Based in the Oundle area

Joanne Cowdery

It's Nice To Meet You

I’ve been a Travel Counsellor for 14 years and have worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. I joined Travel Counsellors because I knew their number one priority was looking after their customers and I wanted to be able to give independent travel advice.

Everything booked with me is covered by our unique Travel Counsellors Trust and your money is 100% safe. Alongside ATOL protection which covers air holiday packages and charter flights, the Travel Counsellors Trust and airline failure insurance protects every other element of your booking, including low cost airlines, scheduled flights, accommodation, and car hire.

Now, whether you are thinking about a holiday for this summer or maybe a winter break for 2021/22, as your own professional Travel Counsellor I can use our award-winning technology and my expertise to tailor exactly the right holiday to suit your needs. These include holidays in the UK, long haul holidays, bespoke tailor-made itineraries, luxury travel, flights, river cruises, small group tours, safaris, honeymoons and weddings abroad, cycling or walking holidays, corporate travel, ski & snowboard holidays, villas with private pools or birthday and wedding anniversary surprises.

I love to travel so I can also offer first-hand advice on places to visit. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, South America, India, USA, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway and Slovenia. I have also been skiing in Canada, Finland, France and Italy. As I love walking and the great outdoors, trips have taken me to the Italian Lakes, the Austrian Alps and Peru to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I have been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights in Lapland, swim with stingrays in the Caribbean, go on safari and sail transatlantic from New York to Southampton.

I live and work from home near Oundle in rural Northamptonshire, but I have customers all over the UK. So however big or small your travel arrangements, complicated or easy, please just ask, because I’d love to turn your travel dreams or business trip into reality. Use me for an easy, efficient, and hassle-free experience, plus I love a challenge and I love sprinkling some magic on every booking I make!

signature

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:

Find me on social

My Videos

For many of us, this year’s summer holidays weren’t quite the getaways we’d been dreaming of!

10/14/2021

Thinking of escaping this winter or early next year? I can help guide you through all the rules & regulations and make your dream getaway truly special.

Stunning New Properties in our portfolio

8/4/2021

I am delighted to share with you some of the new additions to the Travel Counsellors hotel portfolio.

Relive your travel memories...

4/7/2021

The events of the past year have taught us many things. We’ve missed exploring the world for one; Relive your travel memories with our short film. Enjoy.

Dreaming of holidays...

10/14/2020

As travel arrangements continue to change and caution lingers, we’re looking ahead to start making plans to get excited about, beyond this year.

Walking the Inca Trail

9/19/2019

Highlights of my 4 day walk along the Inca Trail.

My holiday in Peru

9/12/2019

Some highlights of my amazing time in Peru.

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.

Northumberland

16 January 2022

Are you planning a holiday in England? If you’re looking for an unspoilt landscape, gorgeous villages, breath-taking countryside, fantastic beaches and very friendly and welcoming locals, you must head for Northumberland. I spent a week in Northumberland, close to the Derwent Reservoir. We stayed in a cottage, which was perfect for unwinding in after a full day of exploring. I’d never realised how lovely the coastline is, or how dramatic the landscape can be. You are never far away from spying a castle, or two! In fact, Northumberland has more castles than any other region in Britain; and it’s also renowned for its Roman, Viking and Medieval historic sites. There’s literally so much to see and do that it’s hard to know where to start. Planning your visit The county is dotted with quaint villages like Blanchland, Hunstanworth and Corbridge. There are lots of lovely walks in and around Blanchland, and don’t forget to stop off at The Lord Crewe Arms for a drink or a meal. This amazing establishment was built in 1165! I’m not sure if you’d describe Corbridge as a village or a small town. It’s full of small, independent shops and a great place to explore. In Roman times it was a supply base for Hadrian’s Wall and it’s known for the Corbridge Hoard – one of the most significant finds of Roman history, which is on display at Corbridge Roman Town. Hadrian’s Wall Hadrian’s Wall is well worth a visit. The Roman army started building its wall, forts, turrets, barracks and ramparts in AD122 and it seems amazing that so much has survived. If you’re driving, think about a ‘Hadrian’s Wall Car Parking Pass’ which will allow you unlimited car parking at all of the six car parks along the wall. You can buy a one-day pass, or an annual pass, so it’s well worth investigating. Alternatively, the AD122 Country Bus is a great way to enjoy the scenery and you can hop off at any of the stops. If you’re short of time, there’s a good section of wall to see at Gilsland, where there’s also a free public car park. Alnwick Alnwick is a famous destination in Northumberland and we spent some time in the wonderful Alnwick Gardens before walking into the town to visit Barter Books, the famous second-hand bookshop that’s located in the old railway station. It’s a great place to visit, if only to see the huge model railway which runs around the top of the bookshelves. But if you are in Alnwick do go and search out The Dirty Bottles pub. I’d read about this when I was researching our trip and it’s well worth a visit. Legend has it that two centuries ago, when it was called Ye Old Cross, the innkeeper is said to have dropped dead while interfering with the bottles in the window. His widow declared the bottles cursed and they’ve remained untouched ever since, and are now sealed between two windows. Exploring the coast Because we were staying inland, we spent a couple of days exploring the coastline. Warkworth has a castle and is a lovely village to walk around, and there’s a great coffee shop called Bertram’s. Craster is famous for its kippers and is another nice place to visit. Both these villages are on the Northumberland Coast Path. We stopped at Low Newton by the Sea at the end of the day and thought it was a very special and unique place. It’s well worth walking down to the beach and visiting the Ship Inn. Bamburgh is one of Northumberland’s iconic places. You can see the castle from miles away and the beach is lovely. Sadly, we never had time to visit Holy Island, which is home to its own National Nature Reserve, Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory, which dates back to the 7th Century. The island is only accessible via a causeway so you need to time your visit. It’s also an incredibly popular tourist attraction so get there early if you want to find a parking space. We did stop at Amble, which is a busy town with shops, puffin cruises, beach huts and everything that goes with the seaside, including ice cream! More to see Writing about our holiday I know I haven’t done justice to Northumberland. There’s just so much to see and do, and we didn’t manage to visit all the places we’d wanted to. Holy Island will be at the top of our list when we next visit, as will Cragside, a Victorian mansion that was the first house in the world to be lit by electricity. But aside from its landmarks, Northumberland has so much else to offer. Unpolluted skies make star gazing awe-inspiring; and the towns, villages, dales and moorlands are amazing. It’s a place of tranquility, truly dark skies and the freshest of fresh air. I can’t wait to go back!

Walking the West Highland Way

21 December 2021

If you’re thinking about doing a long-distance walk in the UK, look no further than the West Highland Way. It’s 96.5 miles of stunning scenery and varied landscapes, with breath-taking views around every corner. We did the walk with friends over eight days, starting from Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow and heading north to finish in Fort William. We all enjoyed the variety the Highland Way offered and it was a truly wonderful break. Two things to think about before you leave are midges and ticks. We were lucky not to have too many problems with either of these but it’s best to be prepared. Generally, the midge season runs from May to September but it depends on the weather and the area in which you are walking. Use insect repellent that contains DEET, and you might also consider investing in some midge head nets, which we found worked well. To protect yourself from both midges and ticks, wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops/shirts. Some ticks can carry Lyme Disease, so at the end of each day it’s a good idea to check yourself thoroughly for ticks. The safest way to remove one is with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, or a tick removal tool. Make sure you carry this in your day pack, just in case! The first stage of our walk took us across the Central Lowlands of Scotland. This predominantly gentle landscape of woodland and farmland was a nice way to get into our stride before tackling the tougher terrains ahead. Once we reached Loch Lomond the landscape changed fairly dramatically to the familiar Highlands scenery of mountains and glens, which is absolutely spectacular. Fortunately the route offers walkers lots of places to pause and enjoy the view. I had two favourite sections of the West Highland Way. This section, which runs from Rowardennan to Inverarnan, more or less follows the shores of Loch Lomond. It’s perhaps the hardest section in terms of walking because you have to watch your step in the forest as you negotiate rocks and roots, but goodness it’s worthwhile. My other favourite section was from Inveroran to Glencoe, following ancient drove roads and old military roads which were built to help control Jacobite clansmen. This section is a relatively short distance and easy walking, but there’s something about the landscape that causes you to catch your breath. At times it felt as if we were in the middle of the mountain range on our own. The West Highland Way might sound a bit of a challenge but it’s neither easy nor outrageously demanding. Of course, inclement weather could raise the stakes a few notches but fit, healthy and experienced walkers accustomed to long days on the hills will encounter no difficulties. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and I definitely recommend it. I wonder what my next walking challenge will be?! Top tips • You want to be able to enjoy the walk and the scenery, so don’t take on too much distance each day. • Try and book accommodation with an ensuite bathroom – preferably with a bath. A long soak at the end of the day is wonderful! • Book your evening meals in advance, so you aren’t trying to find somewhere to eat each evening. • Don’t forget you’ll need lunch. Make sure there’s somewhere to get lunch every day. Depending on where you stay, you might even need to buy lunch for two days and carry it. • If you want to avoid crowds, start your walk mid-week. • The best and most settled weather is likely to be in May, June, September and October, although foul weather is of course possible at any time of year. • Do make use of the excellent baggage transfer services, which are hugely efficient. Using a transfer service means you can enjoy your walk with only your day pack to carry. Only the stoical will ignore!

Snowdonia National Park

07 May 2021

Weren’t we lucky? When the lockdown rules were relaxed to allow us to take self-catering breaks in the UK, my husband and I spent a week in North Wales. We had a fantastic time! Our holiday cottage near Trawsfyndd was lovely and the weather was good. Many of the tourist attractions were still closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and we’re determined to go back so we can see and do more. Coast! The North Wales coast is full of variety, with sheer cliffs, rocky headlands, sheltered estuaries, undulating dunes and vast expanses of golden sand. I’d never realised this region had so many gorgeous sandy beaches and if you’re in this part of Wales do visit Harlech, Barmouth, Nefyn and Shell Island. We’re keen walkers and we avoided the hordes of tourists that Snowdon attracts by heading to the Rhinogs, they are an uncommercialised mountain range. During our week away we enjoyed a variety of walks and breath-taking scenery, from hidden waterfalls and deep river gorges, to abandoned slate quarries which are scattered across the mountainsides in the middle of nowhere. The landscape is spectacular and so is the wildlife, so if you visit don’t forget your binoculars so you can watch ospreys, choughs and grey seals. More to explore We spent one day exploring the unspoilt Lleyn Peninsula, and a boat trip across to Bardsey Island was another wonderful way to enjoy watching the wildlife. The peninsula has many lovely fishing villages and coastal walks, as well as being popular for wakeboarders and dinghy sailors. If history is your thing, Harlech Castle is impressive to visit and the National Slate Museum at Llanberis gives a good insight into times past. If you prefer adrenaline sports, check out ‘Zip World’ and try the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda; or ‘Go Below’ for an underground caving and mining exploration trip. Sheep trekking I couldn’t write about Wales without mentioning sheep! We were very tempted by the idea of sheep trekking – a guided walk with a flock of sheep beside you, through scenic countryside on a family farm in Snowdonia National Park. If you want to find out more do a search for ‘Sheep Walk Snowdonia’. I mentioned that not all the attractions we wanted to see were open when we were there. Places we’ve put on our Visit Wish List include Llechwedd for an awe-inspiring history of slate mining; Plas Tan Y Bwlch (a Victorian garden, woodland and an impressive mansion); Sygun Copper Mine and Portmeirion Village. If you’re a railway enthusiast you might want to add the Festiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Llanberis Lake Railway, Talyllyn Railway, Bala Lake Railway or Snowdon Mountain Railway to your list. We really did have a wonderful week’s holiday, and with so much to explore and see in this beautiful part of North Wales we will definitely be going back.

Life on the Open Road

09 March 2021

Nowadays, campervans and motorhomes offer a really comfortable, and even luxurious, holiday option. There’s a huge choice available – not just the size of vehicle but the rental package and service as well. And in the current uncertainty of what sort of holidays will be available in the coming months, motorhomes tick all the boxes. The biggest advantage is that you’re answerable to no-one. You have the freedom to move around and explore at your own pace and to your own timetable. So, if you come across a stunning location and want to spend more time there, you can just park your vehicle and settle down. Equally, as you travel, if you fancy stopping to have a cup of tea it’s just a question of pulling off the road and putting the kettle on. What could be easier? There’s a huge variety of vehicles to choose from, with both automatic and manual transmissions. There are luxury, air-conditioned family motorhomes that sleep up to 7 people, or smaller versions that seat and sleep 4 adults (+1 child). These are perfect for families, or groups of friends who want to get away from it all. If you’d prefer something a bit smaller, there are also specially converted campervans, which have been finished to a high specification and include all sorts of extras, from fridge/freezers and side awnings to gas burners and cooking gear. In the past, some of my clients have been a bit nervous about getting to grips with driving a motorhome, but the companies I work with have everything covered. As well as having a dedicated Customer Support Team they offer vehicle familiarisation videos and 24-hour Roadside Assistance. I’ve found that this degree of support and service has persuaded many of my clients to book an annual motorhome break to explore the UK, even if they are also heading overseas at a later date. It was no surprise that last summer I was arranging more motorhome holidays than in previous years. I expect this will be the same in 2021 as countries around the world continue to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and decide how much tourism they can accommodate. You may just want to take a short UK break while you wait for international travel restrictions to ease. The beauty of the motorhome option is that you can rent your vehicle for as many days as you like. Collect/return is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, with contactless pick-up/drop-offs as standard. Many of us are now just itching to take to the open road again. A motorhome holiday or short break could be a great solution, so why not give me a call so we can chat through some ideas? 01832 238050 I'd love to hear from you.

Travel Insurance

11 January 2021

It’s felt strange wishing family and friends a ‘Happy New Year!’ after the time we all had in 2020. But of course there are reasons to feel more optimistic about 2021 and I’m sure we’re all hoping our lives will return to some sort of normal very soon. Which is why I caught myself thinking about travel insurance the other day. Traditionally this is a time when the media is full of advertising for holidays and travel. This year things are a bit more muted but there’s no doubt that booking a holiday is one way to feel that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic might be in sight. So when to go? As I write this we still don’t know when the UK’s vaccination programme will be completed. And equally, we don’t know what the rules will be for visiting other countries once it is. So, when will be a safe time to travel? And how far? In the 14 years I’ve been a Travel Counsellor I’ve seen how incredibly important travel insurance is. And luckily, Travel Counsellor’s post Covid-19 travel insurance policy is one of the reasons Money Saving Expert twice voted Travel Counsellors as Number One for Customer Service in 2020; and why we continue to have a 5-Star ‘Excellent’ Trustpilot rating. The speed of change The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all that situations can change very quickly. When national lockdowns started last year my colleagues and I worked day and night to look after our customers – bringing people back home and organising refunds for those whose holidays had been cancelled without warning. But it’s not just pandemics that can wreck a holiday. A few years ago my customer, John Edwardes, was thankful he’d included our insurance when he’d booked his holiday to the Greek islands. A scooter accident landed him in hospital and meant the whole family had to return home early. Cover the bases 2021 is a year when we all want to be able to book and enjoy a wonderful holiday. And why not? Whether it’s long-distance travel to a destination on your ‘bucket list’, or seizing the chance to visit somewhere entirely new that you’ve never considered before, there will be plenty of options available. But my advice is to make sure you take out travel insurance when you book your holiday because if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that it’s better to be prepared. Give me a call so I can explain the detail of what’s covered in our travel insurance. It could be the reassurance you need to start planning that holiday of a lifetime.

Derbyshire

04 January 2021

Last year ‘Staycations’ were the trend. And now we’re in 2021 they should still have a place in your holiday plans, even if you’re just thinking about a short break. For my money, Derbyshire and the Peak District is pretty hard to beat. I admit to being biased because I spent my childhood there. But that aside, its varied and breath-taking landscapes are among the most beautiful you’ll find anywhere in Britain. And you’ll never be short of things to do and see when you visit. Outdoors and more If, like me, you love the outdoors, you can base yourself almost anywhere and find glorious walking country – from wild moorland hikes to riverside strolls. Or there’s an excellent network of traffic-free trails (former railway lines) that criss-cross the county which are ideal for walking, cycling and horse riding. If water activities are more your style, then Carsington Water is the place for kayaking, sailing, windsurfing or canoeing. If you prefer heritage and history the Peak District mining museum, the National Stone Centre, Eyam museum, Haddon Hall and the UNESCO Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site will keep you busy. The magnificent rooms and landscaped gardens of Chatsworth House, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is a must. With history dating back to 1549 and gardens designed by Lancelot (Capability) Brown, a day at Chatsworth will delight and inspire you. First things first Deciding where to stay should be your starting point, which is where my local knowledge can help. There are beautiful towns such as Ashbourne or Bakewell, or many quintessential villages with stone cottages, ancient churches, welcoming village pubs, and colourful gardens. (Alstonefield and Tissington Village are my favourites.) And I have all the contacts you need, whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel or a super-comfortable self-catering cottage. This is exactly the right time of year to start planning a trip. Let me know what you’re looking for and allow me to make the arrangements for you. I can personally recommend Derbyshire and the Peak District as a destination, and many of my clients rate it highly because it’s easy to get to and a fabulous place to stay. Give me a call to chat about some of the options. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! I also have a list of Top Tips for visiting Derbyshire, ask me for a copy. joanne.cowdery@travelcounsellors.com

Accessible Travel in the UK

02 December 2020

We all need holidays! Not just to relax and re-charge our batteries, but because having a break is good for our wellbeing. In the past, if you had a disability or mobility issues, finding suitable holiday accommodation could be tricky. But over the past 20 years things have improved enormously and the choices range from luxury hotels to self-catering cottages and Bed & Breakfasts. Some cottages and lodges have been specifically adapted for wheelchair users and offer a host of options such as lowered kitchen counters, electric beds, hoist rail systems, and large wet rooms. Many others offer accommodation that includes things like higher chairs in the sitting room and bathroom adaptions such as raised toilet seats and shower stools. My clients – Mr and Mrs Dixon – hadn’t had a break in several years and were longing to get away. Air travel was out of the question, so they asked me to help them find a cottage in the UK, ideally somewhere near the coast. Their particular requirements included a wet room with a seat, plenty of grab rails, an access ramp and wide doorways. In my first conversation with them we focused on sorting out the essentials from the nice-to-haves. I felt it was really important to understand what they were looking for so they didn’t end up settling for second-best. I wanted them to have a wonderful time, wherever they went. My search narrowed things down to four locations. Each of the options was in their price range but some had more facilities than others. In the end they chose a cottage in Norfolk, a county they had enjoyed visiting years ago. And although the distance from their home wasn’t huge, they decided to treat themselves to an overnight stay in a good hotel as well. As Mrs Dixon said: “The hotel you found for our first night away was lovely and they looked after us very well. It was a wonderful way to start our holiday. And we were delighted with the cottage too. It was extremely comfortable, with everything we needed and a shop nearby. Each day we explored somewhere new and then found a good pub or restaurant for our evening meal. We’ve both come home feeling really relaxed.” Of course, self-catering might not be your idea of a break, and if you would prefer to stay in a hotel there are plenty to choose from; whether you are searching for luxury or something a little more modest, and whether you are looking for a city centre location or a country house hotel. As Mr and Mrs Dixon’s holiday proved, the starting point was to focus on the essential requirements versus the nice-to-haves before beginning the search. And that’s why the help of a travel professional can make all the difference. So, if you have specific access and mobility requirements and want to arrange your perfect holiday, please do get in touch with me.

Pet-friendly holidays

08 November 2020

It’s never been easier to enjoy dog friendly holidays in the UK and this year many of my customers have given them a try. They say that being able to take their dogs away with them made the holidays special and, of course, they’ve also saved the money they would usually spend on kennels. So why not think about a ‘Staycation’ with your four-legged friend in 2021? There are lots of pet-friendly hotels which do far more than just offer accommodation. As part of their holiday offer they will provide everything from dog walking maps to personalised bedding, toys and treats. There are even some that offer in-room grooming, pet-friendly room service and doggy afternoon teas! If you’d rather be a bit more independent then choose from a pet-friendly cottage, lodge, log cabin or boat. Or maybe you’re looking for an enclosed garden, or a dog friendly beach that’s open all year round? The choices are endless so you just need to let me know your requirements and I’ll do the rest. This summer two of my customers enjoyed a walking holiday in Northumberland with their dogs. After a bit of searching I found the ideal cottage for them near Corbridge, which offered some fabulous walks nearby, and as far afield as Hunstanworth and Blanchland. It was the first holiday they’d taken with their dogs but it’s not likely to be the last. As they told me: “We were, of course, really lucky with the weather. But even if we hadn’t been, the cottage you found us would have been a lovely place to spend a wet day. The views were amazing and it was extremely comfortable. It was wonderful to have the dogs with us too.” The thing to realise is that dog friendly holidays can be as varied as your four-legged friends. And it’s no longer the case that pet friendly accommodation is likely to be down-at-heel and less than comfortable. Nowadays pets are welcome everywhere from luxury hotels to bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation. How far you travel and how long you stay is entirely up to you. You might choose to go completely off the beaten track to somewhere wild and remote; or somewhere you can enjoy amazing walks and scenery as well as sightseeing, shops and superb accommodation. Whatever you’d like to try, call me to discuss your ideas and let me do the leg work!

The Caledonian Sleeper service

29 October 2020

In 2019 lots of people were excited to hear about the new Caledonian Sleeper service between Scotland and England, which offers passengers a really comfortable journey with some extra luxuries. Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived and the idea of overnight train travel seemed pretty impossible. For two of my customers it was the wait that was the worst. They had booked their trip last year planning to see a bit of the Highlands of Scotland and then finish with a weekend at the Edinburgh Festival. The Festival was cancelled in April, so they had to hold their nerve to see if they would be allowed to travel in August, or would get their money back. In fact, the trip went ahead although some of their arrangements had to be changed. But they were completely won over by the Caledonian Sleeper service, and after their return we had a chat so I could find out more. They told me: ‘We were warned what restrictions to expect, so we planned accordingly. Instead of enjoying supper on the train as we left London, we ate before boarding. The biggest blow was not being able to enjoy the Scottish scenery while having breakfast in the Club Car the next morning. That was something we had really been looking forward to. But it wasn’t to be.’ There were, in fact, no catering services on the train. As passengers boarded they were asked if they wanted a bacon roll for breakfast (or a Vegan roll) and these were collected from a station café when the train made a stop on its way to Fort William. My customers solved the issue of no hot beverages being provided by taking a thermos flask with them, and said the bacon rolls were delicious. So, what about the sleeper? They had booked a Caledonian Double cabin, with en-suite shower and toilet which they judged ‘excellent’. The bed was very comfortable, the space well organised, and there were lots of charging points for phones, laptops etc. And as the temperature in London hit 36o on the day they travelled, the air conditioning on the train provided a blissful respite. Of course there was no welcome from a Steward or anything in the way of service during the journey. But waking up in Scotland the next morning was as exciting and wonderful as they had expected. I asked if they had any tips to offer and they had one: ‘Don’t use the shower unless you are desperate. Far better to keep the en-suite dry!’ Coronavirus has changed so much of this journey but my customers still loved the experience and say they will definitely use the service again. If you would like to chat to me about the Caledonian Sleeper or other train holidays, give me a call. Even in the current situation there are options you can consider.

Inca Trail - Peru

13 April 2020

A truly awe inspiring trek through rugged meadows, to hidden valleys surrounded by snowy peaks to high mountain passes. We walked through hamlets, cactus gardens, and fields of corn, visiting different magnificent Inca ruins along the trek culminating at the phenomenal Machu Picchu. Peaceful, calm & quiet; unbelievable and breath taking in more ways than one! We generally only saw a few other hikers, porters and a few local people. I expected to see more hikers on the Inca Trail, it was a pleasant surprise for us to have the trail to ourselves most of the time and not find it a motorway of trekkers. Most people wore walking boots for the support around their ankles, but you could get away with walking trainers as long as they are waterproof. Most of the walk is either up steps or down steps, so do hire the walking poles to take the pressure off your knees. With 2 chefs, 22 porters, 2 guides and 16 of our group ranging from 28 years of age to 70, not one of us expected the sheer luxury we received over the 3 night/4 day trek. Table service and 3 hot, tasty and varied meals a day, it wasn’t what I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the hygiene standards. The porters carried everything that we needed for the 4 days, even the dozens of eggs! The Inca Trail is doable for anybody that leads a reasonably active life. If you enjoy walking in the hills, then you will love this trek. The difficulty is the altitude and uneven, worn steps when wet. The guides make you walk very slow to assist with the transition of the altitude. On day 1 the track was dusty, but the rest of the trek you are walking on a stone path. Day 2 is the hardest day, walking up to Dead Women’s Pass at 4,200m, with roughly 5 hours of walking up steps and 2 hours of walking down steps. Day 3 is the most beautiful day walking in the cloud forest and finally on day 4 after the last tiring climb up hill to the Sun Gate you see Machu Picchu in all its glory. Making you wonder what Hiram Bingham thought when he discovered the site in 1911. I would walk the trail again tomorrow with no hesitation and would love to also walk the Moonstone Trek. How I found a day on the Inca Trail 5.30 am, woken up with a bowl of hot water outside your tent (one per person). 6.30 am – Breakfast (toast, pancakes, porridge) Snacks are handing out to each person for your day rucksack. Set off walking around 6.30/7 am. Lunch – soup, rice, meat & vegetables 4 pm ish – Finish walking - Greeted with a bowl of hot water (one per person). 5 pm - Cheese & biscuits, popcorn and hot chocolate or hot drinks served. 6.45 pm - Evening meal (potato, rice, omelette, meat & pudding). 8 pm – Bed (thermals may come in handy) Top Tips & a few things to help you pack better than I did. Locally and before you travel you will be given more detailed information. If you get chance and need any washing doing before you set off on the Inca Trail, get it done in Cusco. It is cheaper than Puno and seemed to be easier. Take a pillow case to put your clothes in at night to use as a pillow. Take toilet paper, toilets were always put up for the lunch stop, if permanent toilets weren’t available. At the campsite the toilets were always put up and used, rather than using the toilet blocks which were available at some of the campsites. The landscape is at its greenest in October, but September is also a good month for partaking in the walk. Take a change of footwear for at night, so you don’t have to wear your walking boots; you can give your feet a rest. Remember the mosquito spray and try and keep your arms and legs covered up. Wear sun cream at altitude as even though the air is colder, the sun is still intense. Try and pack lightly and the most important thing you can do is walk slowly and at your own pace and keep drinking plenty of water. Consider hiring the roll mat, sleeping bag and walking poles, rather than taking your own. Poo bags are handy for your snack rubbish.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks

30 April 2019

After setting myself the challenge to tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks, I started training in November and accomplished the stunning Three Peaks in 11 hours and 8 minutes on Sunday 28th April. It is a tough challenge and harder than I imagined. With a 5.30 am start, ruck-sack full of provisions and all the bits you should take in the mountains, we set off. The Yorkshire Three Peaks walk is a 24 mile circular walk scaling three of the highest peaks in Yorkshire: Pen-Y-Ghent at 694 m, Whernside at 736 m and Ingleborough at 723 m. The route we took was from Chapel Le Dale up Whernside down to the Ribblehead Viaduct, across to Pen-Y-Ghent, down to Horton in Ribblesdale and finishing with the climb over Ingleborough back to Chapel Le Dale. From showcasing stunning feats of Victorian engineering like the Ribblehead Viaduct or natural wonders like the limestone pavements of Ingleborough Common to breathtaking views of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, scenery is guaranteed on a clear day and certainly makes for an amazing walk to tackle and enjoy. A few tips: 1) Look after your feet and they will look after you! Wear silk socks and then your walking socks and apply foot powder and change socks when needed, it does revive them. One of the secrets from blisters is to keep your feet dry as it stops them rubbing. 2) The chocolate covered Kendal mint cake is a good energy boost. 3) Walking poles do take the strain from the knees. 4) Practice loads and build up the mileage, it will pay off. 5) Take sunglasses and sun cream as the weather can change quickly and it is a long day to be exposed if the sun does appear! 6) As I write this you don’t need to pay for the public toilets in Horton in Ribblesdale, but this may change, so a little bit of change may come in handy. Also some toilet paper. 7) Be equipped for all types of weather, it is a lot colder at the top of the Peaks than at the bottom! 8) A lot of the paths are surfaced with gravel and slabs, but still take care as they can be deceivingly slippery. I walk fast and was hoping for a slightly faster time, so the next time I need to eat whilst walking and get my skates on…… watch this space.

In search of Father Christmas in Finnish Lapland

23 December 2018

On the 19th December I experienced a day trip to Lapland in Search of Father Christmas. I crossed the Arctic Circle on an expedition to find Santa in his homeland, and most importantly in an authentic setting in the heart of Finnish Lapland. I’ve returned with precious memories that will last forever. From the moment I landed at Enontekio airport, the sight of the snow on the trees and the sudden temperature drop to -10°C, I knew I had landed somewhere special. After getting kitted out with thermal snow suits and boots I was whisked from the airport grounds on a snowmobile and sleigh transfer to a small hamlet set beside a frozen lake-shore. On arrival the priority was to book an appointment to see Santa Claus. The activities on hand and included in the cost were a range of traditional Arctic activities including husky, reindeer and snowmobile rides. One of the main highlights for me was learning to drive a snowmobile, a group of 6 of us with a leader set off on the frozen lake for a drive. Tobogganing, kick sledging and stiga’s plus an amazing snow castle with ice sculptures and carvings and ice tables, added to the whole experience. You get roughly 6 hours to experience everything, which is plenty of time. On tap was food and drink. Unless the souvenir hut enticed you, no money was needed. It was magical. Genuinely magical. And not that fake commercial magic. A moving experience with the landscape, activities and of course the private visit to see Father Christmas in his secret hideaway in the forest, only reachable by snowmobile and sleigh. Top Tips Make sure all activities and the hire of snow suits and boots are included. The day trips are a long day so if you live far away from the airport you fly from, it’s worth you considering staying in an airport hotel for the night before you fly and the night you fly back. As soon as you arrive book to visit Father Christmas. Yes, it is a tiring day for adults and children, but it is well worth it. An experience of a lifetime which will never be forgotten and well worth every penny; if you go with the right tour operator! 2 night and 3-night trips are also available. Don’t hesitate to contact me on 01832 238050 for more information.

Paris - September 2018

29 October 2018

Paris has so much more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc De Triomphe, Seine, Louvre Museum and Champs-Élysées. Broad tree-lined boulevards, chic boutiques, elegant stores, iconic monuments all add to the romance and excitement of this wonderful city. Here are a few of my top tips: Book tickets in advance for the lift to go up the Eiffel Tower, it gets very busy. Or for an alternative view, go to the top of the panoramic terrace at the Arc de Triomphe for a fraction of the price. Or for a free view of Paris visit the department store Printemps Haussmann, floor 9. Book ‘skip the line tickets’ for the Louvre Museum. Be on your guard for pick-pockets especially at the train stations and metro stations, and the ‘Paris gold ring scam’. GPS doesn’t work that well due to the tall buildings, so don’t rely on Google Maps too much. The Saint Germain district and the Place des Vosges are lovely areas to wander around and take in the atmosphere of Paris. The hop-on/hop-off bus is a great way to get your bearings and get around Paris. The two-day tickets work out excellent value for money. Or take to your feet and walk, you never know what you may discover! If you fancy wondering through a park go to Jardin du Luxembourg, you may come across a game or two of petanque being played. With the many pavement cafes, fine cuisine and hidden corners of this city at every turn, you will certainly have enough to look at and enjoy.

Long weekend in the Algarve

20 February 2019

A break to the Algarve to celebrate becoming a Gold Travel Counsellor made me realise how a long weekend to the sun could be achieved without involving much travelling at all. The flight from Stansted to Faro was just under three hours and the transfer from Faro Airport to Vilamoura took roughly 30 minutes. Vilamoura - a glamourous resort with a magical marina to explore packed with super yachts - stunning bars and authentic Portuguese restaurants. A great resort to people-watch and admire magnificent boats! My stay for the weekend was at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, a prestigious five-star retreat overlooking the lush expanse of Victoria Golf Course where the Portugal Masters is held every year. A gem of a property, ideal for relaxing or playing golf or for exploring Vilamoura and the surrounding area. The hotel provides shuttles into Marina de Vilamoura, but you can use the hotel bikes to get around or you could just walk. Even though the hotel is located just outside of Vilamoura, you can easily get into all the action at the Marina. I experienced a catamaran excursion from Albufeira Marina to the famous Benagil Cave. Travelling along the rugged coastline seeing sea caves and stunning rock formations. The Algarve, an area on the south coast of Portugal, is known for its 300 days of sunshine, mild climate, turquoise seas and golden sands. The coastline stretches for 200km and has approximately 150 beaches. Although a popular summer holiday destination, a stay in the Algarve in the spring and autumn is highly recommended when temperatures are mild, and the region is much quieter than during the busier summer months. With good rail links to Lisbon and Oporto, the region can easily be combined with other destinations in Portugal. Here are a few ideas if you want to get away from the main tourist areas! 1. Silves The capital of the ancient Arab kingdom of Algarve was once the most important city in the area. Head to the castle for incredible views over the city and make sure to see the artefacts and relics at the Archaeological Museum. Aside from the seafood, try popular dishes from the mountain areas such as Barrocal pork and delicious folhados (puff pastries). 2. Tavira This charming town has Arabic and Roman influences throughout its lovely architecture and a leisurely stroll around the streets of the town is perfect for discovering the remains of the Islamic walls. Try the regional specialities of tuna salad and octopus at Restaurant Vale D’el Rei and stay at Vila Gale Tavira Hotel with Arabic influences including a Turkish bath. 3. Faro Not just the location of the airport, this delightful historic city has plenty to see and do. Climb to the Cape Santa Maria lighthouse to admire the sea views and spend a day on the beaches of nearby Deserta island, untarnished by humankind. Try the fried seabass with tomato rice, the signature dish of Tertulia Algarvia, and stay at Eva Hotel which has rooms with either marina or National Park views and a rooftop pool. 4. Peaceful hilltop villages like Loulé and Monchique. 5. See the almond blossom colours the countryside in white and pink throughout January - February. An 11km Almond Path in Castro Marim has been developed so you can access this beautiful scene. 6. The cliffs, caves and grottoes of Ponte da Piedade (2km from Lagos) - one of the most photographed spots on the coastline, best explored by boat. 7. Ria Formosa Nature Park is a unique lagoon system with a beautiful sandy beach. The wetland area provides an invaluable habitat for birdlife including flamingos, buzzards, spoonbills and kingfishers. 8. Sagres with its maritime history, picturesque harbour and coves are a delight to discover. Whether you want beaches, sea, culture, golf, nature, gastronomy and wines, wellness or water parks, or would like to experience activities like dolphin watching, fishing, jeep safaris, hiking, diving, surfing and paddle boarding, the Algarve has it all. From the ‘touristy’ Algarve, to the ‘real’ Algarve, to the ‘hidden’ Algarve, there is something for everyone.

Tuscany June 2018

12 August 2018

A week wasn’t long enough for me to take in all that Tuscany can offer. With the rolling countryside showcasing olive groves, vineyards, the iconic tree of Tuscany (the ‘Italian Cypress’), medieval hilltop towns, plus fields and fields of Red Robin and Box trees. There was always something to look at or somewhere amazing to visit. I stayed in Montecatini Terme, a beautiful Tuscan spa town which is a great base if you don’t wish to hire a car as it has a train station. You can visit Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Pistoia, Viareggio all by train independently. Montecatini Terme, famous for its thermal waters, is considered one of the biggest “spa towns” in Italy. Today you can still drink the water of the Terme de Montecatini or have a spa treatment. Well worth visiting is Montecatini Alto, 10 minutes away by funicular railway. With the funicular railway dating back to the 1800s and the village with its medieval origins, it’s a beautiful ancient place to wonder around. As it’s located on the top of a hill the sweeping views over the mountainous countryside are out of this world. My favourite place was Lucca, which at the minute seems to have escaped the tourist crowds, full of true beauty and I’d say Tuscany’s best-kept secret. A walk around the tree-lined medieval walls built in 1504-1645, and 2.5 miles if you complete the full circuit will make you want to explore further within the walls. Lucca is a peaceful city with an intricate network of narrow cobbled streets and full of charm. If you don’t hire a car, San Gimignano and Siena are hard to get to by public transport, but organised day trips are available. San Gimignano is a little gem of a walled village with lovely buildings, cobbled streets and nearby wineries and extra virgin olive oil is made, so sampling these products is a must! The hill town of Siena is a very interesting place to visit. It has its shell-shaped Piazza del Campo and gothic Cathedral filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo. There are also many medieval towers standing guard over the town. When the famous Siena Palio takes place, it draws crowds from all over the world. The medieval pageantry of the historical procession is followed by the craziest horse race in the world. Bareback riders in medieval costume hurtle around the main square at full pelt. I personally would avoid visiting Siena when the Palio is on, but each to their own. Florence is where you will find some of the world’s greatest Renaissance works. It’s churches, palaces and streets mean beautiful sights can be seen around every corner. For a great view of the city go to the Piazzale Michelangelo. Once you’ve explored Florence, or you feel like escaping the crowds, get a bus to Fiesole, less than 10 km’s away. On a green hilltop with a small centre, you can easily spend time away from the hustle and bustle of Florence. My top tips 1) Validate your train ticket at the station before you get on the train. If you forget, then write the date and time on the ticket, it may save you a fine! 2) Pistoia a classic Tuscan town famous for its white and green marble has a great market on a Saturday morning, but the disadvantage of visiting on market day means some of the medieval buildings are hidden by the market stalls. 3) Visit Terme Tettuccio in Montecatini after 4 pm and the entrance fee is cheaper. You can still drink the water and take in the stunning architecture, fountains and ambience. 4) In Florence if you fancy visiting the Uffizi Gallery or the terracotta Duomo or the Accademia Gallery buy a ‘skip the line’ ticket in advance, it will save you so much time. 5) As a few places have several train stations, it’s best to know which station you need to get off at. For example, in Florence the main railway station is Santa Maria Novella and in Pisa the station to get off at for ‘sightseeing’ is Pisa San Rossore railway station. 6) Lucca and San Gimignano must be on everyone’s holiday ‘to do’ list when visiting this region of Italy. When I’m next in this part of the world I hope to visit Viareggio, a very nice coastal town. I look forward to putting your Tuscany holiday arrangements together for you.

Peru September 2017

03 February 2019

This was my first visit to South America, and I can truly say I was blown away. I covered a massive area in the 12 days, and for 3 of the days it involved 12-hour long coach journeys. However, if I’d have flown from city to city, I would not have seen the ‘real’ Peru. I am so pleased I saw the countryside and little communities where people live and work. I saw such stunning and varied scenery from the Atacama Desert to the river valleys to the high plains to the Pacific coastline; to fields of cacti, rice and olive trees. There was always something interesting to look at. The highest pass was 4,400m. A country full of diversity, culture and interesting history both ancient and modern, just waiting to be explored. Altitude sickness doesn’t affect everybody, and it has no bearing on age or gender. If it affects you, just walk slowly, drink plenty of water and wear sun screen, as you can burn much quicker at altitude. My Travel Tips 1. Take wet one’s, hand steriliser and tissues. 2. Mosquitoes or a similar insect were prevalent at Machu Picchu, it’s worth wearing long trousers. 3. Take a sun hat and lip balm, the sun can be very strong. Ski sun cream and ski lip balm would be worth taking 4. Take rich tea biscuits in case you are feeling a bit ill with altitude sickness; the plainness of them helped me. 5. Get your hotel to change a note so you have some 1 Sol coins for the toilets when you are on the open road. 6. If you visit the Ballestas Islands wear a hat and rain coat as the birds can mess on you. 7.At altitude (Arequipa, Puno & Cusco), temperatures at night do drop. 8.As with anywhere there are opportunist thieves and pick-pockets, so be on your guard. Peru exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return in 2019 and walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. My itinerary in brief I arrived at Lima and headed down the coast to Paracas. A boat trip to the Islas Ballestas which was full of marine life and home to sea lions, pelicans and Humboldt penguins. We passed the Paracas Candelabra, a hillside etching of mysterious origins. The next stop was a Pisco distillery to learn the process of how the traditional Peruvian Pisco drink is made. Onto Huacachina, a desert oasis and tiny village overlooking Huacachina Lagoon. A lovely place to stop at and take in the desert, but if you are after a little more adrenaline then try the dune buggies. The Nazca Lines was one of my highlights on this amazing trip. You get an idea of this unexplained phenomena from the viewing tower, but if you get the option to take a scenic flight, I’d highly recommend it and then you’ll see the enormous figures and patterns etched in the desert sand. One of the world's great archaeological mysteries! Onto Arequipa the second largest city in Peru with it’s beautiful square and 15th century cathedral. I recommend a visit to the Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries) where we saw the young girl Juanita - a human sacrifice from the pre-Inca time who has been well-preserved. This is a must to see, very moving. It’s cold in the museum due to how Juanita is kept, so do take a jumper! The landscape around the city is dominated by the three volcanos making it very picturesque. I started to feel the real effects of the altitude once we arrived in Puno. Puno was used as the base for the day trip to Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world). I visited Taquile Island and the Uros Titino Floating Islands. At Uros Titino a traditional welcome was given before learning how they build their reed islands, boats and learnt about their way of life before being invited into their homes. “The Uros-Titinos people harvested the reeds in the shallows of the lake, bundled them together tightly and built floating island platforms complete with reed houses and canoes, creating their own little world”. Onto Cusco and a great base to start to acclimatise to the altitude, as it is located 3,400m above sea level. Cusco is a beautiful city and a great find was the Museo Del Café with its free museum and lovely coffee shop. The highlight in Cusco was Sacsayhuaman, an enormous structure overlooking the city of Cusco. Its constructions are amazing, with huge rocks perfectly fitted. It is said that it took over 10,000 workers 50 years to build. The origin of the temple of Sacsayhuaman is still unknown. From Cusco onto the Sacred Valley with a stop by a viewpoint from where you could see the whole of the Sacred Valley before descending in to the town of Pisac which has a great market, known for its multi-coloured textiles, local foods, and indigenous clothing - a great opportunity to pick up some souvenirs as well as take some great photos. The overnight stop was Ollantaytambo, but before relaxing a climb to the huge Sun Temple had to be done. The wow for the whole trip was the visit to Machu Picchu standing at 2,430m above sea level. The Peru Rail Expedition service from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientas exceeded expectations in comfort and views. From Aguas Calientas buses make the final steep, zigzagging climb through the cloud forest to the Lost City of the Incas. The phenomenal site must be viewed with a guide so you can appreciate the archaeological mysterious wonder. The site is much bigger than I had realised with its giant walls, terraces and ramps, an amazing creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Lima was our final stop, with a drive to the colonial side of the Capital to explore the Cathedral, Government Palace, the Monastery of San Francisco, a seventeenth-century complex that houses some wonderful paintings as well as the catacombs which run under the church. Then returning to Miraflores for lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a quick photo stop with the Paddington Bear statue.

Cruise on 'Columbus'

21 September 2017

Mini-Cruise on Columbus - Cruise & Maritime Voyages I sailed from London Cruise Terminal, Tilbury a historic cruise terminal making the check-in and boarding experience very pleasurable. The cruise gave me a full day in Amsterdam and a full day in Antwerp, and I was pleasantly surprised at how close to the city centres the ship docked. I was onboard for 3 nights and it was great being able to experience 2 lovely cities and to only have to unpack once! The benefits of cruising... Cruise & Maritime Voyages are Britain’s leading independent cruise line with smaller and medium sized classic style ships with 5 in their fleet ranging from the smallest carrying 550 passengers to Columbus which I sailed on (the largest) carrying 1,400 passengers. The cabins are large with plenty capable of taking 3 or 4 people per cabin. Plus they have many twin cabins which they sell for sole use with very low single supplements. Cruise & Maritime Voyages depart from 11 UK ports giving you loads of departure sailing points to choose from. They offer traditional entertainment, set dining times and most importantly for a lot of clients nowadays they are ‘Adults Only’ ships. With the exception of 8 cruises during school holidays in 2018 on board Columbus and Magellan due to the popularity of multi-generational cruises. Note: none of the ships have facilities for children, but on the multi-generational cruises they bring on entertainers for the children. I found the ship relaxed, very comfortable and offering a wide range of facilities and dining choices, a great option for a traditional British experience in cruising. Plus exceptional value for money. A few of the facilities onboard include a gym, six entertainment venues including a nightclub and show lounge. Shopping galleria, wellness centre, seven different lounges and bars, library, card room, crafters studio, two swimming pools and two whirlpools. If you’d like further details, do make contact with me. The above information is correct as of the 19th September 2017.

Morocco

15 May 2017

The Enchanting Red City of Marrakech, the stunning Atlas Mountains and the beach resort of Essaouira. On a recent trip with the Moroccan National Tourist Office I experienced 3 nights in Marrakech and 1 night at Essaouira with a day trip in the Atlas Mountains. A visit to Marrakech wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the souks with its bustling charm and exotic aromas. I recommend you take a guide the first time you visit to lead you through the maze of alleyways. Intricate lanterns and men melting metal in their shops, mounds of colourful spices piled up high and leather slippers hanging down from the ceiling; the medina (souk) is split into different areas with a new smell, sound or sight around every corner. After the hustle and bustle of the souk I’d recommend a rooftop terrace for a cup of sweet, mint tea as you watch the sun go down over Jemaa el-Fnaa Square. An ancient marketplace full of life and crowds as snake charmers, story-tellers and magicians perform whilst smoke from food stalls billowed into the sky. It was madness. We took part in an afternoon’s cookery class at La Maison Arabe were we learnt how to make Morocco’s national dish, the tagine, in a stylish and interactive setting. The chef demonstrated the ingredients and skills needed to create a tagine, whilst being filmed. This was then streamed live to TV monitors positioned in front of each of us, so we all had a great view. It was great fun and tasted divine. On the drive to Essaouira we spotted Morocco’s famous tree-climbing goats, a bizarre sight as they balance in the branches of Argan trees to feed on the nuts which otherwise would be out of reach. These goats hop up into the branches of the tree to eat the fruit. The seeds of these fruits are used in the creation of the sought after Argan oil. After a 2 1/2 hour drive from Marrakech we arrived at the ancient, breezy, charming coastal town of Essaouira. With its wide inviting beach, it’s popular with kite-surfers due to the brisk Atlantic winds, whilst the locals stroll along with camels, donkeys and horses! Essaouira has a great combination of beach and culture, with its ancient walled city and souks, which you can freely browse and buy as you please, with no hassle, although the prices were higher here than in the souks at Marrakech. Morocco is a great destination to consider as an alternative to the Canary Islands or Cyprus. Great hotels or beautiful traditional Riads full of character if you want to stay somewhere different. If you just want R&R or you want a crazy few days in Marrakech, Morocco can offer it all. I loved the scenery and peace of the Atlas Mountains, the views were stunning. Essaouira was very interesting with the ancient ramparts, bustling medina and wide, flat beach. A great country to visit for a short break or a longer holiday, experience this magical destination with surprises round every corner! Tip The Moroccan Dirham is a closed currency, so make sure you spend it or change it back before you head for the airport. Most of the duty free shops at the airport take Euros and not Dirhams.

South West Ireland

29 August 2016

We took the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin Port and then drove down to the South West region of Ireland. I’d describe the area as mountainous, scenic, wild and with absolutely stunning beaches if the weather is kind enough for you to be able to use them. To visit this region Killarney would be a good base as you can easily drive to the main tourist sites from here. We spent most of our time taking in the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. However once the cloud had lifted enough for us to see the Macgillycuddy Reeks mountain range we just had to walk up Ireland’s highest mountain at 1040m, Carrauntoohil. From the top the breathtaking views included the rest of the Macgillycuddy Reeks, the countryside and the coastline could be seen very clearly. The Dingle Peninsula My favourite place was Dingle and the tourist attraction which I found fascinating was the Blasket Centre. The vibrant, colourful harbour town of Dingle is lovely and would be worth staying for a night or two if you have the time. A harbour cruise from Dingle is a great way of learning about Dingle, it’s people, their way of life in times gone by and you may also see ‘Fungi’ the friendly dolphin who lives in the harbour. The Blasket Centre gives you a great insight into the most westerly-settlement in Europe and tells the story of island life before Great Blasket was finally abandoned in 1953. Its dwindling population could no longer be sustained. Boat trips across the Blasket Sound to Great Blasket Island let you explore this lovely, now-uninhabited island. (You’d need to enquire and maybe book in advance). The Ring of Kerry Famed for its vistas of sea and mountains and sheer abundance of natural beauty, this is a very popular tourist route with much to see and do. Stop for a wonder around Sneem, a quaint pretty village built around a picturesque green. As you travel around and come to Kerry Cliffs, you see a spectacular view of the Skellig Michael Islands. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a well preserved monastery and a remote hermitage perched on a rock in the Atlantic. If you want to visit by boat, you generally need to book in advance. Killarney Town has lovely little Victorian lanes that branch off from the main street which are great for wandering around, plus there are lively pubs with many playing live Irish music. St Mary’s Cathedral designed by Pugin and built in 1842 is worth a visit. You can take a ride on a traditional Jaunting Car in Killarney or at the Gap of Dunloe and sample this very popular mode of transport. Killarney National Park, Ireland’s oldest National Park housing (with) the 18th Century Muckross House & Gardens, Muckross Abbey and Torc Waterfall are all great to visit. Two other nice places we stumbled across on our travels, and well worth visiting if you are passing:- Adare, Co Limerick – With its quaint charm, thatched cottages, medieval buildings, Heritage Centre and the 15th-century Desmond Castle. Adare prides itself on being Ireland’s prettiest village and I can see why. Trim, Co Meath – 45 minutes North of Dublin lies Trim, a historical town dominated by Trim Castle, Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle. And with the Belfry Tower standing 125ft high and built in 1368, you won’t miss it. Top Tips If you travel over by ferry, don’t forget your sea sickness tablets. I now know why it’s known as the ‘Emerald Isle’, don’t forget to take an umbrella and raincoat!

Swedish Lapland – A true Winter Wonderland

20 March 2016

I’m just back from 4 nights in Swedish Lapland. I loved all the snow, scenery and the activities we did. Ice fishing, husky dog rides, snowmobiling, visiting a Sámi reindeer farm. If you go you are sure to come back with some rather special memories of the snowy-white forest landscape. We spent a night at the famous Treehotel; a collection of designer Tree Rooms perched in the forest. A new experience of living close to nature! I slept in the Birds Nest which was very comfy, warm, and the little windows up high in the tree meant the view was awesome. However you could sleep in the UFO, the Mirrorcube, the Cabin, the Dragonfly, it really depends on what takes your fancy!! Another different experience is the Aurora Safari Camp, a collection of Lavvu tents set around a central social tent with a roaring open fire outside. Each tent is kept warm with ‘in-tent’ stove fires which need to be kept stoked up throughout the night. It’s best to keep setting your alarm for every 1 ½ hours, so you can keep the tent nice and cosy. It’s worth spending a couple of nights in Luleå, a vibrant university and industrial city which also houses the first Facebook server outside of America. In the winter Lule river comes to life with people enjoying a walk, ice skating, riding bikes, kick-sledding, snowshoe walking, cross country skiing, generally getting exercise and fresh air on the massive area of frozen river very close to the centre of town. A 15 minute drive up the road is the world heritage churchtown of Gammelstad. With its collection of church cottages, a museum and the largest medieval church in Norrland built in the fifteenth century. We went to the Ice Music Concert in Luleå, which isn’t to be missed if you are in town on a Friday or Saturday evening in January, February or March and they are performing. A unique concert hall made from giant igloos with musicians performing on a stage made of ice and instruments made of ice! With an indoor temperature of -5 °C warm clothes are a must. You can sample reindeer meat, moose, fresh fish, lovely breads, hot cinnamon buns and refreshing lingonberry juice; all popular in this part of the world. However don’t worry all dietary requirements are taken care of even if you are in the extreme wilderness, you won’t go hungry. There is a huge range of varying accommodation choice. Quirky, cosy, homely, modern or as much in the wilderness as you wish. Remember though, you will find the accommodation compensates for the cold outdoors with excessive heating indoors. We drove the snowmobiles on the glistening ice & snow, stopping off for lunch outside on an open fire. It’s hard to imagine that we were snowmobiling on frozen rivers and lakes which would be full of boats come May time. Our dog-sledding trip took us on a stunningly scenic journey into the beautiful snowy wilderness of frozen lakes and forests and you got a real insight into the Siberian huskies way of life in these conditions. I find the Sámi Culture and Reindeer Husbandry fascinating, and this stems back from when I spent 2 months in Sweden with the Young Farmers movement, many years ago. On this trip we were very lucky to visit ‘Lars’ a Sámi who lives in the forest wilderness and is from a long line of reindeer herders. It was great to meet his reindeer and find out all about his way of life with his reindeer. The Sámi have followed their reindeer to different seasonal grazing areas for thousands of years. You can never guarantee seeing Aurora Borealis, but keep looking and always ask the locals if there is a chance of seeing them that evening as they have an eye for the sky!! A few Top Tips 1. The best time to visit is March, you have lengthening days, the sun may even appear, but still plenty of snow and rivers still frozen, it’s a true winter wonderland. 2. Take ice/snow grips for your footwear, such as Yaktrax (larger size due to fitting hiking/snow boots). Good investment for using in the UK after your trip. 3. In the spring take sunglasses as the reflection from the snow can be bright. 4. In the arctic region the temperature can range from -5 °C to -35 °C. Wear 3 different layers (base, mid & outer layer) of clothing and use an oil based moisturiser to avoid cold and sun burn to your face. Let me know if you would like further details on the layering principle and what you should and shouldn’t wear. Avoid jeans; wool and silk will reward you with real warmth. 5. A rucksack is useful and more practical than a handbag or shoulder bag. 6. Generally you would remove outer footwear when you go inside and sometimes slippers are available for you to borrow or you can walk around in your thick wool or thermal socks. 7. Take your driving licence if you wish to drive the snowmobiles. Whatever activities you do and whether you do see Aurora Borealis or not, you will have a truly unforgettable experience.

Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

30 November 2015

Sorrento is a maze of alleys crammed with tiny shops selling Capodimonte porcelain, leather goods, linen tableware, lace, plus fashionable shops with designer clothes. The pavements are lined with lively cafes and bars, and it is a place which should be on everyone’s ‘To Do List’. The Church & Cloister of St. Francis, The Old Walls and the church of the Servants of Mary are a few of the historical main sites worth a visit. There are small villages outside of Sorrento which can be explored - S. Agata sui due Golfi, Sant’Agnello or Massa Lubrense; they give you a real flavour of Italy away from the hustle and bustle of Sorrento. At S. Agata sui due Golfi you can walk to the monastery called ‘Deserto’, which is open to the public at certain hours for you to admire the most marvellous views of the two Gulfs of Salerno and Naples. If you enjoy walking enquire locally as you may want to consider walking back to Sorrento after your visit. Areas with orange and lemon groves, olives and quince fill little fields and green areas as you travel around the Italian Countryside. Also from Sorrento you can walk to Marina Grande, a small fishing village with colourful if somewhat ‘shabby’ houses that face the waterfront adding to its charm. It has great seafood restaurants and is a nice place to sit back and watch the local fisherman at work. Fishing boats bob gently in the calm waters. The Amalfi Drive which twists and turns along the full length of the Amalfi coast, offers stunning views at every corner. Ravello is ideal if you love peace and tranquillity away from the crowds. If you get chance and have time visit villa Rufolo, the entrance is just a few steps away from the main square. Apart from the villa the gardens and views are stunning. Ravello also livens up for the Ravello Festival hosted during July and August. The exclusive cliff-side fishing village of Positano with its pink, cream and yellow villas dramatically clinging to the terraced mountainside is well worth visiting for a day or half day. Narrow cobbled streets and flights of steps lead up and down past fashionable boutiques, bars and restaurants. The beautiful island of Capri; rich in natural beauty and history is a great trip out for the day. The Gardens of Augustus are worth the few Euros entrance fee. In return you’ll get dramatic views of the coastline, immaculate and colourful gardens and tranquillity. Once you arrive on Capri it’s best to go up to Anacapri first and get the chair lift that takes you to the highest point of the island before the queue gets too long. Once you get off the chair lift you can take in the views, have some light refreshments and if you feel like it walk back down to Anacapri, or you can always buy a return chair lift ticket and enjoy the views. Mount Vesuvius – Dominating the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius is the one active volcano on mainland Europe. A drive to the original crater at 3,000 ft and a short uphill walk to the top gives impressive views of the inside of the crater. It’s an eerie place to visit knowing that for sure one day it will blow its top again. No one knows when! The volcano inspires both fear and fascination and it is constantly monitored for activity. Devastated during the almighty volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum lay buried until the excavations unearthed bodies, houses, temples, works of art and everyday objects. Ash and debris showered Pompeii, and Herculaneum was buried by a landslide of thick mud. To me this coastline and area is a place I have reflected on more once I’ve returned home. At the time I didn’t quite appreciate all its beauty! Don’t forget to enjoy a Limoncello or two!! My Top tips 1) Go on an organised sightseeing trip if you wish to experience the Amalfi Drive. Also to visit the Island of Capri and Anacapri. It saves a lot of hassle and time if you are on an organised trip. It’s worth the extra money in my opinion. 2) You can easily get the train to Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I’d recommend you pay a little extra once you arrive and join a small group tour so you are shown and told about the main highlights of the fascinating sights. Afterwards you can wonder around as you wish. This saves much time and gives you a greater knowledge of these fascinating places. Herculaneum is a must and if you have time also visit Pompeii. 3) Always try and sit on the opposite side to the driver on coaches so you can take in the breath-taking views (not for the faint hearted on the Amalfi Drive route)! 4) Why not visit in December when the area is decorated and very festive, plus great shopping. 5) April, May, June or September are good months to travel, but be prepared, Sorrento is a busy place. July is the quietest month as everyone avoids the heat. 6) The public buses and trains work well, but try and use early in the day to avoid the crowds. It’s quite normal to be stood up on a bus, packed in with another 101 people, so be prepared. 7) If you visit Positano, rather than catching the local bus, it’s worth paying a bit more money and getting the hop on /hop off city sightseeing bus, especially for the journey home! Or see if the ferries are operating and catch a ferry.

Lake Bled

19 July 2015

For many years I have wanted to visit the resort of Lake Bled in Slovenia. It’s not a destination people seem to be familiar with, or know where it’s located. Well I can hand on heart say it’s a fantastic holiday destination, very picturesque with much to see and do. Lake Bled is known as 'one of the pearls of Slovenia', 'the Lake with the only Slovenian island' and 'the fascinating medieval castle on the top of the hill' plus 'it’s the leading alpine tourist resort in Slovenia'. Slovenia is the smallest Country in Europe and parts can be described as ‘Slovenian Tuscany’ with the many vineyards. It boasts lovely countryside with 60% of the land being covered by forest, so very green and lush. The bordering Countries are Italy, Austria, Hungary & Croatia. The Capital Ljubljana is one of the safest capital cities in the world. It is very clean, green and with over 50,000 students living there it’s a young & lively city, and is one of the smallest and youngest capitals in Europe. Coming into land at Ljubljana airport you realise you’ve flown into somewhere special with the Julian Alps surrounding you. After a 30 minute transfer to Lake Bled you arrive at a stunning, unspoilt Lake resort. Getting around the 6 km perimeter of Lake Bled is very easy with many different options. It takes anything from 1 hour 30 minutes to walk around, to all day depending on the number of stops you make. Or you can take the tourist train, hire a rowing boat, or take a horse ride, whichever way you choose the views will be breath-taking, and you will certainly feel relaxed and feel as though you’ve come to a special part of the world. With the Julian Alps in the background of the lake, you get the best of scenery. You can take the “pletna” which is a special boat to the island church which is located on Lake Bled. The 99 steps to the church attract much attention when a wedding is taking place as it’s tradition for the groom to carry his bride up the 99 steps! It reputedly brings them good luck. There are many walks around the surrounding area of Bled. Through woods, traditional villages, or you can walk to Vintgar Gorge which was discovered in 1891. The beautiful and mysterious gorge is 1,600 m long, and full of small waterfalls, rapids and erosion potholes. On one of the hillsides which is a winter ski run, tobogganing is offered in the summer. It was loads of fun and the cable car journey to the top gives you great views! I’d recommend you pay for two rides on the toboggan, you can then get more speed up on the second run! We visited Postojna caves and Predjama castle, and these two places are a must. At Postojna caves you travel by electric train into the heart of the cave system. The astonishing natural underground formations are awe inspiring. With over 21 km’s of cave systems which are still being explored, you can certainly see how it’s classed as the biggest cave system in Europe. Predjama Castle, is one of the biggest cave castles in the world and literally hangs in the middle of its 123 metres high rocky cliff, making it a very dramatic setting. A few top tips – 1) It’s worth paying for a room with a lake view and balcony so you can sit, relax and take in the lovely lake from your balcony. 2) Take a towel and swimming things if you fancy spending some time at the public lido and maybe swim in the lake with the fish. It was lovely to come out of the water not smelling of chlorine. 3) Don’t forget to enjoy ‘The Original Bled Cream cakes’. Made from the original recipe dating back to 1953, they aren’t just an ordinary cream cake, they are very special and are the symbol of Bled. 4) Blueberry schnapps and other types of schnapps are very popular and nice! 5) Visit an ice cream kiosk selling many different varieties of gorgeous ice cream, at very reasonable prices. 6) If you decide that a twin centre holiday is your preference, with maybe 3 nights in Ljubljana and 7 nights in Lake Bled, then it makes sense to visit Postojna caves and Predjama castle whilst you are staying in Ljubljana. I’d highly recommend you visit Lake Bled, we can’t wait to return again one day soon, as a week wasn’t long enough. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t hesitate to make contact for up to date information and advice.

The Yorkshire Dales

04 May 2013

The Yorkshire Dales is a diverse and dramatic place worth exploring to retreat from the busy world. It has been a National Park since 1954, with each Dale having its own personality and mood. It can be wild and windswept or quietly tranquil. It includes some of the finest limestone scenery in the UK, from crags and pavements to an underground labyrinth of caves. Peaceful ancient woodland, gentle undulating hills, steep ascents and sharp drops, heather moorland tops, powerful rivers and wonderful spectacular waterfalls. Stone-built villages sit amongst traditional farming landscapes of field barns, dry stone walls and flower rich hay meadows. Scattered remains of former mine workings and other rural industries which remind us of the area’s rich industrial heritage. And if you explore hard enough you can see the network of drovers’ tracks. Our week had us based in Wensleydale. pring was very late this year, so we were lucky enough to see plenty of snow and many Swaledale and Dalesbred lambs with their mum’s. Hawes is a great place to be centred at, as you have a diverse area on your doorstep. The Dales Countryside Museum is a good starting off point as it tells you the story of the farmers, former lead miners and landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, past and present. A visit to Hawes would not be complete without a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre. Ensure you find out which days the viewing gallery is open as its not open daily, so arrange your visit on one of the days when they are making the lovely creamy, rich cheese. They have a small museum, and a great cheese shop where you can taste all the different types of Wensleydale cheese and then if you wish purchase a block or two! Or you can see rope being spun at the Ropemakers near to the Dales Countryside Museum. Just outside Hawes is Simonstone Hall, a magnificent country house standing in its own splendid grounds with spectacular views. It’s well worth a visit for a coffee or meal. Malham Cove is a huge curved limestone cliff at the head of the valley. A former waterfall, it is topped by a fine area of limestone pavement. Go early in the morning, before it’s full of walkers and rock climbers! Dentdale is a magical place; discover the cobbled streets and hidden surprises tucked away. The impressive viaducts at Denthead and Arten Gill carry the spectacular Settle to Carlisle railway with Dent station being the highest mainline station in England at 1,100 ft. We also visited a National Trust property - Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, near Ripon. It is a huge estate of beauty, contrasts and surprises including the largest abbey ruins in the country. It is one of England’s most spectacular Georgian water gardens with statues, surprise views, hidden temples and a deer park. Many country pubs serve local beer and great food. The Black Sheep Brewery and the Theakston’s Brewery are the two main local Breweries which offer tours and a chance to wet your whistle! Don’t miss the show caves – a great way to explore the wonders of the Yorkshire Dales cave network including rock formations and passages. Stump Cross Caverns at Greenhow, White Scar Caves near Ingleton, How Stean Gorge in Nidderdale or Ingleborough Cave near Clapham. Or, for the big kid in everyone, head to the Forbidden Corner near Middleham – admission is by pre-booked tickets only. This is an amazing place with a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises around each corner in a 4 acre garden.

Christmas in Le Corbier

01 January 2013

With snow falling as the coach made its way up the mountain road it was lovely to think that we would definitely be having a white Christmas for once. We stayed in Le Corbier in the French Alps. The nearest airports are Chambéry and Grenoble. The ski area of Les Sybelles covers 310 kilometres of slopes from 1300 metres to 2620 metres in altitude. With six ski resorts linked together it is the fourth biggest skiing area in France. The resort is a paradise for family holidays, as it’s an entirely pedestrianised resort with ski-in, ski-out access at practically all the accommodation blocks. The resort isn’t marketed to the UK, so it tends to be very French, but we didn’t find this a problem at all. Its indoor shopping centre allows you to go from one end of the resort to the other without ever stepping outside if you don’t wish to (or the weather is inclement). It is not the best resort for complete beginners because there aren’t many easy slopes. In fact, the intermediate slopes tend to be harder than intermediate. However, the slopes were nice, wide and open and well maintained. The neighbouring resort of La Toussuire was very easily accessible by skiing, walking or catching the free local bus which ran frequently throughout the day. Snowshoeing, husky dog trekking, paragliding, donkey rides, sledging slopes and cross country skiing were all on offer. There were also many nice shops, patisseries, charcuteries, restaurants and bars. In July 2012, La Toussuire welcomed Le Tour de France for the second time, which witnessed the victory of Pierre Roland. My top tips for ski holidays: - Try and stay in accommodation where you can ski in and ski out or it is a very short walk to the lifts. It’s hard work walking in ski boots and carrying your skis and poles. - The Les Sybelles piste map (2012/2013 ski season) isn’t quite the same as the pistes are on the ground! Take care. - Pay attention to the lift times between ski resorts. Ensure that the lifts you will need to return to your resort won’t have closed by the time you make the return journey. - Allow plenty of time to eat out, even at mountain restaurants. Service is typically slower and less precise than in the UK. Enjoy and have fun.

Norwegian Fjord Cruise

08 January 2013

Once you get into the Norwegian Fjords there is much to see from the cruise ship. The extensive archipelago and the majestic fjords make for highly varied scenery. Waterfalls cascade down the mountainsides, snow glitters on the mountain tops and lush green pastures and lovely small villages line the fjords. Fishing villages and apple orchards cling to the shoreline. This is a land of contrasts, from gentle and mild to rugged and wild, all natural and unspoilt. Below are some brief details on each port of call I visited. Bergen is known as the ‘gateway to the fjords’. A number of Bergen’s houses, which have been burned down and rebuilt numerous times over the last 600 years, are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is these buildings which give Bergen the alternative name of ‘the wooden city’. Perhaps the best way to appreciate Bergen and its lovely setting is to take the Fløibanen, the only funicular railway in Scandinavia, to the summit of Mountt Fløyen. The short ride takes you from the city centre to the viewpoint, which is also the start of a number of well-marked hiking trails into the surrounding forest. Kristiansund is the cod capital of Nordmøre, famous for the export of salt matured cod. Catch the Sundbåten to the island of Innlandet and you’ll find the oldest parts of the town with its characteristic warehouses. Alternatively, you can walk to Varden, an old lookout post which stands 78 metres above sea level and offers spectacular 360 degree views of the shipping fairway, the island of Grip, the coastline, Kristiansund and the fjords. In Trondheim, the folk museum (Sverresborg), Norway’s largest open-air museum, was well worth visiting. It has more than 60 antiquarian buildings from the region including a stave church from 1170’s as well as the urban setting of “The Old City”. Other attractions in Trondheim include the 11th century Nidaros Cathedral and next door is the Royal Residence which is said to be Scandinavia’s largest timber mansion. The old town bridge, the fine old buildings and quaint shops all make for a great day in Trondheim. Ålesund suffered a great fire in 1904, and the architects who participated in its re-building were inspired by the “Art Nouveau” era. Fjellstua offers splendid views over the whole area and is reached by 418 steps from the town park. Flåm lies on the shores of Sognefjord and, at a little over 120 miles long, its Norway’s longest fjord. Just outside Flåm is the Kjosfossen waterfall and viewpoint. The Flåm railway runs between Flåm and the mountain station of Myrdal on the Oslo to Bergen line, and is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful and steepest railway tracks in the world. In Eidfjord, a most spectacular feat of engineering is the Sima hydroelectric power plant, one of the largest in Europe. The production hall itself is 200 metres long, 20 metres wide and 40 metres high - all inside the mountain! Also nearby is the Vøringfoss waterfall which, at 182 metres, is Norway’s highest. My top tips for travel are….. 1) Between mid-June and the end of August is generally a good time to visit Norway. 2) As soon as you get off the boat in Bergen, go to the Mount Fløyen funicular station before the crowds arrive. You may want to buy a one way ticket and then you can walk back down. 3) If you travel on the Flåmsbana from Flåm to Myrdal, try and sit on the right hand side of the train. 4) Always take a raincoat or umbrella as the weather can turn very quickly! 5) It’s great to walk a mile or two around the ship each day, just to ease the conscience; after all you may be eating a lot more than you do normally! 6) Take some sea sickness tablets with you, just in case! 7) A small pair of binoculars may be handy for checking out passing ships. 8) If cruising isn’t for you but you’d like to see the Norwegian Fjords, you could easily stay in Bergen and do day trips out to the Fjords. Alternately you could fly into Bergen and spend four nights and then catch the train to Oslo and spend time here before flying home. This way you would take in the biggest and most popular train journey, making a great twin centre holiday.

Saint Lucia

13 November 2012

I was selected to attend a Wedding & Honeymoon educational trip to St Lucia with the St Lucia Tourist Board. The main aim of the week was to view hotels for the Honeymoon market and to look at some of the many lovely Wedding venues the island has to offer. It’s becoming more and more popular for couples to get married abroad, so it was a wonderful opportunity to see first hand why so many couples choose St Lucia for their Honeymoon or Wedding. During the week I visited 21 different hotels in the North & South of the Island and as it was a trip organised by the St Lucia tourist board we were also very lucky to get out & about and see what draws people to the island. St Lucia lives up to the ideal of a Caribbean paradise, the island’s feel remains decidedly laid-back, with little of the jaded hustle that can mar more established Caribbean destinations. It all makes for a relaxed, friendly and incredibly beautiful place to visit. The island is endowed with spectacular natural scenery and a varied geography. There are iconic mountain peaks; lush, uninhabited rainforests; waters teeming with marine life; remnants of a violent colonial past, evocative and picturesque in their ruin; and plenty of postcard-perfect beaches on which to while away the day. There is the bustling capital city of Castries with its lively central market and duty-free shopping malls. Rodney Bay is the hub of St Lucia’s tourist activities, with a strip of restaurants, hotels, bars and a gorgeous golden sandy beach. Nearby the quiet fishing village of Gros Islet hosts the wildly popular Friday night Jump Up street party where locals and tourists mix as they take in the music, food & liquid refreshments which are on sale in the street. The central interior of St Lucia contains mountains, rainforest, cloud forest and elphin woodland. Its vast, inhabited forest reserves offer numerous hiking trails boasting arresting scenery accented by exotic flora and fauna. Options range from steep mountain treks to easy jaunts through the woods or along coastal paths. Many hiking paths lead to picturesque waterfalls, where you can cool off in the clear mountain water. The twin peaks of the Pitons dominate St Lucia’s southwest coast and loom over the old town of Soufriere, filled with narrow streets and balconied wooden houses. Waterfalls, botanical gardens, hiking trails and good diving and snorkelling spots make up the area’s numerous natural attractions. Pigeon Island, once a pirate hideout, then an eighteenth-century British fort. Today Pigeon Island is a well-preserved historical site offering relaxing beaches, scenic hiking trails and stunning views. Rum making continues to be a major contributor to the island’s economy as well as acres of fertile banana plantations and cocoa plantations. After all that if you can rouse yourself out of a hammock or beach lounger, St Lucia offers a myriad of exciting ways to spend the day – mountain biking, horseback rides along the beach, helicopter tours, boat cruises to name a few! When to visit? – the most frequently asked question! St Lucia’s tropical climate is classically Caribbean. During high season (Dec-April), the island is pleasantly hot, with little rain and constant north-easterly trade winds that keep the nights cool. Temperatures rise even further during the summer months, which can also be wet: the rainy season lasts from June to October, with the hurricane season at the tailend, roughly from late August to October. My Top 3 Tips – 1) When you land after your flight from the UK do a helicopter transfer to your chosen hotel as the views over the island are outstanding and it takes roughly 15 minutes to fly from the South of the Island to the North of the Island, where as if you go by road it takes about 1 ½ hours on windy mountain roads. It’s well worth considering doing this transfer for either your arrival or departure transfer. 2) Take Eastern Caribbean Dollar although US dollars are widely accepted. 3) No sunset weddings are allowed. 5 pm is the latest Wedding time. Go & enjoy

Cyprus – the whole of the Mediterranean in a single island

07 January 2011

After working in travel for more years than I should mention, I was offered an unforgettable trip to Cyprus with Planet Holidays on their Wedding Educational. What better way to visit the ‘Island of Love’ than to look around the many venues and unusual places couples can get married at. The end of May, beginning of June and September/October are great months to visit Cyprus. July and August are too hot and very sticky. February tends to have the most rainfall, so pack your umbrella! Cyprus is a great destination during our winter months, so why not get married then! I managed to look around 23 hotels, a few town halls, churches and the yachts which you can charter for wedding ceremonies, receptions or just a party. Many of the hotels have a number of venues you can choose to have your ceremony at. Piers are popular as you can hear the sea lapping whilst you take your vows! or beautiful grounds with tucked away areas for more privacy, decked areas and many different indoor venues with the all important air conditioning for those weddings which are held in the height of the summer. The sunsets are amazing especially from the hotels in the Paphos area of Cyprus. All the hotels offer something different. Some hotels only allow one wedding a day, but some do allow more a day so it’s worth letting me know whether this worries you or not. Some airlines offer 30 kilos of checked in baggage which can be very useful! If the weather is too hot, you can have your wedding breakfast inside (buffets are very popular) but the ceremony & cocktails outside. With modern technology some of the town halls have webcams and it’s worth taking your mp3 player with your selected music for the background, but all these finer details can be discussed and looked into at the time of booking your special day. Generally 4 pm – 4.30pm is the best time to get married, but it really depends on the time of year you are visiting Cyprus. Limassol, the 2nd city of Cyprus, is a great place to base yourself if you wish to explore Cyprus. It’s very cosmopolitan with a big port, a castle and many nice shops, nightclubs, disco bars and restaurants. Road signs are in English and with English widely spoken hiring a car and getting out and about is very straight forward. As my trip was such a whistle stop tour I would love to return and see more of what the island has to offer. I would hire a car and visit the Troodos Mountains for a few days to see the pine-scented forests and picturesque traditional mountain villages. The hospitality & warmth of the Cypriot people really shone through so I look forward to returning and receiving more…. Whether you plan to visit Cyprus for the most special day of your life or you are visiting for your Honeymoon or it’s simply a holiday you are after, whatever you wish to do and see you won’t be disappointed. Many hotels have state of the art spas and it’s becoming very popular in the hotels to have an adults only section which can be very appealing! More and more hotels are offering rooms with your own private pool, something to think about and look out for! Whether you want to visit vineyards, beaches, golf courses, or you wish to experience the customs & traditions let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Skiing in The Canadian Rockies

05 April 2010

After experiencing skiing in Tremblant a few years ago, I thought it was time to re-visit Canada and experience another fabulous ski resort. I went to Kimberley, the Bavarian city of the Rockies! Once a mining town and now a destination resort, Kimberely Alpine Resort is located in the Purcell Mountains, 4 km’s from the city of Kimberley, British Columbia. With beautiful sun and light Purcell powder snow Kimberley offers stunning scenery and a laid back, relaxed atmosphere that lets you make the most of your ski or snowboard getaway. I went on the 10th March 2010, and to be honest the snow conditions were not brilliant. Usually at this time of the year there should be much more snow. It snowed 6 inches on the second day which was brilliant, but no more appeared whilst I was visiting. The problem was that during the evening, the snow grooming machines would work overtime to make the runs lovely for the following day, but as it was so cold it would be quite icy for the first few hours of the morning and then by the end of the day it became quite slushy towards the bottom of the mountain. The facilities at Kimberley consist of ski trails and lifts on North Star Mountain. The Kimberley Alpine Resort offers a wide variety of terrain to satisfy all ability levels. On the front side of the mountain, beginners and novice skiers and riders can enjoy long wide open runs that are groomed to perfection; this is where I spent most of my time. The Easter Bowl is a haven for the most adventurous skier or rider, with deep long lasting powder. The advanced terrain in the Bowl has many steep and deep mogul runs. The Easter Run is ranked in Ski Canada magazine as one of the best in the land. Kimberley also boasts the longest illuminated run in Canada, allowing for great night skiing and boarding. The longest run measures an impressive 5 km long. Skiing in Canada is so different to skiing in Europe. The slopes are lovely and wide, they are looked after to a very high standard and there are no language barriers! Generally there are no queues for the lifts, so more skiing is possible. Fewer crowds as you can see from my pictures! The area around Kimberley offers some exciting and different sightseeing trips to add to your holiday experience. In Kimberley you can visit the Kimberley Heritage Museum to discover how previous generations of locals lived and worked. Enjoy shopping and dining in the quaint Bavarian-themed Platzl with the highlight of seeing the cuckoo clock (see my photo!). It’s the largest free standing cuckoo clock in North America. Or go and watch and support the local ice hockey team ‘Kootenay’, cheer them on as they speed across the ice for an action packed evenings entertainment. Depending on the time of your visit there is an ice rink at the Alpine Resort or one in Kimberley. If you’d rather keep your feet on the snow why not sample snow-shoeing across the calm and unique Canadian back country. Or if you feel like putting your feet up and being guided through a winter wonderland you can go Husky dog sledding with a team of Siberian Huskies. If you wish to experience some different ski runs then you can have a ski away day to Fernie which was covered on my lift pass. Due to the location of Kimberley it’s well worth considering a twin centre holiday and have 3 nights in Banff or Lake Louise followed by 7 nights in Kimberley. Then you get to sightsee the magnificent Rocky Mountains and experience the Rockies out of the main tourist season. Whatever you decide you are sure to be made to feel very welcome and see some truly spectacular scenery as you ski or board around. I was very unlucky with the snow conditions I experienced, and as you know from the news and the Winter Olympics in Canada, they’ve not had the best of years so it wasn’t just Kimberley who were having a hard time. I still had a brilliant holiday and would return again. Hope you like my photos!! Joanne Cowdery - Travel Counsellors.

Paradise islands of Antigua and Barbuda

03 July 2008

I was lucky enough to be offered a place on the Antigua and Barbuda wedding and honeymoon educational trip which was operated by the Antigua and Barbuda UK Tourist Office. The week was spent visiting the various hotels and villas, attending weddings and wedding fairs, and travelling around this beautiful island. I visited some idyllic wedding photograph locations and saw what Antigua really had to offer away from its 365 beaches! I found Antigua to have many venues and tranquil hideaways which would be perfect for a wedding, or a special occasion. I enjoyed meeting the many wedding co-ordinators and marriage officers that make a wedding day very special and personal. We attended a wedding fayre and met the people that make it all happen, from the florists to photographers. Whatever the requirements, there are local companies who will arrange the flowers, the cake, the car, beauty treatments and there are options to hire or buy a wedding dress locally. It really was a great privilege to be able to see all these wonderful venues and places where many couples make their dreams come true. The hotels in Antigua, I found, are all geared to cater for wedding and honeymoon couples. Many offer different wedding packages which all include a wedding cake, bridal bouquet, grooms button hole, preparation of documents, marriage license, marriage officer to perform the marriage ceremony, plus much more. I was astonished to find that sometimes these wedding packages are free. Whatever a couple decides I was sure that their day would be very special. During my time here I stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa and The Verandah Resort & Spa. Two beautiful hotels where I was able to relax and enjoy the many facilities. I found the Jolly Beach Resort to be a fun, laid back property on an amazing stretch of beach; there really is something for everyone. The beauty with the Jolly Beach Resort is that I was able to walk out of the hotel to the Jolly Harbour which offers golf, a casino as well as additional shopping and dining. I was easily able to get into St. John’s, the island’s Capital, which is about 7 miles away. All bedrooms were sea facing and these views only served to enhance my wonderful experience in Antigua. When I visited The Verandah resort they were still adding the finishing touches to the property. I found the large pool area with the open plan bar to be very nice and relaxing, and to me was the centre piece of the property. The beach areas are quite small, but the large pool area certainly made up for this. Antigua has beautiful white sandy beaches with clear turquoise coloured waters, and at times I felt like I was in paradise. The waters were ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. The beauty with this island is I found I could do as much or as little as I wanted; swim with stingrays in the morning and be relaxing on a romantic sunset cruise in the evening. Eco-tours throughout Antigua’s lush rainforest are also available or for a very special day out, a visit to Barbuda with its pink beaches and frigate bird sanctuary is a must. I would love to return here with my family to experience this. There is so much history & culture here, with Betty’s Hope, Nelson’s dockyard, Shirley heights, and not forgetting a visit to the museum of Antigua and Barbuda. I loved every minute of it! Driving is on the left so we found it very easy to hire a car and explore the island. A favourite of mine was a trip to Fig tree - a beautiful drive. With its friendly, welcoming people, Antigua was a delight to experience and I cannot wait to return!

Northern Cyprus

02 July 2008

Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus is unique – beautiful natural attractions, unspoilt coastlines and over nine thousand years of history. It’s one of those destinations which is off the beaten track (because all flights were indirect via Turkey). After more than three decades of relative isolation, recent EU legislation and a relaxation of the border controls between the North and South of the island have made it possible for you to freely use airports serving the Republic of Cyprus. Northern Cyprus is well worth a visit, and I would recommend you go before it gets too touristy. I found golden sandy beaches, picture-postcard villages, brilliant weather and a treasure chest of ancient ruins, medieval castles and abbeys. Additionally there is a profusion of Roman history, exemplified by the many remains. The superb coastline of Northern Cyprus combines natural unspoiled beauty with a rich and varied history. This is why Kyrenia is one of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean, situated in a peaceful setting 2000 ft below the castle of St Hilarion which is perched atop the rocks of the Besparmak mountain range. Kyrenias tiny crescent harbour still retains its original character, and is dominated by an imposing 7th century castle which houses the famous Shipwreck museum. Originally a fishing village during the 13th century, Famagusta (Gazimagusa) rapidly evolved to become a major mediaeval commercial centre between East and West. It was a residence for rich merchants who built many of the monuments seen today, within the impressive walls built by the Venetians to protect the wealth of the city from hostile invaders. The Lusignans crowned their kings in the famous St Nicholas Cathedral which now dominates the old city, with its original gothic architecture, superbly preserved by the Ottoman Turks who added a minaret and converted the interior into a mosque. I enjoyed walking the narrow streets of the old city, deep within the safety of the historic walls, where hundreds of shopkeepers display their selection of local arts and crafts. I visited many remote villages where it’s like going back in time, I saw ladies walking in the middle of the street carrying loads of hay on their back, farmers on donkeys rounding up the sheep, and groves of orange and lemon trees. From February to June many areas of Northern Cyprus are carpeted with colourful wild flowers. Wildlife include birds, butterflies, lizards and the loggerhead and green turtles still come ashore to lay their eggs on Northern Cyprus’ unspoiled beaches. I found the local people very friendly and hospitable, and proud of their culture and their Turkish Cypriot cuisine, which is unique and delicious. The countryside of North Cyprus is beautiful, and just waiting to be explored. I stayed at the Bellapais Monastery Village and the food was excellent, well worth paying the half board supplement if you don’t want to be thinking about where to eat each night. The choice on the menu was very good. A thoroughly enjoyable and exceptional experience which differed from any other holiday I have taken. I wouldn’t hesitate to return again to this relatively unspoilt part of the world.

New Zealand

03 July 2008

Onboard with Singapore Airlines we soon discovered why we’d paid a little extra to fly with one of the most charming and courteous airlines. 12,500 miles later we’d reached our destination New Zealand…. North Island We explored the North Island by car and stayed in hotels and youth hostels. Some of the main highlights were Auckland - a vibrant South Pacific city, perched between lush hills and glistening harbours. We drove North and discovered the Bay of Islands - famous for its subtropical climate, beautiful bays and beaches. We took a day trip from here with a boat trip around the Bay of Islands. South of Auckland are the Waitomo caves. We tried Tumu-tumu toobing which is an underground river trip using an inner tube as your boat! The glowworms were so plentiful you could have been outside at night looking at the stars. In Rotorua we discovered steaming geysers, bubbling mud pools amid crystal-clear lakes and streams. Not forgetting the fascinating Maori culture. The main town of Napier is an Art Deco lover’s paradise. It’s art deco architecture, cleanliness, size and feel is very welcoming. From here a stunning drive inland will take you to beautiful Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Lake Taupo is very scenic and it’s worth a further drive to Huka Falls to see more than 220,000 litres of water tumble over the cliff face per second. The Huka Jet is worth a ride if you like the idea of travelling at 60mph sideways with the prow 6 inches from the riverbank. Not for the faint hearted. South Island On the east coast lies Christchurch New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ which sprawls across the Canterbury Plains with the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps. Known as the English city outside England, its preserved gothic architecture is complemented by tree-lined avenues, colourful gardens and the meandering Avon River. We used Christchurch as a base, and had a day trip out from here aboard the TranzAlpine train. It is rated as one of the top scenic rail journeys in the world and we now understand why. The journey takes you through some of the most magnificent scenery in New Zealand, right from the East Coast, over the mountains and down to the West Coast port of Greymouth. From Christchurch we journeyed to Mount Cook National Park. Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer are readily accessible to travellers. We took a boat onto Lake Tasman where we explored the huge ice-face of New Zealand’s largest glacier, Tasman Glacier. We watched and listened to the ice melting before our eyes in this tranquil glacial lake. The grandeur of the area will leave an impression which is difficult to describe and impossible to forget! From here we headed South to the adrenaline rush centre of the universe, Queenstown! This is where the heart of the action is for bungee jumping, white water rafting and it’s backpackers paradise. That’s not really us, so apart from some white water rafting, we moved quickly on. We did stumble across a very picturesque town nearby – Arrowtown – which was a beautifully preserved colonial style town built during the gold rush of the mid 19th century. Another classic destination area in New Zealand is the ‘Sounds’ in the South Western corner – Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound to name the two main ones. Doubtful Sound is an overwhelming place, where you can feel the power of nature – the remoteness and the peace. It is known not only for its breathtaking scenery, but also for its abundant wildlife: bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. Doubtful Sound is well worth a visit. It rained like we’ve never seen before!, but nevertheless it was still a spectacular place. Milford Sound may be slightly prettier, but it’s much smaller and completely overrun by tourists. With our motorhome we could take our time, but Milford is a fair drive for a day trip. We toured up the West Coast – again what rain!!, visiting Mount Cook again but from the other side and some rainforest. We always imagined rainforest to be hot and humid; in New Zealand its forest is where it rains almost non stop. Overall we had a fantastic time. We only really skimmed the surface, there were so many places we just didn’t have time to visit. Maybe in a few years time……

My customer stories

Sent by Gemma Cowdery

Last-minute gift voucher arranged, Joanne was fantastic and made sure it arrived before Christmas for me.

Sent by Neil Dagwell

Already have recommended Joanne several times!

Sent by Anne Barr

Joanne is extremely helpful and is able to answer any questions we may have. She has assisted me from the first phone call. I can’t praise her enough she is an excellent Travel Counsellor and would always be my first choice.

Sent by Gordon Black

Extremely impressed with the efficiency and level of detail and concern for clients.

Sent by Steven Hall

Nothing is too much trouble for Joanne, she is a fantastic travel counsellor and takes all the worry and stress from the traveller, by being so on the ball constantly. Brilliant service.

Sent by Ashish Dasgupta

Joanne always gives 100% and some more. She is always willing and helpful. We have used her services many times and never had to question anything. Joanne takes care of everything. We are very happy to use only Joanne as our travel coordinator.

Sent by Richard Betts

As always, excellent service.

Sent by Brian Kitchin

We received great communication and was easy to speak to and book our holiday.

Sent by Kersten Mueller

Joanne was very responsive in coming up with options, made suggestions and then went through the booking process.

Sent by Michelle Blackburn

I have already been telling people about the great service, thank you.

Sent by Julie Beckham

I would not hesitate to recommend Joanne.

Sent by Duncan Perry

Great fast and efficient service, thanks.

Sent by Susan Polhill

Always extremely helpful, prompt at replying and puts up with my dithering ??

Sent by Kevin Fletcher

Joanne has been great yet again.

Sent by Keith Diggle

It’s all good!

Sent by Laura Hurrell

As always, an amazing service! No detail or support when booking is ever too much trouble. Thank you Joanne x

Sent by Michael Staff

This service was highly recommended to me and I can now understand why. The service so far has been exemplary and very personalised which has given us confidence to move forward in booking to European trips in this difficult time. I would have no hesitation in recommending the services offered by Joanne Cowdery.

Sent by Jacqueline Hall

Extremely helpful and knowledgeable about our request.

Sent by Eleanor Harris

Friendly, reliable, trustworthy. Didn’t consider anyone else.

Sent by Michael Snowdon

Joanne Cowdery is extremely helpful, conscientious and a knowledgeable person. Will always be booking with her.

Sent by Elizabeth Crockford

Joanne Cowdery absolutely knows the travel industry, she is patient when I change my destination several times and always finds the perfect hotel for us. We always feel safe when booking through Joanne at Travel Counsellors - would always recommend.

Sent by Ann Morris

Joanne found holidays that I had been unable to locate, saving me a great deal of time searching. Thank you.

Sent by Peter Bedell

Have had amazing service for many years! Hopefully, for many more years to come. Thank you Joanne.

Sent by Keith Frost

We have used Joanne Cowdery for many holidays both small and large. She has been excellent in all that we have asked of her, especially over this difficult period of the pandemic, when we have chopped and change our arrangements. She has always done this with a friendly voice, nothing is too much trouble for her and we always feel we are her only clients because she makes you feel so comfortable when booking a holiday or simply asking her advice. We have recommended her to friends and they have received just the same first class treatment.

Sent by John Morris

Brilliant from the initial query right through to booking, and my fiance and I are looking forward to discussing day trips with Joanne nearer the time. Thank you so much!

Sent by Katherine Broadhurst

Nothing to much trouble. Always so helpful with advice.

Sent by Kate Crawley

Excellent, friendly and well informed as well as extremely efficient. Exact requirements were met and nothing was too much trouble in fine tuning the holiday. Highly recommended.

Sent by Christopher Beesley

Joanne Cowdery has looked after me now for a number of years and has been wonderful. She makes holidays so easy and simple and ensures that one starts and ends trips relaxed and comfortable. Why anyone tries to arrange their own holidays, whether in this country or abroad is now beyond me! Many thanks.

Sent by Clare Blundell

Joanne is really helpful, thoughtful and patient. Have and will continue to recommend her.

Sent by April Mills

If there was a 10 plus you would get it from me Joanne.

Sent by Glenda O'Reilly

Joanne is always very professional and helpful and finds just what we need.

Sent by Timothy Newcombe

We have received excellent friendly knowledgeable service. Superb recommendations and many memorable bespoke holidays made possible by Joanne’s passion enthusiasm and commitment to the travel and holiday sector. I have already recommended her to friends and family.

Sent by Clifford Hickman

Joanne is always very helpful, and we are very happy that she organises our vacations. She obviously has a deep understanding of the Travel business and we will continue to ask for her help in the future.

Sent by Brendon Kelly

We always get fantastic service from Joanne. She really is committed to finding us the best deals and best locations within our request. Joanne is always available until the very end of your holiday. First class every step of the way.

Sent by Roy Howes

As always a very high standard of treatment by Joanne. She is the best ever. Thank you Joanne.

Sent by David Morris

Always available and happy to help and answer any queries.

Sent by Jenny Kirkbride

I don't know how we ever managed our travel arrangements before we knew of Joanne. She is just the best person to arrange all your needs nothing is too much trouble, everyone should have a Joanne in their lives!!!

Sent by Samantha Henson

Joanne has been a great help assisting us with booking our holiday for 2022 to Barbados. We were given all the information needed to make a decision and nothing was too much to ask for. If you are looking for great customer service, expert advice and guaranteed protection for your holiday then Joanne is the best person to turn to.

Sent by Sally Tulley

I have recently been introduced to Joanne via my sister. She has assisted Helen on many holidays both in this country and abroad. I am to travel, hopefully, to America with my sister this summer and in the short time (just over a week) I've come to appreciate the care and attention Joanne takes in planning and then confirming all her support by email or whatever method is required. She is very responsive to any questions and is always very reassuring. A very good person to have at your side. I cannot see a time in the future when Joanne will not be the first person I contact for my travel plans. She's a pleasure to deal with.

Sent by Julie McPherson

Joanne was absolutely brilliant, it didn't matter how many times we changed our minds about what exactly we wanted, Joanne was always very patient and there to help with good ideas.

Sent by Sarah Williams

Joanne was recommended by a friend to help out with a holiday choice. With much uncertainty with COVID-19 affecting holidays, we decided late notice to look a family holiday in the South west of England. She identified our requirements and was very prompt with her suggestions. She was prompt and responsive. I would suggest/ recommend her to assist with holiday choices as she can offer the best options available, with minimum fuss.

Sent by Alan Harding

As always we get very prompt and helpful service. When things go wrong she is especially attentive and goes the extra mile. Well done.

Sent by Michelle Small

Joanne makes it easy to enquire about holidays and flights. We have used her service quite a few times and have always been very happy. She is knowledgeable and will always do her best to give you the best deal available.

Sent by Jenny Kirkbride

I have used Joanne for all my travelling inquiries for a few years. Nothing is too much trouble, she is kind, patient and understanding to my needs. Her knowledge of the travel industry is amazing, once you have her on board she sorts every thing out, and you don't have to worry about anything. Keeps you up to date at every opportunity, and although have never met her, look upon her as someone who is completely dependable. I thoroughly recommend her.

Sent by Mark Waite

We were looking to book a cruise to the Caribbean and had a good idea what we wanted. We handed over the organisation to Joanne and she arranged everything for us, and more. She was professional and efficient, and kept us up to date and informed the whole way through. She even arranged our travel insurance for us at a very competitive rate. We would highly recommend her for all your travel needs.

Sent by Jeanette Zerny

My husband and I can’t thank Joanne enough for helping us find our holidays. It has taken the stress out of our holiday search. Joanne is very knowledgeable about holiday destinations which has been so helpful with our decisions. She is very professional but, also very friendly and reassuring. She provides an excellent service which is much appreciated especially in these Covid times.

Sent by Sam Mitchell

Joanne, has helped us find a lovely holiday on a few occasions now. She is incredibly helpful, takes the time to really understand what you are looking for and always comes up with great options. I would highly recommend Joanne and wouldn’t hesitate to ask for her help in the future.

Sent by Richard Kelly

The service Joanne provides goes way beyond what you would get with your everyday travel agent. With Joanne it is personal, and I mean personal. You are being treated as if you are her only client. Nothing is too much trouble, which includes down to the smallest detail. My wife and i have booked several holidays with Joanne, and any issues we have had on a personal front, prior to or during the holiday, she has dealt with in a sympathetic and efficient manner. In short it is like having your holiday booked by a friend (which we feel Joanne now is). If you would like a great holiday, flights, accommodation, private transfers booked, the I would thoroughly recommend Joanne.

Sent by gordon black

We found Joanne to be extremely helpful and very efficient in arranging our resort stay. Also willing to arrange activities and bookings around our holiday.Couldnt have been more helpful and professional

Sent by Bernardo Amaral

My friend recommended I resort to Joanne Cowdery at Travel Counsellors to book a flight for a work opportunity. Travelling rules were changing every moment due to the pandemic. Most direct flights to Portugal were cancelled on last minute basis, and alternative routes with stopovers were constantly changing, with each government coming up with new rules and new documentation that would be required. I called up the major airlines directly. I expected they would know the last minute rules as they have people on the ground. I was wrong. I wasted my time on long waits on the phone to hear disclaimers and got no useful information to organize my work agenda. Joanne was really amazing. She dedicated true effort and care. She went beyond her professional responsibilities. She kept checking the various government websites and summarized the complex rules. Sending me simplified emails providing me with the requirements and directions. Always available on the phone and helped figuring out the best route through the crossed winds. She went through options to help evaluate the risks, pros and cons. Her voice on the phone was always calm and comforting allowing us to evaluate options. We need professionals loyal to human values as Joanne deployed in an extraordinary manner.

Sent by Katie Puckle

Thanks so much for moving our holiday again. I’m sorry we keep asking you to do this! It’s a pleasure to work with you, you make it all so easy and hassle free.

Sent by Geoff Henson

I personally want to thank you for how you and your company handled my daughter Samantha's holiday to Thailand. I am so pleased she took my advice to use Travel Counsellors. I also know that when we can travel safely again your name will be held high esteem.

Sent by Deborah Niven

Joanne has given us excellent support and regular communication throughout the stages of the booking, cancelled and re-booking for some of the original holiday makers. Then finally the 100% refund received swiftly.

Sent by Ian Foreman

It was a great pleasure in utilising you.

Sent by Lisa Smith

Joanne is incredibly quick at getting back to you with any information and questions and makes it super easy. Would highly recommend!

Sent by Alan Harding

Always helpful and very efficient.

Sent by Inger Harris

Thank you for your very prompt and efficient service.

Sent by Helen Baxter

Joanne has never let us down, she has always delivered exactly what we request from her.

Sent by Natasha Andrew

I recommend Joanne to my friends and family all the time, both my brother and father have booked with Joanne recently. I think that they would be mad not to use such a wonderfully consistent and trustworthy Travel Counsellor who takes away all the stress and anxiety around planning and booking a holiday.

Sent by Catherine Earnshaw

The usual efficient, friendly and involved service.

Sent by Alan Thompson

Very helpful and respond quickly to queries.

Sent by Catherine Earnshaw

Always brilliant attention to our requests and energy and enthusiasm put in to finding us ideal solutions. Thank you

Sent by Sean Nester

Joanne is a star had a delayed flight which got cancelled BA nightmare got me a flight when BA Sweden could not, within half an hour absolutely brilliant very calm does exactly what it says on the tin.

Sent by Kathleen Speichert

Very fast and professional service. I was well impressed.

Sent by Alison Coutts

Joanne is the best kind of travel counsellor - passionate about travel - hers...and yours! She has a depth of experience, first hand from her own travel, and of the ever changing scene of the travel market. Joanne is friendly and helpful, going the extra mile to get what you want at the best price. And she was patient too when plans changed and she had to start again :). Always go to someone who loves their job, and she does.

Sent by Joanne Pointer

Joanne is amazing so helpful and friendly would recommend her time after time.

Sent by Peter Bedell

My wife and I have had fantastic service from Joanne over the years, for which we are extremely grateful.

Sent by Christopher Heygate Goddard

I would have great pleasure in highly recommending the service and advice of Joanne Cowdery. She was extremely helpful when I was making my travel arrangements for a holiday this Summer. I very much appreciated her expertise,her courtesy and her knowledge.

Sent by Nicola Wills

Have already recommended Joanne which has resulted in a booking!

Sent by Andrew Bank

Joanne is very quick at responding to our requests and always provides at least two options to choose from different airlines and flight routing. I have recommended her to other friends and business associates.

Sent by Roy Howes

As always a first class service by Joanne. All sorted for three holidays in 2020. Joanne has looked after us for over 10 years now and the service just gets better. No complaints with Travel Counsellors. Thank you Joanne for always looking after us yet again. We'll be back I promise.

Sent by Mark Short

Joanne remains warm and approachable; her communication is always timely and clear, & I always feel able to ask any questions I may have knowing I'll get a prompt response. I enjoy booking through Joanne as she always takes the hassle out of booking to go abroad, making the whole process as painless as possible. Thanks for a consistently great service :-)

Sent by John Cliff

Always get top quality, helpful, attentive service from Joanne.

Sent by Stephen English

This booking is our first using Joanne but we found her very professional and knowledgeable.

Sent by Sandra Digney

We always get excellent service from Joanne and I can highly recommend her!

Sent by Joseph Wells

I have used Joanne for many years and have always received excellent service .

Sent by Carol Tomsett

Joanne is the only travel agent we would use - experienced, friendly, professional and extremely patient.

Sent by Kathyrn Morris

Joanne has been fantastic. From our initial conversation through to booking our trip, I feel she has really listened to our requirements and has gone out of her way to ensure all of the details of our holiday are perfect. I have already recommended her to a number of people and will continue to do so.

Sent by Jeffrey Barnes

Excellent service with a smile.

Sent by Christopher Beesley

Such perfect service and Joanne knows without asking, my preferences for any trip. She makes going on holiday so tremendously easy. Many thanks to her.

Sent by John Kirkbride

Always pleasant, cheerful, helpful and a constant professional.

Sent by Sarah Steel

Joanne provides great service every time, professional and friendly, she does all the hard work, we just enjoy the holiday!

Sent by Susan Polhill

Joanne has organised several holidays for me and my family and I would always recommend her personal service. Brilliant.

Sent by John Kirkbride

Always pleasant, cheerful, helpful and a constant professional.

Sent by Julie Beckham

It really is personal service and Joanne is committed to giving the best possible example of what that means.

Sent by Katie Puckle

Good communication, happy to help, very friendly.

Sent by David Barnes

Excellent discussion of our requirements and the available options, and good professional service throughout... and a complete lack of pressure.

Sent by Derek Patterson

Really helpful, responsive, and friendly.

Sent by Jennifer Campbell

I have already recommended Joanne to friends and colleagues.

Sent by Jane Baker

Joanne is so helpful and efficient.

Sent by Linda Frost

Always helpful, efficient and quick response to any questions. Definitely takes the hassle out of making your own arrangements.

Sent by Natasha Andrew

If there was a score higher than 10 then I would select it! I recommend Joanne to friends and family all the time and they are always delighted with the extremely high level of service that she offers.

Sent by Emily Broadhurst

Joanne has been so so helpful. Nothing is too much trouble and no question is a silly one.

Sent by Nancy Parrish

Joanne was excellent we have never dealt with a more helpful caring travel agent.

Sent by Judith Todd

I have been recommending Joanne to friends and family for years and am more than happy to continue to do so.

Sent by Ashish Dasgupta

We could not expect any better service than Joanne provides. She is the example of what a good Travel Counsellor should be.

Sent by Linda Kelly

Joanne is always friendly, prompt in her replies to emails with attention to detail. I have recommended her to several friends and will continue to do so.

Sent by Peter Bedell

Joanne is, and has been, fantastic in all our dealings with her. Cannot fault her service in any way which is why we always return to her for all our bookings. We have and will continue to recommend her to our friends etc. Thank you Joanne!

Sent by Ashleigh Hopkins

Lovely to work with, always helpful and provided a nice range of options based on my requirements!

Sent by Alan Harding

Just very good at what she does.

Sent by Cheryl Heasman

Joanne is simply the best when it comes to sorting out all your holiday needs. Her research is second to none and she always provides excellent choice and advice. I highly recommend her, you won’t be disappointed. Thank you once again Joanne.

Sent by Brenda Porter

Joanne has always given excellent advise and recommendations re holidays. She goes well beyond the normal travel agent she is totally committed to ensuring the best service, nothing is too much trouble.

Sent by Geoffrey Henson

Always polite and a pleasure to do business with.

Sent by David Braithwaite

We recommend Joanne she’s great!

Sent by Sarah Webb

Awesome! I am SO excited about my holiday! Faultless customer service, as ever!

Sent by Glenda O'Reilly

Joanne is friendly and isn't phased when you ask her for her help. I would reccomend Joanne to anyone needing some holiday advice and I'm sure she wouldn't let them down.

Sent by Richard Betts

Joanne has been fantastic. Delivering exactly what we were after. Nothing was too much trouble despite several changes of minds. We will definitely be using Joanne again. Many thanks.

Sent by Kay Castle

Always very helpful !

Sent by Joanna Manton

Excellent advice and very prompt service!

Sent by Susan Mack

Joanne is always ready to help you with planning your holiday and always give you other ideas if the first ones dont work.

Sent by Helen Gipson

Fast and friendly service - thanks for your help so far.

Sent by Andrew Poynter

Joanne was very understanding of our requirements and quickly provided us with options, from which we choose our ideal holiday. Would definitely recommend Joanne to friends and family.

Sent by Cornelia Long

Joanne has arranged holidays for us in the past and we have just booked another one with her. Joanne is professional, knowledgeable, trustworthy, patient and always caters for our needs/wishes. I would definitely recommend Joanne’s services.

Sent by Rebecca Laborne

Excellent service, really prompt to respond and couldn't be more helpful.

Sent by Deborah Martin

Excellent service and advise from Joanne again nothing is too much trouble.

Sent by David Johnson

Quick efficient service.

Sent by Anne Harper

Love the efficient, excellent and sensitive service.

Sent by Gerry Barr

We had a wonderful holiday and literally everything about it worked out really well. Have to say your input, knowledge and assistance prior to the cruise was invaluable and although this is the first time we have used your services we would definitely use (and recommend) you without hesitation. You helped our 50th. Anniversary go without a hitch.

Sent by Roy Howes

Excellent personal service from Joanne as always. Thank you.

Sent by Andrew Bank

Joanne is incredibly fast at responding to our requests and provides a number of options for us to choose from. I have recommended her services to a number of other companies and as well as work business Joanne has found us holiday accommodation as well.

Sent by Emma Thompson

Joanne is brilliant, offering great advice without being over-pushy. She is also very patient going through different options to find out what suits your budget and expectations. We have recommended her several times and will continue to do so.

Sent by Mary Cowdery

Joane is a stickler for detail. She checks everything out, and when she is sure it is all OK she will check again just to make sure.. An excellent ambassador for Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Kim Raisbeck

I have recommended Joanne and my friend has used her to book 2 holidays.

Sent by Catherine Earnshaw

Excellent service from Joanne. I have already recommended her to friends and would do so again. Thank you Catherine

Sent by Helen Baxter

We have always been very happy with the service Joanne has delivered for us. She is competent, conscientious and we value her opinion. We feel Joanne now knows us well as customers and makes the right choices/suggestions that have made all our trips so far very memorable.

Sent by Anne Marshall

As expected very good service and will let you know how it all goes after next weekend. Thanks Anne

Sent by Donna Hollund

Fantastic, personal service. Thankyou so much.

Sent by Mark Short

Whenever the subject of booking a holiday comes up in conversation, I always mention the great experiences I had booking through Joanne Cowdery. She is never less than engaging, always polite and prompt in all my dealings with her. She has completely taken the hassle and 'faff' out of booking my holidays. I enjoy being able to arrange everything connected to booking it without leaving the house and Joanne makes that whole process really easy. She is a great asset to Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Luke Tomsett

Joanne is literally the best most helpful person I have ever dealt with. I recommend her to everyone.

Sent by Jennifer Polhill

I'd do a 11 out of 10 if I could.

Sent by Anita Durban

Always helpful and supportive.

Sent by David Johnson

Quick efficient service.

Sent by Richard Kelly

If I could give 11 I would. Personal, professional service at its very best. When we talk to friends about holidays, Joanne always gets a mention. Would thoroughly recommend her services.

Sent by Paul Larner

Joanne is highly professional, extremely helpful and can match online prices. I would highly recommend her.

Sent by Clare Fuller

Joanne is fantastic - she has been able to offer advice and support even when we have changed our plans! I would highly recommend Joanne for her professionalism, knowledge and support. A big thank you!

Sent by Mark Busby

Very kind, very helpful and very competitively priced. I used Joanne, Travel Counsellors for my honeymoon and I have booked for my 40th birthday and will no doubt use Joanne again for other occasions.

Sent by Daniel Rose

Great service and very helpful.

Sent by Deborah Martin

As you know we arrived home yesterday. Anyway the reason for my email is to say a very big thank you from us all. We have had the most amazing holiday, everything was just perfect. We will treasure the memories from this celebration holiday forever, it really did exceed all of our expectations. From the excitement and buss of New York to the peace and beauty of New England it was just perfect. The personal messages and gifts we received from you added a very special personal touch. Thank you Joanne for your help and patience and for your exceptional knowledge and organisation skills. You have been a star throughout.

Sent by Rebecca Rayner

Joanne Cowdery does a super job! A real rarity. A godsend.

Sent by Claire Awang

Very helpful and very understanding that sometimes plans need to be changed.

Sent by Jane Wozencroft

We have just returned from an amazing trip to the Seychelles organised by Joanne. In the planning Joanne listened to our list of ideas and requirements and then put together a trip that ensured we experienced a holiday to remember. Joanne was and is always available to answer any queries promptly, will find the answers to any random questions you may have and takes a personal as well as professional interest in ensuring that from start to finish the holiday will be just what you wanted. We would like to keep Joanne a secret, but that would be unfair to anyone else who would like the assistance of a talented Travel Counsellor!

Sent by Peter Bedell

Over the years we have had fantastic service from Joanne and would not use any other Counsellor. Yes we have recommended Joanne to friends and family and will continue to do so.

Sent by Ruth Catlett

Used Joanne for years and always done us a great service.

Sent by John Price

Have recommended Joanne many times and will continue to do so, excellent service over many years.

Sent by Christopher Beesley

Stunning service - Joanne takes all of the hassle out of booking holidays and does so in such a way that one feels as if the holiday has already started. I can't thank her enough.

Sent by Lorene Beaves

We would most certainly and without hesitation, recommend Joanne to any family or friends wishing to enjoy a hassle free holiday. Being able to talk with Joanne directly ensures that all your needs, timings and paperwork are all safely covered. Making you with nothing to do but enjoy your adventure. That is first class service.

Sent by Glenda O'Reilly

We were delighted with Joanne's help and probably wouldn't have found our trip without her.

Sent by Mandy Davanna

I had a fabulous time at the Ryder Cup - pefect and hassle free hotel and flight planning for Joanne to make is stress free.

Sent by Geoffrey Henson

Straight forward answers to question within 24 hours of asking. Thank you.

Sent by David Braithwaite

We do recommend Joanne to friends and family and will continue to do so! She’s simply excellent.

Sent by Philippe Newby

Joanne provides a knowledgable and efficient service.

Sent by Janet Edwards

Joanne is always very attentive and is able to give advice and answer any questions that we have about our travel plans.

Sent by Dipak Basu

Highly impressed with Joanne's help, co-operation, quick service and friendly attitude.

Sent by Carolyn Walsh

Joanne found holidays that I had not found during my own online searches, one of which perfectly fitted my holiday needs. So much easier than spending days looking I will just talk to Joanne in future.

Sent by Tara Sarkar

We found Joanne very attentive and very informative.

Sent by Gerrard Barr

Joanne was excellent, extremely helpful and knowledgeable. She answered every question and over a number of days made every adjustment we asked for. This is our first time using a personal Travel Counsellor but I have no doubt we will use her again in the future.

Sent by Cynthia Weeks

Joanne has responded to all our wishes in a timely and professional manner. The planned holiday has been organised at the last minute, despite this we were given 3 different styles of accommodation to choose from. Joanne has also organised our transfer from the airport to hotel.

Sent by Laura Hurrell

I would score Joanne a 11 if it was there- her personalised service, approach and dedication to every single trip, however big or small is the best around! We wouldn't book through anyone else!

Sent by Roy Howes

A wonderful experience as always. After several years now Joanne continually comes up with the goods. We are able to tap into all her experience which in turn ends up with a well put together holiday. Thank you as ever Joanne for all your help. We look forward to our next adventure!

Sent by Shibani Basu

You are excellent. Thanks.

Sent by Helen Hiscoke

Joanne has helped us for many years and we do recommend her to friends and family. Helpful cheerful assistance in everything she does.

Sent by Judith Todd

Not only would I recommend Joanne Cowdrey to my friends but I do constantly!

Sent by Raewyn Carter

Very helpful and obliging.

Sent by Ashish Dasgupta

Joanne is very good at what she does. I have recommended her to a few friends already and am pleased to say that they have all used services from Joanne.

Sent by Keith Dixon

Very fast efficient service, all with a smile!

Sent by Cressida Roberts

I have recommended Joanne to friends and family and she has helped me either arrange or try to arrange holidays for a few years now - first class service always! Thank you Joanne

Sent by Cheryl Heasman

Joanne never fails to get it right. We have just booked a short break in September in Lisbon and we can’t thank Joanne enough for her patience in sorting us all out and for finding us the right place to stay.

Sent by Lorrayne Starr

Very helpful and very friendly. Knew the answers to all my questions. Joanne listened very carefully to what I wanted and drew me up an ideal itinerary. She thought of things that I hadn't thought of. Thank you.

Sent by Clare Fuller

Fantastic support and service! Thank you!

Sent by Fiona Lockett

Knowing that we always deal with Joanne and the service is personal makes a huge difference. We know we always get excellent customer service.

Sent by Piers Hampson

Great as always!

Sent by Richard Kelly

Professional, honest, reliable. I would always recommend Joanne to family and friends because she does an excellent job, taking away all the stress involved in organising a holiday.

Sent by Alan Harding

Joanne always goes the extra mile when fulfilling your requirements. She has never let us down yet.

Sent by Mark Twigg

Very obliging and helpful.

Sent by Gail Ellis

Joanne always goes that extra mile with suggestions and help, her research and professionalising is incredible. My favourite phase she uses is "no problem, l can do that for you". Thank you Joanne.

Sent by Keith Frost

We have used Joanne many times she is helpful, efficient and very organised. She listens to what your requirements are for the particular holiday you are considering and goes to exceptional lengths to ensure your needs are met.

Sent by Michelle Small

Joanne is a lovely helpful lady, I’ve just booked our third holiday with her. She is very informative, she makes me feel like nothing is a problem.

Sent by Eric Robinson

Over the years Joanne has always provided me with excellent service, First class.

Sent by Michael Ogborne

Excellent and very professional service.

Sent by Jonathan Brawn

Joanne always gives brilliant service and is a pleasure to book holidays through.

Sent by Amy Burbridge

Fantastic, personal service. I have recommended Joanne to all my friends and family. Thank you so much!

Sent by Ian Crockford

So helpful - every question we asked was answered with huge patience as we did ask a lot and changed our itinerary a few times - also very knowledgeable and we felt very safe making our booking with such expertise in the background.

Sent by Karen Sullivan

Friendly, responsive, and Joanne listened to me and completely understood what I needed and that I had a budget to work towards.

Sent by Aaron Warne

A truly amazing person to deal with. I could not recommend her enough. Thank you

Sent by Beverley Montague

I am grateful for your continued support for my son and his fiancee in booking their wedding and our special holiday so we can share their special day. Thank you.

Sent by Jane Wozencroft

Joanne listened carefully to our holiday requirements, provided valuable information regarding specific destinations and put together a trip that we will remember for ever! Joanne provides a highly individual and personal service. I would recommend Joanne to anyone, who would like to deal with a highly organised, and efficient travel professional.

Sent by Joanne Pointer

Joanne is brilliant always so helpful and goes out of her way to make everything run smoothly for us.

Sent by Clifford Hickman

Joanne has been very helpful indeed whilst booking our vacation to Canada. This the fourth holiday that she has helped us with and would without doubt recommend her.

Sent by Jennifer Warren

Joanne always tries so hard to make sure everything is perfect and follows up afterwards. Takes all the worry out of holidays.

Sent by Elizabeth Phillipson

Excellent service and communication and follow up.

Sent by Sheila Hole

Really helpful.

Sent by Denise Priestman

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the brilliant holiday you have planned for us this month starting with the wedding in Melbourne followed buy the R&R in Thailand. It is not easy to work with 5 adults all with different requirements, idiosyncrasies and demands! It has been a dream working with you - your attention to detail is amazing, you call when you say you will and work calmly when we have changed our requirements for at least the 10th time! And to cap it all your quote was cheaper than the 3 other travel companies I talked to I have recommended you to many of my friends and will continue to do so. I look forward to “planning” with you again Joanne .

Sent by Alan Hoffmeister

Always a helpful, friendly and efficient service. A pleasure to deal with.

Sent by John Cliff

Joanne couldn't be more helpful if she tried!

Sent by Peter Bedell

Joanne has been a superb ambassador for Travel Counsellors, we have been so grateful to her for her expertise when arranging and booking our trips. We have and will continue to recommend Joanne to friends and family.

Sent by Lisa Bulbeck

So far, Joanne has been patient and helpful with our booking experience. We have not booked a holiday in a long time and Joanne has removed a lot of the stress around having to book.

Sent by Roy Howes

As usual Joanne and Travel Counsellors come up spot on with our forthcoming holidays. Super personal service as always. Why go anywhere else when you can go to Joanne? I would recommend Joanne and Travel Counsellors to anyone without hesitation. Many thanks as always. (If possible I would give Joanne a top mark of 100)!

Sent by Caroline Stark

We have recommended Joanne to several friends. As well as the friendly, professional and knowledgably service that Joanne provides she always goes that extra mile to make your holiday fabulous.

Sent by Carol Tomsett

We always try and recommend Joanne to our friends! She is the best!

Sent by David Tomsett

We always recommend Joanne - she never fails to impress and sort us out with amazing holidays.

Sent by Joanna Jesson

Joanne is super, very pleasant very helpful, quite delightful. Very efficient and thorough. Always keeps her word and does what she promises and meets her own deadlines. She is very knowledgable and her travel experience really helps inform my choices. What I really appreciate is that she quickly learnt what I like and what I want. I can trust her to make great choices on my behalf.

Sent by Helen Hiscoke

Joanne is always so helpful even with difficult bookings that include all sorts of requests, she is cheerful and nothing is too much trouble.

Sent by Michael Curry

Always knowledgeable and helpful. Never had a bad experience on any holidays arranged through Joanne.

Sent by Susan Polhill

Joanne is always very helpful despite me changing my mind a lot. Several times now she has found a brilliant holiday for us and I always recommend her to friends and family.

Sent by Christine Peach

Nothing is ever too much trouble for Joanne. Would always go to her first when considering any trips.

Sent by Lisa Simmons

Bespoke personal service - you don’t get that by going to a shop. First class.

Sent by Brendon Kelly

Brilliant friendly efficient and delivers quickly and replies speedily. Deals with concerns effectively. Deserves every success.

Sent by Natasha Andrew

I always recommend Joanne to friends and family.

Sent by Steve Selves

Thank you Joanne for making Sally's birthday trip to Iceland so smooth and stress free. Everything you told us was accurate and your knowledge and understanding of the local area provided us with recommendations which we followed with confidence. We were not disappointed.

Sent by Deborah Martin

Wonderful service, have already recommended!

Sent by Christopher Beesley

As ever, an excellent service and I'm most grateful to you, Joanne, for all of your help. Always a great pleasure to deal with you. Many thanks.

Sent by Lorene Beaves

Joanne gives a first class service and sees our travel arrangements right through from enquiry through to all the paperwork arrangements and always contacts us to afterwards to make sure our experience was one we wouldn't forget. Joanne not only gives us the compkete package but to us the customer she is our complete package in a travel agent.

Sent by Brendon Kelly

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for organising our holiday to NY - the Best Western was superb, ideally located to nearly everything with wonderful, helpful staff. We had a fantastic time and this is in no small part to the part you played in arranging everything! Thank you once again!

Sent by Cheryl Heasman

Joanne is simply "the best" she's always a pleasure to book holidays, no stress, fantastic advice and we are NEVER disappointed. The attention to detail is really good. Thank you Joanne once again.

Sent by Peter Turl

From day one the service we have received from Joanne has been first class.

Sent by Steve Selves

Joanne was recommended to me and I contacted her with high expectations, I was not disappointed! She was very helpful and always prompt and professional in her responses. Thank you

Sent by Mandy Davanna

I would definitely use the service again to book my travel requirements and recommend to my friends and family. A stress free travel service, with a really competitive price.

Sent by David Braithwaite

As usual Joanne pulled out all the stops to arrange our next ski holiday. She always listens to the customer to understand their requirements and delivers sensible and detailed results. We've used her a lot and have recommended her to lots of others who have had equally good experiences. She's great.

Sent by Keith Wood

Thank you for your huge effort in making our holiday to Canada so perfect. Everything went brilliantly and this definitely helped to create a holiday of a lifetime for all of us. We did so much each day and have so many lovely memories. Many thanks again we really did appreciate all your efforts.

Sent by Joseph Wells

Very impressed with the service Joanne gives always more than helpful.

Sent by Elaine Alsop

Joanne is very friendly, helpful and knowledgable person.

Sent by Joyce Lane

Joanne gives excellent, friendly, prompt service. Could not be better.

Sent by Gary Ingrey

I have recommended Joanne to friends and family who have all used her services and had the same great experience that my wife and I have had. Always helpful, thorough and professional. In these days of information overload Joanne makes planning, booking and indeed having a holiday stress free.

Sent by Christopher Wingrave

Excellent service , very patience and no issues in changing details. Excellent service - would highly recommend Joanne Cowdery.

Sent by Joanna Jesson

Joanne is ALWAYS a pleasure to deal with and makes me feel like nothing is too much trouble - even when I change my mind - again!

Sent by Catherine Earnshaw

Joanne always listens to what you really want and comes up with good options. She's helped us in the past and we've always been more than satisfied.

Sent by Moira Snowdon

Excellent service and very helpful. First class.

Sent by Caroline Stark

Joanne has a wonderful knack of combining professionalism with a friendly helpful way. Always willing to go that extra mile to ensure you have the best possible experience.

Sent by Donna Norman

Extremely helpful in assisting us with our difficult travel arrangements.

Sent by Brenda Codman

So convenient as Joanne is my neighbour.

Sent by Jennifer Warren

Joanne is amazing. Nothing was too much trouble, she always delivers an outstanding service and I recommend her to all my friends.

Sent by Roy Howes

Fabulous and personal first class service as always. I would not go anywhere else when I have Joanne looking after me every step of the way. Many thanks Joanne and Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Linda Hall

Will use Joanne again. She was brilliant. All sorted and e tickets arrived within 2 days.didn't even have to print anything. A very pleasant experience, thanks Joanne.

Sent by Emily Vernon

Joanne was very helpful and knowledgeable, helping us to book our perfect holiday to Lapland. Thank you.

Sent by Richard Kelly

Joanne is always most helpful in every respect. Her advice is very reassuring. In our experience the service she provides is second to none. Would thoroughly recommend her services, it's a 10 out of 10.

Sent by Keith Wood

Very helpful, lots of ideas, lovely to deal with.

Sent by Mary Cowdery

I have already recommended Joanne to my friends, and they have reported back very positively about the service they have recieved. Nothing is too much bother for Joanne and you can go on holiday knowing that everything will be in place for you during your time away.

Sent by Susan Sproston

Considering the trip was all a last minute booking Joanne did us proud and all flights were booked quickly and efficiently.

Sent by John Parkinson

Always helpful and efficient and good to talk to.

Sent by Denise Pike

Jo is always super helpful and knowledgeable, but not pushy. I have recommended her to friends. FAB

Sent by Caroline Kisby

Joanne has been really helpful in assisting us to plan our holiday, she has given us many and varied options to choose from and she has given us very good advice and has a great deal of knowledge relating to our holiday destination.

Sent by Eric Robinson

Excellent, Five Star Service.

Sent by Oliver Winbolt

Tenacious and efficient, even when we kept changing the brief! Thanks!

Sent by Christopher Beesley

A brilliant service - thank you very much once again.