Useful Swiss Consumer Programme – From Scams to Dried mushrooms, Toothbrushes and Tea.

If you are interested in consumer issues and want to know more about the products you buy here in French speaking Switzerland, it’s worth taking a look at the weekly television programme called ABE (A Bon Entendeur) presented by Manuelle Pernod and broadcast on Tuesday evenings on RTS1 at 20:10

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A regular look at the products we buy

This consumer progamme takes a regular look at many of the products we all buy in the main Swiss supermarkets and shops. It compares brands, analyses the content of many food products and draws conclusions for the consumer. Even if you only understand a basic amount of French, these programmes are well produced, can be easily understood and the conclusions are illustrated in graph form or with clear photos. 

Housing, Transport, Insurance etc

The programme also looks at other consumer issues such as housing, transport, insurance etc.  The website of the programme has useful links to consumer associations and  links to consumer rights groups.

The products featured over the last few weeks have been on a variety of items such as electric toothbrushes (their conclusion – buying the most expensive product in the shop isn’t necessarily the best!)  Scroll to around 4 minutes on the programme here to see the result on this particular test.

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Pesticides in Mushrooms and Herbal Teas

Another programme broadcast on February 18th featured the packets of dried mushrooms that can be found for sale in recognised retail outlets. It explained which packets of mushrooms contain pesticides and other chemicals, and which brand of mushrooms was rated the best all round. 

For lovers of herbal tea  another programme revealed the content of some well recognised tea brand names, the results can be seen on this clip here 

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Scam targeting local businesses

This week’s programme revealed a scam that involved small businesses being approached (one of them in Versoix) to take out and pay up front for advertising in a magazine that simply didn’t exist.

The programme has been on air for many years and there’s lots of archive material to be found on their site.  There is even an ABE app!

 

 

Balcony or Big Plot of Land? Gardening Tips and Advice for the Geneva/ Vaud area.

Whether you have a small balcony at 400 metres in Nyon, or a big plot of land at 1,000 metres high up in St Cergue, if you are in need of some excellent gardening advice for this part of the world, then look no further than the Swiss Gardening School. The school’s tag line is “Lessons in English for amateur gardeners by professionals” and classes are run throughout the year on a variety of subjects by gardeners Hester Macdonald and Tara Lissner. The school’s next course will be held in Nyon on the 1st April from 09:00-13:00 an will be “Design – On a Budget - Creating a beautiful outdoor space without spending a fortune”.

Chateau de Prangins 051 Below are a selection of photos taken by Living in Nyon at one of the school’s gardening course back in September 2013. Despite the editor of this site having decidedly non-green fingers, she learnt the best way to pot plants into containers, how to plant bulbs the correct way up, what to look for when buying compost, how to design and plan around colour schemes, and she also got some good recommendations on local nurseries, garden centres and online gardening sites.

Nearly six months later, the box of  bulbs that the editor planted is still going strong and in bloom!   As class sizes are small there are plenty of opportunities to ask the gardening experts one-on-one advice on anything and everything to do with gardening based on personal requirements.   Classes are fun and informative  – See here for full details of upcoming courses  held in both Nyon and Founex.

Chateau de Prangins 068 Photo above – sensible, practical advice given to students Chateau de Prangins 080 Photo above -which way up do I plant these? Chateau de Prangins 088 Chateau de Prangins 086 Photo above – recommended reading material. Plant Pots made out of coffee tins!  Photos below – Living in Nyon box of bulbs and flowers planted September 2013 (top left of photo) and the same box March 2014. Chateau de Prangins 096     Geneva English School 032

The films of Peter Entell – Interview Part Two

This is the second part of Living in Nyon’s interview with U.S Film director Peter Entell – For part one, click here

Tell us a little about your latest film “A Home Far Away” which is set in the Nyon area

 “A Home far Away” tells the true story of U.S  journalist Edgar Snow, the first to film and interview Mao Tse-tung. Suspected by the American authorities of communist sympathies, Snow and his actress wife Lois were blacklisted and together with their two children, moved to Switzerland and ended up living in Eysins. This film has actually been many years in the making, I know the family personally and was aware they had a lot archive material that I could use and I was waiting for the right time to use this material. Once I discovered that the house where they lived was about to be destroyed, I felt the right moment had come to make the film”.

Photos above and below: Edgar and Lois Snow and family, scenes from the film “A Home Far Away”

Note: readers will recognise a lot of scenes in and around the Eysins and Nyon area. You can listen to a more in depth radio interview (click here) about the making of this latest film and you can read a review of the film here.

 

 

If you look at your very first documentary “Moving on :  The Hunger for Land in Zimbabwe” which was filmed back in 1981, would you alter anything about it now?

“I’m still happy with it, I think it stands the test of time. I happen to hit on one of the central issues that the country is still dealing with today that is; who owns the land and who is feeding the country? ”

Your first film was issue driven, but your later films are more character driven. Why the change?

“I began to think that politics is much more interesting on a very personal level, I think it’s only through individuals that you can talk about issues, even in “Moving on :  The Hunger for Land in Zimbabwe” I focussed on  individuals; one black farmer and one white farmer to compare the two. For another film in Mongolia I followed a family of nomads throughout the seasons, how they lived and their relationship with the land and their animals”.

Do the characters individuals in your film find you, or do you find them, how does it work?

“I usually find them but it can be bizarre sometimes how life works. For example, the back story to how my film “Shake the Devil Off” (www.shakethedeviloff.com) is interesting. Six months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, a friend returned to her home there and she called me to say, “It’s going to explode down here, this is not a natural disaster, this is a human disaster waiting to happen. You have got to come over”.

Photo above- a scene from “Shake the Devil Off”

As I am my own producer and director, I didn’t have to consult anyone as to whether I should go. I just went. Sometimes you just have to work like this, you have to react to an ongoing situation, you cannot plan it. I hired an excellent camera man and a sound man, we travelled to the U.S and discovered my friend was right, we ended up in the middle of this incredible drama. The sound man had always worked on scripted films before where he knew the story was going and I had to explained we simply had to let the story develop on its own, we had to capture it as it was unfolding.
I was lucky too that the camera man (Jon Björgvinsson) I hired was available. He is a freelancer who lives in Nyon and travels globally for many TV stations. If there is a potential war developing or an earthquake etc, he will go anywhere at a moment’s notice.  I paid for him out of my own pocket for this film, I took the risk. Once the film was made, I was able to sell it to various TV stations. Although the film lists me as director of this film I actually directed nothing, the film directed itself, surprising situations cropped up during the entire period.  Everything was impromptu, I had no idea what was going to happen. The film was received very well in the U.S.A. It had everything in it: conflict, a charismatic priest as the central character, lots of tension, colour,  great singing, it had the a narrative curve of a novel. The film won prizes too, the subject matter in it was a hot issue. My gamble had paid off.

The two films you made “Josh’s Trees” and “A Home Far Away” cover subjects in which you had a personal attachment to them. Was it harder to make such a film?

“Absolutely, I don’t actually like being in front of the camera myself, but in the case of the film “Josh’s Trees” I simply had to tell the story for his son. He had been my friend, the guy that I had been with in the Italan café all those years ago when we were young students, so after he died I knew I had to make the film. In doing so I had to ask some difficult questions, who am I in the film, how do I position myself? I also had to put in some narration even though I don’t really like that. I find commentary a bit too directive, I rebel a bit with the concept of the audience needing everything explained, I don’t think you need to take the audience by the hand. You should experience what’s happening, not be told it.

Photo above -scene from “Josh’s Trees”

Tell us about your 1998 film “Rolling” set in Lausanne

Lausanne is a mecca for roller skaters, it’s a city of hills and thousands come to skate there. A few years ago there was a small article in “L’Hebdo” magazine about the popular skaters in the town. When I am not making my own films I also work as an independent producer for Swiss TV, so I called these skaters up and said “we are from Swiss TV, we want to make a film about roller skating and we want to meet you”. We went along to a cafe in Lausanne, and all the skaters were sat around this one big table. So I asked them all to tell me a little bit about themselves. The last one to speak was Ivano. He said “to be honest, I think you have heard enough good stories, you have plenty to choose from, I can’t add anything.” Of course this instantly got me intrigued and I knew he was the one to focus on.  It turned out he had Italian ancestry, his parents had moved to Switzerland to work in a factory. Ivano didn’t want to follow in their footsteps, he was trying to avoid it at all costs, so skating for him was an escape. Skating made life exciting. When he skated he was travelling faster than the cars around him, he was being chased by police cars around the town, he skated anywhere and everywhere, even backwards down the banisters of stairs!

Photo above: scene from “Rolling”

Ivano went on to open a skating shop and he actually became quite famous at the time, you could see him modelling skating clothes in adverts, everyone knew him. But as often happens when you get close to a character, you realise there is often a back story and the narrative can change. I was interested about what would happen after the glory had faded because inevitably as Ivano grew older he wouldn’t always be at the top of his game, inevitably there would be a 16 year old who would take over his place, and that did indeed happen.

All photos above – courtesy – Show and Tell Films

 

“Oklahoma!” in Nyon this week, Discover local produce on “Proxité” Day and try out a Velopass bike!

 

Musical in English this weekend to end the summer season.

For the past few years at at the end of August, young actors in the Really Youthful Group (this group is part of GAOS – Geneva Amateur Opera Society), have performed a musical in English in Nyon for the general public.  This show has now become a firm favourite on the local calendar as expats and Swiss alike, gather to watch and enjoy the production, meet each other in the bar at the interval and catch up on summer news.

This year the auditorium of the Théâtre de Marens will ring out to the music of  “Oklahoma!” by Rogers and Hammerstein  on Friday 31st August at 20:00, Saturday 1st September at 14:00 and 18:00 and on Sunday at 14:00. It’s a fun way to end the summer, full booking details here.

 Local food to discover on Saturday 1st September in Nyon

Also coming up this weekend, on Saturday 1st September, it’s “Proxité Day”. This day was launched last year in Nyon and supported by the council to encourage consumers to discover more about local food production in the area. Farmers, cheese producers, winemakers and fruit growers in the region will all be taking part. There is a full day of events planned, beginning at 09:00 at “La Roulotte” (the temporary café in the old train carriage behind the railway station). Breakfast will be served using local products:

Milk from the Domaine du Bois Bougy,

 

Apple juice from the “Cidrerie artisanale Pradervand” ,

 

 

Sweet bread (tresse) from the Panier Gourmand

served with butter from the l’Alpage de la Baronne

 

and jams from “Les confitures des Pralies”,  all served on the terrace of the café.

At  10:00 you will then have the opportunity to visit these local producers on one of the Velobikes which are parked nearby. Note, you can also try out a bike for free in the Velopass scheme on Saturday too. Reserve here in advance, or on the day on site.

Over in La place du Château, other events are also planned from 0900 – 17:00,  food tasting stands, pony rides, there’s even a cooking competition!  For full details see site here.

New fun website on Switzerland, Save WRS petition, Spring fair, Intercultural weekend and more

Photo above: Ceramic pots on sale at the Nyon Spring Market in 2008

The weather has finally warmed up and there’s lots going on here over the next few weeks in the Vaud area and a selection of events are listed below.

Firstly though, Living in Nyon is delighted to announce that from time to time it will be collaborating with the website “Newly Swissed” with a joint exchange of articles and information. The logo of “Newly Swissed”  is now on the sidebar of this site for you to click on after you have checked out the Living in Nyon news!  There is lots of fun and useful info on the site, from “Cool Facts, Design, Language, and Oddities” to “Politics, Tourism” and more. The site is run out of Zurich by a team of writers and you can find out more and how it came about by listening to a radio interview with the founder Dimitri Burkhard on World Radio Switzerland here.

Save WRS

Incidentally, if you enjoy listening to World Radio Switzerland for its coverage of news, for the music and information it provides on all manner of subjects such as: business, features and interviews etc, then do read the section on the WRS website  called “The Future of WRS, The Facts, Your Comments” . You can leave your own comments about the station there too.

As you will read, the station is threatened with closure, so you might like to know there is also an online petition for the public to sign to protest against this closure – note, this has been created by a listener, an individual who is independent of the radio station. See savewrs.com 

Local News / Events happening  this weekend

On Saturday 2nd June, it’s the Spring Fair which will take place in the streets around the town, the commercial shops will remain open until 18:00. There will be artisanal stands, live music, the opportunity to buy and sell second hand bikes (it is also Journée du Velo – Day of the Bike more info here), a bouncy castle for children in Place du Midi and other fun events for the family.

Then from 17:30 onwards in the Salle Communale, the  first event of the “Intercultural” weekend begins.

The Fête de l’Interculturelle is an annual celebration for all the different nationalities that live in the region. On Saturday there will be a potluck supper from 18:30 at the Salle Communale in Nyon.  Take along a dish or speciality from your region or country, and share it with others from around the world. This will be followed at 21:00 by a Brazilian evening with samba music and dance. On Sunday 3 June there will be music and traditional dance and food from around the world at the Place des Fêtes down at the Rive from 11:30 onwards.

Also, a reminder that on Saturday 2nd June there will be a big Caribbean party happening in Eysins near Nyon to celebrate 50 years of  Jamaican Independence.

“Reggae, dancehall and Jamaican vintage music as well as calypso and Latin American beats will be provided by US based DJ team “Wyclef Refugee All Stars”, flying in to Switzerland especially for this premiere event”. Tickets will be available at the door. See link here

 Sunday 3 June  – Archaeological event in the castle of Prangins – 10:00 -17:00

“Visit a Gallic village in the Roman times and watch a real battle between the Roman legionnaires and Gallic warriors. Lots of free activities for the family. Free entry”.  This info in English on this event was provided by “Know it All Passport” a site where you can find details of lots of other events happening in the Geneva, Vaud and Pay de Gex area. Click on the logo of “Know it All Passport”  on the sidebar of this site.

Caribana begins next week!

Still on the music theme, also a reminder that Caribana, the first of the summer music festivals in the area begins next week on the 6th June.  There are still tickets available for this 5 day event, performers include Kasabian, Gossip, Lou Reed, The Specials and more. See Caribana here

Finally, an apology to readers due the fact this site was temporarily unavailable for two days due to a technical and an admin hitch in the system!