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Chalet reading party report 2023

An alpine lodge with a background of fir trees

A game of cricket on the lawn.

Chalet Nethercott Report  – Amber Zijlma (2022, MSt Global and Imperial History)

I was fortunate enough to be able to join the Univ Chalet Reading Party between 31 July and 10 August 2023. Coming from the Netherlands, a country often associated with its flatness, I have always found mountain views to be awe-inspiring. While there was certainly no lack of stunning views of the Alps, this trip offered so much more: we were able to enjoy all the beauty and simplicity of Chalet life. This has made the past ten days a truly extraordinary experience.

An alpine with, no snow, fir trees and craggy outcrops

The path up to the Prarion.

With alternating hiking days and reading days, we went on four hikes in total (Prarion, Col de Tricot, Tête Rousse, Lac Vert/Les Gorges). While these were challenging, the routes were also breathtaking – turning a corner to see a clear view of the Mont Blanc never failed to mofivate everyone to keep climbing. Nonetheless, reading days were happily welcomed after the hiking days. Although the mornings were set aside for quiet (academic) reading, reading days did not equal rest days per se: every reading day, a few brave souls willingly undertook the “Croissant Run”, a 5km run with 900m elevation, to buy the rest of the party croissants and pastries from a bakery in St Gervais. In the afternoon, too, many party members would work on the garden, clear up and reorganise forgotten storage spaces, or do other DIY-tasks. An excifing game of Chalet cricket was played on one afternoon, and some tried their hands at Chalet tennis as well.

two distant figures climbing a snowy slope

Snowy scramble up to Tête Rousse.

What I found most special about life at the Chalet des Anglais was its community. This took on many forms – most straightforwardly, all of the party members grew close. Many of us did not know each other before coming on this trip, as we mostly studied different subjects and were in different years. We shared many interesting conversations and (lively) discussions during hikes and meals. The idea of community can also be expanded to include the family who own the Chalet close-by, and the management of the Hotel du Prarion – both of whom we relied upon in some way, and had great conversations with throughout the fime we were there. One of our party leaders associates the Chalet Reading parfies with the idea of ‘mutual aid’, and when I look at our party and our experiences, I recognise this in the ten days we spent together. To stretch ‘community’ even more broadly, it is the ongoing traditions of the Chalet that connect our party to those who have come before us. The Chalet in itself is an archive, with diary entries dafing back to the late 1800s on its bookshelves. Our group often talked about how special the Chalet and its rich history are, and how grateful we are to be a part of it.

I wish to thank the Nethercoft Fund for helping me fund this unforgettable trip.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports. Further details on the Chalet, including its history can be found on our Chalet page.

Published: 2 November 2023

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