Sent by Karen McShane
Based in St Fillans
Many thanks for visiting my Travel Counsellor page!
My name is Dave Pryde and I am your personal independent Travel Counsellor based in St Fillans in Perthshire. Not only am I lucky enough to live in one of the most picturesque parts of Scotland, I am also privileged to be able to spend my working days indulging in my greatest passion - travel!
Throughout my working life, I've travelled extensively for business purposes. In addition, I have spent holidays in a number of fantastic locations across the globe; Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Corsica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Fuerteventura, The Gambia, Gibraltar, Gozo, Gran Canaria, Greece, (13 different islands and locations) Italy, La Gomera, Lapland, Majorca, Malta, Menorca, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, mainland Spain, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Zambia, as well as a number of places across the United States of America, including Houston, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix, Sedona, San Antonio and San Francisco.
I spent many happy hours researching, planning and organising these trips as well as many more for family and friends to all sorts of destinations, both domestic and international.
My extensive experience in all of this means I know just how important it is that, for a trip to be successful, everything has to be thoroughly planned and properly organised. I fully appreciate that you are spending your hard-earned money and I can promise you the highest standard of personal service at all times and when it’s most convenient for you. You are guaranteed my commitment whether it’s a UK mini-break or a holiday of a lifetime.
Your time is precious and if you’ve booked your own trips in the past, you’ll know how long it can take to trawl through pages and pages of offers and alternatives and still not be sure at the end of it all that you’ve got what you wanted!
So, if you’re looking for a first-hand reference on pearling or triking in Oz, a ‘Big 5’ safari or diving with great white sharks in South Africa, a trip to meet the real Santa Claus or maybe a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls, why not give me a call and save yourself some time and energy? Rest assured, I will treat your enquiry just as if it were my own.
I look forward to helping you make your travel dreams come true!
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
01 June 2015
After a very red-eye Flybe trip down to Southampton and a quick transfer to the City Centre from Parkway Station, the taxi driver who took me to the port asked if I’d been on Eclipse before. Not only had I never been on the ship, I have to admit to never even having seen one of such gigantic proportions up close and personal, Eclipse was even bigger than I could have imagined! Check-in was smooth – predominantly because I’d arrived very early. Those who came later did not enjoy such a smooth transition through security! On board, the scale, grandeur and luxury were apparent from the outset. From the stunning outdoor pool and Jacuzzis on the top deck – number sixteen!! – to the half acre of lush green lawn (I kid you not!) also on the top deck, to the themed speciality restaurants which are fitted out to the highest standards and present food of Michelin Star quality, all the way through to the impeccably presented staterooms……….that’s right, there are no cabins on Celebrity ships, they are all staterooms. The group of Travel Counsellors and Agents on board enjoyed a highly informative and comprehensive tour of the ship. The stylish Library on Deck 10, overlooking a real tree suspended in the Atrium was my personal favourite, closely followed by the Cellar Masters; this plush, leather-festooned, wine bar stocked everything from a reasonably priced Pinot Grigio to a bottle of Screaming Eagle, an American offering which will set you back $5,500! We thoroughly enjoyed an entertaining wine and cheese tasting led by Oz Clarke in the afternoon and the daily “Celebrity Today” magazine ensured you were always aware of what was happening, where and when. We all opted to upgrade to the Premium Drinks Package; normally retailing at $77 per day, this ensured we could drink pretty much anything we wanted – except Screaming Eagle! We also opted to upgrade our dinner in the evening and visit one of the speciality restaurants and the Tuscan delivered the goods in every department! There was a Casino and a Night Club for the energetic and insomniacs – I heard at least two people say next day they had been up till 5.00 a.m. And I can honestly confirm they were not TC’s! All in all, a great start to our whirlwind cruise. After an excellent breakfast that would have graced any 5* establishment, we headed off for a two hour Business Update on all things Celebrity. The team of presenters majored on why we should book this particular brand, highlighting 10 key reasons ranging from the luxury marque and quality of the brand to the innovative cuisine and the 280 destinations across seven Continents which variously comprise their Itineraries. Impressive! Following a Cappuccino and a cake in one of the many Bistros and Cafes throughout the ship, we contemplated and contrived a plan for the rest of the day. At a four hour round trip, Paris would be one step too far so instead, four of us decided that we would set off on a “Discovery Tour” of the Normandy region – and what an inspired choice this turned out to be! We opted for a five hour trip in the company of our excellent and highly entertaining and informative driver, Jamie. The “flowery coast” was stunning and in full bloom. We crossed the impressive Normandy Bridge and visited Trouville and Deauville, the latter sitting proudly upon one of the northernmost Normandy beaches which featured in the D-Day landings. The seafood market in Trouville is an absolute “must see” – just don’t forget your wallet! Whilst the langoustines were the size of my fist, the price ticket of £50 per kilo was a bit scary! We visited a 17th Century church and a stunning 5* Country House Hotel on our way back to the beautiful town of Honfleur. Tightly knit and incredibly narrow buildings surround a stunning harbour, littered with restaurants specialising in seafood. The huge portion of local mussels in cider with Camembert, along with the customary frites, rounded off our afternoon. An excellent tour, inspiring itinerary and first rate company, what more can you ask for – all in all, a great day! In the evening, back on Eclipse, we were invited to a VIP Cocktail Party followed by another outstanding dinner in the shadow of the two storey, crystal wine store in the main dining room. We all agreed that it will be much easier to sell Celebrity in the light of our experience; we all had a great time and left inspired – and as always, it was great to spend quality time in the company of fellow TCs and share experiences and ideas……………………….as well as a few G&Ts!
09 August 2013
I first went to Lewis and Harris back in 1985 and have been promising my wife, Lynda, that I would take her to see these wonderful islands ever since. We both recently read the fantastic Peter May trilogy about a Scottish policeman, Fin McLeod, who returns to his native Lewis after a personal tragedy. Inspired by May’s powerful and poignant descriptions of the people and life on the islands, we were genuinely excited about our 5 day tour which I put together! We travelled to Uig on Skye to board our ferry and less than two hours later docked in Tarbert, the main town on Harris. We stayed at a tremendous guesthouse just 5 minutes’ drive out of town. You are guaranteed a warm Hebridean welcome and first class hospitality at Ceol na Mara (Gaelic for ‘Music of the Sea’) in the experienced hands of the Mitchells! I couldn’t wait to show Lynda the beaches on the West coast! Frequently cited among the ‘Top 10’ beaches in the world, the beach at Luskentyre on a sunny day is something to behold! From the powder white sands, to the crystal clear turquoise water lapping at the shore, to where the land spirals upwards across steep and spectacular heather-clad hillsides – all topped off by the strip of land between beach and mountain which was carpeted by a mass of yellow and blue flowers – Heaven! If you’re feeling brave, circumnavigate the ‘Golden Road’, so called because of the costs incurred in its construction; the scenery on the East coast is rocky and rugged. It is in stark contrast to the West of the island. The people are incredibly friendly – make a stop at one of the many Harris Tweed producers or Art Galleries, all of which showcase outstanding local talent and give you an insight into the culture, past and present! There are many wonderful walks. The island is a bird lover’s paradise – there’s nothing more spectacular than an encounter with a Golden Eagle before 10 o’clock in the morning, we never stopped talking about it all day! Journeying North into Lewis after a couple of days, I thought I had prepared Lynda for the contrasting landscape but even I’d forgotten how striking the differences are! Gone were the majestic mountains and sea lochs, replaced by massive expanses of peat-covered moorland. The peat provides a natural, year-round fuel supply for the crofts, homes and hotels across the island. All the hard work of cutting and gathering the peat is repaid in spades in the long, dark, wet and unbelievably windy winter nights! There are many fascinating places to visit on Lewis, including the breathtakingly huge expanse of beach at Uig (another Uig!) where the famous Lewis Chessmen were discovered, to the mesmerising standing stones at Callanish and the excellent Blackhouses Museum at Gearrannan. You can stay there on a self-catering basis in suitably modernised accommodation, of course! We stayed in Stornoway at the Royal Hotel. Our very comfortable, large room overlooked the picturesque harbour. There’s a choice of good places to eat but to savour some of the best seafood to be found in the world, try the ‘Digby Chick’ in Bank Street but book ahead to avoid disappointment! Take time to visit the poignant memorial to the 205 men who perished in the Iolaire disaster on New Year’s Day, 1919. The tragedy virtually wiped out a whole generation in the small, close-knit community. On a cheerier note, no visit to Stornoway would be complete without purchasing a local Black Pudding! The delicacy has been granted protected status, putting it alongside the likes of Champagne and the Cornish pasty! It comes in a variety of guises but for me, MacLeod & MacLeod’s is the best in the business – check it out! Lews Castle, which overlooks and dominates the town’s skyline, was gifted to the town by Lord Leverhulme in 1923. The Victorian building is currently undergoing refurbishment with outline plans for it to be rejuvenated as a luxury hotel. We have vowed to return to the island on its completion! If you’ve always thought it was too far to travel, think again! Do yourself a favour and go visit the Outer Hebrides! You'll not be disappointed! If you would like any hints or tips I’d love to hear from you.