I've just returned from a two day press trip to Switzerland. I feel as if I've been gone for much longer as we were very busy and saw lots of interesting and wonderful things. The aim of the visit was to go behind the scenes at A.Vogel, makers of herbal remedies and natural medicines. This being Switzerland, everything, even the factory, was incredibly clean, efficient and photogenic.
Echinacea is one the best selling products, and this grows in fields around the factory, so it is picked and processed within a couple of hours. But the company was founded in 1923, and started life at this beautiful natural health clinic in Teufen.
The garden is the public face of the company, and visitors come to enjoy the flowers, herbs and organic vegetables that are still grown on site.
Even though it's at 900 metres, the garden was full of flowers, organic vegetables and fruit, all looking incredibly verdant and lush.
We made our own fresh echinacea tincture, chopping the flower and stem, and adding a combination of alcohol and water.
After lunch, it was off to St Gallen, a small university town, where we visited a library containing some of the world's oldest manuscripts, and did a bit of sightseeing.
We ate some sublime salads. I vowed never to even look at an unhealthy food ever again...wouldn't it be great to live on things like this.....
And this...the cheese was seriously good. You wouldn't even consider a sausage roll or a bag of crisps if this was at your fingertips on a daily basis....
Back tomorrow with a few more impressions of Switzerland.