish Pipe Band to the Barbados Celtic Music Festival. The piping was minimal - one evening concert in the Cathedral at Bridgetown, a street parade and then a sunset concert - the director of piping was Roddy MacLoed, the former director of the National Piping Centre at Glasgow and the current pipe major of the Spirit of Scotland - Grade 1 Pipe Band - we were also joined by the boys and girls from Strathallan School and a pipe band from Helsinki, Finland (bagpipes are truly international) - there was a days workshop and a couple of hours rehearsal which all went off very well. There was also a Welsh Choir on tour who took part in the Sunset Concert with the massed bands where Piper Bell was asked to play Flower of Scotland with the Welsh Choir singing along! Apart from the piping there was a lot of free time to chill out on the beautiful beaches and to go sightseeing. Piper Bell managed to also meet up with childhood friends from the Bell family’s holiday to Barbados back in the 1970s - Pam Johnston and her partner Netti - see the photos below.


After Barbados it was straight back to work for Pizzaiolo Damiano as it was Pfingsten / Pentecost Weekend and the season on the campsite began on Thursday 25th of May 2023. Pizzaiolo Damiano had his busiest weekend ever - selling more than 250 pizzas in one weekend.  The season would run with very few breaks from Pentecost until Sunday, 17th September. Our good neighbours Nati and Viktor came to Vitznau for pizza and to enjoy a swim in Lake Luzern. 



June 2023
The first break was a night out with Scottish Music Parade in a rare visit to Zug on Thursday, 1st June 2023 - friends from Zurich Caledonia Pipe Band joined the SMP to play at a Bagrock Concert in the Herti Arena. Piper Bell’s good friend and piping coach, Tom Johnstone was also playing for the SMP - we managed to meet for a beer after the show.



On June 7th Piper Bell was in action again with Visana working and playing some pipes for their sporting event at Winterthur - helping to build stands and man the stands and play pipes of course.


The rest of June goes by making pizza on the campsite at Vitznau. Andrea helped out one Saturday when Piper Bell had a birthday party to play at.

We had some lovely dinners with sun setting over lake Zug while working at the Campsite too, together.

On June 26th - we attended the Cherry Races in Zug - called the Chriesisturm in Swiss German!


July  2023


July 1st 2023 was Roma’s 30th Birthday - so Piper Bell was off to London on a flying visit to Roma’s party - Andrea kindly stepped in and covered the Saturday service at the campsite as well as doing her own job all week. She did a marvellous job as always. Roma’s party was a great success but the next day I was back at the campsite making pizza on Sunday evening! 




July 3-4th Piper Bell travelled north to Bensheim to celebrate American Independence day with Robert by busking - we happened upon a wine festival in Darmstadt nearby and did pretty well - the only downside was we were stuck in a lift while returning to the car!!


The month of July started to heat up nicely at the campsite reaching the mid 30s but thankfully the rain came and kept the temperatures down from the 40s being experienced elsewhere in Europe. We had a surprise visit from Gordon and Serafina 😀


The next big event on July 19th  was Elouisa’s graduation from Portsmouth University where she had done extremely well. I am very proud of her achievements. Here below are some photos of the fabulous day.


Then it was back to Pizza in Vitznau amid visits from friends - my good friends Kurt and Karen came by and we had a lovely Sunday together. Robert travelled south too for a quick visit - then there was Gordon’s birthday in Basel which was a lot of fun - all while still working the campsite. My good friend Urs visited too with his good friend from Gersau.


Then the last event of July was a trip with Andrea to the opera  Ermani at Bregenz in Austria to celebrate Piper Bell getting a year older. We had a thoroughly lovely time at the opera and will certainly go back.

Andrea’s Trip to Chicago July 21-27 2023

On 21st July, Andrea flew to Chicago to be with her best friend Jeanne and her other best friend from her village Obfelden, Yvette. While visiting Jeanne, her neighbour Keith celebrated his 60th birthday. A day out shopping and catching up with Yvette was awesome, followed by delicious dinner. Back at Jeanne's, Andrea re-joined the festivities for Keith’s birthday. 

Jeanne took Andrea for a wine tasting at Lynfred Winery - they had such a blast!

Thank you all for having me!





August 2023

August was all spent working in Vitznau but was punctuated with BBQ with neighbours in the garden and lovely dinners on the balcony - it was hot and Cameron came to visit. There was also a few gigs for Piper Bell - a birthday party almost in Lichtenstein. 


September 2023

The Pizza Season at Vitznau came to an end on Sunday 17th September - Pizziaolo Damiano had a great season - selling more pizzas than last year. We look forward to being back on the campsite in 2024.

The big next news for us was Andrea changing clinics - she decided to leave a private clinic in Zug to join Zahnartzzentrum Zug - her new job started on Monday 2nd October and the old one finished Wednesday 20th September so we decided to go on a road trip to Italy and Croatia visiting Portogruaro in Italy then off to Pag an island in Croatia. 

October 2023

The 1st of October was Harvest Sunday at church - we had a lovely mass with a fantastic display of the harvest.


In  October Pizzaiolo Damiano started back at Küssnacht am Rigi - one of his Highland Dance friends, Jane,  came with her swords and performed a sword dance in the carpark much to the amusement of the residents of the business park - maybe we should do that every lunchtime to drum up pizza business.

The new football pitch next to Chli Ebnet - Sportplatz Luterbach that had been worked on for over two years was finally finished. Hopefully this will make more people use the facilities and maybe come and eat pizza at Chli Ebnet in Küssnacht am Rigi.

Then we were off on the weekend of 7th October on the TGV from Zurich to Paris with our good friend from Les Brenets, Elke, to watch Scotland vs Ireland in the last match of the group stages for Scotland. It was a superb weekend, the result didn’t really matter although it would have been good if Scotland had played better than they did.

Then it was our anniversary weekend where we decided to go to Reading Scottish’s tartan ball in Wokingham - we had another great evening - and Piper Bell even managed to play with the band. It was our anniversary the next day and we had decided to fly back to Basel but British Airways cancelled our flight. Andrea’s quick thinking managed to get us onto a flight to Geneva but that meant we spent our wedding anniversary travelling to Basel from Geneva on the train. We stayed the night with Gordon and Marianna - and celebrated both Andrea’s and Serafina’s birthday the next day at brunch before returning to Zug.

Piper Bell was asked to play at a very big funeral in Vorarlberg in  Austria - he who pays the piper calls the tune - some new tunes were added to the repertoire.


Then it was off to Zurich for Pipe Band practice with Zurich Caledonian.

Mia’s 40th birthday on Saturday 21st October at a fantasy restaurant themed on Alice in Wonderland - we all had to dress up but she specifically asked for Piper Bell to come in full number ones.  

On 28th of October Zurich Caledonia Pipe Band were playing at Dubendorf’s Town Festival. One of the other piper’s Stephen is from South Africa so we decided to play the gig and then go to Pickwick’s in Zug to watch the final of the rugby World Cup - New Zealand vs South Africa.

The 31st of October saw an unexpected visit of Marianna and Gordon to Zug - without any kids - we had a lovely afternoon together.

November 2023

On the 1st of November, we went on a tourist plane flying over Central Switzerland - the views were absolutely stunning. This was a birthday present from Elke to Andrea. Thank you Elke!! 

Then it was off to pick up half a pig from Roland and Anna in Môtiers, Neuchatel.

Then Piper Bell was in action again for the Räbeliechtliumzug in Zürich. It was extremely wet and cold but the event still went ahead. 

The very next day Piper Bell joined Robert, was off away up to North Germany to the Winter Piping and Drumming School hosted by Ronnie Broomhead and other Scottish legends of the Great Highland Bagpipes and we also had Steven Creighton there who is the leading tip for St. Lawrence O’Toole Pipe Band in Dublin who have won grade one Worlds and are always in the top 6 in the World. Our teacher was Billy Geddes who lives in the borders of Scotland, an ex Strathclyde Policeman and bandsman - a very good piobaireachd player, a very successful solo piper and a great teacher - we all learned a lot. On the last Thursaday of Piping School there was a competition and much to Piper Bell's surprise he won the jig competition with his hardest tune - Turf Lodge. Tom was very pleased!

Then Piper Bell was off over the channel to spend the weekend in London - principally to see the children and for Cameron’s birthday. But the kids were all too busy on Saturday and not free until Sunday evening  so Piper Bell met up with his good friend David for a curry in South West London on the Saturday after having played in an online CLASP competition that same morning.

Sunday was Remembrance Sunday in Great Britain so Piper Bell joined Reading Scottish at their parade in Bracknell - he met up with old friends and was very pleased to see his good italian friend Mario is back playing with the band.

Sunday evening - we celebrated Cameron’s birthday and he was accompanied by his new girlfriend Olga, a stunning Ukrainian girl who also works where Cameron coaches tennis. Roma and Josh were there - as was Cameron’s good friend Luca. My niece Catriona and her husband Andrew  were there too. And of course a big thanks to Elouisa, who was there too, for organising the evening.

Piper Bell was then off back to Calais and then Switzerland with an important delivery of haggis in his van for Scotland lovers in Switzerland. Piper Bell’s big news for 2023 is that he finally became Swiss and received his new ID card on the 19th of November 2023. Yipee!

Piper Bell casting his first vote as a Swiss Citizen!!

At the time of writing this it is now 30th of November - Saint Andrew’s Day and Pizzaiolo Damiano has been making haggis calzone pizza all day and has orders for tomorrow up in Unterägeri where he will be serving pizzas from 16:00 to 20:00.

December 2023

December will see a trip to Constance to visit the Christmas markets, a wedding in London and then Christmas in Zug with the Basel Bells and Andreas’s parents hosting a Christmas lunch for us all on the 25th December - we will be bringing in the New Year with Joe and his new girlfriend Chris - up in Flims - there's lots of snow so we might even manage a ski trip.

Here are some photos & videos from December 

Thank you for reading our blog and all it takes from us is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to catching up with you all in 2024!

Do slainte fior mhath!

Andrea & Damian