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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