Soaring summits in Kandersteg ...

It is a fine art to imagine mountain views when all before you is a wall of impenetrable grey. With images from the postcards in our minds, Tim and I took the cable car from Kandersteg in Canton Bern to the Oeschinensee. We caught glimpses of the famed turquoise surface of the lake beneath the cloud - sadly none of the sheer, craggy summits that rise and fall to sharpened points high above it. After climbing up and up through woodland, we reached the high path to the Oberbaergli Hut. Below us were steep drops - lucky I couldn't see them!

The lack of views encouraged me to pay more attention to the carpet of pinks, purples and yellows. Dainty alpine flowers dappled the grass - a spider was sitting on a large daisy, like a thumbnail from Flower Fairies. Cow bells jangled in the air around the hut; two beautiful border collies played with each other. By the time we dropped again to the lake, the cloud was beginning to clear and we saw those postcard views! Before taking the lift back to the village, Tim reached some high speeds on the Summer sledge run - like a bob sleigh on a slide, it was far too precarious for me. Kandersteg is very pretty and filled with a holiday atmosphere.

We bought mountain cheese, ate delicious homemade cake and wandered around the chalet-packed streets into the evening. We stayed in Chalet Hotel Adler, a cosy 3* with a touch a la Las Vegas. People visit to experience its love rooms, some of which have a whirlpool that can be moved onto the balcony. Our room had a circular bed, which was surprisingly comfy. Dinner was delicious and fresh - I tried penne with spinach and sundried tomatoes in cream sauce. The air is so fresh in Kandersteg and the views unbeatable. If you type the village name into Google, its international Scout centre is the first website to come up - which explains why there are so many scouts around. This is by no means the most remarkable thing about the place. It is the last village before the Loetschberg tunnel so mountains border it on three sides. Truly breathtaking.

Wellness at Waldhaus Flims ...

Here is a place where luxury and wilderness meet. Encompassed by sky-scraper pine trees, the five-star resort Waldhaus Flims is a grand collection of buildings on a mound above the pretty village of Flims. It was built over a hundred years ago as a health retreat. Our room is like a luxurious chocolate box, in shades of caramel and toffee and with sleek, angular lines. The balcony is level with the treetops. A high band of cliffs provides a dramatic backdrop for our dinner on our first night in the Rotonde restaurant, which has 14 Gault Millau points. A floor to ceiling concave, panorama window reflects the dancing candlelight, creating illusionary etchings on the soft cloud formations encircling the mountains.

With bloated tummies from scoffing the delicious dinner, Tim and I make for the Nordic Walking class the following morning - it is cancelled because of the rain. Imagine if companies in Britain followed similar suit! Instead, the instructor runs a step aerobics class in the glass-panelled fitness studio. Afterwards Tim and I cool down in the natural, outdoor pool, where you swim with koi fish. Apparently this means that the water is very clean. I say 'we' - the water is so freezing I plunge in and straight back out - Tim bears it longer. With facilities including a heated outdoor pool with massage jets and an indoor pool in a glass cuboid, with seats around its edges, we quickly feel at leisure. Sadly the cloud scarce lifts and we instead imagine the mountainous view.

I am treated to a La Cauma Signature treatment, involving a body wrap with peat (that relaxes the muscles), a soak in a honey and oil bath (while sipping a homemade cherry smoothie) and a hot stone body massage to improve circulation. For one who finds it hard to relax, my mind gradually escapes to faraway lands. With dinner in a cosy Italian restaurant on the menu for the evening, Tim and I torture ourselves with a Pilates class beforehand. I feel like I might fall over by the end - so eat plenty of homemade potato gnocchi and rosemary focaccia to compensate. Sunnier climes on Sunday mean we make our way to the nearby Lake Cauma after making friends with the resort's friendly pair of donkeys. (Apparently donkeys must be kept in even numbers, otherwise they become sad).

The lake's waters look as if blue food dye has been swirled around in them. Contrasted with the deep green forests around the lake's banks, it makes for a photogenic landscape. There is a lift down the steep slope to the lake, and a pleasant self-service restaurant for light snacks on the lake's shore. Wellness itself is being in the mountains: a stay in a luxurious resort takes it one beautiful step further.

Swimming in the Rhine ...

The Rhine is one of my favourite rivers. It has a solid quality about it - a sense of trudging on day after day, carrying water in its wide girth from Grisons in the eastern Swiss Alps to the North Sea off the coast of Holland. It slithers in a turquoise ribbon, splitting Rheinfelden in Canton Aargau into its Swiss and German halves. When we spend the weekend with Tim's Godmother Marion and her husband, Achim, the weather is the hottest it has been this year - well into the thirties. What better excuse to jump into the somewhat cooler waters of the Rhine? There is a lovely little swimming facility set up on the edge of town.

We acclimatise with a few lengths in the pool before taking the plunge. Having basked for some minutes on the rocky river banks, the sensation when I dip my toes into the water is somewhat 'Atlantic'. Having mustered the confidence to get in though, I am pleased that I did. The current carries me along with such force that I barely need to move my arms and legs. I feel the great power of nature as I reach the end of the short route and struggle to stay to the edge of the river.

During our trip to Rheinfelden we also go to one of the SOLsberg concerts. Organised by Sol Gabetta, an Argentine cellist of French and Russian roots, the festival takes place around Midsummer each year. The Basel Chamber Orchestra (baselkammerorchester) accompany her in the concert we attend and it is just stunning: the crescendos as the orchestra come together, then retreat into silence, the enchanting cries of Gabetta's rare Guadagini cello. Rheinfelden's St. Martin's church with its ancient frescoes was a lovely location for a baking summer's evening. Although we were seated near the back, we could see Gabetta's head bobbing up and down as she became one with her music and cello. A truly magical and not-to-be-missed experience.

The eye of the tourist ...

When Dad and Elsa visit us in Zurich for a few days, it is intriguing to revisit the city through the eyes of tourists. Where I have encountered the locals to be unfriendly and judgemental - staring at me with menacing eyes - Dad and Elsa address this problem in a different way. They speak to them, smile at them and engage them in conversation. It turns out that friendly people can be found here. The sun shines each day, and as the city basks in temperatures of twenty degrees plus, we make the most of the nearby Katzensee to cool down.

Dad points out a family of great crested grebes playing on the water - the young looking lost when their mother dives under for fish, confusion crossing their little faces when she reappears in a different part of the lake. We laugh at coots as they seemingly run on water in chase. The red kite soars ahead, swooping daringly close to the hustle and bustle of the swimming area. We even see a grass snake sneak gracefully across the water beneath the jetty into the safety of the reeds. The warm weather brings thunderstorms in the evening - and we gaze in awe as the sky turns deep indigo, engraved for split seconds by metallic bolts of lightening. A train to the summit of Zurich's "house mountain", Uetliberg, reveals an unbeatable panorama of Lake Zurich. Elsa ticks off a group of Italian teenagers when Dad and I climb to the top of the viewing platform. The weather being so kind, we decide to walk down through the woods and have a cup of tea in a cafe at the bottom.

Those Arran days...

No matter how many times I visit, I will never tire of the Isle of Arran. The friendliness of the place is apparent from stepping onto the ferry: a local helps me with my suitcase and the staff in the restaurant on board are perfectly jolly. I start to forget about the everyday as I tuck into a delicious portion of fresh fish and chips and by the time Tim and I are driving down the coast from Brodick to Lochranza, Switzerland seems a million miles away.

On the coastline that we had observed drawing ever closer from the Cal Mac, we gaze over the expanse of satin water towards the mainland. The evening sunshine splashes gold dust over the pebbly beaches. We are astonished when this gleam first begins to disappear at around 10pm and are treated to a spectacular burnished sunset. A place where time seems to stand still, Lochranza is the perfect destination for relaxation. Spending our days in the fresh air, we quickly begin to feel alive. We dodge midges while playing golf and sneaking peeks at the graceful red deer around us. I hope for a sight of one the calves that are hiding in the bracken!

We climb the Castles - a collection of tumbledown rocky summits at the heart of Arran. The route is unforgiving, but rewarded with views to Bute, Loch Fyne and Kintyre and beyond to Islay. Hiking in Scotland is challenging because there is a distinct lack of paths. This wilderness is at once appealing and intimidating. We sink into bogs, stumble over heather and clamber over boulders. But you don't see another soul and feel at one with nature. Sea kayaking along Machrie Bay is magical: the blue haze of the backdrop, the seal that bobs its head above the surface and accompanies us, and the clear view into King's Caves (the alleged refuge of Robert the Bruce in the thirteenth century).

And I manage to get back in the saddle after so many years when we go riding at Cairnhouse Stables in Blackwaterfoot. Instructor Dawn is very patient with us and expertly combines a beginner's lesson for Tim with a refresher lesson with me. I ride Dynah, a stunning 15.2 hands bay. She is responsive and confidence-inspiring. Benji, Tim's steed, is "the Skoda before the Ferrari", as Dawn lovingly puts it - a predictable and trustworthy horse. Benji may be a "Skoda", but Tim even manages a canter - albeit accidental!

Of course there are the homely tea rooms, too. After our sea kayak we gobble heavenly Victoria Sponge, filled with a naughty amount of fresh cream and jam - I think we earned it! Tim and I treat ourselves to lunch one day in the recently-refurbished Cafe Thyme at the Old Byre Showroom. Its panoramic window reveals the bay and we sit beside a delightful stained glass window depicting a heron and a standing stone - it could be a nod to the prehistoric landscape at Machrie Moor. The food is fresh and delicious - I try a take on the Greek salad.

And The Lighthouse at Pirnmill is a charming spot for an evening meal. The setting is homely: artistic models of lighthouses decorate the airy room that is filled with wooden tables. The large windows are an almost invisible barrier between the restaurant and the landscape. I try cod on olive mash - it is a meal the term "melt-in-the-mouth" could have been made for.

On our last night, Mum treats us to tickets to the Arran Folk Festival. The concert opens with Bobby Watt - a character with a marvellous voice, who tells jokes and sings traditional songs and ballads. The stage comes alive with Lori Watson & The Rule of Three - a trio including guitar, violin and accordian. Singer Lori has a hauntingly beautiful voice and all band members are lively and enthusiastic, drawing the audience into their performance with impossible (in a funny way) singalongs and tales of previous concerts - including in Austria, when a drunk man sang along completely out of tune and time.

The concluding performance is by Anna Macdonald, whose songs are sleepy but moving. We awake almost every day to clear, cool weather and calm seas. Our last day, however, brings stormy winds and deluges of rain. The dramatic sea makes me gasp, as white horses gallop towards the shore and crash against the rocks. Indeed, we are 'lucky' that our ferry back to Ardrossan sails - the subsequent trips that day are cancelled.
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