Based in North Shields

Graham Townsley

Available for new enquiries

It's Nice To Meet You

Hello, Welcome To My Travelling World

My name is Graham Townsley I am your Travel Counsellor, I live in North Shields with my wife and sons.

The last couple of years have brought many challenges to our lives. Travel has certainly been effected by these changes and made more confussing. That shouldn't stop us from planning and dreaming and I am here to help. To enjoy travel we now need tests and forms to fill in, these can be scary and confusing. I have over 20 years travel experience with a passion for travel and customer service. I worked 18 years with British Airways my knowledge and customer service I am here with you every step of the way, to advise which forms you need and when you need to complete these, making sure you take the correct tests at the right time. So I'll take the hassle and stress away let you do the dreaming, whether it's a special ocassion, birthday or anniversary a family trip away or get together with friends. Feel free to checkout my offers and website for inspiration, then let's create your next memory.

The caring for your needs and reason to travel is at the heart of what I do. To get to know you, your likes and dislikes, the relationship we create helps me offer a very personal and unique service. I can offer package holidays, cruises and hotels in every corner of the world. I am totally independent, that allows me to care for your holiday needs, sell you what’s right for you adding touches and unique experiences you cannot find on the internet or high street.

I work hours to suit you, I am not 9-5. Although truly independent you are protected 100%, your money is protected. I have also added our Flexible Cover policy, allowing you to plan while knowing if needed changes can be made, please ask for further details. I also offer Travel Insurance that covers Covid. All in all, I believe along with my amazing holidays, we can make plans safely knowing your well looked after. In my time I have travelled and experienced some wonderful places, sampled different cultures, been to all corners of the world, from Europe to Asia, the middle east to African Safari. Caribbean Islands and over 15 different states and still counting in the USA. Been lucky enough to travel in style, sometimes the getting there is part of the holiday experience.

Being a Travel Counsellor and being independent allows not only the flexibility to work the hours to suit you, also allows me the time to research your dream trips, to put the time and care to match your needs. The products I can offer you will not be able to find elsewhere and certainly not able to package together. Along with industry leading technology making it easy to access your bookings anywhere and anytime.

Why not start planning your next trip, you might have exact details and ideas, just have not found the right deal. Or you might just have the smallest thought and trip that has always been on your bucket list. Whatever it is, whoever you want to share that trip, special occasion or create your next memory. Why not drop me a message, tell me your plans and we can meet up to have a chat.

Why not arrange a Zoom Consultation to discuss your travel plans.

Nice to meet you and thank you for visiting my website.

See you soon, Graham

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Contact Me

Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

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My Videos

We Take Care

1/2/2024

From planning to coming home. Let me take the stress and hassle away from planning your next holiday

Booking Your Next Holiday With A Travel Counsellor "Is just a game changer'

7/17/2023

It doesn't matter if your well organised or not, if your a total control freak & need to know every last detail. All you need to know I am here, supporting you.

I am here to create memories.

7/17/2023

Why not make your next holiday an adventure. Let me create yourself a lifetime memory

One of the best-kept secrets in the Indian Ocean

11/29/2022

Honeymoons - Special Memories, created with care. I love working with couples looking to find the most romantic places on earth. Travel is about memories.

Ultimate in personal Safari

7/8/2021

More than a holiday. It’s an immersion. We'll transport you in our private planes, book you in to the most exquisite camps in the best wildlife locations.

Tell me your Favourite Travel Memory

4/6/2021

I hope you enjoy reliving your travel memories with us as you watch our film, and when you’re ready to travel again I’ll be here for you.

Planning to stay nearer home. Let me help you with your 2021 travel plans

2/19/2021

Looking for inspiration, wanting to discover what the UK has to offer. Wheather it's family holidays, trips away with friends. Just the two of you.

MY TC your travelling companion and must have travelling accessory

2/19/2021

With MYTC Account, I want to make sure your updated with any changes, you can make payments anytime and anywhere securely. Your documents all in one place.

Start Dreaming, Let me help you with your next travel plans

1/31/2021

I am here to help you plan, I am with you all the way. I offer Trusted bond protecting your money. Flexibility in case changes are made. Covid Travel Insurance.

Inspiration for your next holiday

11/3/2020

Luxury Campaign Video - get the edge on your next luxury holiday.

Looking for 2021 Travel inspiration. When the world opens up again, where do you want to go?

10/22/2020

When the world opens up again

My personally tailored offers

With independent access to thousands of travel suppliers around the world, I've got an eye for added value. Take a look through my latest selections below. But even if nothing particularly catches your eye - don't worry! Let's chat and I'll take the hassle away from tailoring a perfectly personalised holiday just for you.

Price from

£2,295

Newcastle In Japan July 2024
9 nights from £2,295
per person
Newcastle Pre Season In Japan With Newcastle visiting Japan to play 2 games. This offer excludes Tickets, Includes Return Flights from Newcastle 4* Toyko Hotel Demand expected to be high, prices could vary.

My Blog

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.

What will Travel look like

03 November 2020

In this never-ending year I have been looking forward with what 2021 and future travel may look like. I have started to think about how our habits may change, how we may book and what we may look for when booking travel. So my first question I am asking is what the customer is looking for and I believe CONFIDENCE will be important, am I being looked after, will it be a hassle if I need to change my plans, what will I need to enter countries and what happens if I book then suddenly that country has a situation where I can’t travel or I need to quarantine on my return. So, to give you confidence I think TRUST will be important, how you book. Think about how you usually book or how you booked your last holiday. Did you book online, did you have to amend or chase refunds to cancel, was it easy to get through to that company and straight forward, or was it challenging to contact companies and did you spend hours hanging on the phone listening to hold music, only to be transferred when you get through to a human. If you struggle for time and get family or friends together, why not get in contact and we can arrange your holiday via Zoom. Think about it, all from the comfort of your own home, if it is a family everybody can be involved and ask questions, if it is more than one family others can join on a different link. So far, I find people are more relaxed, maybe more focussed than going through pages and pages of different hotels and holidays on the internet. It is also ideal if a group are trying to arrange a trip away, maybe a girl’s weekend or a sports trip. So, I think in future a lot of people will now want human interaction so they feel what they want to book is being booked and also by booking with an agent they’ll fully understand what is needed. Not just valid passports, visas etc, but what tests or medical forms needed regarding Covid. This advice and understanding will be important, I heard stories of families turning up at airports and then been turned away as they hadn’t completed forms or tests at the right time. Next will be FLEXIBILITY this is important in case your plans change or indeed if plans change because of the destination your going to and suddenly a situation where you can’t enter the country or quarantine is needed on your return. In those situations, if you have booked a holiday you can change then you should still have a holiday, changing dates, destination, or both. During November I am running a promotion offering the ULITMATE FLEXIBLE PROMISE for certain holidays booked to travel between January and March 2021. Then I have thought about what products we might book. When flying will we be looking for space, not to be crowded in small seats and jammed in. Maybe we might be looking to turn left and what business class offers. Yes, we have all heard about the nice food and lounges, but it may just be the extra space on not feeling cramped. If that is the case, I have many years’ experience and may be able to find that experience at surprising cost. I have also noticed a lot more people looking at Villa type rooms. So not Villas where they are alone, but Villas within hotels. This allows flexibility to still use the hotel facilities but also enjoy a Villa that may have own pool, or at night room service. All this so the mixing less and social distancing not a worry. So, I am not saying this is how everyone is going to book holidays and suddenly all booking business class and staying in Villas, but I do think people will change habits, will start looking at different products in either cabins we fly in or rooms we stay in. People maybe nervous about mixing in numbers. On that though I have seen the protocol and procedures a lot of hotels, airlines and airports are going through, and changes made to make guests feel safe and secure. But we still make look at different or all options, booking a holiday may just not be making a few clicks on a laptop. If I can be of help, please check out my offers on my website, or get in contact and we can arrange a Zoom call if you like and chat about your plans for travel in 2021.

Generations and Curly Telephone Wires

17 June 2020

Generations & Curly Wires When I think of generations to me it is all about how we live our lives and what is important. So, when it comes to travel, my first trip in a plane I was 20, yes 20. Now most of today's children by 20, have been on numerous trips, Spain, Greece and covering lots of Europe. Disney in USA along with many other cities and countries. My first holiday I am sure was up in Creswell in Northumberland I was told later I was about 2-3 years old, why I remember was we went in our car, now we never had a car for most of my life, so this car Morris Minor 1000 stood out in my memory. I cannot remember black and white television it was always colour, even though only 3 channels. We also had a phone in the house from when I was 13, yes a telephone, not a mobile for under 30’s a phone with curly wire and a dial. Back to travel, holidays were up to Scotland I remember Berwick and Solway Firth, down to Filey in North Yorkshire and many more. Trains and buses. Might be my mind but always sunny, do not remember too many days in caravan playing board games. I am sure it is my memory. So why am I wandering down memory lane, well my generation and probably above would always plan holidays around family. Of course, this is only right, but since my first trip in a plane travel has become so much easier. Maybe not as I type this, but it has and will. We may have to get used to new ways, but we will not lose the desire to explore and visit new countries. In my time the holiday would be that family event along with Christmas, the one we all look forward to. Nothing really changed in that respect, time with family precious and memories created. I am a great believer in that, my 19 years in travel that is why I never understand why people take chances. Booking on the internet when you cannot contact anyone if help needed. But also, attitudes change and that I am sure is for younger generations. When the world opens again, we will have a ‘New’ world with different procedures and experiences when travelling. That aside, I can assure you I am here to help you all with whatever the new world looks like. Back to younger generation, the generations below myself, they are used to travel and planes, just because they have young families why should that stop them, also forget one holiday a year, families now have multi trips, even if short breaks either in Europe or UK. Then the trend if a birthday ends in ‘0’ that calls for something special. It is this scenario that inspired this blog. You see when travelling with infants they cause the most issues, under 2 years old they do not have a seat, but need ticketing, from an agent perspective a lot of work. I often got a call to say can I add an infant to booking, these bookings just made within hours and customer wanted baby added, I always asked if they didn’t know they had a baby when making booking, I mean laptop on knee, baby in bouncer! I have never had a request to take an infant off a booking though, this I think is what I mean by different generations. Lady calls up going to Antigua with husband and baby, all looked fabulous. Lady explains it is her husband’s 40th birthday and she had second thoughts. Explained unfair on her husband to celebrate his birthday so far away when the baby would spoil it. Me I am thinking a week in the Caribbean with your new family, great beaches (any of the 365 beaches available) wonderful food and drink, nothing could be better. My generation would not have even thought of leaving the baby behind, but this lady explains she did not want the baby to ruin her and husband celebrating his special birthday. She persuaded grandparents to have the baby for a week. As I say different generations, different attitudes, different thoughts. All I know is I can deal with whatever generation, whatever plans, make sure everyone is catered for. If travelling with infants most airlines will provide free seating, again why book with internet or someone without the experience you do not know or trust. I can arrange all this for you and would arrange that for you, explain what options you have regarding seating, bags, food you can take, I can take the stress away from you. Another trend for multi-generation holidays, so baby, child, parents, and grandparents. Might be more choice to where you can go, how you travel and arrive, who you go with. Everybody in a party or family will have different needs, it is finding someone who can understand what everybody wants from the holiday. It is someone who may understand different generations and attitudes they may have. Someone who can add value to your holiday, that is why I am a Travel Counsellor and only too happy to help all generations, whether travelling together or as a couple.

Goodbye Elvis, Hello Atlanta

04 October 2019

Goodbye Tennessee, passing through Mississippi and Alabama, hello Atlanta Georgia. The drive is about 5 hours passing through 4 states, one time zone and losing an hour in the process. In Atlanta, we stayed in the Ritz Carlton on Peachtree Street. A good location and very easy to navigate yourself around. With quite a late arrival we got a bite to eat then prepared for next day. Coming from Newcastle, football (soccer) is in your DNA, so waking up on Sunday, Atlanta Utd were playing New York in the magnificent Mercedes Benz stadium. This was a stadium costing over $1 billion with unique features like the world’s only 360 jumbo screens. Opportunity is not missed, as I said in a previous blog the Americans do sport very well, occasion for everyone. From the food and drinks park behind the stadium, the team arriving and going down a red-carpet meeting their fans beforehand, they just do everything so well. The game didn’t disappoint and a 2-1 victory to Atlanta. The main attractions in the city are incredibly close together. They have a main park where everything feeds off. Called Centennial Olympic Park, it very much acknowledges the Olympics from 1996 with the 5 rings at the entrance to the park. Behind is a huge Ferris wheel and you can take a trip in the glass capsule. Plenty of green space and water fountains when there’s not children running through and playing. The fountains play to a music display 3 times a day. Exiting the bottom of the park the NFL College Hall of fame, a great museum tracking the history of American football. The fans zone allows interaction such as kicking balls through goal posts, and many more activities along the way. At CNN headquarters in Atlanta there's quite an interesting tour. Gives you a great insight in news gathering and speed at how that news gets transmitted by America’s largest news organisation. Zoos and aquariums are always on our family list. The Aquarium now claims to be the world’s largest, however the work going on will certainly keep this as the largest, to what has some very impressive displays. Atlanta also has a Civil Rights Museum, after Memphis we thought we’d give this a miss and go straight for The World of Coco Cola. Taking you through the company’s history, how it built itself into one of the biggest companies today and has been for a while. It was great going back and seeing some of the adverts we all grew up with. They did have a vault you passed through which allowed you into ‘the secret recipe’. Also you could experience a 4D theatre show, this again explaining the secret to Coco Cola’s recipe. My son's favourite was the room filled with tasting stations of drinks from around the world, you could also make your own. So that was The Deep South. We as a family enjoyed the 11 days with many miles covered, experiences enjoyed. As I said at the beginning this was viewed as a taster for this area, pretty sure we’ll return probably spend more time in each city to explore more, especially Nashville, would love to see proper concert there, also mix in Jack Daniels and take road trip other way through Smokey Mountains, choices with Savannah, Charleston or maybe include New Orleans. What do you think let me know?

The Deep South Pt 2- Memphis

27 September 2019

On to Memphis and what is feeling like a musical journey. The drive was just over 3 hours. You can break this up with stopping in Jackson (exit 80A on Interstate 40), Casey Jones Village, the Old Country Store for Southern Food or quick snack of fudge. Arriving in Memphis the weather had turned and raining, but not to be put off went to explore and walked towards the Mississippi river, we passed The Mud Museum for all John Grisham fans, also during our time passed The Peabody hotel, missed the ducks though, just couldn’t get our timing right. We came across an area called Outdoor World Sportsman’s Paradise. You can’t miss it, a huge Pyramid on the riverbank. This outdoor sports store catered for all your needs whether fishing or hunting, but in the middle a lift takes you to the top, you can book a table in the restaurant, or as we did check out the amazing views which overlooked the city. Next morning took the trolley for $1 each to downtown, here you can find the Lorraine Motel and a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum. Got to say this was excellent, difficult subject and even now some stories very raw, example being the little 6-year-old girl taken to school with police escort, then in a class by herself, my son asking why the bus separated for different people. The museum tells the story very well from slavery coming off boats right through and leading up to Martin Luther King, freedom speeches and news footage from the clashes with Police and Army. Before you know it, you’re in the hotel room which is set up exactly how Martin Luther King had left it. You can see the balcony where he was when assassinated. All very powerful, you can then cross the street and follow the events of that day, see where his killer took that shot. After an interesting morning to say the least we had lunch in one of the many bars on Beale Street, lots of choice and I am sure this might have been the first time on this trip having proper southern chicken. If the history of this region interests you and I must admit it's difficult to avoid, another excellent museum in Memphis is Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, here again takes you through those times. Visitors can tour the tunnels used by runaway slaves who stopped at this plantation, one of the stations of the Underground Railroad. After lunch we walked to the banks of the Mississippi, here we found a 90-minute cruise on a traditional cruiser along the Mississippi. The cruise was at a nice steady pace and very informative, guides on these trips make the difference. That night for our evening meal we headed to Huey’s, just off Beale Street and claiming the Best Burger in Memphis. Not tasting them all I can’t say, but the burgers, food and atmosphere with friendly staff can see why recommended. Memphis day 2, Elvis! Having a car is useful and the trip to Graceland not that far from Memphis does add to your flexibility. When you arrive, Graceland is on the opposite side to where you check in and car park. They have little minibuses taking you from the main exhibitions across to Graceland, since you have time slots. We filled this time checking out Elvis' cars, Rolls Royce’s, Cadillac’s, Mercedes and Ferrari’s to name a few. Along with his motor bikes, you can also check out exhibits showing his Army and movie careers. Each of these displays were very detailed. Elvis' army career although quite short (2 years from 1958), the exhibit was detailed showing his life in the army, equally with making over 31 movies between 1956 to 1969, again plenty to see and get an idea just how popular he was. Then finally the ‘Icons’ which had everyone from Tina Turner, Elton John, Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen to name a few. In Graceland you can only view downstairs, but everything is still in the 70’s as it was when Elvis passed. You are taken through living and dining rooms, downstairs bedroom where his parents stayed. On to the kitchen, his den and famous ‘Jungle’ room. The tour takes you outside where his pool was and eventually to the memorial where he and his parents are. All very good, I am not a great Elvis fan but appreciate his contribution and stature in music. Before we went, we had time to visit his 2 private planes. In today’s celebrity culture, don’t think many or anyone would match Elvis. Next and last day before we went to Atlanta, had time to drop into Sun Studios, these studios being where Elvis made his 1st recording, but also interesting stories of Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. The studios are still used and working today, recordings made during the night. The guide was excellent, told the stories of who recorded and what was recorded in these studios, Sam Phillips the owner even had a recording session with some prisoners, who at the time were still serving time. He was that impressed by their harmonies, he had them record in the studio with chains on their ankles. A drum kit from U2 left when recording with BB King was left behind and on display. The tour in total takes about 1 hour and very well done. Memphis if you like music, or Elvis fan you must add to your bucket list.

The Deep South

20 September 2019

I don’t know about you but two words in travel stand out for me which just adds to my excitement. Those words being ‘road trip.’ Those words mean to me freedom, mystery and sometimes going into the unknown. This blog is the recent trip I took to the deep south with my family. Travelling were myself, my wife Dawn and two grown up sons Matthew and Liam. We have as a family travelled to the states many times, covering by the end of this trip a total of 16 states. We have though never been to ‘The Deep South.’ This trip was I thought before and certainly since our return a little taster of what this region offered. We covered 3 cities: Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta, each with its own character, plenty to do during the day and night, especially in Nashville where ‘Music City’ takes on another personality. To take in and do justice to these cities we’re going to spread these over 3 blogs. To squeeze everything into one blog wouldn’t be fair, also means you’ll have to come back for the next instalment, now onto ‘Music City’ - Nashville. Once we landed the airport was easy to navigate and we were out and into a taxi before we knew it. Taxi to our hotel was 20 minutes and reasonable $30. The Lowes is located West End of the city, restaurants and bars close, if you wanted to take in Broadway, we walked one night and took 20 minutes. Once checked in we do like a hop on/off bus, easy way to get about also allowing you not to miss anything. Nashville is not called Music City for nothing, as soon as you enter the main street Broadway, you can hear music and see live performances during day and night, all tastes covered so not just Country Music. But to celebrate their musical history I can recommend Country Music Hall of Fame, here you can follow the full history of Country Music trailing the careers and greats such as Dolly Parton, Garth Brookes and of course Johnny Cash. In the museum amongst the exhibit’s clothes worn, guitars and stories told how careers made is a wall of gold discs, must be over 600. Also, very interactive and family friendly. Johnny Cash has his own museum, then The Ryman is an iconic museum big red auditorium situated downtown, you can’t miss it. Even if you don’t catch a show there are tours available . Nashville is not all about music, you can also explore the past in that part of the world in previous lifetimes and centuries. I would highly recommend, we spent half a day at Belle Meade Plantation, this a historic Nashville estate which tells tales of family life from the mid-1800s. At a reasonable $20 per head you get the opportunity to tour the grounds including stables while you wait for your tour guide. The tour guide dressed in costume takes through all the rooms downstairs, explaining which families had lived here, how they entertained and how their staff would have lived and jobs they did. The tour lasts 45 minutes, after which you can explore the grounds further seeing where the slaves lived. Belle Meade also gives you a chance to tastes their wines. Sports fans, if you are lucky enough the Titans play in Nissan Stadium for NFL fans. Nobody does a sports experience better than Americans’. Next year Nashville also hoping to have its own MLS Soccer team ready. We stopped off at the Farmers’ Market for lunch, where the name suggests you can buy local and fresh produce, along with a dining hall offering all choice of foods, from local to pizza, Asian, Mexican and lots more. Opposite Farmers’ Market I would recommend Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, you can spend as much or as little time to check out, even if it’s only for 20 minutes while you wait for the next bus you can check out walk ways telling you of Tennessee’s history, World War II Memorial amongst other exhibits, you can also get great views of the city and state house. Quite a lot to do, we only had 3 days. On the Tuesday we went to the legendary Grand Old Opry which is not too far outside Nashville, we had a great night, lots of history to this venue and the night we went had 6 or 7 acts, quite varied including comedian but excellent performers and great night, very popular. Last, I should mention and probably goes under the radar is Marathon Motor Works, this is a very small museum which still has 3 cars to see. These cars are claimed to be the 1st cars ever made. Marathon got to be making 200-400 cars in the early 1900’s. This all changed when Ford came along with the model ‘T’, but here you can see the original automobile and now on the original site are workshops and local stores. Unfortunately, Jack Daniels Distillery was the wrong side of Nashville, so the next day when we left for Memphis, we just couldn’t create enough time. But a visit to Jack Daniels is very popular, next time.

Special 18th Birthday Treat

20 December 2019

This April my son Liam turned 18. For the last few years he has had what can only be described as an obsession with a Spanish player called Iker Muniain. This was with the help of computer game Fifa'14 as it was and now just released Fifa'20. Every Christmas we'd buy Liam the latest replica shirt, this was the away shirt as coming from Newcastle the Bilbao home shirt may confuse. His love for this team grew once he discovered that unlike any other team, they only signed players who came from the Basque region of Spain. I was quite proud of this and the values this created. Today we want everything now, only follow the winners, so plenty of young boys and girls will have their favourite team in England, but as a second team they'd follow a Barcelona or Real Madrid. Not Liam, he very much bought into Bilbao’s culture and coming from Newcastle saw similarities between the two cities. So, a quick check of the fixtures it turned out that Bilbao had a home game vs Levente on 3rd April. The great thing about travel now is the memories you can create on these special occasions, whether that be a significant birthday or anniversary. With no direct flights from Newcastle this meant connection via London, then the flight from Gatwick being early meant overnight stay. However, we're only 18 once and I found a great deal and able to upgrade into Club Europe on British Airways. Feeling quite proud of the deal and although a little tense in waiting for tickets to be released, these are 3 weeks before the game we were ready. With the flight being from Gatwick an early departure, we took the option to stay over the night before. All very smooth with a transfer between Heathrow and Gatwick all pre-booked. Next day we left Gatwick Hilton which is connected to the terminal with only 5-minute walk, once passed security into the BA Lounge, now 18 and allowed to drink although 6am a glass of bubbly seemed right. Flight very quick arriving in Bilbao shortly after 9am.The local bus service quick, easy and efficient took us outside airport to city in 10 minutes. With the city quite compact it's very easy to get to where we were staying, the 4* Mercure Hotel in Jardine’s area. Central and easy to navigate. Bags dropped off straight out and ready to explore. We walked about taking in the buildings and architecture noticing how similar feel the city had to Newcastle, then this was almost rubber stamped when we found the 'San Mames' Bilbao's home stadium. In Newcastle St James' has been called the cathedral on the hill, San Mames is sometimes known as the church. The stadium tour was good value, the guide acknowledged us speaking in Spanish for the group, then repeated in English. The guide explained his first ever game was vs Newcastle aged 6, he remembers the city very busy and singing, also Bilbao fans running on the pitch at the end to thank the people of Newcastle. This tour and subsequent purchases in club store took us through to mid-afternoon, this leaving time for a few drinks and a snack before that evening. The city itself has a good vibe with the local bars, I was hoping we'd maybe sample a few Tapas restaurants, but this being Liam’s birthday a steak was asked for. We found a steak house in Bilboa and i'm pretty sure Liam enjoyed the evening. I am also sure if Liam was with his mates, he'd probably have a different night, than being with his dad. But this trip all about one man and one team. On match day the game wasn't until evening so a bit of time to kill. This isn't a problem as Bilbao is very much a growing and a modern city. We explored and really enjoyed the feel of the city, plenty of 'street' art to be seen, which only adds to the city's character, but when they have The Guggenheim on your doorstep you have to. Weather wasn’t great so we were grateful. Many parks within the city with another highlight taking the Funicular to the top of the city where amazing views can be enjoyed. Anyway, enough of the culture, my son is only interested in the game. Once we got to the San Mames another link to Newcastle and just for us the havens opened, monsoon like rain running down the street. Once in the ground Liam tried to buy a program which lead to a conversation with match day steward, the magazine was free, but they were curious why a lad from Newcastle was here. Explanation given, more of this steward later. Liam's favourite player was on the bench (much disappointment) due to being involved with the national team a few days earlier. The game kicked off and we had really good seats and only 7 from the front. Within 6 minutes Bilbao 1 up, the game took off like lightening and fast break after break, so no surprise 2 nil before 30 minutes and really should have been 4 or 5 at half time if truth be told. However if chances are not taken the other team gets a chance, so just before half time corner swings in Levente heads the ball into goal 2-1, but no wait as the goalkeeper claims foul, the referee already on it, VAR in action this from a country knowing how to use technology, no goal foul and half time 2-0 Bilbao. Quick chat to locals and they seemed tense, second half kicks off, before you know it, penalty to Levente and now 2-1, game on and amazing atmosphere created in this 50,000 stadium seemed very nervous and quiet, after 60 minutes think the coach couldn't take it any longer and brings on Muniain to huge cheers, no more than the lad from Newcastle. Within minutes impact made, little jinx, swapping of feet and dancing through the Levente defence, but no just past the post. So, game fizzles out and 2-1 it looks, 88th minute corner to Levente and 2-2 urgh.......stadium killed and no coming back so mass exit, no change to England really. But I've always said stay till the end and thank players for effort. Kick off and board shows 5 minutes extra, 93rd minute and penalty to Bilbao won and scored by Muniain electricity again through stadium, still time for Levente player to be sent off, whistle 3-2. The steward Liam was talking to was stopping people running onto pitch, Liam was at the front and after TV interview complete, steward mentioned to Muniain that Liam had come all the way from Newcastle, so over he walked perfect English said hello and picture taken. Liam speechless for a long time. Happy Birthday son. Travel broadens the mind, but more importantly creates a lifetime of memories.

Hello Antigua our old friend

27 June 2020

That seems a very appropriate title. You see we always planned to back to Antigua and I am not sure why we have not managed as this Caribbean jewel will always have a special place in our hearts as we got married here in 1994. I am guessing life got in our way to re-visit, bringing up two boys and although we have travelled to many places, we just never had time to go back. That though changed when it came to celebrating our silver wedding anniversary. So, 1994, at that time I was not working in travel and as I type this it only reminds me of my age, I now have over 19 years’ experience in travel. We flew with British Airways on the direct flight from London, a few things I remember regarding this flight. As always, the difference when you fly with British Airways is the staff, it is amazing what a smile, a genuine good morning how is you does, taking an interest. That of course helped when they found out we were getting married and supplied a bottle of champagne. The other memory was how times have changed, inflight entertainment we're used to our personal screen with lots of choice, this flight had a screen that came down and one movie for everyone, you still had individual headphones to listen to, so if you didn't want to watch Charlie Sheen's latest block buster you could avoid. We arrived early afternoon, I do not remember long queues and the transfer waiting as soon as we exited the airport. We were staying at The Pineapple Beach Club; we had an ocean front room. The hotel was excellent All Inclusive, the food and drink good quality with plenty of choice.The Pineapple Beach never gets poor reviews and still today great value. Once checked in it wasn't long before we were on the beach, which was very clean and had matching turquoise blue waters. After a few days as good as the resort and surroundings were, we decided to hire a Jeep and explore. Not far from our hotel is Devil's Bridge, a place with dark and sad stories but today that doesn't stop the dramatic effect of the Atlantic waves crashing over the arched bridge, the arch got the name “Devil's Bridge” because people at the time believed that the devil must live there. Back on the road and soon found Betty's Hope a sugarcane plantation in Antigua. It was established in 1650, shortly after the island had become an English colony. Lots of history and you feel the English influence this reminds me, when hiring cars, they drive on the same side as ourselves. The spine of the Island and easiest way to the capital St John's is via Fig Tree Drive, these days if you want adventure you can fly through via a Zip Wire, we just drove though. You do take many twists and turns, this allows you to enjoy views of the Black Pineapple farms, also many bays with that turquoise blue water and many of the 365 beaches the island has. On our way to St John's we found a beach all to ourselves, Dark Wood Beach, nice long and clean sandy beach with the softest sand between your toes, we spent some time to enjoy this beach and peacefulness. As we got back to our Jeep a local called Alfred offered to climb a tree for us to try a fresh coconut! who were we to spoil what was clearly his party trick, up that tree monkey like and before we knew sliced the top from coconut. Must admit fresh and tasty. Our next stop was St John's the island's capital, quite small I did like the pastel colours of the buildings and had real character, for those looking to shop your well looked after, plenty of local shops you can support or they have tax free shopping where the cruises dock which has lots of choice, ideal gifts along with jewellery. On our way back we stopped by and checked out a little cottage where Princess Margaret stayed for her Honeymoon, very interesting and not sure decor or furniture changed as looked as though time stood still. Now let us jump forward 25 years. By this time, I was well settled into the Travel industry, I had been creating and helping people not only travel but create some wonderful trips and holidays for 19 years. With a special occasion decided to spoil ourselves and travel again with British Airways but in Club World. I will do a separate blog about the advantages and the treats you get when travelling in style. For us, the soft pillows and sliding seat that turns into a 6ft bed, along with 5* restaurant style food with the best champagne and wines was good enough excuse. Arriving again early afternoon the airport had been upgraded and received some TLC, but exit was just as quick and arriving this time at Sandals, position was on Dickenson Bay and opposite side of island, this meant the waters were calmer not being on the Atlantic side. Again, all-inclusive and Sandals believing Luxury Included in "Caribbean's Most Romantic Resort" no complaints from us. Food and drink plenty of choice, while checking in we had a glass of champagne so very civilised and relaxing. I was looking forward to the taste of Antigua's local beer 'Wadadli' and not disappointed. We enjoyed the beach and everything Sandals had to offer, in the mornings walking the mile beach and the views, but we decided time to explore and hired a Jeep for the day to see what if anything has changed. But we do like to explore, so again we hire a car and pleased to say still driving on the right-hand side, although still unable to find any traffic lights on the island. We went back to St Johns and was just how we remembered it, although did not stay long as quite busy with two cruise ships in that day. We did though find our way to Nelson's Dockyard, tucked away in English Harbour, which also contains Clarence House and Shirley Heights, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We enjoyed this excellent exhibit which is well laid out with lots to do; we also enjoyed an excellent lunch while watching the world go by Caribbean style. In the afternoon it was from the base of English harbour all the way to the top and Shirley Heights lookout. On Sundays it is party time with music, drink, and BBQ. But on a quiet Tuesday it was to enjoy the magnificent views and can only imagine why this would have been such an important position to protect the island all those years ago. If you go please make sure you visit the Interpretation Centre this gives who the history of the Island and it’s people, not long but really worth it. So, Antigua 25 years apart, not too much changed thankfully and let's hope it's not another 25 years before we go again.

My customer stories

Sent by Kayley Reilly

Kayley Reilly recommends Graham Townsley Travel Counsellor. 6 September 2022 · Graham helped us plan our honeymoon in which we travelled to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in January 2022. Graham provided 5* service from start to finish. We booked during covid so quite a stressful time but Graham kept in regular contact to keep us updated of any changes in guidelines and nothing was too much of an ask. He gave us advice and insider tips as he has years of experience so we really benefited from his knowledge, especially in each airport. Travelling and transfers were stress free and all the hotels booked were stunning! Graham kept in regular contact with all our hotels and we had something special waiting in each hotel as Graham made sure to message beforehand to notify them it was our honeymoon. Thanks again Graham, you were amazing and couldn't recommend you enough! ?

Sent by Sara McGorlick

Graham arranged a perfect honeymoon for us. It exceeded our expectations. He listened to what we wanted and didn't disappoint. I would very much recommend his services and use him again for future holidays. Thank you Graham for arranging an epic honeymoon we'll certainly never forget!

Sent by Rachael Fenwick

Graham was very knowledgeable and made planning this trip very easy. He was very flexible in changing things to suit our needs and get the best options for the trip and always kept in communication to keep us updated. Great service all round would recommend.

Sent by Danielle Phillips

I’ve already recommended Graham to friends and family. His service is so personal and he really helped us get what we wanted!

Sent by Kayley Reilly

Graham helped us plan our honeymoon in which we travelled to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in January 2022. Graham provided 5* service from start to finish. We booked during covid so quite a stressful time but Graham kept in regular contact to keep us updated of any changes in guidelines and nothing was too much of an ask. He gave us advice and insider tips as he has years of experience so we really benefited from his knowledge, especially in each airport. Travelling and transfers were stress free and all the hotels booked were stunning! Graham kept in regular contact with all our hotels and we had something special waiting in each hotel as Graham made sure to message beforehand to notify them it was our honeymoon. Thanks again Graham, you were amazing and couldn't recommend you enough! ?

Sent by Zoe Maylam

What a wonderful experience. Going above and beyond doesn't cut it!! Graham delved into what I loved about a holiday and booked the perfect trip. 10 out of 10. Il be using no one else for future travel!

Sent by James Sharp

Friendly knowledgeable and has a handle on what is required for us to feel confident in our adventure. Not a problem to Graham when things were not quite right and changes we’re needed. I would and have indeed mentioned him to friends and family

Sent by Jade Lockey

Graham has been so brilliant from start to finish. We were clueless about what locations could offer us everything we can wanted for our honeymoon but he was able to provide us with some brilliant location options and once we had settled on one he has been absolutely amazing at making sure everything was well planned and we've not had to worry about a single detail. Would definitely use Travel Counselors again (Graham Townsley) and have recommended him to all of our family and friends!

Sent by Ben Gash

I wanted to give a massive shout out to Graham Townsley, we have a holiday to Dubai booked for September with BA that we were looking to cancel, for reasons, mainly because we feel there is every chance it will be back on the red list very soon. I had struggled on the phone for hours for the best part of 3 weeks, not being able to get through and being instantly disconnected. Twitter messages didn't help, no one was able to come to our rescue. I reached out to Graham, as part of Travel Counsellors but I also knew he used to work at BA and although the booking wasn't made by him, he was more than happy to go out of his way to help, pull a few strings and see what he could do. The whole situation has really made me think about booking directly in the future, next time I think it's safe to say he has my business! I would highly recommend him as a hard working, down to earth guy who just wants to help! Give him a shout when you're thinking of getting away, who knows he might have some cracking last minute deals for you.

Sent by Aidan Savage

1. Can you provide an overview of your trip and where you travelled? Myself and my partner travelled to the beautiful Island of Ibiza. Had a fantastic holiday in the sun exploring some beautiful beaches, walking around the historic old town and castle, took a boat over to Formentera which was breathtaking and also had some very relaxing days around the pool. 2. Tell us a little bit about your trip and experience of travelling during Covid? So at first we were a bit aprehensive about all the testing and rigmarole, however it wasn't as bad as we first expected. So long as you organise yourself a few weeks in advance it's easy enough. 3. Why did you take the decision to book through Graham & Travel Counsellors ? Graham has a lot of experience as well as a passion for making sure people have the best experience possible. He was there to provide information and updates every step of the way. He made the whole process a lot less stressful and helped us to stay organised. 4. Would you book through with Graham & Travel Counsellors again? Absolutely. He's been brilliant!

Sent by Helen Shieber

Tell me a little about your upcoming trip. Graham has sourced a superb trip to Abu Dhabi for 4 nights in December including 2 days at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A surprise for my partner’s birthday! Tell me why you chose to book with Graham Townsley Travel Counsellor Having met Graham at online networking events during lockdown, he came across as very friendly, knowledgeable and approachable. I found an offer for the Grand prix online but it wasn’t quite right for me, I thought I’d ask Graham for his advice. He was able to source tickets for 2 days at the Grand prix including the after party, included all the transfers, amazing hotel and tailor the flights to my needs. Tell me about your overall experience with make the booking. Booking with Graham couldn’t have been easier, he listened to my requests and made appropriate suggestions to enhance the trip. He also took a proactive approach to current guidelines and made me aware of current covid restrictions that I wasn’t aware about. He was open and honest and more so has managed to arrange extremely flexible terms of booking for us, ensuring that we can revisit the covid circumstances closer to travel and make a decision, without risking the deposit paid. I couldn’t have asked for anything more but hope we don’t have to make use of this flexibility. Would you book again with Travel Counsellors and recommend Graham? 1000% I’ve already told people to get in touch… I’m having to hold back on booking more holidays with Graham it was that easy, we just need the world to return to normal and there’ll be no stopping me (apart from the bank balance ??)

Sent by Niek Hijnen

We came to Travel Counsellors in the autumn of 2019 looking for extra help when it came to choosing honeymoon destinations. A thirst for adventure as well as relaxation, the couple chose Iceland as their perfect destination. Graham Townsley created an unforgettable trip that combined the very best of the land of fire and ice to deliver a honeymoon with a difference for this adventurous couple. Well, with it being our honeymoon, we wanted to try some of the more unique experiences that we wouldn’t normally entertain. For example, we wanted to explore and experience as much of what Iceland had to offer. This to get the trip right and with a budget we were happy which involved a few emails, suggestions and amendments until we were happy. Graham showed great patience and knowledge with this. Not only Graham’s own knowledge but he also had access to the support he has from Travel Counsellors and including local tour operators in Iceland. I am sure this helped with planning the trip and relationships he has with these suppliers. We went on an amazing tour of the south of the Iceland which allowed us to see some of the amazing waterfalls, volcanos and the glacier lagoon, also took a ride and tour on Quad Bikes. It’s great being able to book your own trip via the internet but we wanted to ensure we had the the best time with the minimum of involvement by us. We wanted time to enjoy our honeymoon without all the stress of the research, planning and admin of a holiday. Whole itinerary was planned for us and in a place like Iceland, where you will be going on lots of trip We were really pleased with the help of Graham! He really has brought so much value to our trip and his knowledge, patience and experience of the industry. Also, little touches like a bottle of wine in our room and we also received a picture book of our trip.