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Tobermory will meet Cairo, improbably, in July. But this has nothing to do with the cult kids television series Balamory, set on Mull. This is a return visit by island pupils, following a Hebridean trip by Egyptian youngsters last month.

While they were exposed to the delights of Iona and a Burns supper, the visitors had more profound memories, according to Jenny Desfountain, head of Tobermory High. "The Egyptian pupils were amazed to discover that from Mull the nearest McDonald's was 100 miles and a ferry trip away."

This is not to mention the contrast between the minus five degrees the overseas guests encountered in Clan Maclean country in January and the 25 degrees average winter temperature in the land of the Pharaohs at this time of year.

A cultural exchange indeed.

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