Why I miss living in and love returning to England ...

Switzerland is a beautiful country, yet flying to the UK always puts a much bigger smile on my face. Landing in Manchester after a 7 a.m. flight might not be everyone's idea of fun, but the sight of the English countryside from above, of familiar shops that welcome you in the airport and of friendly and well-mannered people just cannot be beaten. Lunch in Danish bar Kro with Jo from university was delightful - and being back in the city that I detested when living there was lovely. It's inexplicable why, but I suppose that with a time limit, you can make the most of the bits you want to and ignore the rest.

Train to Malton and a wander around Pickering as twilight encroached upon the houses was the beginning of a proper weekend in the countryside. Darkness rendered Farndale's beauty latent when we arrived and we spent the evening acclimatising to the chill of the house - it makes you feel alive. And awakening on a Sunday morning to cloud and drizzle suggests only one thing: the ideal time to make a trip to the coast. Staithes and its quaint cottages that grip to the rocky basin in a huddle lose no beauty on a grey day - on the contrary, the silvers and steels enhance the crashing waves that rage onto the beach and present a lacy cloak, quickly gathering it back up and drifting back into the wash.

Brave surfers tried to catch the waves; exciting dogs chased flying seaweed and proudly dragged driftwood twice their size to their owners. To warm up? Crumpets with wensleydale followed by a cup of tea and a slice of elderflower and gooseberry cake - pure, English heaven. If Staithes is the tourist trap, Skinningrove along the coast is a land forgotten in time. Bleak terraced houses face the sea in a tight barricade and, as we curled as far as we could into our waterproofs and battled along the beach, we noticed remnants of the former industrial landscape, now committed to old photographs. With the return of the sun on Monday, we headed into the hills and climbed onto Rudland Rigg, admiring the vast, isolated terrain all around. I wonder if there is anywhere else quite like North Yorkshire on earth. We remembered we were in England when a fierce, black cloud appeared on the horizon and steadily bulged until it had gobbled up the scenery. Time for the pub, a warm fire and good,English food. The White Lion pub is used to withstanding the elements - it is a cosy spot on days like that.
The long weekend wasn't over before another cosy night in Farndale with the marvellous Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and another morning waking up to a colourful, autumnal view of the dale - all burnished gold and vivid green. Now, tell me that life anywhere else could be so good!
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