Sent by F Cruickshank
Based in Edzell Woods
Looking for help with your business travel? Find out how I can help here
Hello, my name is Erin, I’m happy to be your local Travel Counsellor. I live in the small town of Edzell which I love for its peace and quiet and many options for great dog walks.
I have worked in travel now for twelve years and have really loved it, I pride myself on great customer service. I have worked mainly in luxury worldwide travel, so know all the best places to see and stay. I really love inspiring people to visit some of my favourite destinations, and learn from them about their experiences too. I have also been in the lucky position of being able to travel far and wide during this time, some of my favourites being trekking in the Rwandan National Parks to see wild mountain gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, visiting vineyards in Argentina and soaking up the sun in the Maldives.
I really look forward to hearing from you, and helping you make your next adventure a reality whether it be a round the world trip, a trip to Orlando, a long weekend in Paris, or the perfect honeymoon.
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.
04 June 2019
I have never really understood the attraction of a staycation, to me any time off work has always been a challenge to get as far away from home as possible. This year however I found myself in Southampton for a couple of days for work and decided that is was a good opportunity to explore. I have had family in the Isle of Wight all my life but hadn’t visited in 25 years. Although I was only 8 at the time, I still have very fond memories, so was really keen to go and explore again. From the centre of Southampton, it is so easy, literally just walk to the ferry terminal. If travelling in from the airport, all you need to do is follow the signs for the train, which stops basically right outside the terminal. A ticket to central Southampton costs approximately £4.50 return and from there you can either walk or take the bus (free if you already have your ferry ticket) to the ferry terminal. It really couldn’t be more straight-forward. There are 2 options to get over to the island, either the Red Funnel Ferry, which is the car ferry and takes approximately an hour each way, or the Red Jet hovercraft which takes approximately 25 minutes. Each are around £10 one way for an adult. They both arrive into West Cowes, a quaint town, with a combination of little unique shops and your usual stores, where you can stock up on supplies. There are also accommodation options for every taste, from traditional hotels, to beautiful cottages, to ecopods and wigwams. There are plenty of different activities to keep everyone entertained. If you are into shopping, then a trip to Ryde is a must. There are plenty of interesting, independent boutiques, and lots of lovely bistros and wine bars for a well-deserved pit stop. The island is a mecca for artisans of all types. There are at least 4 glass studios, which is my personal favourite medium, and plenty of painters, sculptors and potters etc. A good place to start is Arreton Barns where you will find a vast collection of artists in glass, leather, pottery and woodwork all in the one place. There are also literally 100’s of different walks, from coastal treks to walks over the downs, many of which pass through fantastic little villages where you can stop for a refreshment. There are also walks where you can search for fossils along the route, walks where you can explore the history of the area, and walks where you can visit the sites that inspired your favourite artists and writers. There really is something for everyone. One of my personal favourites is a stroll around the Mottistone Estate, it’s a perfect option for your four-legged friends. You can finish off with a stroll through the beautiful gardens of Mottistone House and then enjoy a cream tea whilst sitting in the fresh air. Honestly there is so much to see and do that I can’t possibly cover it all here, but hopefully this gives you just a little insight into this little gem of an island. From the quintessential seaside resorts, amazing walks, unique shopping and beautiful art, there really is something for everyone. Sometimes you don’t need to go to the other end of the earth to find somewhere different, and beautiful. A staycation can be just as much of a holiday, without the jetlag.
02 June 2019
I have pretty much always been in the position of travelling by myself and have found it is a great way to go as you meet more people, you can plan your own day and choose what you want to do. In other words, you can please yourself. When I was 18, I had my first trip away to Australia. My parents were concerned, as I am sure is the situation for many families. They were worried about my safety, which I suppose is only natural, but nevertheless they let me go and didn’t check up on me too much. Since then, I have travelled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. I have always stuck to these tips, and to date have never had any problems. 1. Do your research Read up on your planned destination and learn about local customs. Look for tips that will help you know what to do and what not to do as this can help you to fit in and not stick out like a sore thumb. Decide in advance what you want to do and where you want to see as this allows you to be more confident when you are out walking about. Try to learn a couple of local words and phrases as it always goes a long way if you put in the effort. It is always much appreciated by the locals and allows you to get off to a good friendly start with anyone you meet. 2. Dress Appropriately Comes into the above section too, find out what is deemed appropriate to be seen out and about in. If you are travelling to an area of the world where ladies generally cover up more, then try to adhere to this yourself. This will not only help you to blend in but can also help you to avoid any unwanted attention. You will also feel more comfortable. The one thing I always carry with me is a scarf, it can be so versatile, as well as being used as a headscarf it can also be used to cover shoulders or as a sarong, when it is appropriate to cover up. 3. Be aware of your surroundings It goes without saying but just being observant will avoid getting you into any awkward situations. You don’t need to be walking about fearing everyone, just be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your bag. Invest in one that you can wear to your front, and that zips up, so that you can keep your hands free. 4. Trust your instincts If you have an uneasy feeling about something, just go with your gut instinct. If you aren’t happy going out and about yourself then go on an organised tour or get your hotel to book you a taxi rather than picking one up on the street. If you don’t want to take your chances with restaurants, then speak to your hotel as they can recommend places that they know are going to be good. If you don’t want to go out and eat by yourself, just get room service and don’t beat yourself up about it. 5. Google Maps I often whip my phone out to make sure I am going the right way; it can save you so much time wandering around trying to find somewhere. Just be sensible as to where you are taking your phone out and who is around you. The other benefit of this rather than a guidebook or a map is that you aren’t walking about screaming tourist. 6. Have Fun I think nowadays there is an assumption that everyone is bad. And yes, there are some bad people out there, but the majority are good people. As I said above, I personally believe that confidence is so important in successfully travelling alone and not worrying about every place you visit, every hotel you stay in and every person you talk to is the best way to make this happen. Most importantly don’t have regrets, if you don’t enjoy something or don’t like a place, then put it down to experience and do something different next time. The world is an amazing place so don’t wait for someone else to come along to go and explore with, just do it, enjoy yourself and who knows who you will meet.
22 January 2019
Arriving into Kigali there are a few things that are immediately apparent. Firstly, in comparison to the rest of East Africa, it is amazingly clean, and I soon learnt that plastic bags are banned completely as they are taken from you at security before you can enter the country. Secondly, upon exiting the airport, you notice straight away how good the roads are. They put the UK to shame, not a pothole to be seen. Also, it was a lot less intimidating than perhaps one might imagine. Even my father, who had not travelled in Africa before and really isn’t keen on being too much out of his comfort zone, seemed surprisingly relaxed. This was a trip we had talked about taking for many years. When I was growing up, both of us having a love of African wildlife, we would watch programmes such as Planet Earth together. Now we were going to do it for real. After a day in Kigali and a day travelling to Ruhengeri we were going to start off with the most impressive and awe inspiring of all, the mountain gorillas. Arriving mid-afternoon, we headed into the city, still amazed by the shiny new buildings and brand-new traffic lights. We went to the Genocide Museum, perhaps not the most upbeat of beginnings to an adventure of a lifetime but really a must. To appreciate Rwanda, you need to appreciate its history and the reality of a horrific and gruesome past which seems so far removed from the country it is now, feeling safe and welcoming and full of smiles. It is not an enjoyable visit, but it is an important education, a message not to be forgotten, a story that needs to be told. In a somewhat sombre mood, we headed back to our hotel in the diplomatic area of the city, and out for what I can only describe as one of the best pizzas I have had outside of Italy, a rather pleasant surprise. The following day we headed to Ruhengeri, which is really the starting off point for trips into the Volcanoes National Park. Its approximately 60 miles from Kigali. You quickly notice upon leaving the capital that the roads start to become a bit more “British” in standard as they are slow going. It probably takes a couple of hours realistically, but the scenery, the villages you pass by, the life you see from the road, makes the time pass quickly. On arrival, a rooftop bar, views of the town and the National Park in the distance and a bottle of the local beer, Primus. Definitely worth a try, unlike the banana beer that the locals seemed to love, some a little too much, which I can only suggest is best avoided at all costs. The following day we woke early with anticipation. This was the day. The reason for the whole trip. We jumped in our minibus and headed off the National Park headquarters. On arrival we were met by our guide, who introduced himself and told us he had been working at the park for over 50 years. He had in fact guided Diane Fossey into the Rwandan foothills when she had been here studying the gorillas. Immediately I knew this was going to be a day to remember. It’s important to be aware that the gorillas are free to roam, albeit protected by guards day and night, so your hike could take half an hour, or it could take four hours depending on where they are that particular day. The guides are fantastic, keeping in radio contact with the guards at all times and knowing exactly where the gorillas are. They will try and get you on a trek to suit your ability where possible and porters are on hand to carry your backpack and assist where possible. Alexander, my porter, was amazing. He was always on hand to stop me from slipping on mud, or to help me to climb over a tree trunk. And I need to stress that while bravado might make you want to look after yourself, so to speak, the reality is this is their only income and by hiring a porter you are potentially stopping them from poaching to make ends meet. For the couple of pounds it will cost, just do it. We had a relatively easy walk, through some fields and up a steep, muddy hill, which probably took about 45 minutes. We reached a clearing and as we looked around, we spotted a gorilla, and another and another. Over 30 in total, sitting on the ground, roaming around, sleeping in the trees. We were surrounded. You are asked to keep your distance from them, not to get too close. In reality, the clearing was only big enough to be perhaps a metre away at the most and while we humans might try and stick to the rules, an adolescent gorilla has a mind of its own. This will feel like the most amazing hour of your life. Times are kept to a minimum to prevent the spread of disease and to protect the dwindling gorilla population. These animals are so vulnerable and so amazing and by visiting them you are helping to conserve them for future generations. Walking back down the hill and to our vehicle, we were still stunned to silence with what we had just experienced. I can honestly say, it was the best experience of my life so far, one which I would happily repeat again and again and don’t think I would ever tire of. If you have the opportunity to go, don’t think twice, just do it, I promise you will not regret it.
07 August 2018
Recently, a good friend and customer of mine went away on her very first cruise. I asked her a few questions to gain an insight into cruising from a newbies point of view. Having cruised a few times I’d forgotten what it was like to not know what to expect. If you are thinking about your first cruise and are just not quite sure, I hope this will help you come to a decision. 1. Did you have any pre-conceived ideas of cruising? Yes, I thought it would be more regimented - at 3 pm you will be playing bingo in the games room! 2. What were you looking forward to most? Being at sea and visiting new places. 3. Was there anything you weren’t looking forward to? What it would it be like if the sea was rough, I was worried I’d be seasick. 4. What was your first impression of the ship? What a size! I couldn't quite take in that I was on a ship not a town! 5. Did the ship live up to expectation? Oh yes and more. 6. What was the best bit of your cruise? Arriving somewhere new every day. 7. Anything you didn’t like? Honestly - no. 8. Would you cruise again? Definitely. 9. Would you recommend cruising? Yes, it’s the only way to travel and see lots of different places. Cruising is like a tapas meal - a bit of everything. 10. Who would you recommend cruising to? Everyone. I couldn't get over the huge range of ages, families, singles. It was also great to see many people with disabilities aboard the ship proving there's great facilities and accessibility.
03 July 2018
I took a whistle stop trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago to visit a friend. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, I always thought of it as a commercial city, with not a lot in terms of tourist attractions. I was quite wrong. There is lots to do, and lots of lovely places to hang out and people watch. Get a lovely hot day and everyone is out enjoying the weather, cycling along the waterfront, strolling through the parks eating their Chicago style hot dogs (a must try) or sunning themselves aboard a yacht out on the lake. Plenty of museums too, for the culture vultures, and some great shopping opportunities. Once you leave the city, Mustang optional but recommended, the pace really slows down quickly. It doesn't take long to reach the 'burbs, with a more laid back less "Americano" vibe than the lower states. Not far out of the city you will reach some great outlet malls, and just slightly further you are into some very picturesque arable land, perfect for cruising along the poker straight roads, with the wind in your hair. You do need to watch out for deer when the crops get a big longer, the can jump out from anywhere. All in all, I thought it was a great city, for a city stopover, or a short break. If you are heading off on Route 66, make sure you give yourself enough time to see what the city is all about. If you have already done New York, Boston and Los Angeles and want to try somewhere different, I can highly recommend it, I had a great time, and it really wasn't as windy as its nickname would have you believe. Top Ten Things To Do 1. Walk along the waterfront The walk from Millennium Park to Soldier Field is great. You can walk right along the waterfront doing some amazing people watching and stopping for drinks or a hotdog at one of the many kiosks along the front. It is a fair walk, so make sure you have plenty of water with you, and sunscreen if it is a hot day! Alternatively, you can pick up a bicycle and cycle it instead. 2. The Bean Go see "The Bean" in Millennium Park. It looks like a giant glob of mercury has been deposited in the middle of the park, although I have been assured this is not the case and it is totally safe. Tourists and locals alike flock here to get their pictures taken, with the weird and wonderful reflections it casts. Wedding parties and Quinceanera, a mainly Mexican tradition similar to a sweet sixteen, celebrated on a girls 15th birthday, are all over trying to get the best shots. 3. Lincoln Zoo Lincoln Zoo is amazing with great landscaped grounds, plenty of wildlife and best of all it is free, yes FREE, (although you do need to pay for parking). A great family day out. 4. Charter a Yacht Head out on Lake Michigan with your own yacht, bring along some cold drinks, loud music, and again, sunscreen. Watch the people chilling in the park, check out all the other yachts, just have a blast. 5. Shop the Magnificent Mile Shopaholics delight, every designer you can think of, all in a line and waiting. Make sure you have some super comfy shoes and deep pockets. 6. Wrigley Field Home to the Chicago Cubs, catch a ball game, mingle with the locals, grab a cold beer, and perhaps another hotdog, they are supposed to be great here. 7. The Field Museum Home to a fantastic collection of biological and anthropological artefacts. There are some amazing exhibitions from dinosaurs, to ancient Egypt, to China. 8. The Shedd Aquarium Almost next door to the Field Museum is the Shedd Aquarium. Seven permanent exhibits, one off special events and for an up-close experience with the inhabitants check out the Extraordinary Experiences. 9. The 606. Like the New York highline, the 606 is an abandoned elevated rail line now used as a pedestrian path. It spans nearly 3 miles and gives you a different and local experience of the city. 10. Willis Tower Skydeck For fantastic views over the city, visit the Skydeck, walk out on the glass ledge if you dare. Not one to do if you fear heights.
St Cyrus 24/11/2022
by Montrose 06/09/2022
St Cyrus 06/09/2022