Window to Zurich...

I am gazing over the edge of an infinity pool. Below, Lake Zurich winds into the distance in a sweep of turquoise with patches of dusky turquoise where the clouds have created shadows. Cow bells jingle in the air; I feel completely at one with the world. This is the Panorama Resort above Pfaeffikon in Canton Schwyz. The swimming pool - part of the Akari spa - is heavenly. Akari means 'light' and on every wall is a large window with panoramic views. Tim and I enjoy the Japan Harmony Bath during which we have a jasmine steam bath, a full body peeling and a whirlpool bath.

We dine in Restaurant Collina, where I enjoy the five-course summer menu consisting of delightful fresh and local ingredients, and we gaze at that ever-present panoramic view. There is a pleasant hum of happy chatter - other guests clearly, like us, completely relaxed after an afternoon in the spa. Our room is filled with the harmony of a Japanese garden with yellow walls and simplistic decor. The far wall is a window so the room becomes one with the view. Here we watch a storm sweeping towards us up the lake, gradually grasping the resort in its clutches, then disappearing as quickly as it came, leaving behind a rim of gold leaf on the hilltops.

We awake on Sunday to a swim, the warm water soothing our limbs against the chill morning air. After homemade Bircher Musli from the extensive spa buffet we head for our Kundalini yoga class - the instructor is terrifying and barks stern instructions at us in English: "Breathe through your nose!" "No fruits without roots!" "Stop looking at the clock!" This is yoga meets Basil Fawlty. We treat ourselves with Sunday morning brunch - homemade croissants, smoked salmon and a great selection of Swiss cheeses are just some of the tasty titbits on offer. Then the wicker sofas with fabric hoods that line the outdoor pool and peer over the view beckon and we sit curled up in our robes reading with the sun kissing our limbs and the breeze dusting our noses. So near to Zurich yet so far away...

Valleys of vineyards ...

As the train slides ever closer to Sierre in Canton Valais, the scenery looks ever less Swiss. Lush vineyards creep up the steep, parched valley slopes, which turn into a patchwork of sand and thirsty greenery. Tucked behind a shoulder and reached by a funicular is Crans-Montana - a sprawl of three villages connected by lavish holiday homes and high rises that should never have been allowed to be built. Tim and I are spending the week in Montana, in a pretty little flat owned by Tim's Godmother, and visiting his sister, brother-in-law and their adorable baby daughter.

I am first blown away by the view from the balcony: as evening sweeps its hazy cloak over the valley, the snowy mountain summits retreat into a lilac fog. Being in the mountains always feels right to me; just the sight of them is a much-needed reconnection with nature and reality. We are awoken early on Saturday by little Charlotte, but her charming smiles and hilarious antics make up for it. Having just learnt to walk, she shows off swaying from side to side like a little drunk. She grabs my walking poles and pretends to Nordic walk! She is very cute.

We spend Saturday in the mountains, doing a walk from Cry d'Er. After almost bathing in sun cream - I learned that you need a shot glass of the stuff for each limb - we head into the sweltering heat. The mountainous backdrop - which features the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Mont Blanc among others - is startling against the clear sky. Sweaty after the walk, we refresh with ice creams and a swim in a nearby lake. I quickly exit after reeds wrap themselves around my legs! Sunday brings more divine weather and we drive to Leukerbad, famous for its thermal baths. This might sound like a strange choice in 34-degree heat - however, the natural thermal waters with their high mineral content are just what are hiking-tired limbs need. I walk again and again around the Kneipp baths - where you walk through really hot water and then freezing water. It's supposed to stimulate circulation and it feels really good. What a wonderful way to end the weekend and feel relaxed to return to work.
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