Newsletters

 

Over the past year, our website blog posts have been a little different to those pre pandemic.  Our aim has been to fill you full of travel inspiration, to keep you dreaming of those wonderful destinations still to be discovered and to bring you the most up to date travel advice.

Originally promised for Monday 12th April, the Global Travel Task Force has released their report a few days early and we have broken this down into an easy to digest set of questions and answers.

Please find below the most relevant details about how (we understand) that International travel will commence.

There are still some elements that are unknown and we believe that these will follow over the next couple of weeks.  

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps said on the BBC this morning “this is the first time I can come on and say that I am not advising people not to go away this summer” – what excellent news!

 

Q:  Will international travel resume on 17th May?

A:  This is the earliest date that international travel will resume.  At this point it will no longer be illegal to travel and the ‘permission to travel form’ will be removed, meaning travellers would no longer need to prove they have a valid reason to leave the country.

Q: Where can I go from 17th May?

A: This is not yet clear, but in a BBC interview this morning, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that it would be 2-3 weeks before it was……I will update you, as soon as I know more.

Q: What does the traffic light system mean?

A:  When international travel commences, countries will be classified as Green, Amber or Red, with the addition of a new category ‘Green Watchlist’ .

Green – Arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test (likely a lateral flow test) as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into the UK, BUT will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests on their return from holiday.

Amber – Arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of ten days and take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day 2 and day 8.  There is also the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Red – Arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for “red list” countries which includes a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8

Green Watchlist – To give passengers more certainty when travelling, a “Green Watchlist” will be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from Green to Amber. The watchlist will provide greater assurance for those who wish to travel abroad. The allocation of countries will be kept under review and respond to emerging evidence, with a particular focus on Variants of Concern
 

 

Q:  What about cruising? 

A: The UK government has confirmed that domestic cruises will restart in England no earlier than 17 May. This report sets out a framework for a risk-based approach to managing a safe restart of international travel, underpinned by analytical evidence. Therefore, the UK government will restart international cruises alongside the wider restart of international travel, in line with the “traffic light” system.

Q:  How will the government / scientist decide which countries are on which list?

A: Key factors in the assessment of a country will include 1.  the percentage of their population that have been vaccinated, 2.  the rate of infection, 3.  the prevalence of variants of concern and 4.  the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Q:  Where can I get a PCR test and how much will it cost?

A: The cost and availability of PRC testing has faced much criticism as the prices in the UK far exceed those in other countries.  The government have advised that they are working with the private sector to drive these costs down and increase availability.  If you have a holiday booked with Haslemere Travel and it is necessary for you to take a PCR test, we will provide you with a list of facilities where you can book these.

​Q: Will I need a ‘Vaccine Passport’?

A: The UK will also play a leading role in the development of international standards around a digital travel certification system. The Department for Transport is working across government to consider the role certification could play in facilitating outbound travel, for those countries, which have systems in place. Work also continues to develop a system that would facilitate travel certification for inbound international travel.

Q: How often will the restrictions be reviewed?

A: Restrictions will be formally reviewed on the 28 June to take account of the domestic and international health picture and to see whether current measures could be rolled back. Further formal reviews will take place at checkpoints no later than 31 July and 1 October

Q: Will I still need to complete a PLF (Passenger Locator Form)?

A: To ensure the UK’s borders remain safe and efficient when passenger flows increase, the Government has also announced plans to digitise the Passenger Locator Form, integrating it into the UK border system and enabling checks to take place at e-gates by Autumn 2021.

Q:  What is the best way to ensure that I am fully informed and my holiday is fully protected?

A: Simple – book with a fully bonded and financially protected travel company, like us.  We will always provide you with honest and impartial advice and guidance from our first conversation and until you return home.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps:

“International travel is vital – it boosts businesses and underpins the UK economy – but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart, and allows us to explore new horizons.

“The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll out and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”

 

For any further questions, please call us on 01428 658777 or email gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

 

So, ‘why’ should we be travelling in 2021?   This will be different for everyone but the more and more conversations we have with our loyal clients, the more it is evident, that travel in 2021 will not just be frivolous or ‘just because’.  Travel, this year will have a reason or a purpose behind it.

At the moment (late Jan 21), we’re still not too sure about the when, but Boris has promised to give us a further update on 22nd February, so not too much longer to wait.  One thing that we know for sure is that the appetite to travel is huge.  

And, as for the ‘how’, just leave that to the team at Haslemere Travel.  That is what we are experts in….ensuring that you’re every need is taken care of, that you are fully informed, fully financially protected and that there is always someone who cares about you and your booking (no call centres here!).

Travel For HUGS!

Humans thrive of physical connections and hugging is one of the most powerful ways to show physical support.  I’m sure, like us, this is something you have dearly missed in the past year.  We can’t wait to not only see, but hug, our nearest and dearest…….we’ve missed them so so much!

It tuns out that hugs don’t just make us feel good, they also have a real, physiological benefits to our health, including reducing stress levels, improving heart health, boosting self esteem and reducing pain (that would be those feel good hormones – endorphins)

So, when the time is right, let us help you arrange a trip to see the family and friends that you have missed the most, so that you can give them a great big HUG!

Travel With FRIENDS!

We have all managed to stay in contact with our closest friends, through the wonders of modern technology, but there will never be enough Zoom cocktail classes or quiz nights that can replace a trip with friends.

This might be a spa weekend, a golfing/tennis short break, a few days wandering around the museums or galleries of your favourite city, a private villa with a few families or simply a few nights away with your bestie just enjoying each others company.

Let us help connect you with your friends again – we have plenty of ideas.

Travel For Your Own WELLBEING!

This past year has been a huge strain on everyone, from our children and grandchildren, who have been superstars, adapting to schooling from home.  Our frontline workers who have worked tirelessly to fight the Covid battle directly.  Our key workers who have helped to turn the cogs of industry and to all of those in between who have either been working from home, or supporting their family members, who have – you are all awesome! 

The impact however on our mental health must not be ignored!

We hope that you are all being kind to yourselves and taking a little bit of time, each day to look after your body and mind.  For some this may mean keeping up with a strict exercise program and for others it might be finding a quiet corner and curling up with a good book.  Whatever this looks like to you, please don’t forget to make it part of your daily routine.

At Haslemere Travel, we work with so many hotels and destinations that take wellness to the next level.

We work with hotels that have dedicated wellness programs that tackle body & mind detoxing, stress management, improving fitness, enhancing immunity, improving digestion and spiritual growth.  We also work with yoga retreats, trekking companies,  yacht charters and gastronomy experts.  Please do chat to us about your next wellness travel experience or how we can help you incorporate wellness, into your next holiday.

Having something to look forward to, now matter how far in the future that is, will do wonders for your wellbeing.

Travel Your Bucket List!

We always thought that when you worked in travel and travelled a lot, that your ‘travel bucket list’ would get shorter, but its quite the opposite…the more you see, the more you want to discover.

This past year has had us dreaming of all the missed travel opportunities and new destinations that we can’t wait to explore – have you been dreaming too?  

Tell us what is at the top of your ‘travel bucket list’?

Travel To Isolate!

An interesting concept that we are starting to explore for many clients, is the desire to travel, but to also feel isolated.  

It’s been such a long time since we have experienced crowds of people, that wanting to holiday without the masses, is understandable.

If it’s a boutique hotel, private island, self contained villa or a remote cabin, miles from anywhere, we know just the right places.

For all your travel requirements in 2021 and beyond, please call us on 01428 658777 or get in touch via our Contact Us page.

Throughout 2020 we have all been somewhat consumed by something other than BREXIT, however, with the countdown on, to the end of the year, we wanted to put together some top tips, for travelling ‘post BREXIT’ (from 1stJanuary 2021).  As always, if you are a client of ours we will be talking to you directly, about the specifics that may affect your booking.

Passports

When travelling within Europe, you have always been able to do so, right up until your passport expires. From 1stJanuary 2021, you will need to ensure that you have 6 months validity on your passport from your date of return.  You may be refused entry in to a country if this is not in place.

We would urge you to check your passports as a matter of priority and make an application as soon as possible.  There will be a great many people affected by this new rule.  Turnaround times at the passport office are currently at around 3-4 weeks, but this is likely to become longer with increased demand.

To complicate matters further, if you have a passport that expires at the end of 2021 or early 2022, its possible that you could still be denied entry into an EU country, if you do not renew you passport now.  When some UK passports were renewed 9-10 years ago, they were given an additional 9 months validity. From 1stJanuary 2021, this additional 9 months will not be recognised.

At The Airport

You will no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.

Travel Insurance & EHIC

If you are travelling on or after 1stJanuary 2021, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will no longer be valid.

Please ensure that you take our adequate travel insurance every time you travel overseas and should you have any questions about this, please do let us know.

If you are a UK state pensioner living in the EU before the end of 2020, you will be able to use the EHIC beyond 2020, but you must apply for a new card.

EHIC is also valid for students, who have started a course in the EU before the end of 2020, until their course finishes.  Again they will require new cards.

Driving License

When driving in EU countries from 1stJanuary 2021 onwards, you will need to carry your UK driving license, but you may also need an IDP (International Driving Permit). The type of IDP will depend on the country you are diving in / through.

IDP’s can be purchased through the Post Office at a cost of £5.50.

Car Insurance

You will require a ‘green card’ when driving in the EU.  This is proof that you have motor insurance cover for driving abroad.  If you are towing a caravan or trailer you will need to carry separate green cards.  We would suggest contacting your vehicle insurance company at least 6 weeks prior to travelling to make the necessary arrangements.

GB Stickers

You will need to display a GB (Great Britain) sticker on the rear of your vehicle even if you have a number plate with the Euro symbol.

Travelling with Pets

Sadly if you are travelling with your pet, the Pet Passport will no longer be valid.  Please speak to your veterinarian at least 4 months prior to travel, to discuss the necessary procedures for the country you are travelling to.

Mobile Data Roaming

The guarantee of free roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway ends on 1stJanuary 2021.

Please check with your mobile phone company, before travelling, to ensure you are aware on any charges that you may incur.

Duty Free

If you are travelling from Great Britain into the EU after 1stJanuary 2021, you can take advantage of duty-free shopping.  Current duty-free limits will increase in the new year.  There will no longer be tax-free airport sales of goods like electronics and clothing.

For any further questions about your booking and travelling after 1stJanuary 2021, please do call us on 01428 658777.

Information correct at the time of publishing – 08.12.20

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce (GTT), chaired by Transport Secretary, Grant Schapps, last week announced the new ‘Test To Release’ regime.  This has been devised to enabling the country to create a careful and balanced route out of the pandemic, bolstering international travel, whilst keeping the public safe.

Lets look at the detail…..

Q:  What is the new ‘Test To Release regime?

A:  This system will replace the current 14 day quarantine period, for passengers arriving from countries the do not have a ‘travel corridor’.  UPDATE:  From Monday 14 December, the number of days that you will need to self-isolate will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days

Q:  When will this come into effect?

A:  From Tuesday 15thDecember 2020

Q: How will this work?

A:  Following your return from a non ‘travel corridor’ country, you will quarantine for 5 days, taking a PCR test on the 5thday. Once you receive your negative result, you are free to return to work / school / normal life.

Q: Where can I take a test?

A:  The government have said they will release a list of approved testing facilities.  You may take your test at any one of these. UPDATE 15.12.20 – The government has today released a list of private providers.  Please follow the link to see the up to date list.

Q:  Will I have to book?

A:  Yes and you will need to do this before you depart, as you will have to declare the test centre upon entry to the UK.

Q:  How much will the test cost?

A: This will depend on the clinic that you use, however the cost of testing is significantly less than when testing commenced during the summer.

Q: Do I have to go to a testing facility?

A:  There is the option to visit a test centre or take a test at your home.

Q:  Can I use the NHS facility for this?

A:  No, the NHS system is only for those with Covid symptoms. If you use this service you will not legally be permitted to exit quarantine early.

Q:  Do I have to quarantine for 5 days and take a test from every country?

A: No, there are a great many countries on the ‘travel coriddor’ list, with more added each week. These do not require any quarantine on your return.

Q:  What happens if I don’t want to pay to take a test?

A:  If you choose not to take a test, for whatever reason, you would continue to quarantine for 14 days, with no test at the end.

Q: How will the government know whether I have chosen to quarantine for 5 days and take a test or for 14 days with no test?

A:  Upon your return to the UK, it is mandatory to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF).  For arrivals from 15thDecember, you will be asked to declare your choice. If at any point you change your mind about the 5/14 day quarantine, you will have to submit another PLF.

Q:  Will travel always be like this?

A:  Highly unlikely.  As we move ever closer to a vaccine, this is seen as a stepping stone. 

Please note this information is accurate as of 29.11.20 and is subject to change.  For official government advice, please follow the link.

Haslemere Travel is delighted to be taking part in HOLIDAY TO HELP OUT week.

Holiday To Help Out is an initiative organised by the travel industry aimed at exciting clients about future holidays and highlighting some fantastic offers.

These special offers are available for bookings made between 2-8 November, for travel in 2020/21 or beyond, and ONLY available through travel agents…..like Haslemere Travel!

A whole host of our favourite suppliers have signed up to offer, discounts, savings and added value and the list is growing by the day!

Please see below for the suppliers involved and the deals that are currently in place….more to come! 

List updated on 29.10.2- at 11:00

  • Arosa River Cruises – Additional 5% discount on all 2021 cruises
  • Acklams Holidays
  • Adventure Tours UK – 10% of all small group tours PLUS save £200 on tailor-made adventures
  • Africa & Beyond – Saving of £350 per person on a South Africa holiday
  • Africa Collection – 10% discount on 8-night Botswana holiday
  • Airways Holidays – £50 per couple discount off any Channel Island package holiday (min. 4 night stay)
  • Alfa Travel – £10pp off all 2020 & 2021 coach and self drive holidays
  • Amadeus River Cruises – 5% off all river cruises
  • American Cruise Lines – 5% off all holidays
  • APT – €100 onboard credit for select European sailings
  • Arena River Cruises – Free Premium Package (worth up to £280pp) PLUS low deposit of £25pp
  • Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai – Complimentary upgrade to Platinum Half Board (includes free flow of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages)
  • Avalon Waterways – Additional discount of £100 per person
  • Beachcomber Tours – 40% discount on new bookings to the Beachcomber Hotels in Mauritius
  • Cape Verde Experience – £100 off per couple on any package holiday
  • Celebrity Cruises – $100 on-board spend with every stateroom
  • Celestyal Cruises – Additional 15% off select sailings PLUS zero solo traveller supplement
  • Citalia – £100 discount off any Citalia booking
  • Club Med – An additional 5% off all Club Med holidays (on top of existing offers)
  • Collette – 5% off all holidays
  • Contiki – An exclusive additional £25 off Contiki’s current deals
  • Coral Expeditions – 5% off all holidays
  • Corsican Places – £100 off per couple on any package holiday
  • Cosmos – Additional discount of £50 per person
  • CV Villas – Free car hire + exclusive £100 discount
  • Cyplon – Free upgrade to half board and up to 15% off selected Paphos hotels
  • Discover Egypt – 5% off Discover Egypt holidays departing in 2021 and 2022
  • Domes Resorts – €50 resort credit PLUS one meal
  • EasyJet Holidays – £50 off per booking (subject to min. spend of £800 per booking)
  • Elegant resorts – Complimentary room upgrade in Crete PLUS 50% off luxury break in Indonesia
  • Emerald Waterways – Free all inclusive upgrade (premium drinks package) on select cruises OR €150 onboard credit on select sailings
  • Emirates Holidays
  • Encounters Travel – 10% off all Egypt tours & 5% off other destinations in 2021/2022
  • Exodus Travel – 10% off selected tours
  • Explore
  • Exsus – Free lounge passes on departures from UK, PLUS Champagne (or non-alcoholic equivalent) on arrival in resort
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – £100 on board spend for 2021 sailings of 5-16 nights
  • Fred Holidays – 5% off all holidays
  • Friendship Travel – $150 resort credit; 3 nights free; room upgrades – all on selected hotels
  • G Adventures – Save 15% on 500+
    G Adventures Tours
  • GIC – The Villa Collection – £100 per couple off any new 2021 holiday
  • Goa Experience – £100 off per couple on any package holiday
  • Gold Crest Holidays – Save up to £50 per person
  • If Only – Complimentary room upgrade; $200 resort coupon; kids stay free
  • Inghams – £100 per booking off all holidays
  • Inside Asia – £200 per person off any tailor-made trips to Asia (min spend £3,000 per person)
  • Inside Japan – £200 per person off small group tours or tailor-made trips to Japan (min spend £3,000 per person)
  • Insight Vacations -15% off 2021 holidays
  • ITC – Save up to £300 on all holidays
  • Into World – 5% off ALL tours; 10% off those with ’Holiday to Help Out’ logo
  • Intrepid – Up to 15% off Intrepid’s range of small group adventures
  • Jetset – £140 per booking discount (applies to any package holiday 10 nights or more, departing 2021)
  • Just Go Holidays – £10pp off all holidays departing in 2021
  • Just You – Free case of wine when you book a Just You holiday
  • Kirker Holidays – A bottle of Pol Roger champagne per booking
  • Latin Routes – £100 discount per booking PLUS a case of South American wine
  • Le Boat – Additional 5% discount on all boating holidays
  • Ledra Hotels & Villas – 3-course meal at an awarded restaurant
  • Leger Holidays – £50pp on a 9day+ Europe Coach tour PLUS range of other offers
  • Lusso – £200 discount on any Lusso holiday
  • Luxury Gold – 15% off 2021 holidays
  • Mercury Holidays – £50 off per person on beach holidays
  • National Holidays – £10pp off all 4&5 day breaks departing in 2021
  • Not In the Guide Books – 5% off all experiences
  • Olympic Holidays – £60 per person discount
  • One Fine Stay – Complimentary £100 guest services / concierge credit
  • Pandaw – 5% off all holidays
  • Perfect Weddings Abroad – Save up to £500 on weddings with a free wedding package upgrade
  • Planet Holidays – Save up to £600 per couple on holidays to Greece and Cyprus
  • Polar Routes – £250 discount per booking
  • Ponant – 5% off all holidays
  • Premier Holidays – £50 per couple discount on any long-haul holiday and an afternoon tea per person for any Channel Islands booking
  • Rainbow Tours – Save up to £300 on all holidays
  • Red Sea Holidays
  • Regent Holidays – Save up to £300 on all holidays
  • Riviera Travel – Up to €400 on board credit per couple for 2021 and 2022 European river cruises
  • Sandals – £100 off bookings for 2022
  • Santas Lapland – £100 per booking off all holidays 
  • Sardinian Places – £100 off per couple on any package holiday
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours – An additional £200pp discount on select river cruises
  • Shearings – £20pp on all UK coach tours for 2021 departures PLUS a range of other offers
  • Star Clippers – €100 onboard credit on select sailings
  • Stuba – £50 off a min. stay of £1,000 across 114,000+ hotels
  • Sunvil – Two weeks for the price of one on selected holidays to Greece
  • Tanzania Odyssey – 10% off any Nomad Tanzania safari
  • Tee The World – Free HB and 2 drinks on luxury Dubai golf holidays
  • The Artisan Company – Up to £150pp off a Northern Lights Holiday
  • The Gambia Experience – £100 off per couple on any package holiday
  • The Golf Travel Centre
  • The Villa Collection – 5% off all properties in all destinations
  • Trafalgar – 15% off 2021 holidays
  • TransIndus – 10% off all group tours departing in 2021/22 PLUS £200 off tailor-made holidays in Asia (min spend £1,999)
  • Travel Gallery – Up to 50% off featured hotels on 14-night luxury touring holiday in Sri Lanka
  • Travelpack – Free upgrade to all-inclusive PLUS free room upgrade & free transfers on Maldives break
  • Travelsphere – Free case of wine when you book a Travelsphere holiday
  • Tru Travels – 15% discount on all TruTravels tours
  • Undiscovered Mountains – £100 discount per booking PLUS free VIP welcome hamper with local products and champagne (or non-alcoholic equivalent) on arrival
  • Uniworld – £100 per person ship board credit
  • Virgin Voyages – $100 US on-board credit on any Virgin Voyage package
  • Wendy Wu
  • You Travel – Up to 10% off selected hotels

NB: Suppliers in Blue & Pink were added on 23/10. new additions, added on 28/10 are in orange.

Q:  How do I know what deals are available?

A: Keep checking back for regular updates.  We will be updating the website often.

Q: When will the deals & offers become available?

A: These offers and deals will become available between 2ndand 8thNovember, exclusively via a travel agent.  These are not available to book direct with the aforementioned suppliers.

Q:  Do I have to travel between 2ndand 8thNovember 2020?

A:  No, you just have to book during this week.

Q:  What holiday dates will these offers be available for?

A:  Each of our suppliers will have a slightly different policy, but many will be for 2021 travel and some for 2022…especially the cruise companies.

Q: Is there a minimum spend?

A:  In most cases there isn’t, but if there is, we will advise you during the enquiry process.

Q:  Do I have to book these deals via a Travel agent.

A: Yes.  They will not be available else where.

Q: Will these deals be available after 8thNovember 2020.

A:  To our knowledge they will not.

Any other questions, please do feel free to call us on 01428 658777, pop into the shop, email: gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk or contact your favourite Elite Travel Consultant

If you’ve decided that you’re going to save your travels until next year but at the same time are desperately craving all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and invigorating inspiration that comes from a trip to a foreign land, here’s a way you can (almost) get the full travel experience without leaving the house.

Curl up in an armchair and grab a coffee to settle down with one of these great reads that will transport you to faraway lands in an instant, without you leaving the house.

Each of these books paints an evocative picture of the country in which they are set. Dig deep into the different cultures of these lands: get to know their people, their history, their landscapes and look forward to discovering them for real on your future travels.

Whilst we are on the topic of books and travel, I was asked by our fabulous, local, independent book retailer, Haslemere Book Shop, to provide them with my top travel related book choices. If you are interested in checking them out and / or purchasing them, please follow the link.

Travel to Turkey

Birds Without Wings: Louis de Bernières

Many of you will have read and/or watched the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin which paints a wonderful picture of the Greek island of Cephalonia. Like Captain Corelli, this novel began with a holiday, this time to south western Turkey where Louis de Bernières visited the ghost town of Kayakoy.

Sitting up in the hills above the Mediterranean sea just 8km from Fethiye, Kayakoy is a peaceful village with verdant gardens. The ruins of the old town sit just above. The town was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the Fifties, but it really started to die when the Christian population was deported to Greece as part of the Population exchange between the two countries following World War 1.

 

Set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and the subsequent bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks, “Birds Without Wings” traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia – a town in which Christian and Muslim lives and traditions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. When war is declared and the outside world intrudes, the twin scourges of religion and nationalism lead to forced marches and massacres, and the peaceful fabric of life is destroyed. Philothei, a Christian girl of legendary beauty, and Ibrahim the Goatherd who has courted her since infancy are but two of the many casualties. With the end of a community that once transcended religious differences, their great love seems destined to end in tragedy and madness. 

Like Captain Corelli, it delivers a heady mix of love, savagery, war and Mediterranean idyll. The book is populated with characters as real as our best friends and is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. It’s all about the pleasures of peace, the meaning of home, and the foolishness and fratricide of war, encompassing the whole range of human emotions and behaviours, from the most savagely cruel to the most selflessly compassionate. 

Travel to Malaysia

The Gift Of Rain: Tan Twang Eng

The Gift of Rain is the first novel by Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. 

Set on the Malaysian island of Penang in 1939,  the main character is sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton, a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. 

But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip’s family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – has been harbouring a devastating secret. 

Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is. 

With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas – of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests – Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.

Travel to Zimbabwe

Nervous Conditions: Tsitsi Dangarembge

Nervous Conditions is a novel by Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga, first published in the United Kingdom in 1988. It was the first book published by a black woman from Zimbabwe in English. It was one of the BBC’s top 100 books that changed the world in 2018 and it won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989.

The semi-autobiographical novel focusses on the story of a Shona family in post-colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s. It illustrates the dynamic themes of race, colonialism, and gender during the post-colonial conditions of present-day Zimbabwe and provides a mine of information about Shona customs. 

It tells the story of a Rhodesian girl’s journey in pursuit of education from impoverished homestead to missionary school and finally to private Catholic school. 

When the novel opens, 14-year-old Tambu lives on a homestead with her parents and siblings.  She is given a chance to go for higher education after the death of her older brother Nhamo. Centring around the experience of several female characters as they either challenge, or come to terms with, the traditional patriarchal structure of their society, the young narrator, Tambu, must show great determination as she overcomes all the obstacles to her progress in life.

It is a powerful read, at once a coming-of-age story, a critique of colonialism, and a protest against a traditional patriarchal society that predates colonisation.

Travel to Denmark

The Year of Living Danishly: Helen Russell

This is a true tale uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country.

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries. What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made?

Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From childcare, education, food and interior design (not to mention ‘hygge’) to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

Travel to India

A Suitable boy: Vikram Seth

A Suitable Boy is a novel set in a newly post-independence, post-partition India. With 1,488 pages soft cover, and 591,552 words, the English language book is one of the longest novels published in a single volume. But do not be daunted! It is beautifully written with a light touch so relax and let this book take you on it’s long, colourful journey. You’ll be sad when it comes to an end.

The story follows the story of four families over a period of 18 months, and centres on Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s efforts to arrange the marriage of her younger daughter, Lata, to a “suitable boy”. Lata is a 19-year-old university student who refuses to be influenced by her domineering mother or opinionated brother, Arun.  

 

Her story revolves around the choice she is forced to make between her suitors Kabir, Haresh, and Amit.

The novel alternately offers satirical and earnest examinations of national political issues in the period leading up to the first post-Independence national election of 1952, including Hindu–Muslim strife, the status of lower caste peoples such as the jatav, land reforms and the eclipse of the feudal princes and landlords, academic affairs, abolition of the Zamindari system, family relations and a range of further issues of importance to the characters. The India today is shaped by these events and there couldn’t be a more charming way to get to grips with this important history. Christopher Hitchens gave the novel a glowing review, commenting that the prose “has a deceptive lightness and transparency to it”.

It is no surprise that A Suitable Boy is on the BBC’s list of the 100 most inspiring novels and now it has finally been adapted for TV. Can a TV series ever do justice to such sensitive writing in just 6 episodes? Probably not but who wouldn’t want to see for themselves? It has the perfect slot of 9pm on Sundays and sure to round off the weekend in the nicest possible way. Find it here if you need to catch up!

Travel to Australia

Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country: Bill Bryson

This is a travelogue about Australia written by best-selling travel writer Bill Bryson. Bill Bryson describes his travels by railway and car throughout Australia, his conversations with people in all walks of life about the history, geography, unusual plants and animals of the country, and his wry impressions of the life, culture and amenities (or lack thereof) in each locality.

Australia is iconic as the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The book is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humour, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book.

Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

If any of these books inspire you for a future trip. then please do call 01428 658777 or email gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk, to see how we can help turn that dream into a reality.  We can wait to help you plan your next adventure.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus has dominated the headlines for the past few weeks.  Many reports have been entirely sensationalised and because of this we have decided to put together some helpful information that we believe to be factual and keep things in perspective for both our town of Haslemere and our clients travelling the world.

Coronavirus in Haslemere

Haslemere had its first recorded case of Coronavirus on Friday 28thFebruary 2020.  At this point Coronavirus confirmations were exceptionally low in the UK (this was the 20thcase), but what made this case slightly unique was it was the first case in the UK to be contracted within the country (i.e. not from travel overseas).

It is understandable that local residents would want to ask questions and raise issues, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the sensationalised reporting that followed. Some media outlets reported the facts, but many chose to trawl the local social media message boards and instead compile article based solely around the comments of locals, who I’m sure never imaged their words would reach the nation.  This quickly proved to the people of Haslemere, and the surrounding areas, that what we were seeing reported on the news, and in the press, was far from realistic in our own town.  There was no mass ‘panic’ as had been written about, in Haslemere, and business really was as usual in our fabulous town.

It has however been a little quieter than usual, although at the end of last week, this did turn itself around.  Local retailers have pulled together to spread the message far and wide, that we are all doing everything we can to reduce any risk to our staff and clients/customers and there is no reason not to continue to visit Haslemere and shop locally.  Without the continued support of our loyal customers, the sad reality is that many small, High Street businesses may not survive, and for a fragile retail environment, that is something which none of us want.

So the message from Haslemere is……we are open, we are following the guidance from Public Heath England and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our fantastic independent businesses.

Sri Lanka Sunset

Coronavirus and Travel

With such a variety of press stories circulating, we fully appreciate that it can be really daunting to wade through the fact and the fiction.  We are therefore only relying on reputable sources to provide us with facts. We also feel that a healthy dose of perspective is also needed at times like this. 

It is not our place to disseminate media articles reporting on Coronavirus, but we are more than happy to discuss with you any of your questions and concerns, in relation to the holiday you have booked or would like to book.  We hope the following Q&A is of use, but please call us on 01428 658777 if you would like to know anything more.

Q: What precautions should I take when travelling?

A: You should wash your hands often; use hand sanitiser gel when washing is not possible; cover your mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing; and avoid contact with anyone who is unwell.

You should also check and follow the latest advice from the Foreign Office, but we can assist with this where necessary.

Q: I have booked a holiday, can I cancel or change my holiday free of charge?

A: Generally speaking, only if the Foreign Office advice changes to advise against all travel or all but essential travel to a specific destination.

If the FCO advice says it’s fine to travel, but it is your choice not to, then tour operators can impose their standard cancellation charges.

Some of our tour operator partners and cruise lines have increased their flexibility, so please do check with us and we will look into this on your behalf.

Q: Can I get my deposit back, if I choose not to travel?

A: If the FCO advice allows for travel to a destination, legally our tour operator partners do not have to refund your deposit, if you no longer want to travel.

Q: What are my rights if my holiday is cancelled by the airline or tour operator?

A:  If your holiday is cancelled by the tour operator due to coronavirus then you will be entitled to a full refund of the holiday price, but not compensation.  This is because the cancellation is due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.

Likewise, if an airline cancels your flight, the airline will normally rebook you onto the next available service, and cover your accommodation and refreshment costs in accordance with EC261 (the EU regulation on flight delay and disruption).

Q: What happens if I am impacted by an outbreak whilst on holiday, such as being stuck abroad at a hotel? How do I get home?

A: This is a very tricky situation. Currently, if your are stuck abroad because you/your hotel/your ship have been placed in quarantine and subsequently you miss your flight as a result, it’s the customer’s responsibility to cover the cost of replacement flights.

Whilst many of our partners are revising their terms with increased flexibility, it is not the liability of a tour operators or airline to provide a refund or replacement flight, as they were still able to fulfil the original booking.

Q: Will my travel insurance cover me against Coronavirus and its impact on my holiday.

A: We are not 100% certain, as every insurance policy is different.  We suggest that you speak to your travel insurance provider and ask any relevant questions of them.  For all bookings, we strongly suggest that you take out your policy from the date you book your holiday, to cover your pre travel period, as well as the period you will be away.

Please rest assured that Haslemere Travel will do whatever they can to assist you, if your holiday plans are disrupted.  We will also work on your behalf to negotiate with our suppliers, ensuring we gain the most flexibility for you.  For ANY questions please call us on 01428 658777.

One final insight comes in the form of a short video put together by Farina Azam, a respected travel lawyer in our industry and partner at Kemp Little LLP.

Welcome to our newly designed website!

We felt that it was about time that we brought you a new and updated website, that reflects the changing face of travel and the services that we provide to our clients.

As experts in luxury travel, it is sometimes difficult to convey exactly what we do, as our service is exceptionally personal and tailored to each individual client.  This is the reason you can’t make a holiday purchase directly from our site.

Many of our clients have been booking with us for 20+ years, so we know their likes, dislikes, habits and requirements, without them having to tell us.  Knowing this amount of detail always ensures that we maximise the value of their booking and exceed their expectations.

For those new to us at Haslemere Travel…..welcome! We hope that this small insight into the way that we work, what we offer and how we plan holidays, inspires you to pick up the phone and give us a call,  or contact us via email.  We can’t wait to help you plan your next holiday adventure.

Now, please allow us to walk you through the new areas of our website…..Enjoy

To allow you to have more flexibility on how you search for holiday inspiration, we have included new options on how to ‘browse’.

Check out our Destination  section, where you can take a look at holidays by the area of the world that you’d most like to visit.

If however you are not sure where you’d like to travel to, but know what ‘type’ of holiday you would like, then check out Holiday Types.  

You can search here for inspiration on romantic holidays, villa holidays, holidays centred around wildlife….and much more.

Our Hot Deals section brings  you some of the very latest offers that we have.  It would be impossible to list every offer, to every destination, so this is just a taster.  Always get in touch to see what else we have, if you can’t find what you are looking for.

Why Book With Haslemere Travel?  If you are an existing client, we hope you already know the answer, but if you are new to Haslemere Travel then you will find some client testimonials, the top 10 reasons to book with us and the all important information about financial protection.  This may be the dull part, but to us it is as important as choosing the right holiday.

In this area you will find links to our social media pages.  Please do follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  This is where you can keep up with where we are travelling to and get the very latest information on travel.

The Haslemere Travel Chronicle is a fancy name for our ‘blog’.  Check back regularly for our trip write ups, news of the latest hotel openings, our thoughts on what is happening in the world of travel or inspiration for your next trip.

The team at Haslemere Travel are always travelling, but Gemma and Ray travel throughout the year, in search of the very best hotels that the world has to offer.  It takes somewhere exceptional to make it into the Directors Choicebut rest assured, those properties that do, really are the most exquisite and have been personally tested.  We will add more of these properties, but only if they meet our high standards and have been personally inspected.

If you would like to know a little more about our travel experts then take a look at our Meet The Team area.

For our cruise lovers, which we know there are many, we have dedicated an entire section of the website just to our Cruise Club.  As with the ‘Hot Deals’ section, there are some fantastic cruise offers, but we will always have more, if you give us a call.

And don’t forget that we have a general holiday search function that can be accessed by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top right hand corner of the page.

We hope that this helps you to navigate your way to finding some fantastic ideas for your next trip, but please call us if you can’t find what you are looking for and also to book your holiday.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Last week Forbes Magazine featured Haslemere Travel in an article on the global luxury travel market.  Being classed, as one of “The 12 most influential luxury travel designers in the world” is an absolute thrill for the entire team and something we have worked extremely hard to achieve.  Haslemere Travel is the only UK based agency in the list!  Please do follow the link to read the article in full.

But how does this affect our valued and loyal clients?

We have always prided ourselves on our network of hotel connections.  We travel continuously; not only to guarantee that our knowledge is up to date, but also to ensure we know all the top hoteliers and property owners around the world.  Being recognised as one of the most influential luxury travel designers in the world means our bookings will always be fast-tracked to the top of the VIP list, providing that when upgrades are available, they are given to Haslemere Travel guests.  When complimentary amenities are available, these are yours too and for no other reason than you book through us and we know the right people, who value our business and our VIP clients.

From weekends away, to multi-generation groups and year-long itineraries, we plan holidays of all sizes and budgets.  Your next holiday adventure is only a phone call away – 01428 658777.

Haslemere Travel is delighted to announce that it will be hosting the first “Haslemere Travel Literary Evening” on Thursday, May 18th, as part of this year’s biannual Haslemere Festival.

The exclusive event will have a Russian theme, with three exciting women speakers set to entertain guests. Anna Pasternak (great-niece of Boris Pasternak, the Nobel prize-winning author of Dr Zhivago) will be talking about her new book “Lara: The Untold Love Story that inspired Dr Zhivago” – the tale of the true, heartbreaking love affair between Boris and Olga Ivinskaya.

Anna Pasternak photo p13

Carnival Films are currently developing Lara with Liz Trubridge, producer of TV phenomenon Downton Abbey, for a major, six part TV series. Excitingly, as part of this stimulating evening, Liz Trubridge has also agreed to talk about how she is bringing the book to the TV screen.

Lara book jacket p13

The chair of the evening will be Val Hudson, former editorial director of Harper Collins and Hodder Headline, who is a published author herself and the author of the Bowatching series of teen novels; A Simples Life, the best-selling ‘autobiography’ of the cravat-wearing, Russian meerkat Aleksandr, as well as the extraordinary story of ‘Arthur: the dog that crossed a jungle to find a home’.

The event will begin at 7.30pm (ending c 9.30pm) at the Haslemere Educational Museum and will include refreshments during the interval, as well as the opportunity to purchase paperbacks and have them signed by the two authors.

On the night, Haslemere Travel will also be launching some exciting, exclusive special offers for tours to Russia, in partnership with luxury tour operator Kirker Holidays.

And finally, there will be a fund-raising raffle at the event in aid of the Museum, with a wonderful first prize of a luxury spa day for two with a scrumptious cream tea at Guildford Harbour Hotel.

 

Please note: This is a ticket-only event. To purchase tickets (March 1st onwards) which cost £15 (wine included) call 01428 642161 or email: boxoffice@haslemerehall.com

Joanna Lumley

National treasure Joanna Lumley OBE FRGS is the leading Appeal Patron for Grange Park Opera’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ in Surrey, the first new opera house to be built in the UK for decades.

Happily, it is not far from our shop in Haslemere, so we grabbed the chance to catch up with Joanna to ask about her travels, love of music …and black trousers

 

As an author, actress, TV presenter and former model, has overseas travel always played an important part in your life?

Yes because I was born in a suitcase leaving India at the age of one and living in Hong Kong and Malaysia until I was eight. Long sea voyages punctuated my childhood and left me with a longing to keep moving.

What do you never forget to pack on your travels?

Black trousers, a torch and books.

Which passport stamp are you most proud of?

Pretty keen on my Mongolian one.

Gate of monastery in Mongolia p11

Do you have a favourite destination you return to as often as possible?

I loved Ethiopia, where I made part of a documentary, with a passion, and plan to return as soon as I can

Where would you like to go next…?

India again: filming but also savouring the fabulous variety of that stupendous country.

Taj Mahal India p11Who is your dream travel companion?

My husband; but I mostly travel now with a tiny film crew. We have become best friends and I love working with them.

Music plays a big part in your life too…why is it so important to you?

I was born listening to the greats… Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Chopin… on a wind-up gramophone in the Far East. I would suffocate with no music in my life.

What persuaded you to take on the role of Patron for Grange Park Opera (GPO)’s appeal for its exciting, new Theatre in the Woods?

It was the easiest decision I have ever made. I love what GPO does, and how it behaves: all are welcome and their standards are sky-high. The Theatre in the Woods is stunningly attractive and will be a new wonder of the glorious Surrey countryside.

Theatre in the Woods - model

What are your ambitions for this extraordinary new opera house, currently being built in 350 acres of Surrey countryside surrounding 15th century mansion West Horsley Place?

It will be utterly magical: the combination of the majesty of that ancient house and its grand spreading gardens, and the music and dance that will take place in the Theatre in the Woods will be unbeatable.

GPO initiatives such as £35 tickets for the under-35s seek to encourage the young to sample opera – do you recall your first performance? Grace Bumbry singing Aida in about 1964… awesome.

When the curtain rises on 8th June 2017, sum up in three words what you will be feeling…?

Thrilled, proud and happy.

If you could cast your perfect opera, who would perform and what would it be?

Maria Callas and Jussi Bjorling in Tosca. Hearing Callas singing Vissi d’arte is a masterclass in both singing and acting; she was truly as good as it gets. She knew exactly how to portray passion, despair, love and hatred, and Puccini’s music is sublime. Jussi Bjorling had a voice I would swim oceans to hear. A giant.

And if you had to describe yourself as a character in an opera, who would it be and why?

I would rather like to be the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro: although she has a rather wretched time with a scoundrel of a husband, she has an aria so lovely that whenever I hear the music beginning I start to sob hopelessly.

 

 

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