Justine Tyerman neglects her old tramping boot mates while in Switzerland.
I tried to keep the preparations low-key but the excitement bubbled up in me like spritzig in a glass of Dom Perignon.
While others were dusting off their summer gear, I was plucking my hiking jacket, down vest and merino woollies from hangers, all the while playing nonchalant for the sake of my faithful old tramping mates, who inhabit a box on the top shelf of my dressing room.
The TBs (tramping boots), however, caught wind of the trip. "This time we shall not miss out," I heard Left whisper to Right. "Switzerland is a land of hiking and hearty outdoor pursuits, so I guarantee we are a shoe-in for this trip."
They watched from on high with increasing anxiety as my new, bright purple Samsonite began to fill up and they were not yet picked for Team Swiss.
Last time, they sulked for months after being sidelined as surplus to requirements on a summer cycling trip, and this time weight and space were likely to exclude them.
There was a dreadful kerfuffle on the eve of my departure.
The TBs had taken matters into their own feet and base-jumped from the top shelf into my case, and were having an ugly altercation with my lightweight hiking shoes.
They had kicked the Skechers out of the case and staked their claim. The TBs glowered at their rivals lying upside-down on the carpet, no match for the heavy-duty Merrells.
I tried to mediate but the TBs had their laces thoroughly in a tangle. I eventually wrestled them out of the case, suffering a few bruises in the process from a well-aimed kick or two.
The trip to the Jura region of Switzerland did not involve serious tramping, so my trusty TBs did not make the cut, I'm afraid.
Last I saw them, they were stomping off down the driveway and across the cattlestop, looking for another home with real trampers ...
"They'll be back," I thought.
I managed to slip a note inside the LTB, dangling the prospect of a Hollyford Track tramp in late summer - the wussy way with a boot-drying room at the end of each day - a chance for the TBs to meet up with other TBs and compare notes. The Hollyford in Fiordland, New Zealand, holds special significance for them because that was where they were christened 10 years ago, so they won't want to miss that one.
As it turns out, the TBs would have scoffed at my "hiking" expeditions in Switzerland, where even the mountain trails were in such perfect condition, I could have worn Jandals ... okay, then, sandals. My Skechers barely got dusty, let alone muddy.
I was in Switzerland to explore the Jura and Trois-Lacs (Three Lakes), a gentle region blessed with lakes, rivers, sub-alpine mountains, green meadows, vineyards, picturesque towns, and rich in the history of Swiss chocolate, watches, absinthe and music box-making.
I travelled by super-efficient public transport, courtesy of Switzerland Tourism and an unassuming slip of paper called the Swiss Pass, which I came to regard as magic, because it not only streamlined my travel but also granted free access to all museums.
The TBs would have loved the mountains, but they would have been bored stiff zipping around the country on shiny, clean trains, buses and boats, visiting museums and wineries.
They would have been grumpy about prime tramping time being squandered in such non-energetic, indoor pursuits ... not to mention dancing in the streets with the throngs celebrating the wine harvest in Neuchatel.
The TBs don't do dancing ... not that sort anyway.
Just as well I left them behind.
Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of Switzerland Tourism.