Monday 24 February 2014

Without a single mention of Julie Andrews. Oops!

Aww, so the last of the von Trapp children has died: Maria, aged 99. She looked like a real sweetie, and she certainly had an interesting life, starting in Austria and ending in Vermont. The movie that we all know so well (and which I remember people going to see literally scores of times when it was released in 1965 - how they would have rued spending all that money if they'd known about video recordings then!) was only loosely based on real life, but the basic facts seem true.

I was in Salzburg for Christmas once - happy to report that at our hotel, Christmas (Eve) dinner was Englisches Roastbeef and not the traditional carp we were fearing - and went on the obligatory Sound of Music coach tour, visiting various locations including the pretty church where Maria and the Captain were wed, and the rather grand manor used for the house the family lived in. Of course you can guess the soundtrack on the bus. It was all very clichéd but still enjoyable, and the scenery was just lovely, especially in the crisp cold of a sunny winter's day. Sometimes it's worth gritting your indie teeth and going along with convention when you're travelling: things are popular for a reason, after all. It's a lovely place to be at Christmas too, by the way - actually, Salzburg is lovely at any time, and not just for its musical connections (Disney balanced by Mozart).

At the other end of the real Maria's life is Vermont, another beautiful part of the world - and I speak with the authority of having spent one day surreptitiously driving around it while officially on a Massachusetts famil. Well, gorgeous as that state is, who could resist sneaking across the nearby boundary to see real covered bridges, white clapboard farmhouses surrounded by green hills and autumn-bright maple trees? And the chance to buy genuine maple syrup, too? The bit I saw was so pretty, I would love to have had a proper look around. Sigh...

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