Sent by L Hardie
Edinburgh 12/29/2021 12:37:00 PM
Based in Burwell
Looking for help with your business travel? Find out how I can help here
Hi, I’m Kathryn and want to say thanks for visiting my webpage.
Travel is my passion which started over 30 years ago, and has inspired me to visit many corners of this fabulous planet. I joined Travel Counsellors to be able to share my love of travel with you and create the holiday you want.
Travel is very personal, and so should the service be. I’m home based so I can help organise your holiday at the time that most suits you, including evenings and weekends, offering a service which starts when you first start thinking of a holiday right through to when you arrive home.
My own travels mean I can offer advice from first-hand experience for many destinations. I have travelled extensively in South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I have self-driven through the USA, Canada and driven a Land Rover across Namibia. I have immersed myself in the vibrant culture of India and the underwater world of the Maldives. My travels are not limited to a single style, yes, a beach holiday is the perfect way to recharge the batteries, but I have also enjoyed overland adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia, to name a couple. For a more active holiday I love to scuba dive places such as the Coral triangle of Asia and skiing the peaks of Europe and North America. My love of travel is also fulfilled closer to home too with European city breaks, self-drives and beaches to rival the best of them. As well as enjoying the cultures and people, I love the fabulous food too.
As you can see, I am not your normal travel agent, I pride myself on the relationships I build with each of my clients to truly understand what your wants and needs are.
Get in touch today and let’s chat about where in the world your next holiday could take you.
“Of all the books in all the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport” Unknown
Reminisce about your holidays, places you love, or would love to go with our video alongside the wonderful poem written for us by Tony Walsh.
A holiday always does us the world of good so dive in and enjoy some inspiration.
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.
29 December 2020
With Britain leaving the EU entry to European countries has now changed. Looking at the new rules, apart from a little more planning and checking before travelling, Europe will still be easy to get to and remains a great holiday destination. Passports – Check your dates, and don’t forget the dog’s Passports now need to have at least 6 months expiry and cannot go beyond 10 years old during this time. This sounds confusing but there is a useful government website that will tell you if your passport is still valid https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe-1-january-2021 This is likely to catch a lot of people out closer to the main summer holiday season, so it is worth checking now and getting a replacement if needed. For all but the most frequent or long-term European traveller visas will not be needed as you can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Our faithful animal friends are also affected as the current EU pet passport scheme will no longer apply. This is planned to change to an animal health certificate (AHC) confirming your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, and you will need to get a new certificate each time you travel. These are valid for four months for a single trip into the EU and for re-entry to Great Britain. https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad Entry to Europe – May take longer At this time, it is looking like we will not be able to use the EU eGates in European airports as UK travellers will have to join the “all other passport” queue and you may be asked for your return or onward travel details by a nice person in uniform. In smaller holiday airports this should not be too much of an issue, but at major city airports passport queues could be long as UK travellers join travellers from the rest of the world. To try and reduce your time in the queue think about choosing flights that arrive at different times to the large, long haul aircraft from the Americas or Asia bringing hundreds of people at the same time. Emergency medical cover – but do not forget insurance In the deal announced before Christmas it was said that any European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued before the end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date. The government has said that it will be rolling out a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) as a replacement, but there are no further details yet on how to obtain it just yet. This replacement will continue to be for emergency healthcare only and does not replace travel insurance, with the government's advice still being that you should buy travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel. Driving – more to it that just on the other side of the road When hiring a car in Europe you do need to check whether you need an International Driving Permit (IDP). In most cases a photo licence will still be okay, but if you still have a paper licence or if it has been issued in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands then you may need to get an IDP. The website https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit has an up-to-date list of each country’s requirements. If driving your own car to the continent, then more documents will need to be carried. As well as potentially needing an IDP, a green card from your insurance company to prove that you have adequate insurance cover for driving abroad is required. Other documents showing insurance and vehicle ownership are also needed and these can be found on the AA website, including a list of additional equipment you need to carry. https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe/what-do-i-need Mobile phone roaming – avoiding extra costs The good news is that although the UK leaving the EU would allow mobile phone operators to charge for roaming in EU countries, it seems as though most are continuing to allow us to use our minutes, text and data when visiting Europe. Although this is often capped, it should mean that sending photos home or to social media will not end up costing a fortune. Saying this, things may change so it is still worth just checking with your provider before you travel. Duty free - Not quite so boozy cruises Unfortunately, the days of bringing back unlimited quantities of French wine or Belgian beer has come to an end. Duty free will make a return at airports, Eurotunnel, and on-board ferries, but you will be limited to the volumes that you can bring into the UK. However, the limits for alcohol (including wine and beer) have been increased to a reasonable amount. Full details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/duty-free-extended-to-the-eu-from-january-2021 Please note: With new arrangements being agreed weekly, please check the gov.uk website for the latest travel information.
30 December 2020
Sometimes the only way to find something out is to do it yourself, so I decided to do to find out what it is really like to travel during the pandemic. In October, having not been away since September 2019 my husband and I decided that we needed a break away from the house to somewhere warm with a sea view. Looking at the foreign office list of destinations we found that some of the Greek islands were still okay to travel to without the need to isolate for two weeks on our return which was important to us. This of course has been an ever-changing list this year so we knew we would need to book last minute. Having identified a few locations and hotels we waited for the government update on the Thursday and with Kos still okay to travel to, booked to depart the following Sunday. Many countries require different documents to enter now and Greece was no exception. Filling out the online tracing form was quick and easy. But be sure that you include all the required information such as all family members, as when speaking to check in staff at Heathrow they mentioned that several people had been turned away for forgetting to add children to the form, or simply had not filled one in at all. Arriving at the airport we were a little surprised as to how busy it was. It was not normal busy, but the airport still had a buzz about it. Masks of course were compulsory and there was lots of hand sanitiser stations. Online checking was not available as documents needed to be checked by airline staff, so we didn’t have too much time once through security. We flew with British Airways and boarding was well organised with everyone loading by seat row from back to front to avoid congestion in the aisle, and once seated just needed to keep a mask or face covering on when not drinking or eating. The inflight service was restricted (and still is), but BA still provided water, tea, coffee, and juice along with a packet of crisps and biscuits. We had already picked up sandwiches in the terminal so did have enough to eat during the flight. Arrival in Kos was firstly nice and warm compared to the UK October weather we had left behind, and the process of getting through passport control was easy and with lots of space to socially distance. We opted for a hire car to get to the hotel and then to use during the week to explore the island. Arrival at the Astir Odysseus Beach resort was no different to any other hotel checking in, except for safety screens and masks being compulsory in indoor areas when not eating or drinking. We stayed on an all-inclusive basis, and to ensure that the restaurants were not too crowded you did need to book using the easy-to-use hotel’s own app (this was in use prior to the Covid restrictions). The buffet food selection was great with the only difference being that someone served you rather than you serving yourself. It did take a couple of visits to the buffet to realise that you had to tell them when to stop loading your plate as they were very generous. In the evening’s drinks were served by waiting staff which made for a very relaxing time. Having a rental car meant that we could see more of the island and Kos old town is well worth a trip. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many businesses that rely on tourism, and speaking with locals in shops echoed this. They were very pleased to have our custom and all were confident that this would pass, and that they would once again be seeing larger number of tourists. So, after a few days lazing on the beach, exploring Kos, and seeing the resident flamingos at the salt lake it was time to return home. Throughout the trip we felt safe with the procedures put in place by airlines, hotels and local businesses and would not hesitate in going again when UK local restrictions are lifted. The key to travelling during this time is to be flexible. Whether you book for months ahead or for next week, having the ability to change a booking is essential. Accepting that you may not be able to do everything when you get there, or maybe you can in a different way will mean that you can still get the most out of your holiday. It is true that travel is not the same at the moment as it was before, but for me, being able to travel with some restriction is definitely better than not being able to travel at all.
20 March 2021
We first found Ile d’Re a few years ago, we wanted to spend time in France by the coast but didn’t want to have to drive all the way to Mediterranean. We also wanted somewhere with a relaxed island feel, enjoying great wine and sea food. Just off the coast near La Rochelle, Ile d’Re is accessible by toll bridge and once on the island the pace of life slows down to a gentle stroll. We travel in our retro VW campervan, so it takes a couple of days to get there (it only does 55mph) but we love the journey stopping at towns for coffee and lunches, discovering new places is part of the fun. It is possible to get there quicker by using the excellent toll roads and a faster vehicle than ours, or fly to La Rochelle, pick up a car or transfer and then it’s just minutes to the island. Ile de Ré has been dubbed the 'Atlantic St Tropez', but I feel it has a more laid-back charm about it than its south coast alternatives. With beautiful beaches, picturesque harbour towns, and wonderful food the island has something for everyone. We have stayed in several places during the multiple visits we have made from the wilder western point with its Atlantic waves, the south coast with its family friendly beaches, and the forested interior. The tiny island is a sliver of land stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean for 30km, and no more than a couple of kilometres wide at any point. No matter where you stay it is so easy to get around, with the island having probably the best cycling infrastructure in France. The island is flat, and the bicycle is without doubt the best way to get back from a wine and oyster lunch at one of the many sea food restaurants that stretch along the sea front on the north coast. Bicycles can be rented, and if you are not a regular rider then I would highly recommend an eBike just to make it more enjoyable and get you around the island quicker. In my opinion the ebike is a game changer, travelling with a cycling mad husband who regularly does 50 miles or more, it has saved my legs and our marriage! The towns here are still tiny in comparison to their Mediterranean cousins. Pretty little harbours are surrounded by traditional French architecture but all on a very low level making it very inviting to stop for coffee, ice cream, a glass of wine or beer, and the all-important long French lunch. Some of the best shopping can be found in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, wander around the streets of local shops filled with souvenirs, French soaps, and local salt, then wonder around the harbour with the best ice cream the island has to offer. La Flotte has a food market that dates to the 12th century – fortunately, the food is fresh and there is an amazing selection. We stay in the excellent French campsites which also offer chalet accommodation and will normally have a pool, restaurant, bar, and other facilities that you may need. If you are visiting through the school holidays, they also have entertainment for the children. However, there are plenty of other accommodation options, how about a hotel in one of the towns like Saint-Martin-de-Ré, or La Flotte, or a traditional Ile d’Re house, with their whitewashed walls and blue shutters that cover most of the island. The beaches on the south of the island around Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré are perfect for families, being sheltered from the Atlantic means that the waves are gentle, and the sea is quite shallow. It is also warm, rivalling some of the most amazing beaches in the Caribbean. The sandy beaches are perfect for sandcastles, digging holes and flying kites. All in all, Ile d’Re offers a great holiday location for both families and couples. I love it here and plan on getting back as soon as we can, the beaches, food, wine and the laid-back atmosphere always leaves me feeling like I have been away longer than we have, each time we leave is a wrench but knowing its so accessible makes it easier. If you have driven down, then leaving Ile d’Re does not mean that your holiday is over. The journey home takes you straight through the Loire Valley so it would be rude not to stop in somewhere like Saumur, visit the wine cellars and maybe stock up on a few bottles, so make sure you leave boot space! Salut!
28 January 2021
Being able to spend quality time with our families, or friends, has taken a higher priority for most of us recently and being able to share experiences is something to be able to talk about for many years to come. Recently my father-in-law turned 70 and wanted to spend it somewhere warm, with the whole family. With a 4-year-old (my nephew) in tow we needed flexibility for food and bedtimes while still having space for the adults to spend the evening relaxing. The ideal solution was a villa with a private pool, and we decided on Menorca and the resort of Son Bou. Son Bou is on the south coast of the island and is still small for a beach resort. With only 3 hotels the resort is mostly villas on the hillside overlooking a long sandy, family friendly beach. It has a small village centre with restaurant and bars, and is perfect for a relaxing family focused holiday, and is only 30 minutes from the airport. The villa we booked had 4 bedrooms (3 ensuite) meaning that everyone had their own space, and one even opened onto the pool so only a few steps for a pre-breakfast swim. This was our room and I loved drinking my morning cuppa with the patio doors wide open looking at the view out to sea from my bed. With a fully equipped kitchen and well stocked supermarkets nearby, breakfasts and lunches were easily taken care of in the villa. For dinner there was excellent choice of local restaurants nearby or a BBQ on the villa’s brick-built BBQ by the pool. I am Coeliac and there was plenty of choice in the supermarkets and restaurants to suit everyone’s needs. Menorca is still a low-key island in Spain’s Balearics Islands with most resorts remaining small. Sites such as the capital, Mahon, on a bluff overlooking a large harbour with Georgian mansions and a church with 13th-century roots at the east end of the island, and the Ciutadella de Menorca at the West end with its harbour, old quarter, medieval streets, and the 14th-century Santa Maria of Ciutadella Cathedral, are worth a visit for soaking up some local atmosphere. Having a hire car meant that we could explore the island that is only 30 miles from any two points. We spent a morning exploring Mahon, drinking coffee in local café’s, and having a great sea food lunch. Of course, there was some shoe shopping for which Menorca is famous for. We spent another morning exploring the northern beaches and towns, like the sailing town Fornells, where once again we (I) indulged in a spot of shopping and another great sea food lunch (it’s becoming a habit!). Our 4-year-old Nephew gave us the excuse of going to the nearby water park, it’s debatable as to who had the most fun as I believe the adults went on more slides than he did. The home comforts of the villa allowed us to babysit our nephew whilst relaxing in the lounge or by the pool, allowing his parents to have a rare and precious night out on their own. The key to a successful family villa holiday is flexibility. A morning trip out followed by the rest of the day around the pool playing and relaxing together worked perfectly for our family and is something we would love to do again and again.
18 January 2021
Exploring a secret world whilst on your tropical island escape. Tropical islands are beautiful, palm trees surrounded by white sand beaches and fringed with azure blue waters. But there is another spectacular world just a few steps off the beach. Exploring this underwater world will reveal stunning coral gardens with more fish that you can count. A little further out gives the possibility of swimming with ocean giants like Manta rays or bobbing along with turtles and finding Nemo. Snorkelling is often peoples first experience of accessing this underwater wonderland, and in places like the Maldives is available in just a few steps from your beach or water villa. But to get a closer look, see more incredible species and spend more time in this watery world then Scuba diving is the way to go. I learnt to dive over 20 years ago when I was travelling around Australia on a year out. It has completely changed my world and my holidays, it has taken me to some amazing places in search of manta rays, hammerhead sharks, pigmy sea horses and Mola Mola, as well as pristine coral of the coral triangle in Indonesia and Jacques Cousteau’s favourite place the island of Sipidan off the Malaysian Borneo east coast. For many the idea of having to spend time in the classroom gaining dive qualifications puts them off as they are not sure whether they are going to like it. This does not have to be the case, as most dive centres will offer ‘discover scuba’ dives, where you are paired with an instructor and they take you on a dive in the ocean. This is a great introduction to diving, as it gives you a real experience of the underwater world that you do not get in a pool. Should the bug bite then getting qualified is your next step. The initial dive certification is normally around 5 days and includes a medical self-assessment, classroom lectures, tests, practicing skills in a pool, and then finally dives in the ocean. But 5 days out of your holiday is a lot of time, but here are other ways to get qualified by doing some of the work before you travel. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is probably the most widespread dive training agency in the world, and they offer an alternative option to get you qualified and in the water diving. Depending on the resort that you are visiting you can complete the theory by eLearning before you travel, and in some cases, you can even complete your pool skills in the UK as well. Meaning that you only have ocean dives to pass when you get on holiday before you can explore, and that is what it’s all about. But what about the kids? PADI start training children from the age of 8, and they can be a certified open water diver at the age of 10 so diving can really be a family activity. There is no upper age limit either so let’s get grandparents involved too. Diving does not need to take over your life and can be just a holiday activity like skiing can be. I am a warm water only diver and living in the UK sadly means that I will only dive for a week or two a year but like riding a bicycle after the first dive it feels like I haven’t been out of the water. I have been lucky enough to have dived in many amazing places since I learnt to dive including both the west and east coasts of Australia, throughout Indonesia, Maldives, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, Caribbean, and pacific islands including Fiji and Hawaii. My last dive trip was to Malaysian Borneo in search of Hammerhead sharks and then across to Sipadan to experience one of the best dive sites in the world. In both locations we dived with a local dive guide, who has many thousands of dives under their (dive) belt and who know the dive sites like the back of their hands, so they can normally find all the cool stuff you really want to see. Diving can influence your holiday destination, and for me this is so true. In the Maldives we chose a resort that is close to the Manta ray mecca of Hanifaru Bay, where, in the right season 100s of Manta Rays congregate to feed, which is a truly magical sight. I own my own dive kit, but you don’t need to as all resorts will have rental dive equipment you can hire or are actually included in the price. Renting has the added benefit that your dive guide is likely to washout your dive gear after diving so allowing you to get back to the beach even quicker, but if it’s your own gear then you have to do it yourself (or sometimes I get my husband to do mine!). If you are thinking about learning to dive while on your next beach holiday, then give me a call and we can talk about where and when the perfect location for you would be. Be careful though, you may fall completely in love with exploring the oceans! After years of describing my dive holidays to a friend, she eventually took the plunge and learnt to dive, she now lives and works as a dive instructor on a tropical island in Malaysia! Check out some pictures, you may have to look hard for some of the smaller marine life!
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