Based in The Lake District

Pippa Wilson

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It's Nice To Meet You

Hello, welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please, pull up a pew and let us put our heads together to find what you are looking for. I love to travel and am always looking for the next place to visit. As an independent Travel Counsellor, I can help you with any of your travel plans or to try and make any of your travel dreams come true. I love to listen to your ideas and will do everything I can to offer solutions to turn your ideas into the perfect tailor-made holiday. After all, we all need something to look forward to.

Travel and adventure have always been a passion of mine, from trekking in the Himalayas to slaloming down snow covered peaks, driving across endless plains to lying beside a pool with a cocktail in my hand and good book, exploring the most amazing bustling cities and sailing the high seas. I love to explore new places, meet amazing people, and experience other cultures. I have worked in the travel industry for over 10 years.

Everything that I book for you is 100% financially protected giving you absolute peace of mind and I provide an honest and trustworthy service with attention to detail and will be available day and night offering a personalised one to one travel service for you. I know that travel has been difficult in recent times but things are now getting easier and the appetite for travel is growing again and there are so many places out there just waiting for you to explore.

I live in Kendal in the beautiful Lake District so can get out on the mountains and fells when I can so if you fancy a staycation in the UK then I can also help. I have three grown up children to boast about so I have plenty of experience of family holidays and can offer suggestions and destinations to suit you. Whatever you would like, whether it is a family holiday, a mountain trek adventure, city break, honeymoon or a UK break I will find your perfect escape.

Give me a call or drop me an email and let me throw some ideas around. I look forward to hearing from you.

“When something good happens, travel to celebrate. When something bad happens, travel to forget it. If nothing happens, travel to make something happen.”


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The Himalayas


A brief overview of the Himalayas and my trek to Everest Base Camp

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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.

6 days in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan - Part 1

19 December 2023

Ishikawa Japan – part 1 Konnichiwa from Ishikawa! Day one of my adventure in this mesmerizing prefecture has been an absolute whirlwind! Started the day at the crack of dawn, meeting my travel squad at Heathrow for a 13-hour flight to Haneda Tokyo, followed by a quick domestic hop to Komatsu on the west coast of Honshu. Our haven in Kanazawa is the stunning Hotel Sanraku. But can we talk about the toilets? Heated seats and a control pad with a plethora of douche features – why don't we have this luxury back home? ?? First stop: the iconic Omicho fish market! The air filled with the vibrant hustle and bustle, we indulged in the freshest produce, from succulent roasted eel to heavenly crab croquettes. The sights and smells were a feast for the senses, and I couldn't resist diving into the local flavours. Next up, a culinary adventure at the 'In Kanazawa House' cook school! We immersed ourselves in the art of sushi-making, blown away by the variety and freshness of the produce. It's like stepping into a food lover's dream – every ingredient tells a story of Kanazawa's rich culinary heritage. The evenings dining warranted its own reel as the culinary 13 course treat at @crafeat exceeded all expectations. All 13 courses were served on local Kutani porcelein and Waijima laquerware and was so beautiful, coulourful, different and exceptional. it was such a treat and there wasn't anything I didn't like. There were a couple of things I had to take a deep breath before sampling but was always pleasantly surprised. Sperm Sac of cod - also known as 'White Child' was a delicacy that surpassed my expectations. After 32 hours of being away I tumbled into bed (after another foray on my toilet ??) and can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring Day 2 in Japan: Started the day at 4 am with a bit of work before diving into a fabulous breakfast at the hotel – so fresh, so colourful, with a plethora of choices, all beautifully presented. Embarked on a stroll through the enchanting Higashi Chaya district, famous for its Geisha and traditional tea houses Visited the majestic Kanazawa Castle and experienced in a traditional tea ceremony, sipping on of matcha powdered green tea. All this sitting on floors – makes me realise how stiff I have become with age! We then walked over to the Kenrokuen Gardens, where the hand crafted gardens are a huge attraction particularly in autumn and spring when of course the cherry blossoms are out. The gardens are looked after by a team who do not use any power tools at all. Even the grass is cut by hand. At this time of year the branches are all tied up with rope to help support the weight of the snow due to come ?? Heading south to Komatsu, we were privileged to meet Reiki Fukishima and her father, exceptional artisans specializing in porcelain hand-painted ceramics. The incredible miniscule detail of the artwork detailed with painstaking accuracy was a pleasure to watch. Mr. Fukishima's dedication, even post-cataract surgery with a magnifying lens, is a testament to true craftsmanship. we also discovered that the previous evening, some of the beautiful plates and bowls we had eaten from at @crafeat had been theirs. Our journey continued near Kanagasomachi, where our stay at the repurposed elementary school turned boutique hotel, Auberge Eaufeu, was nothing short of magical. A Japanese heritage site, the hotel, curated by Chef Shota Itoi, showcased locally sourced ingredients and artwork from residential art workshops. The highlight of the day: a gastronomic adventure at Eaufeu's renowned restaurant, indulging in a 13-course culinary symphony with the perfect wine pairing. Day 3 in Ishikawa, Japan - I woke early again and did a little work before heading down to the sumptuous set breakfast served at Auberge Eaufeu. We met the chef, Shota Itoi, (who was only 31) and his team and learned about his history, his award and his aspirations. After saying our goodbyes, we then moved next door to the Sake brewery called Noguchi Naohiko where we had the Sake making process explained and demonstrated followed by a Sake tasting. Each Sake was paired with a tiny Japanese equivalent of a canapé After far too much Sake ?? we were driven to Yamanaka Onsen where we had site inspections at three very typically traditional high end Japanese hotels or Ryoken as they are called. They are in a hot springs area so many of the rooms have private natural hot baths. Hotels visited were Kayotei, Hanamurasaki in Yamanaka Onsen, Higashi Machi in Kaga and Kai Kaga in Yamashiro Onsen We headed back to Kanazawa and checked into the Sainoniwa Hotel for the night. Although non traditional natural Onsen, they do have public baths. So there are two very hot pools, one for men and one for women. Bathing suits are not allowed so we stripped off and mixed with the locals. A lovely experience followed by a good stint in a massage chair before retiring for the night.

6 days in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan - Part 2

19 December 2023

Continued.... Day 4 in Ishikawa Site inspection first thing at the Sainoniwa hotel in Kanazawa. The bus took us to the Samurai district where we perused the streets of this extremely affluent area and picked up some souvenirs from the local shops. Heading north from Kanazawa we ran along the coast and moved up the Noto peninsular where the country side was green and lush. We visited a washi paper maker who showed us his craft and helped us all to make some paper. It is made from the fibres of the mulberry plant soaked in clear river water, thickened with grated yam and then filtered through a bamboo screen. We collected some natural items for decoration. Further along the peninsula we stopped at some strikingly beautiful rice terraces overlooking the Sea of Japan Shiroyone Senmaida is a scenic hillside of tiered rice paddies. Checking in to our accommodation we were thrilled to learn we were staying in a traditional Japanese Ryoken. We were asked to remove our shoes, something we’ve become very used to on entering a building where the flooring is tatami (a Japanese floor mat) and were then fitted with a Yukata, a light cotton kimono used for relaxation. My room was huge, spacious with a sea view and very minimalistic. There was no bed as the table is pushed aside and a futon made up while we had dinner. Like last nights hotel, this Ryoken also had public baths and these are from natural hot springs. There are separate baths for men and women and clothing is not allowed as they deem swiwear unsanitary. You wash before entering the water. Another feast for supper and this was a traditional kaiseki dinner, a multi course Japanese style haute cuisine and definitely had a more traditional feel than on previous evenings. On returning to my room, my futon was all ready for me ?? Day 5 in Ishikawa My futon proved to be incredibly comfortable at the Noto No Sho hotel and the bean pillows too were such a surprise. No neck pain for me this morning. The full Ryokan experience was culminated by a kaiseki breakfast before we departed. First stop was at Wajima where we were introduced to the manufacturing process of laquerware, the beautiful crockery that we had dined from on multiple occasions. Such a painstaking process with 124 different steps as the wood is so thin and fragile. The laquer is made from the sap of the laquer tree and each tree can produce up to 200g. Once the sap is collected the tree dies and it takes 20 years for a tree to grow to adult hood. Later than morning we visited a farm and met Roy Yamamoto and his 89 yr old assistant. We experienced the field to table concept, helping harvest the crop and pick the Yuzu fruit before being treated to a dining extravaganza for lunch and dined on the food we had collected. After a site inspection at the luxury Hotel Hyakurakusou overlooking the sea and with a fabulous cave bar, we headed over to Noto Isla Our final hotel on the Noto Peninsula was the Hitotsu Notijima, a luxury boutique hotel with just 8 rooms which had only opened in September. We had the whole hotel to ourselves. Some rooms had private saunas and there was a central spa with large sauna and a hot and cold outdoor pool. No swimwear here and as it was dark we had no idea what the hotel overlooked so we were hoping any passing fishermen might avert their eyes. Supper tonight was sushi and I lost count of the dishes we were presented with. All beautiful presented, made in front of us as we sat and was a wonderful experience to end the day. Day six, I woke at 4:30 so decided to set up my tripod and capture the sunrise on a Timelapse. it was truly the best hotel room view I think I’ve ever had. (See reel) As the sun rose, I retreated to my bathroom to soak in my huge tub with some sort of mineral filled tea bag in the water. Breakfast was another sumptuous feast and we hit the road after being waved off by the staff. A very Japanese thing and is so lovely when they all do double handed waves. As we drove away from the hotel and from Noto Island we caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins playing in the bay so stopped to watch them. They were so beautiful. The Oku-Noto art Triennial 2023 has just concluded and so we had some private viewings lined up of some of the art pieces. The first was an incredible web of red wool reminiscent of bodily veins containing over 80km of wool. Constructed by Chiharu Shots, the structure took over 6 months to construct. We stopped to view a couple of other art pieces by Russian and British artists as we headed up the Noto Peninsula and as we reached the top we visited a wonderful sea front hotel called Lamp No Yada. Accessed only by a very steep path, the 444 year old hotel has only 14 rooms and is managed by the 14th generation of the original owners. A traditional Ryokan with natural Onsen (hot springs) many of the rooms have private baths and the public ones were lovely too. The hotel is right on the rocks and all rooms have very private sea views allowing the privacy of Japanese style onsen (ie, swimwear is not allowed as deemed unsanitary!) perfect honeymoon destination. We could see the huge mountains across the water, as we headed to Noto airport for a quick hop to Tokyo. Our last night as a group, we checked into the Villa Fontaine at terminal 3 for our final night. We walked into the terminal and ate at Tsurutontan noodle restaurant before saying our final goodbyes. They are a lovely bunch of young professional women, I’ve very much enjoyed their company and learned so much from them and have thoroughly fallen in love with Japan. I will also very much miss the toilets…..

Morocco North Adventure

02 September 2023

Morocco is a country with a long history of tradition and has a fabulous climate all year round making it a fabulous destination for travellers. This was my first trip to Morocco and I had chosen an escorted tour with Intrepid, exploring the North of Morocco. We landed in Marrakech took 2 and a half hour train journey to Casablanca where we were to meet up with the rest of our group. We had been advised to get 1st class train tickets however the next 2 trains were sold out of first class so economy it was. Aircon was pretty non existent and it was very hot however the journey passed quickly. We checked into the hotel in Casablanca and met the rest of the group. 11 in total In the morning we were transported to the station to take the train to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. We had a short orientation walk up to the Medina (Downtown) and the Souk (marketplace) close to the Kasbah of the Udayas (fort) by the sea and from there took a taxi to the Mausoleum of Mohammad before heading back to a café close to the station for lunch. Train to Meknes It was 47 degrees and with little breeze. We were taken by car for around 40 minutes to Moulay Idriss, a town famous for being the site of the tomb of Idris – the first Islamic ruler of Morocco. Here we were to stay with a family in a homestay. Our luggage was transported through the narrow steep streets by donkey while we walked up the hill to our accommodation. Our meal that night was a traditional Morrocan meal of cous cous and beef meatball tagine with egg. We took a walk to the top of the village to watch the sun setting over the hills. The next morning we packed up and set of to Volubilis – a partly excavated Berber Roman city in Morocco close to Meknes. Volubilis is one of the best preserved Roman ruins and was originally the home to some 20,000 people. . We returned to Meknes where we had lunch with a local family who cooked the most beautiful camel burgers for us. They tasted like beef but were very soft and tender. As we boarded the train to Fez the temperature reached 50 degrees We checked into the Hotel Olympic for our 2 night stay here which was located in the centre of the town. A much larger and bustling city than we had experienced so far. The next morning we had a guided tour of some of the highlights of Fez including a pottery museum where we were shown how the local pottery and mosaics were made. We then made our way in to the incredible Fez Medina, which is a vibrant and vivid network of passages, alleys and shops. Here motorbikes are banned unlike in Marrakech and this makes for walking around the shops much more pleasant. We had a guided walk which was essential in order to be shown the trades that are still carried out manually and by hand. Making cloth, weaving, silk dying, the tanneries, metal goods being worked and many many other items for sale and on display. We even learned how to wrap the desert head scarfs. The medina is a labyrinth of laneways and I would not be confident to explore here without a guide. We had lunch in Le Patio Bleu – a lovely homely restaurant in the centre of the Medina with the usual range of Moroccan salads for starter and the a great choice of main courses. The following morning we set out to drive to Chefchaeoun – the roads mostly pretty good. The was an audible gasp as the town came in to view – it is knows as the Blue Pearl as all the houses have to have at least the lower meter painted blue and no other colours are allowed. We dropped off our luggage to be taken to our accommodation and we made our way on foot through the Medina to the Hotel Dar Mounir. This was a small riad and beautifully decorated. This town is top on the list for instagrammers and there were numerous places where we had to stop to take photographs. Exquisite little alleys and streets and so much to see and visit. The central square was vibrant and had live music and dancing. We ate at a local hotel as a group and I spotted that they had a pool so asked our guide if we might be able to visit as day guests the following day. The heat was intense so we cancelled the planned hike into the mountains and instead did some wandering around the shops, and then made our way back to the hotel to enjoy a swim and relax by the pool. After two nights here we headed north towards Tangier. We drove through the marijuana plantations en route. On arriving in Tangier we stopped at a supermarket to purchase food for a picnic lunch and then made our way to a view point beside the sea – where the Atlantic ocean meets the Mediterranean. We could see across the water to Spain. In the afternoon we headed to the beach where we were the only western women in bikinis on a very muslim beach so we had a few odd looks. The sea was warm and refreshing and it was lovely to relax at the end of the day. We were killing time as our train was at midnight but luckily there was plenty of entainment on the sea front with festival drumming and fountain shows. The midnight train from Tangier to Marrakech was an experience and actually I got a pretty good nights sleep. We were in couchettes of 4 and it was pretty warm with little aircon. We had sheets and pillows supplied and blankets offered although not required. We arrived in Marrakech at 9am and here the group split and all did optional activities so I chose to have a couple of hours pampering at a Hammam. My first Moroccan Hammam and it isn’t for the faint hearted or prudish. First you are given a tiny pair of paper knickers – basically a G string to wear. I’m not sure why they bothered as it didn’t cover anything and was moved many times during the process. We were washed and scrubbed using black soap, then rinsed and washed again from top to toe and I mean EVERY part of my body was washed. After the hammam we were taken to another room for a lovely back and neck massage. After a week on the road this was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. The following morning we left at 5am and headed out of town for a hot air balloon ride to watch the sun rise. A magical experience followed by a traditional Moroccan breakfast in the desert. The afternoon was spent exploring the Marrakech Medina – another labyrinth of paths but this time we had to contend with the mopeds and scooters whizzing along the tiny alleys. In the evening we headed out to the Agafey desert for an evening of food and a camel ride at sunset. A spectacular location and a lovely way to end my Moroccan experience.

Guided Tour of Kempinski 5 Star Hotel

28 February 2023

Today, we had the pleasure of taking a guided tour of the Kempinski 5 Star hotel in Bansko, and we were blown away by the luxurious amenities, stunning surroundings, and prime location of this beautiful property. From the cozy and elegant bedrooms to the range of culinary experiences, spa facilities, and convenient location, the Kempinski is the perfect place to stay for anyone looking for an unforgettable holiday experience. In this post, we'll take a closer look at some of the highlights of our tour, so read on to discover more about this incredible hotel. As a guest, you'll enjoy access to all spa areas, including refreshing pools, jacuzzi, relaxing saunas, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre (open 24 hours a day). Whether you're looking to unwind after a long day on the slopes or simply want to pamper yourself, the spa facilities are sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. For foodies, the Kempinski 5 Star hotel in Bansko has an array of culinary experiences to choose from. The half board buffet restaurant, the Gallery, serves up delectable cuisine, while the Come Prima A La Carte restaurant boasts an open kitchen where you can watch talented chefs prepare your food. This restaurant is available to residents on half board charged at a supplement, as well as non-residents. If you're craving Japanese cuisine, the Sushi Bar & Teppanyaki Grill restaurant is the perfect spot for you however, this is not included as part of any half board packages. The Lobby Bar is the ideal place to relax and unwind after a long day of exploring Bansko. Serving food and drinks, including a great children's menu, this bar is perfect for families or anyone who wants to unwind with a drink in hand. The Sing Sing Piano Bar has live music, and it's the perfect spot for those looking for some late-night entertainment. The bedrooms are designed to provide you with a cozy and elegant space to rest after a long day on the slopes. The Kempinski offer a range of room categories to suit your preferences, including Standard, Deluxe, and Executive Deluxe Rooms. For those looking for more space and luxury, there is an array of Suites available, each one exquisitely decorated and designed to provide you with the ultimate in comfort and style. For families or larger groups, there are interconnecting family rooms available, providing a great space for everyone to relax and unwind together. Each room is decorated in an alpine style, with wooden furniture and large balconies that offer breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains. You'll also find faux fur throws on the beds, adding a touch of warmth and cosiness to your stay. The Kempinski 5 Star hotel in Bansko boasts an incredible location, making it the perfect place to stay for skiers and non-skiers alike. Located just next to the gondola, the hotel offers ski-in ski-out access, allowing you to hit the slopes in minutes. This convenient location means that you won't have to waste any time commuting to the ski lifts, and you can spend more time enjoying the snow and the stunning mountain views. For those who prefer to explore Bansko's charming Old Town, the hotel is only a 15-minute walk away. Here, you can soak up the town's rich history, explore its quaint streets, and sample the local cuisine at the many traditional restaurants and cafes. The Kempinski 5 Star hotel in Bansko's prime location means that you're never far from the action, whether you're hitting the slopes, exploring the town, or simply enjoying the stunning mountain views.

Family Holiday in Corfu

01 August 2022

I had long heard about Corfu from friends that had visited and some that lived there for a while so I had heard it was very beautiful. This was a family holiday with my 3 adult children and so we were quite budget conscious as they were funding their own trips. We chose Sidari on the north coast as it seemed to have enough in the way of bars and restaurants for us. They didn’t want to go all inclusive as they love to eat out in restaurants and to choose from the menu so we chose a self catered apartment in Sunny Corfu Apartments – where there was a pool and restaurant on site. It was located in a perfect place – away from the centre of Sidari so there was no night time noise yet just a 5 minute walk to the centre. The pool was perfect and the staff there so friendly and helpful. We hired a car for a couple of days from a local car rental place and explored the north of the Island visiting Paleokastritsa, St Georges bay and Kassiopi. We didn’t take part in any of the excursions on offer but spoke to plenty of people who did who said they were excellent and worth every penny. It was my daughters 18th birthday while we were there and we celebrated with a BBQ at the hotel with all the other guests, and then the local sports bar got a cake for her, and we had an amazing meal overlooking the sea with a fabulous sunset at the 7th Heaven restaurant. Sidari is a small village and in the summer the majority of people there are British so it is very geared around tourists however if you are looking for great food and some nightlife with lovely beaches and scenery then this is a perfect for a family summer holiday. My kids actually used that word – perfect – and said they wouldn’t have changed a thing.

River Cruise Conference in Budapest

15 April 2022

In March 2022 the CLIA conference was to be held in Budapest, Hungary – a destination I had never visited so I jumped at the chance. I knew that it was the home of the Rubiks cube – the Danube flows through the centre and didn’t know much more but there was so much to Discover. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is actually pronounced Budapescht. The two cities of Buda and Pest are now joined by a number of bridges. Buda is more hilly and the knoll where the Buda castle and old town sits is called Castle Hill. It is mostly pedestrianised We flew in on Jet2 and had a prebooked transfer which took around 25 mins which took us to the D8 hotel in central Budapest on the Pest side of the river. A great little funky hotel – ideal for the business traveller I would say but a good price for one night. Bags dumped we headed out to find a typical Hungarian restaurant where we were able to try Hungarian Goulash and Beef Stroganoff as well as sampling some wines and beers. The next day we set out to explore the city and made our way across the Elizabeth Bridge to the Buda side and headed along the river bank. We decided to explore using electric scooters which were excellent. You just scan a QR code, upload some funds and then away we went. On this side of the river there is a funicular railway which transports passengers up to the Buda old town There were some amazing structures to see in the city and plenty of beautiful architecture. The Parliament buildings are particularly impressive, As we headed back to our accommodation on the Pescht side of the city, we took a spin in the big wheel there which gave us incredible views over the city. We took an excursion to the edge of the city and visited Heroes’ Square – the largest and most symbolic square in the city. Its statues featuring the seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders. Just beyond the square was the Szechenya Thermal hot baths, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. We spent the afternoon soaking in the healing waters and enjoying the variety of sauna’s and thermal experiences there along with many locals. The water was very soft and the 15 pools varied between 30 and 38 degrees plus there was also a very cold plunge pool just outside the sauna. Each person had an individual cabin to leave their clothes and valuables in and we were given robes and slippers. Beside the Parliament building is a monument very different to anything I have ever seen before. All along the river bank are numerous pairs of shoes, 60 in total – all made out of cast iron. They are in memory of the jewish victims, shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross Militia Men – a far right Hungarian nationalist party in 1944-45. They were ordered to remove their shoes so that the militia could resell them. They were then shot and their bodies fell into the river where they were then washed away. One excellent way to get around the city was to use their scooters which can be picked up from many areas in the city. We downloaded the app, uploaded some funds and then quickly got to grips with how to ride them. Great for exploring the Buda side of the city although there were less areas to ‘off hire’ them over on the Pest side so maybe plan where you are going to visit. Crowning the hilly west bank of the Buda side of the Danuble is Castle Hill, an area with fantastic views and packed with historic sites. We ascended using the beautifully restored funicular railway enjoyed walking around the area viewing Buda Castle, Hasburg Gate – Entrance to the Royal Palace and the Eugene of Savoy Monument. We stayed on our host ships during our time in Budapest and were treated royally. Certainly river cruising gets you to the very heart of a city and we were a short walk to all the highlights. We left Budapest that evening, sailing away down the Danube and experienced the most specatular vista of the city at night – a clear chilly evening with the lights of the parliament building glistening into the reflection of the Danube. Thank you Budapest – I will be back!

Ski Club Med - Alpe D'Huez

20 December 2021

I was extremely privileged to be one of a few Travel Counsellors selected to experience the all inclusive Club Med resort in Alpe D’Huez in December 2021. For the weeks preceding the trip we really didn’t know if it would happen as Switzerland brought in quarantine for those entering the country which including those landing in Geneva and travelling to France. We considered flying to Lyon but eventually the quarantine requirement was dropped and our flight to Geneva went ahead. We transferred up to resort on the Monday morning which took 2.5 hours and we knew the snow was going to be amazing as even the valleys were snow covered. As we climbed up towards the resort we negotiated the 21 bends made famour on the Tour de France cycle race. We pulled into the village and arrived at the spectacular Club Med resort. The resort has been recently refurbished and extended – so previously was a 3* resort and now is a 4* or rather 4 trident resort (Club Med have their own internal rating system of tridents. It features over 400 bedrooms and suites; twins, doubles, interconnecting, family rooms – pretty much all configurations you could wish for. There are two restaurants – Le Pic Blanc, with panoramic views of the slopes and the valley with an outdoor terrace, and the Les Alpages Gourmet Lounge – with an exclusive gourmet experience. We were able to experience this for ourselves on our second night. On checking in, I was given a wrist band which was apparently my room key, my ski locker key and everything I would need. On arrival in my room, which was a twin room on the seventh floor I was blown away by the amazing views. The rooms have everything you need and are very well laid out. USB points at desk and by bed, lights inside cupboards, twin basis and a bath! Oh a bath after skiing is the ultimate luxury!! After unpacking and settling in, we went down to the depot to arrange our ski hire. I had my own boots and opted for some advanced level skis and once kitted out, placed them in my locker. I had my own locker with my own boot driers and helmet hooks etc – what a treat!. Club Med is a huge resort with amazing facilities so there is always either food being served, entertainment being shown and free flowing drinks from the bar. The dining room downstairs has an enormous buffer with a covid friendly one way system and there was so much choice of lovely quality food. On the second night we ate at the speciality restaurant Les Alpages, where I shared a fabulous fondue with a colleague. Excellent food and service throughout. The complex is ski in ski out and it is so easy to ski the short way to the nearest chair lift from which you can access the whole resort. The snow conditions were incredible, probably the best I’ve ever experienced. We made the most of our 2 days skiing and covered most of the area – including Les Savannes, the longest black run in Europe at 16km. Skies were blue and the sun was shining yet the pistes were in pristine condition. There were no queues anywhere and nothing to stop us blasting across all corners of the resort. We would ski back to Club Med for our lunch before heading back out again in the afternoon. The weather was lovely and warm and yet the snow was not slushy at all. After skiing we all enjoyed beers and cocktails on the terrace before getting ready for supper. We had time for a tour of the different room options so that we could advise clients accordingly. We were not able to go into the child care area due to child protection rules but I know that their care is second to none. They take children from 4 months old and it’s a great option for families with children. Treated like royalty in a fabulous environment – it’s a ski holiday that I won’t forget in a hurry and I can thoroughly recommend to all – whatever your family make up. It ranks extremely highly as a quality and luxury ski holiday.

Four Counties Ring by Canal Boat

26 November 2021

I have always enjoyed boating and did the Avon ring 28 years ago with a few friends. I can’t believe it took so long to do this again, but October half term was approaching and with covid being a concern, finances tight and self catered cottages in the UK being booked up so far in advance we decided to see if there were any canal boat options. We found a boat in the Cheshire area that met our criteria. We were 6 adults in total; a couple, two teenagers plus myself and my daughter. We had initially opted to try and do the Cheshire Ring – a circular route of canals of 97 miles and 92 locks. On arrival at the marina, the lads there advised us against this due to it being half term, halloween and with much of the route going through the Manchester city suburbs, It would be necessary to moor up in the city and there had been many reports of kids messing around with the boats there. So, on their advice we decided to go for the Four Counties Ring instead. A similar length – 110 miles and 94 locks which takes you through Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands. We knew it would be quite a challenge to complete this in a week, particularly with it being late in the year and so the days were getting shorter. We would need to cruise for 8 hours each day, whatever the weather in order to get round so we had packed full water proofs for everyone. The lads from the marina took us through the first three locks leading out of Middlewich and gave instruction on boat driving and lock operation. It isn’t difficult and we very quickly became quite proficient in all areas. Steering a 62 foot boat takes some doing and the boat was a little quirky but the trick is not to try and do anything quickly. You can be efficient but slow – making sure the locks up ahead are set ready for us, people in the right places and making sure everyone knows what their job is and where they should be. We were told that the 16 year old boys that were with us were allowed to drive the boat providing an adult was present and this was well received by them. Part of the trip took us through the Harecastle Tunnel which is 2.6km long and needs to be prebooked. We planned our journey carefully and the day before contacted them and booked a 4pm slot. The lady I was corresponding with noted where we were and said that we wouldn’t make it so would expect us in the morning instead. The challenge was set and that day we worked so well we actually arrived at the tunnel at 2:45 in the afternoon (much to their surprise. ) The canals take you through some beautiful countryside but personally I find the industrial areas of towns and cities fascinating and it is great to see how many areas have been redeveloped with the canal at the heart of everything. It is a popular and growing tourist industry and there are many pubs, shops and tourist attractions close to the canal network. Life on a canal boat is quite simple – there is no wifi, we had a flat screen TV with DVD but never used it. One toilet and one shower between all of us and limited water as you carry it on board with you so it is a little like camping. You don’t plan to have a shower every day and you don’t bother with makeup or doing too much to your hair. There is little storage for clothes so we lived out of our bags stored under the bed so jeans, tshirts, fleeces and waterproofs were the order of each day. It was very well equipped with cooking utensils including a cafetiere so we did eat well. We took a couple of frozen meals with us; a veggie lasagne and a bean chili. We also took two free ‘hello fresh’ boxes which we used for the first three nights. Knowing that ALL ingredients are included in the ‘hello fresh’ meals we didn’t need to worry about shopping for anything else. We just bought bread and milk. We also took with us bacon, sausages, eggs, breadrolls and cup a soups and used those daily for both breakfasts and lunches. Two nights we ate out in pubs where we could moor up close by so a good variety of places to eat and a couple of ‘treat’ nights for us too. The fresh air, early starts and the activities of the day were exhausting and most nights we were in bed long before 10pm. We had to work with the light so had to be up early to set off as soon as the sun started to rise. Each morning, one of us would do the ‘pre flight’ checks (as we liked to call them) which involved pumping out the bilge, priming the grease and checking by hand that the propeller had nothing fouling it. Then starting up the engine, switching on the inverter and headlight and away we went. Our ‘bible’ was a canal companion book that detailed the canal and the route. It shows water points, pump out stations, churches, shops etc and also allows to you roughly calculate how long in cruising time it would take to get somewhere. Because we were on a tight schedule and the days were short, this was extremely important as you cannot cruise after dark. But there really is something quite special when the weather is kind, the chugging engine of the boat lulling you into a soporific state and the remarkable wildlife that can be found in and around the British waterways. Certainly a holiday for all the family and can be action packed or relaxing, depending on what you are looking for.

Ladies Break in Mid Wales

14 September 2021

What better way to celebrate a friends’ birthday than by booking a self catered barn in mid wales with a hot tub? It was a belated 50th birthday from March when we were in full covid lock down. We had booked a long weekend to Cwmcornbarn just a few miles outside Newtown for 7 ladies and were delighted with the property on arrival. It had two double rooms, one twin and one triple so could sleep 9 in total (but gave us some options to move around to accommodate snorers) The owner met us on arrival and gave us a tour – showed us where to do the recycling etc and showed us details on walks, taxi’s, places to eat out and useful contact numbers. It has a utility room with washing machine, separate drinks fridge and freezer and plenty of crockery and utensils for self catering. We arranged a Sainsbury delivery so that we didn’t need to bring lots of food with us and settled in for a weekend of girlie chatter, good food, walks in the Welsh countryside and plenty of relaxation in the wonderful hot tub. This was the highlight for us and we even enjoyed an evening in the dark, in the pouring rain, in there. We had some fun facemasks to put on - it was a good job the barn was so isolated - we would have frightened off any passers by. Being a group of active ladies, some went running and we also had some yoga sessions in the morning. Personally I ran my own aqua aerobics class in the hot tub :) We explored Newtown and took a long walk to Dolforwyn Castle walking along the banks of the river Severn. It worked out a very affordable trip split between so many of us and we thoroughly enjoyed getting away from the daily grind of normal life. The Dolfor Inn was not far away and provided an option for eating out but we were unable to book in there as already full – so that is something for next time and there will be a next time – it was perfect surroundings and facilities and a great break!

Norwegian Cruise Lines - EPIC

07 September 2021

I was very fortunate to be invited to join the Norwegian Cruise Line Ship ‘Norwegian Epic’ on their soft opening experience. After 500 days of no sailings this was a chance to test out staff and crew procedures before paying guests were on board. We were given the ‘cork and caps’ wine and beer package, a complimentary speciality dining package (on top of the other restaurants) so that we can sample a wide array of unique restaurants on board and free internet. I flew from Liverpool to Barcelona which was my first flight since the start of the pandemic. The airport was like a ghost town and the flight pretty empty. Everyone wore face masks and everything was clean, hand sanitiser available everywhere and it all felt very safe. I took the train into Barcelona where I had booked an overnight hotel in the El Born area of the city close to the docks. I was due to board between 10 and 10:30 the next morning. A short cab ride to the docks and what an impressive sight, seeing EPIC waiting for us – she looked spectacular. After being dropped off my our taxi, the suitcases were tagged and whisked away and I was guided to the covid testing tents where QR codes were checked and a nasal swab taken. Not ten minutes bad passed before my negative result was received and I made my way to the check in area. I had completed online check in so it was all very swift and it was 25 minutes from arrival at the port to opening the door to my balcony stateroom on board. My case had not yet been delivered so I made my way up to the top deck to meet colleagues and to grab a snack and a drink. Deck 15 is where the band play, the larger pools and hot tubs are and is the main area on sea days to relax. There is also the Haven area two floors up at the front of the ship which is more exclusive and is additional cost. Sailaway was at 5 and it was lovely to be up on deck to wave goodbye to Barcelona and head out to sea. Knowing that I had two speciality dining options (only 21 restaurants on board and 8 of them were speciality) it was necessary to do a bit of planning and prebook the options. It was also necessary to prebook some of the shows so there is a need to do a bit of social planning. Every restaurant that we ate in was very different but with excellent quality and delicious food. Wines were great and the service on board from all staff was second to none. I tried the breakfasts in the main dining room ‘Taste’ and also the Irish bar ‘O’Sheehans’ and they both had a great variety of offerings. The main dining room did offer more in the way of waffles, fruits, muesli options and it was a brighter and preferable place to enjoy breakfast. The garden café on deck 15 also served a full buffet style breakfast option. The entertainment ranged from fully blown shows with amazing costumes and choreography to cirque du soleil style acrobats, to Tina Turner tribute acts to dueling pianos. Such variety and certainly something for everyone. There were some very talented people on board. We found somewhere different every night both before and after the prebooked shows and never struggled to be entertained. My cabin was extremely comfortable with plenty of room. I was on my own however and it is advertised as 2/3 people so might have been a bit of a squash if there had been 3 of us. There wasn’t a huge amount of floor space or storage. The bed was very comfy though, and it had a good shower, plenty of towels and 2 chairs on the balcony with floor to ceiling windows. My steward came to introduce himself when he delivered my case and Dexter would make up my room each day and turn down my bed each evening. On day 3 we woke up in Sardinia and I had booked a wine tasting excursion. We left the ship around 11:30 and drove through Cagliary with our guide giving us information at every turn. Due to covid restrictions we could only leave the ship on planned excursions and had no free time in the city but we were able to get off the bus at view points and take photographs. Once at the vineyard we had plenty of time to walk around and were expertly guided through the winery by the owner. We were introduced to their range of wines and also given a plate of Sardinian snacks to sample. The wines were delicious and I would have loved to buy a case but travelling hand luggage only with Ryan Air just didn’t allow me to do this. It was a great way to get to know some of my fellow travellers as we relaxed with a variety of glasses of wine. I loved the sea days and the ability to just relax in the sun, lounge in the pools and enjoy the company of my colleagues and the new friends that I had made on board. Travelling on my own is a great way to get to know others and is all part of the fun. You’ll never be lonely cruising on your own. Cleanliness and safety on board was paramount and facemasks worn by all when moving around the ship. It really did feel very safe. We all had to take a covid test within the 3 days before returning to the UK and NCL provided this on board – again this was all very efficient and expertly organised and the negative result was emailed to me and a printed copy placed on my bed in my stateroom. Norwegian Cruise Lines are an excellent company and I cannot fault the staff and crew on board. I wish them the very best of luck now that they are back cruising again. I am so grateful to them for the opportunity to experience all they have to offer on board and can confidently sell their cruise holidays to my clients.

UK Summer Seacation - Princess Cruises

27 August 2021

With travel in 2021 being so uncertain and restrictions and traffic light rules constantly changing, many people decided to stay closer to home. I decided that I would try out one of the UK sea-cation cruises that were on offer around the UK coast and booked a 3 night, 4 day cruise sailing from Southampton in August with Princess Cruises on their ship ‘Regal Princess’. I took my best friend Jackie with me and it was the first time either of us had every cruised so a completely new experience for us both. We booked the ‘Princess Plus’ package and Jackie asked if this was because we were overweight but we soon discovered that Princess Plus meant an upgrade to a balcony stateroom, with all gratuities included, Internet and the food and drinks package. From the moment we arrived on the boat we were given a warm welcome from the ships staff, who we learned were from over 40 countries. They were so friendly and warm and always helpful when we got lost or had questions. The ship was beautiful, very ornate and immaculately presented. Capacity wasn’t too high – they can take 3500 guests but there was around 2000 on board. We made our way to our balcony stateroom where we found our suitcases has already been delivered. We had a twin room and it was really quite spacious. The shower room was adequate – spotless of course and a good pressure shower. We also had tea and coffee making facilities, a desk/dressing table and plenty of clothes storage with hundreds of hangers. After a quick unpack we headed up to the top deck for the ‘sail away’ party. We found somewhere to sit and used our apps on our phone to order some cocktails and a snack. Having previously been given ‘medallions’ which act as our room keys and also personal locations so that anything we order is delivered to us, wherever we are on board the ship. There were a few teething issues with the tech but when it worked it really was an excellent concept. Our ship played the love boat theme on its horns and the call and response was replied to by our sister ship, Sky Princess, as we sailed past their Southampton mooring. We were asked to wear masks when moving around the ship and where social distancing wasn’t possible and this was adhered to. The only time it was a bit of a pain was in the theatre. All restaurants were covered apart from a couple of the speciality restaurants. We didn’t want to spent anything extra so decided not to go for the speciality dining but we certainly didn’t need to. The food in the main dining restaurants, Concerto and Allegro was second to none and the service was spot on. All drinks less than $12 in price was included – which was basically everything except some top champagnes and whiskies. We had no reason to pay for anything extra at all and could relax and order whatever we wanted without worry. There was a good program of events and the theme for this cruise was Mind Body and Soul. Guest speakers on board were Jenny Ryan (Mind) from the quiz show, the chase, Dr Ranj Singh (Body) TV doctor and famed for Strictly Come Dancing and Kate Bottley (Soul) from Songs of Praise and Gogglebox. They were also often seen around the ship and were happy to pose for photographs and chat to people. Their formal shows were well attended (socially distanced seating) and were highly entertaining. Kate Bottley is outrageous!! As all guests had to be double vaccinated there were no young people on board but it was a great age range from early 20’s to late 60’s and it never felt stuffy or too formal. Everyone really relaxed and let their hair down, assisted by the free flowing wines and cocktails of course. On Saturday evening Gareth Gates entertained us with his dulcet tones and emotive piano playing and even though dancing wasn’t allowed, there was lots of seat dancing and arm waving from the back rows. It all felt rather too short however and before we knew it we were watching the sun rise over Southampton as we sailed back into port. Overall verdict is that this will certainly not be my last cruise. It was my first and it gave me a good appetite for more as I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking to try other cruise lines and other routes. I do also think that there is a market for the UK sea-cations even beyond the pandemic. We have a great coastline in the UK and the price makes it a great option for a short break away and a very good chance for first time cruisers to see if they like it.

Everest Base Camp Trek

13 November 2020

I am not sure how I begin to try and condense my diary of my Nepalese adventure into a short blog but I will try. What I can summarise is how it changed me, gave me a more positive outlook, increased my confidence, reduced my anxieties, put my life into perspective and how I can thoroughly recommend the experience. To embrace a culture so far removed from the everyday life we experience in the UK was truly humbling and I was truly overwhelmed by the spectacular scenery of the majestic and the awe-inspiring Himalayas. I flew with Etihad airways from Manchester to Abu Dhabi and then on to Kathmandu where I would meet up with my fellow trekkers. We had two nights in the Hotel Manang in the Thamel area of Kathmanu which gave us the opportunity to do some sight seeing and also stock up on any last minute purchases required for the trek. Kathmandu is an amazing bustling city full of amazing smells and sights. We had arrived in Kathmandu during the Diwali celebrations, the festival of lights, so the city was buzzing with lights and music and full of coloured pictures made from flower petals and coloured powders. After a repack to reduce the weight of our bags to be carried by our Sherpas and Yaks, we had a very early departure for the airport to fly to Lukla affectionately named as ‘the most dangerous airport in the world’ due to the number of plane crashes that happen there. I did film the terrifying landing and departures from Lukla, the links are in my full blog. The first day of trekking to Phakding was a great opportunity to start to really get to know my fellow companions and the walk was very enjoyable. Beautiful lush green valleys and our path winded along close to the banks of a glacial river. It was undulating – as much descent as ascent so we didn’t struggle with altitude. Very cold in the mornings but once we started walking we soon removed the layers and by late morning would be walking in just t-shirts. During the trek we stayed in tea-houses which are small lodges with rooms upstairs for sleeping. A tea house bedroom room consists of two platforms on which there is a foam mattress and a pillow. They also provide a duvet/blankets but you are expected to bring your own sleeping bag and ours were provided by our trekking company. The walls are chipboard and paper thin so ear plugs are essential. There is no heating except downstairs in the main dining room so we only went to our rooms to get our sleeping bags out and ready and to change into something more comfy for the evening. Food at the tea houses is mainly fried rice, noodles and also the staple Dhal Baat. You are advised to stay completely vegetarian as all meat is carried by hand for days up the mountain! The next few days we trekked higher and higher, entered the Sagarmatha National Park where our trekking permits were checked and crossed 5 suspension bridges including the impressive Hillary suspension bridge. Each day, as we ascended further and further, we started to feel some effects of the altitude. Initially it was just a nagging headache and this was eased by ensuring we were fully hydrated. We were advised to drink between 4 and 5 litres of water per day and were encouraged constantly by the Sherpas who provided water filters so that we didn’t need to carry the full requirement of water each day. Our first view of Everest was just before we reached the town of Namche Bazaar and it was an emotional moment. Everest is not a particularly spectacular mountain and it doesn’t look so high from this side – there are more exceptional peaks to see and take photographs of but of course Everest is the highest and the most famous so it was an achievement in itself to see it with our own eyes. It is said that you are never too far from an Irish pub and In Namche we found the worlds highest but we didn’t go in until we were on our way back down the mountain. ‘No alcohol on the ascent’ was the instruction issued by our head guide. We had a couple of acclimatisation days on our way up – one at Namche where we visited the Tenzing museum and another at Dingboche. These are not rest days – you still go for a hike up high but then return to sleep low. Climb high and sleep low helps the body to acclimatise and certainly by the time we got to Dingboche the effects of altitude were starting to show. Three of our party were suffering flu like symptoms and griping stomach pains. I was suffering with a bad head almost constantly and was struggling to sleep. I was confused, disorientated and had extremely vivid and wacky dreams. Flatulence and massive emotional mood swings was also a big issue. Altitude sickness symptoms seemed to be very much like a cross between a hangover and menopause and I had not expected this – I knew about the physical issues of altitude sickness but wasn’t prepared at all for the emotional ones. They did relent a little after the day of acclimatisation but then you move on and go even higher. On the 8th day of trekking we eventually reached Gorak Shep and then on to Everest Base Camp. This was a very difficult day for me, and I did eventually resort to using Diamox. Without it I wouldn’t have got past Gorak Shep so I have no regrets at all. The side effects were interesting. I didn’t have the constant urge to pee like some of the others had but I did have excruciating pins and needles whenever I stopped moving. I had pins and needles everywhere especially my fingers and my cheeks. The landscape here in the Khumbu valley is bleak and desolate – there is nothing growing and all you can see are rocks, glacial rivers and higher up, snow. The air is very thin and it is hard to breath especially at night. I woke a few times gasping for air. The trekking was gruelling and relentless however and not the most enjoyable day but it was a great feeling to finally reach our destination, the goal we had been working towards and training for, for months and months. The return to Lukla was much quicker – we descended over three days although they were very long days and we covered great distances however as we descended we found it so much easier to breathe. In summary – it was an experience of a lifetime and one that I will remember for ever. Full blog and diary of my adventures can be found here

Weekend City Break

03 November 2020

I am not sure why I had never been to Barcelona before and I really didn’t know what to expect. This was a birthday trip towards the end of my 50th birthday celebrations and an opportunity for my best friend Jackie, and I to spend some time together, having some fun, drinking some wine and sampling some Spanish delights. My first impressions on arrival was one of clean and friendly Spanish efficiency. I had flown into Madrid and explored Salamanca a couple of years earlier and remembered having the same feelings then. We caught a city bus from the airport and with the help and assistance of friendly locals, purchased bus tickets and enjoyed the sights from the bus window. We had booked to stay at a city hotel close to the old quarter and centrally located on a room only basis. We wanted to eat out and explore – that was our remit for weekend. The first afternoon we headed down to the harbour and gazed longingly at the millionaire’s super yachts in the marina – wondering if we could convince anyone that actually we had just stepped off one. We sipped cocktails and enjoyed some tapas while relaxing in the sun. The cable car over the harbour is a wonderful way to take in the views and to see the city from above. We were very lucky with the weather as it was the very end of November and it was a beautiful clear blue sunny day. Whilst on our wanders we went into the cathedral and foraged around the Christmas markets. None of them appeared to be offering any food or drink like the Manchester or German ones do so we didn’t stop too long. La Sagrada Familia was an attraction that we had decided was an absolute ‘must’ and so we purchased online the guided tour using the electronic guides. On arrival I must admit that my first impressions were not good. I did not like the look of the building and felt it was a strange anachronistic mix of architecture. Once we had listened to the guide and been inside the building my whole feelings towards the structure completely changed and I found it the most incredible, inspiring, and beautiful place. It was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Other highlights of course were the fabulous meals and the Spanish atmosphere. Eating out in little restaurants we came across down little alleys and going with our gut impressions on places rather than trip advisor. All in all, it was a brilliant weekend and there were plenty of things that we just didn't have time to see and do. A city to return to.....

Chitwan Safari

13 November 2020

Following my trek to Everest Base Camp I had a quick repack of my luggage and then set off for the 5 hour journey to the Chitwan National Park. The roads were crazy, as were the drivers. I have never heard so much horn tooting but all seemingly in good nature. We arrived at the Machan Country Villas and I was introduced to my guide, Chhanu, and was provided with a well needed refreshing welcome drink. It was very hot and humid. I dined alone in the dining room, thinking that it was that I was late and so had missed lunchtime however I soon discovered that I was the only guest staying there which, in some ways, was rather lovely – a team of staff catering to my every need, but also a little lonely – it would have been nice to meet people and chat to someone over meals. After lunch I was shown to my cabin which was named ‘Hornbill’. My guide, Chhanu was an expert ornithologist and kept his bird guide book on him at all times. I noticed there was a torch on my bedside table so I guess power can be intermittent. Chhanu asked if I’d like to take a walk so I grabbed my water bottle and we set off into the local village where his family live and showed me where they cook and where they eat. Two small fires inside clay domes provide the base for a pan with rice and a huge pile of rice in the corner is their staple diet. It was very dark and this was the middle of the day. I can’t imagine cooking in this kitchen with bad light. They do have some electric but really just enough to power a light bulb Each family has a cow tied up outside which they get milk from. We walked down to the river hoping to see some animals, maybe elephants, taking on water. It was a beautiful sunset down at the river, the view and the colours changing every few seconds. Chhanu was continuously pointing out birds and scouting the banks for animals and birds. Walking along the beach for a while we were able to see deer prints, rhino prints and elephant prints. Went back to my cabin and had a quick shower before supper. I washed my t shirt as I showered as it was the only colour t shirt I could wear on the safari. Rhinos in particular do not like bright colours and red in particular makes them angry so my new khaki trousers I had bought in Thamel and my green t shirt were perfect. Chhanu also did a slide show presentation to show the wildlife they have here. Dal Baat for tea and a couple of beers before I headed to my cabin for the night. Day2 Up at 6 and had breakfast at half past six. Tea, muesli with fruit and yoghurt, fried egg with hash brown, sausage and tomato. Chhanu and I then went for a bike ride but stopped for a cuddle with their captive elephant on the way out. She is nearly 50 and has three children; two girls and one boy. She was quite happy to allow me to stroke her and talk to her – I think it was the first time I have actually touched and elephant. We picked up a couple of bikes from the resort entrance and started our ride through the neighbouring village. We met some ladies carrying baskets on their heads in the traditional manner. They let me try. Chhanu was trying to video my efforts but think he must have forgotten to press record probably just as well as it was a pretty disastrous attempt. The women in the next field were harvesting the rice and asked me if I’d like a go. They were so neat and made it look so easy. Their scythes looked very sharp so I declined the offer. I also saw lots of buffalo. They are a queer animal. Very strangle looking, almost like their ears are in upside down. One female was very inquisitive and listen to every word I spoke. We rode for around 25km and much of it was on very bumpy tracks. When we arrived back at Machan it was an hour before lunch so I had a dip in the pool as it was very very hot and sticky. I spent a long time just floating in there, pool to myself, and resort to myself! After lunch I put on my long trousers and khaki coloured clothes and met Chhanu and we walked down the drive where we met our jeep safari guide and driver. The safari was amazing. We picked up our park ticket which was basically our licence to visit and I saw it was made out in my name. So there was myself, Chhanu and another guide plus our driver. As soon as we had entered the jungle Chhanu slapped the bars of the jeep and we stopped. He pointed up into the trees and there was a monkey jumping from branch to branch. It was closely followed by another. They soon scarpered and just as we were about to move on he pointed into the bushes where I could see a splash of red. A barking deer, not at all phased by our presence. We could see the back of a lone rhino in the grass It was quite a way off but was moving in the right direction. We spent some time watching the giant armadillo like creatures plod through the mud and munching on huge tufts of grass, holding the grass in their mouth and then twisting their heads to rip the grass from the stem. We were so close we could hear them munching. The baby, I was reliably informed, would have been about two years old. They were so majestical yet somewhat comical looking with their plated armour. Further into the jungle we stopped right blow a toucan perched on a branch. He was brightly coloured with his black and white feather and his superb yellow bill. After seeing a couple more rhinos at the water edge we also spotted a pair of wild boar. We made our way down to the waters edge where two men and a boat waited. I was handed a life jacket and assisted onto the boat. By the waters edge Chhanu spotted some relatively fresh tiger prints, only a few hours old. The river was quiet with occasional rapid sections. Almost immediately we spotted an alligator basking in the sun. As we approached it scuttled odd into the water. He was hard to spot, so well camouflaged in the mud on the banking. The sun was starting to set and all we could hear was bird song, crickets and lapping water. It was beautiful. As we floated down the river, Chhanu pointed out egrets, cormorants, a peacock, love birds, kingfishers and many others, each time showing me the page in his book so I could see what the bird looked like close up. Eventually we reached the boys on the bank and left the river, thanking our two drivers. The next morning after breakfast my driver arrived to take me back to Kathmandu. A short but magical trip. Full blog and diary of my adventures can be found here

My customer stories

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I have used Pippa several times now and it’s always a pleasure. Very helpful & knowledgeable. Always reassuring to have Pippa at the end of the phone too.

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Thank you so much Pippa for fixing our ski holidays. You have been amazing again as we left our ski holiday planning to the last minute. It is so stress free booking with you as all the details and documents , including boarding passes, come in an email. It is hard to believe that we will be heading to our favorite resort in few weeks time. Many thanks again

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Pippa has organised our last two skiing trips to Pamporovo and has always done an outstanding job! Pippa gives a very professional and personal service tailoring each trip to you, and is always there to help if needed. I thoroughly recommend Pippa Wilson - Travel Counsellors and will always trust Pippa to organise my future adventures! Thank you so much again!

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We had never been skiing before and didn’t have a clue where to start, so a friend of ours recommended we try using Pippa Wilson from Travel Counsellors. I’m SO glad we did. Pippa was incredible and listened to our lengthy list of things we were looking for and went above and beyond to help us find the perfect trip - nothing was ever too much trouble. She has an incredible knowledge of all the different ski resorts and came up with suggestions we hadn’t even considered. She even recommended which restaurants were good to eat at in the evenings. Pippa took the time to check in with us during our trip to make sure everything was ok, and there was also another Travel Counsellor rep in the resort, so we always knew there was someone we could speak to if we had any problems. We are now in the process of booking our 3rd ski trip with Pippa and I would recommended her in a heartbeat

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Pippa listens to what you want and will quote till it feels right- from the minute you book to the day you arrive home she’s there for you. This is our second big multiple stay holiday we’ve booked with Pippa (a month long multi centre stay last year!) plus weekends away and ski trips and shes been an absolute god send. Thank you Pippa - I’ve already got ideas for next year for you ha ha!! Don’t hesitate - get in contact and let her take away all the holiday stress so you can enjoy and relax!.

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Pippa is the Mary Poppins of travel agents! When you book with Pippa it's like booking with a friend who takes the time and the trouble to deal with all the little things you may not have thought about. The personal messages along the process, before and after mean so much,especially when on this occasion there was more to deal with than usual,she clearly loves her job and that is evident in how she deals with her clients,I absolutely recommend her to all my friends.

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Pippa Wilson booked us a fabulous and relaxing holiday to Mexico. Pippa contacted us on our second day to make sure everything was as expected and also towards the end of our holiday. Nothing was too much trouble and I would certainly recommend Pippa. The only thing we had to worry about was "Is 11.30am too early for a margarita?"!

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Pippa is so helpful, I found it so reassuring to have her overseeing everything. She was really helpful in the planning stages too. I would 100% recommend!

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Outstanding. Skiing in Pamporovo in Bulgaria. I have been many times before with the big named company but booking through travel counsellors was definitely the easiest yet. Pippa Wilson was amazing and I couldn't recommend her enough. No call centres to call, a very personal touch. Its very much as if pippa is on your holiday journey with you from start to finish and always there if needed. Nothing was to much trouble. Thank you

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Pippa took all the hassle out of planning and organising my snowboarding trip. I told her what I roughly wanted and she arranged everything from flights, accommodation, ski hire and extras. Great communication throughout. Even better it was cheaper than if I have booked everything separately. Would highly recommend Pippa no matter how big, small, or adventurous your travel plans may be, Thanks Again.

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Very professional and friendly service. She’s great.

Sent by Antony Rose

Pippa's been a great source of ideas, solutions and assistance throughout.

Sent by Sarah Kitching

Patience of a saint helping us organise a family holiday abroad to cater for all the age ranges of our kids. Thank you Pippa. (and Alison)

Sent by David Tann

An excellent personal service in finding a holiday to match our needs.

Sent by Alison Hargrave

Pippa, has been amazing. She provides a personal service and goes above and beyond to accommodate your needs. Thank you Pippa.

Sent by Raymond Dawe

Pippa is super friendly and so helpful. Will definitely book through her again.

Sent by Caroline Huddlestone

Pippa was amazing throughout the whole of the booking process any questions asked were answered immediately and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Pippa for anyone looking for a professional to assist for any future travel you are looking to book !

Sent by Josaphine Kirby

Pippa has been amazing. I gave her the details of the holiday my partner and I wanted including dates,perferred airport,hotels and ski package and within 24 hours she came back to me with exactly what we asked for. She has been available to answer questions via email,phone,text or WhatsApp and when I received the most thoughtful hand written card in the post at the weekend saying thank you for booking through her it was the icing on the cake. The personal touch makes all the difference. I don't think I'll book through any of the 'big' companies again. I will most definitely be passing her name on to friends

Sent by Fiona Osmaston

just fabulous, friendly and helpful. nothing is too much trouble. thank you Pippa

Sent by Rachel Clark

Pippa helped us plan a short break to Paris. From the very beginning, with ideas and quotes, she has been fabulous; supportive, full of ideas and suggestions, not pushy, always there to answer questions. It took away the stresses of planning a holiday and the stresses during a holiday, knowing that Pippa will help us sort any problems should they arise. The hotel was perfect; full of Parisian charm. Restaurant recommendations very great too. I would highly recommend using Pippa as a travel counsellor and wouldn’t hesitate to use her for our next trip!

Sent by Samantha Worrow

We recently booked our trip to Lake Garda with Pippa’s help. Pippa is very efficient and helpful, she done several quotes on different hotels and locations to help us decide where we wantedto stay. We didn’t hesitate to use Pippa again this week to book our cruise for next year

Sent by Jeremy Blackwell

We wanted to highly recommend Pippa Wilson Travel Counsellor . I trusted Pippa with trips for my 19 year old on his first taste of travelling alone and also our family holiday . We were well supported though both with Pippa checking in often at every twist and turn of the journey . Thanks so much it really made our summer . Highly recommend Pippa Wilson many thanks

Sent by Alan Wildbore

Pippa was most helpful, knowledgeable and informative on the destination of our choice and made the booking easy from start to finish many thanks

Sent by Karen Gardiner

Using Pippa as our Travel Counsellor was the best decision we made regarding our once in a lifetime holiday. We told Pippa what we wanted - which was a multi centre USA and Hawaii holiday covering almost a month with 6 flights and a cruise included. Pippa was able to get the best prices and booked everything for us. This includes the option for transfers and even trips!. Communication was excellent throughout and the Travel Counsellors app gave us minute by minute updates on flights and anything else. Pippa even checked us in for every flight and communicated regularly throughout the holiday. Couldn’t fault the 5 star service and wouldn’t hesitate to book Pippa to help us again.

Sent by Brian Flack

Pippa is incredibly efficient and professional, every question or query is dealt with in a timely fashion. I would have no hesitation in recommending Pippa to family and friends

Sent by Nikki Darling

Brilliant Service. Highly recommended. Pippa Wilson went the extra mile and i would highly recommend her. Starting with a stress free booking process, followed up with lots of local information and always there to provide reassurance on all my concerns relating to flight cancellations and covid restrictions. Our holiday to Austria was fantastic. We used most, if not all of the information she provided while we were away and it was good to know Pippa was there if there had been any problems. We will definitely use her services again.

Sent by Rachel Clark

I haven’t used Pippa before, in fact I haven’t used a travel counsellor before, and the whole experience has been fabulous! Pippa has been really helpful, amazing communication and lots of knowledge and recommendations. I feel in very good hands and can’t wait for our trip!

Sent by Zac Blackwell

Pippa Wilson helped me put together an amazing Greek Island Hopping holiday for a birthday present for my partner. It was by far the best holiday either of us have ever had and it went without a hitch. She was only a message away any time we needed her, even when she was on holiday herself. The personal touches were brilliant and she really worked with me changing little bits that I decided to change along the way. We would both recommend Pippa without a second thought!

Sent by Patricia Guy

I'd definitely recommend Pippa Wilson to my friends and family. She's 100% efficient and helpful.

Sent by Tony Morris

Pippa Wilson. has organised an unforgettable trip to celebrate my sons wedding at Blackrock Tobago. Arrived the Tuesday before the wedding on Friday and was greeted at the airport by the local rep selected by Pippa who had arranged the private car to the hotel, and she arranged to see us the following day. The hotel was the Starfish and it was literally a short walk up the beach to the wedding venue so top marks for this. the rep arranged a trip for every day but not taken up by the Wedding . Island tour, boat trip, rain forest tour humming bird sanctuary and an evenings entertainment with live Steel band food and drink. all for a TT1400 . using taxis in TT is a bartering exercise agreeing the fee before the trip its advisable to use the service of a trusted rep to ensure a pleasant trip. All in All 5+Star thanks Pippa.

Sent by Kay Stephenson

Big thanks to Pippa Wilson at travel counsellors for arranging our holiday for us. Great knowledge of the area and things to do. It's great to know you can say what you want then sit back and have it all arranged for you with ease. Would definitely recommend and use again for our next trip ??

Sent by Denise Brown

Pippa Wilson organised a school trip for me to Paris. She was extremely efficient and responded immediately to all my queries. She got us a good price and I was 100% happy to deal with her. The students had a wonderful time. I would not hesitate to recommend her. Denise Brown - Chetwynde school Barrow in Furness

Sent by Sonia Fallowfield

Pippa was great from start to finish and nothing was too much trouble. She chose a lovely hotel and got us the best deal and we had a fantastic time. I would definitely recommend her to my friends and family and I will be using her in the future.

Sent by Jenna Kilgas

Extremely helpful and arranged really quickly what i wanted.

Sent by Samantha Worrow

Really pleased with my experience with Pippa, she asked me to paint a picture of the holiday I was looking for & then we went from there. Always very quick at responding to me. Can’t wait for our holiday in September.

Sent by Rachel Stephenson

Pippa was extremely helpful, friendly and responsive, taking careful note of the brief and delivering a few carefully selected option that met my needs exactly.

Sent by Neve Connolly

Pippa has been amazing right from the start, there are no words to describe how greatful we are for everything she has done!

Sent by Stephen Bell

Pippa’s service is superb! Everything sorted and no problem is to big! Her attention to detail is above and beyond and I won’t book holidays with anyone else! I can’t recommend Pippa enough!

Sent by Lynn Lacey

Pippa helped us book this trip with no fuss at all. She listened to what we wanted and delivered a quote within a day with clear instructions as to what to do next. I’ll definitely use her again and I’ve already told friends about the great service we received.

Sent by Stepanka Bradford

My husband and could not agree on our long haul trip plans and I reached out for Pippa's help as the time was running out. She looked into different options to break up the journey to be more tolerable; certainly helped us to make decision . Perhaps it might not be the most economic way but it sounds very exciting. with the extra stop overs. We are all looking forward to it. Thank you Pippa for all your help, day or night and being so patient with us.

Sent by Emma Bostock

Fast, efficient and friendly service. No matter how many times I changed my mind over silly details, Pip requoted.

Sent by Carol Pearson

Responsive, professional, friendly, listens and actively asks questions so that her suggestions and recommendations are what I was looking for.

Sent by Emma Sage

This is the 3rd time that we have booked with Pippa Wilson so highly recommend her to book your next holiday with. Pippa couldn't be more helpful in making the booking easy, able to answer questions quickly and keeps in touch with the client every step of the way making the whole holiday experience second to none. Can't thank Pippa enough.

Sent by Susie Ravasio

We had a great experience booking with Pippa Wilson at Travel Counsellors for our recent ski trip to Bulgaria. Pippa shared her knowledge of the area and recommendations and gave honest insight which enabled us to book the right trip for our family. Pippa was always available to answer any questions and was interested to hear how our trip went and to share feedback. We had a fantastic holiday and will be going back. Thanks Pippa for your genuine travel counsel.

Sent by Jean Andrews

Pippa has been a wonderful help to me, beyond the call of duty. Shall certainly consult again regarding my future travel.

Sent by Victoria Bowe

Pippa has been fantastic managing our booking from start to finish, making the whole process simple for us. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend Pippa.

Sent by Shane Storrow

Super patient and made me feel at ease when booking a holiday, any questions i had were answered. I would have no hesitating in recommending Pippa. So looking forward to our holiday. Its a personal thing when booking a holiday and its so nice to have Pippa to sort things out who we can trust. Thank you.

Sent by Camilla Gill

Pippa was fantastic, it was so easy booking through her I didn't have to do a thing and the price she found us for the whole package was great! - highly recommend and will definitely be using again

Sent by Alice Dallosso

Such excellent personalised, tailored and friendly customer service for our ski holiday from Pippa Wilson. Thank you Pippa!

Sent by Emma Sage

Fantastic prompt correspondence, answering all questions and keeping in touch every step of the way with the booking. Have now used Pippa a number of times and have always found her service A+ so highly recommend.

Sent by Richie Jones

Excellent service, very friendly, pro-active and professional!

Sent by Shannon Carlile

Pippa is amazing at her job, can always help when needed, go above and beyond for anyone and just an all round great person

Sent by Zoe Dance-Bishop

Really helpful service to help pinpoint our requirements as a family, Very friendly and reactive service. Thank you

Sent by Rob Conn

Pippa has been an absolute diamond, I'd highly recommended her to anyone and will be doing so going forward

Sent by Rachel Collings

Pippa was amazing my holiday was all booked and confirmed within a couple of hours when I asked for help last minute. The holiday was amazing and I would highly recommend pippas services.

Sent by Michelle Crake

We booked our ski holiday through Pippa Wilson this year. From the very start of the process she was amazingly helpful, asking for an idea of what we wanted from our holiday and budgets etc. She gave us a number of options to look at which all looked ideal. We decided to go for the Bulgarian holiday, and I have to say I have never had a more helpful Travel Advisor than Pippa. She assisted us with every element of the holiday, giving us very helpful advice on booking ski lessons for the children, Covid restrictions for our travel and even travel insurance. Pippa answered many of my questions very promptly, day and night, and was very easy to communicate with through text, WhatsApp and email making it a very easy process. We haven’t been on the holiday yet, but I know that she will be there every step of the way should we need her! I would highly recommend Pippa Wilson to anyone wanting to book a holiday, a truly outstanding service!!

Sent by Ian Jordan

Pippa's service was top class from start to finish. From giving me a range of recommendations to the actual processing of the trip. She was always on hand to answer queries and I even received both a thank you card (and suitcase address labels) in the post. Great experience, would heartily recommend.

Sent by Michelle Crake

Pippa Wilson has been invaluable to our holiday booking experience. She has made the whole process so much easier, given us great value options and been there to answer all our daft questions night or day! I would highly recommend Pippa and already have done! Thank you!!

Sent by Nathan Woods

Recent experience with Pippa Wilson at Travel Counsellors has been fantastic. From the initial consultation the process has been simple, straight forward and easy. Pippa’s excellent customer service and Incredible knowledge on our destination has ensured that the holiday was perfectly directed at my party’s needs. Pippa has also explained that her services continue throughout my entire holiday, which im sure will remain at the same brilliant level. Cannot recommend her enough.

Sent by Iain Keys

Pippa organised a short notice trip to Zurich, flights, hotel, parking and insurance. Fantastic service, great communication and all the documents easy to access and use. Also very good advice for entry and covid paperwork. Already booking the next trip for me!! Thank you very much Pippa.

Sent by Michelle Woodcock

Our trip to London was excellent. Pippa supported us along the way and helped to resolve an issue at the accommodation quickly and effectively (Problem at the accommodation totally out of the control of Pippa, but she still sorted it.) We would happily book a trip with Pippa again. The level of service she provides is outstanding and we can only say thank you for helping to make our trip so special.

Sent by Emma Cooke

Pippa is excellent. Cheerful, organised, reliable. Highly recommend

Sent by Craig Dykes

Everything from start to finish is easy with Pippa, she has booked many of our holidays for me and my family Takes care of every little detail and keeps in touch regularly Would not book holidays anywhere else Thank you for a great service over the years am many more to come

Sent by Paul Browne

Pippa Wilson definitely deserves the title Travel Counsellor. I have found you get everything you would hope for i.e. a great travel plan at a competitive price with fast and efficient communications. However, it was also clear that I had 'a travel counsellor' who put my mind at ease, ensuring I was completely satisfied with the perfect holiday that was tailor-made for me. Thank you Pippa!!

Sent by Susan Osmaston

I wouldn't trust anyone else with my travel arrangements. Pippa goes out of her way to be supremely helpful and supportive throughout the booking process and the trip itself. She is efficient, calm and totally brilliant in every way.

Sent by Kirsty Dixon

Booked a weekend away via Pippa Wilson at Kenwood Hall Hotel. It was a package that came with a meal and afternoon tea included. Pippa was very helpful in arranging for a table booking at the restaurant the first night and even sent information regarding local restaurants we could try for the second night. I really like how little I had to make arrangements as Pippa took care of it for me in advance so could just turn up on the day. 5* service! Thanks Pippa

Sent by Kay Stephenson

I was looking for a couple of nights away, messaged Pippa Wilson and she sorted it all out for me on a great deal. Would definitely recommend and can't wait til we can travel far and wide so she can find me a fab holiday??

Sent by Paul Robinson

Pippa Wilson has been excellent for us. The process of booking a holiday during Covid times has got a whole lot more complicated but Pippa took away the stress. She was able to get prices that we could not find independently and has been very easy to talk to through out the whole process. Pippa has been able to invest the time that I couldn't and she has already said she will help further with days out/restaurants to help make the holiday run smoothly. Excellent service and we will have no hesitation coming back or recommending the services of Pippa/Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Jackie Ross

Pippa has a real passion for travel! She has a tenacity to stay the course to get the trip that you want. She always delivers. In 8 years of ski holidays with Pippa, I have never had a problem with any of the holiday services provided - 100% success with accommodation, private transfers, equipment hire and lift passes. I am confident that she takes the same approach with every one of her clients and owns the responsibility to ensure delighted customers have fantastic trips.

Sent by Mark Blamire

A MUCH TRUSTED TRAVEL COUNSELLOR My family and I have used the exceptional services of Pippa Wilson on many occasions, and we can only say nothing Is too much trouble for Pippa to deal with. Night and day Pippa is on hand to resolve, aide, and advise on a multitude of situations. Booking trips, accommodation, restaurants, bars, taxis and even the whole shooting match of your package holiday is what Pippa does best, leaving you with nothing to worry about, apart from enjoying your break. Always finding the best value, and not loosing any quality of holiday experience, I would always recommend Pippa’s service and advice if you are looking for a short break or a much needed holiday overseas.

Sent by Kate Osmaston

PIPPA - THE BEST TRAVEL CONSULTANT If you are the slightest bit unconfident about organising a holiday, and I am definitely one of those people - STOP and ask Pippa to organise it for you instead. Nothing is too much trouble. She has a wealth of travel knowledge and will most certainly find you exactly what you are looking for. And, if you’re not sure what you want, tell her your ideas and she’ll find you something to suit you and your family’s needs. Can’t rate her highly enough. All you need to do is contact her! She’ll sort the rest

Sent by Natalia Balfour

GREAT BOOKING EXPERIENCE, STRESS-FREE PROCESS AND A FABULOUS HOLIDAY. WE WILL USE PIPPA AGAIN! Booking a holiday through Pippa Wilson was easy, stress-free and great value for money. Pippa is absolutely lovely and makes the whole experience of booking enjoyable. The payment process was simple and we were given plenty of information about our destination before leaving the UK. From the minute we took off, and throughout the whole holiday we felt looked after. There was always someone we could contact with any questions. A great experience, I would completely recommend

Sent by Mark Blamire

A much trusted Travel Counsellor My family and I have used the exceptional services of Pippa Wilson on many occasions, and we can only say nothing Is too much trouble for Pippa to deal with. Night and day Pippa is on hand to resolve, aide, and advise on a multitude of situations. Booking trips, accommodation, restaurants, bars, taxis and even the whole shooting match of your package holiday is what Pippa does best, leaving you with nothing to worry about, apart from enjoying your break. Always finding the best value, and not loosing any quality of holiday experience, I would always recommend Pippa’s service and advice if you are looking for a short break or a much needed holiday overseas.

Sent by Kate Osmaston

If you are the slightest bit unconfident about organising a holiday, and I am definitely one of those people - STOP and ask Pippa to organise it for you instead. Nothing is too much trouble. She has a wealth of travel knowledge and will most certainly find you exactly what you are looking for. And, if you’re not sure what you want, tell her your ideas and she’ll find you something to suit you and your family’s needs. Can’t rate her highly enough. All you need to do is contact her! She’ll sort the rest.

Sent by Katy Vernau

We have loved the personalised service when booking through Pippa, her local knowledge made all the difference ensuring we enjoyed our ski holiday to the max. If feels like all the benefits of booking with a large provider, but with care and thought to make your holiday one to remember! We’re now repeat bookers because of this.