Two glorious weeks in the UK ...

Doing exams is never much fun, but the necessity of doing my NCTJ Media Law exam in England persuaded me to spend two weeks at home having finished work at Swiss News. Nothing much ever changes, but I like that sense of familiarity and being surrounded by my childhood things that remind me I still have a home and am not stranded abroad away from all I know and love. Dad and Elsa welcomed me home with a delicious dinner at the award-winning The Star in Sancton. Gourmet pub food is a perfect way to start a holiday in England.

The sun shone almost all the time, which was a lovely relief after the months of grey skies in lowland Switzerland. While I spent much of the first few days revising, my exam was soon over (fingers crossed awaiting the result) and it enabled me to spend a nice day in Leeds doing a spot of shopping. I managed to spend four days with Mum in Lochranza on Arran, where I am always amazed by the cerulean blue of the sea and the wilderness of the landscape within the island's perimeters. Though temperatures were brisk and each day brought heavy showers, between the rain the sun shone brightly. I awoke each morning to the bleating of lambs, taking shelter on Mum's golf course away from the frosty fells.

Mum and I did some fantastic walks, including one from Lochranza to the real Fairy Dell, a leafy gorge hidden in the hillside. You enter beneath a boulder and a vivid green world of low-slung branches, mossy trunks and abundant primroses opens up. It is easy to imagine fairies dancing here and, in homage to the area's namesake, a miniature bench has been installed. Another walk took us high into the hills above Lochranza, to the ancient hill fort. The route up is muddy and tiring, but the rewards are worth it. From the top you get the most wonderful panorama of Lochranza Bay, the Kintyre peninsula and beyond to the Paps of Jura. On my final day, we walked through a wooded glen via the impressive Glenashdale Falls to Giants Graves, an Iron Age fort. Not only can you feel an exciting sense of history in the air, you can also enjoy some of the finest views to Holy Isle.

Another highlight was watching Scottish folk-rock band Skerryvore perform at Lochranza Village Hall - they put on a fantastic, energetic performance and by the end of the concert almost all the audience were dancing with their hands in the air. Following my visit to Arran I spent a few days back at home in Yorkshire. I enjoyed flicking through old photo albums, attempting to play my (very out of tune) violin and catching up with my good friend Paula over lunch at the Cheese Shop in Howden. It was lovely to spend time with my family and wander around familiar countryside again. Dad, Will, Elsa and I spent a lovely, sunny day at the coast, eating fish and chips at Whitby before walking the clifftop path from Kettleness to Runswick Bay. As always, my stay in the UK was too brief but as Tim and I have several trips planned there this year I have plenty to look forward to.

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