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Flanders Battlefield Tour

Our product manager Ann & Operations assistant Michelle travelled to Ypres in Belgium with 150 tour operators to experience:- Flanders Battlefield Tours

Here is what they learnt:

Visit to In Flanders Fields museum

Located in the historic Cloth Hall, this modern, interactive museum was completely renewed in 2012 and is named after the poem by John McCrae, written just a few kilometres from the town centre. The permanent exhibition tells the story of the invasion of Belgium in 1914 and of how the troop movement of the first months gradually stagnated into 4 years of trench warfare. It also features the Armistice and the ways in which the war has been commemorated over the past 100 years.

Reception at the Cloth Hall

Having toured the museum, we were guests at a reception within the medieval "Lakenhallen". In the Middle Ages, this building was the centre of the cloth trade in the thriving town of Ypres. Its magnificence was literally shattered during the early months of the First World War. The building caught fire after being bombarded by shells and by 1918, just a jagged tooth of the imposing tower remained standing. Faithfully rebuilt during the post-War years, today it's hard to believe that this place was the victim of such destruction.

Walk from Cloth Hall to Menin Gate

We walked to Menin gate via the Market Square this gave us a chance to admire the results of the post-War reconstruction of Ypres. The buildings around the square were all constructed in the decades after 1918 and bear witness to the determination of the Flemish people - and of the "Ieperlingen" in particular - to reclaim their land and rebuild their homes.

Last Post ceremony & laying of wreaths

There has been a gateway into Ypres from the Menin Road since medieval times - but none as impressive as the one which now stands on that spot. Designed in 1921 and unveiled 6 years later, the Menin Gate is a memorial to more than 54,000 soldiers of Commonwealth countries who have no known grave. Each night of the year at 8pm, volunteer firemen from the local fire station play "The Last Post" to honour the missing and all those who died during the '14-'18 war.

Guided tour around Ypres WWI sites

The Ypres Salient was the scene of major battles throughout the 4 years of the war. The landscape today still bears witness to the conflict and is punctuated by more than 240 cemetaries and memorials which are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Visit to the Lochnagar Mine Crater at La Boiselle

This is the largest man-made mine crater created during the First World War on the Western Front. The mine was laid by a tunnelling company of the British Royal Engineers and exploded on the morning of 1st July 1916, at the launch of the British offensive against the German lines - the Battle of the Somme.

The experience will stay with us for ever......lest we forget!

 

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It’s ‘sew’ exciting - The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

If you’re a keen knitter or super stitcher, you’ll be counting down the days until The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show opens in Edinburgh.

Thousands of canny crafters from all over Scotland will be heading to the Royal Highland Centre’s Highland Hall from 27th-30th April to enjoy inspiring work by world-class textile artists, learn new skills from TV sewing stars and top tutors, shop ‘til they drop for essential supplies and get expert help with tricky projects.   

Not to be missed are:

  • Professionally-curated exhibitions and gallery tours by internationally renowned artists and groups, including The 62 Group, Quinary, Wemyss School of Needlework, Effie Galletly, Edinburgh Modern Quilt Guild, Rachel Howard, Helen McAllister and The Quilters’ Guild.
  • A Kaffe Fassett retrospective.
  • 140+ textile craft and dressmaking workshops and drop-in sessions, for complete beginners through to experienced stitchers.
  • Free demonstrations by leading lights of the knitting and stitching world, including The Great British Sewing Bee finalist Lauren Guthrie.
  • Unbeatable craft shopping experience with hundreds of specialist suppliers.
  • Accomplished artists and craftspeople at work.
  • The Butterfly Garden and Enchanted Wood competition - a spectacular fundraising collection and competition featuring knitted and crocheted flora, fauna and magical creatures, in aid of the Louise Hamilton Trust Hospice Appeal.
  • Book signings by renowned knitwear designer Martin Storey.
  • Screenings of Nudinits: Tickled Pink, the award-winning and very cheeky first-ever all-knitted stop-motion animation.

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show features a unique stitched petition for the Campaign for Creativity, a craft activism campaign supported by top textile artists, designers and craftspeople to protect the teaching of creative subjects in education.  Visitors can support the campaign by bringing along a stitched signature for the petition or will be able to sew a signature at the show.  The petition is travelling across the UK before being presented to the Education Secretary at the end of the year. 

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show takes place from 27th-30th April 2017 at the Highland Hall, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh.  Tickets cost £13 in advance (concessions £12, children aged 5-18 £6)*.  A wide selection of options are available from http://www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/edinburgh/ or by calling 0844 581 1319 (+44 (0) 121 796 6165 if outside the UK).  Advance price tickets cease at midnight on Wednesday 26th April but there will be plenty of tickets available on the door for £16 per adult (£15 concession, £7 for children).

*A booking fee of £1.50 is payable per order

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Nov 2016: Jersey in the Spring – by the Glenton Product Team

In April this year, Margaret and Lindsey from our product team jetted off to Jersey. Exploring the island and meeting the teams behind our favourite hotels. Jersey is one of GLENTON’s most popular destinations and we send hundreds of passengers every year by air and by coach. Our product team feel it is important where ever possible to experience a destination first hand, so we can advise our clients to the best of our ability. Here is a short synopsis of how they got on:

Saturday
We flew from Glasgow Airport with Easyjet on a short flight of 1hr and 25 minutes to St Helier Airport in Jersey. Once we collected our luggage we were met by the transfer company Waverley in the famous yellow coaches. Our driver was very chatty and told us all about Jersey and her life on the island. We stayed at the stylish Best Western Royal Hotel in St Helier. The hotel is part of the family owned and run Morvan hotel group and occupies an enviable corner position on David Place. The outside of the hotel is very grand, with white pillars and potted plants – there are a few steps into the hotel. Once inside the decor is modern but traditional, there is stair and lift access to the bedrooms. The hotel has a cosy bar with dark woods, tartan carpets and stained glass. The bar is also open to the public, giving you the chance to mingle with the locals and hear the many stories of island life and the famous line we heard from most people ‘I came for a holiday but never went back home’!

The bar serves everything from snacks to evening meals. The hotel also has free wireless internet access throughout. Bedrooms are modern and comfortable with flat screen TVs, hairdryer, ironing board and tea & coffee making facilities. The hotel is a short walk from the centre of town and your route is filled with shops, cafes and restaurants and the lovely park Millennium Park which is an ideal place to sit and relax, if the weather permits.

After dropping off our bags we took a short stroll to get our bearings, before heading to the GLENTON favourite he Norfolk Hotel. GLENTON has been working with the Norfolk Hotel since 2008, Daniel and his team pull out all the stops to ensure that our Glentoneers feel right at home.

The Norfolk Hotel is situated on La Colomberie only a few minutes from St Helier’s main shopping street which boasts most high street names and many unique individual shops. On arrival we were welcomed by Daniel in the light and airy hotel reception. Daniel was swift to show us around the hotel and bedrooms, taking us to the comfortable bar area where there is regular entertainment. We were treated ourselves to a drink from the outdoor cafe sitting at the sheltered pool in the sunshine.

In the evening we were spoilt for choice of restaurants to suit every taste & budget. We opted for a Portuguese restaurant just across the hotel and went back to the bar for a night cap.

Sunday
After a great night’s sleep in the comfortable bedrooms we went for breakfast which is served in the hotel restaurant and offers an excellent choice of a continental breakfast served buffet style or a full English breakfast with waiter service. We opted to do a full day island tour as Jersey still keeps traditional shopping hours on a Sunday so the town is very quiet and it seemed an ideal opportunity to tour round the island on a beautiful sunny spring day. The island tour is also provided by Waverley coaches and they picked us up from our hotel to start the tour. The friendly guide provided a commentary from the moment we boarded the bus and had many entertaining stories, information and anecdotes to tell us about the island and places that we visited along the way. We stopped en route for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea as well as many stops for photos of the breathtaking scenery and pretty villages.

On Sunday night we tried another lovely Thai restaurant just near to the Norfolk hotel.

Monday
After breakfast and a short stroll into St Helier we met up with Arthur Lamy our blue badge guide for his guided walking tour “A taste of St Helier”. This tour was featured in our Jersey Active holidays for 2016. Lasting approx 2.5 hours this is a gentle and informative way to learn of Jersey’s history whilst exploring the centre of St Helier with its Town Hall, Fish Market and Victorian Central Market among many of the buildings of interest. After a quick lunch back at the bar in the Best Western Royal it was time to visit one of our most popular hotels. Owned and run by the Smale family the Westhill Country hotel is set in five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the outskirts of Saint Helier approximately 1.5 miles from the centre. As the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle bus to St Helier several times a day you have the best of both worlds far enough away from the hustle and bustle, yet only five minutes drive from the town centre. After an extensive tour of the hotel’s many public areas we were shown an example of each of the room types that we offer our customers. Time for cup of coffee and a sit down in the relaxing bar which overlooks the beautifully landscaped gardens and pool.

We head back to the Best Western for a quick change before our welcome dinner hosted by Visit Jersey for the delegates attending the Destination Jersey workshop the following day. We were picked up by Tantivy blue coaches another of the islands coach tour companies and transferred to the stunning La Corbiere restaurant which overlooks the Corbiere Lighthouse. This was an ideal opportunity for visit Jersey to showcase the best of the islands produce including the first Jersey Royal potatoes of the season, local seafood and wine from La Mare wine estate and a fantastic view of the setting sun behind the lighthouse. It was a fabulous evening.

Tuesday
Destination Jersey – a full day workshop hosted by Visit Jersey in the beautiful Raddison Blu hotel . This event gives all the suppliers involved in all aspects of tourism in Jersey a chance to showcase their products and what the island has to offer from Sea Kayaking to the Jersey war tunnels – there really is something for everyone. After busy day of “speed dating” with hoteliers, tour operators, visitor attractions and transport providers just enough time to go back to the Best Western Royal to get dressed for a farewell dinner hosted by Jersey Hospitality Association in the beautiful surroundings of La Mare Wine Estate. This popular Jersey attraction is a working estate that offers Tours & Tastings whilst making wines, spirits, preserves, and more from both traditional and modern Jersey recipes. Whilst there you can enjoy the gardens, vineyards and orchards, playgrounds, Vineyard Bistro, Jersey gift shop, cooperage display and so much more.

Wednesday
A chance to do some last minute shopping and pick up some local specialities including the famous Jersey Black butter and fudge before visiting our other featured hotels from the Morvan hotel group. The Monterey is only a short walk from the Best Western Royal and features on-site luxury indoor swimming pool facilities, including steam room, spa bath and mini gym which are provided free of charge to our guests. A large outdoor swimming pool is also available for fine days. The hotel is directly on the island’s bus route network if you do not want to walk the 10-15 mins to the centre of St Helier. Another short stroll took us to the Norfolk Lodge where we were welcomed by Nathan, the director of sales, who gave us a tour of the hotel including all the different types of rooms that we offer and also the restaurant, bar & indoor swimming pool. Just one more stop at the Fort d’Auvergne Hotel which bordered by the sea and sandy beach on two sides and occupies what is one of the best maritime positions in Jersey’s capital. Nathan kindly gave us a lift there and back as the hotel is probably a 20-25 min walk to the centre of St Helier however there is bus service from outside the hotel. Just time to go back to the Best Western to change and take a stroll into town to pick another restaurant for dinner. We opted for Italian and enjoyed a lovely meal and then a few drinks before an early night for our flight home the following morning.

Thursday After breakfast we were whisked back to the airport by Waverley coaches for our early morning flight to Glasgow. Before visiting the duty free shop we had a last chance buy some Jersey Royals and left our money in the honesty box, many of which can be see all over the island. Our flight was right on time and were home in Glasgow in time for lunch!

Click here for details of our holidays to Jersey

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Sep 2016: Beautiful Bruges – perfect for a short break or an excursion. By Audrey Connor

From the minute I boarded the Glenton coach I had a fantastic time on my Belgian adventure. A delicious dinner on the overnight crossing washed down with a nice little chardonnay, dancing to the ship’s band, a wee flutter at the casino then a good night’s sleep in my cosy cabin. The following morning I tucked into the eat all you want buffet breakfast before our sunshine bathed arrival in Zeebrugge. We were quickly through passport control then a short time later our Glenton coach glided into the impossibly charming city of Bruges. Okay, the fact that it is the chocolate capital of the world may have something to do with my fondness for this medieval metropolis but even without the chance to indulge in my favourite hobby of scoffing the odd soft centre or two, Bruges is an unmissable destination.

Enchantingly romantic with pretty canals, stunning architecture and cobbled squares, it is little wonder it was declared a UNESCO world heritage city. From the coach park, we ambled through the Minniewaterpark stopping to absorb the serene splendour at the inner court of the Beguinage – a tranquil oasis where it feels like time has stopped and the world has fallen silent.

Afterwards, we made our way to the centre of town where we stopped for coffee and waffles in a captivating little cobbled square. Soaking up the ambience as the street musician turned the handle on his barrel organ filling the afternoon with ‘that’s amore’ whilst horses hooves clip-clopped by taking tourists on an carriage ride through the historic streets.

Cruising Bruges’ canals is a delightful tradition and as we glided along the waterways listening to the guide giving his commentary in a variety of languages, the exquisiteness of this splendid city unfolded. Sailing under elaborate bridges, past ornate buildings and by old world squares we appreciated the striking sights from a different angle. Later, it was time to hit the chocolate shops for some serious tasting! Well, I’d come all this way, after all....

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Aug 2016: Meet the GLENTON operations team

If you’re a regular visitor to our premises in Gordon Street you might have wondered where the familiar faces of Stuart and Michelle have disappeared to... well, we can reveal that they are still being kept extremely busy – only now in our operations office working alongside Harry and under the helmsmanship of Pete - our newly promoted Operations Manager. So, what do they all get up to?

Pete Anderson - Operations Manager

• I joined GLENTON’S Operations Team as an assistant in March 2008 and I’ve seen the company go from strength to strength throughout the years. I was promoted to Operations Manager in July 2015.
• I manage the Operations team overseeing all the day to day tasks connected with transport and tour itineraries
• My most recent GLENTON holiday was our Party Break staying at the Queens Hotel down in Blackpool. It was a fun weekend and it was great to meet so many of our customers.
• I enjoy working with the team - to me it’s important to get all of the little details right so we can make our customers holiday special.

Stuart Adamson - Operations Supervisor

• I joined GLENTON’S reservations team six years ago and enjoyed helping customers choose and book their holidays. I have a good all-round knowledge of the company so when a role in operations came up, I decided to apply. It was a step up and I moved there in May 2014 and in March 2016 with the team expanding I then became the Supervisor
• My duties include assisting the Operations Manager in the day to day running of the department, working on tour timings and cruise manifests as well as administrative duties.
• I’ve enjoyed many GLENTON tours over the years and look forward to many more.

Harry Dulger - Operations Assistant

• I joined GLENTON way back in 2008 and I’ve always worked in operations.
• I’m the mainstay of our weekend cover so I’m on duty when most of my colleagues are off! My duties include assisting customers with lost property or any other problem and I work closely with our drivers and coach companies.
• I love travelling and my favourite places are Malta and Cyprus.

Michelle Kane - Operations Assistant

• I’ve worked at GLENTON for over three years, starting out in our reservations department. I was promoted to the operations team in July 2015.
• Duties include booking admissions to attractions and making sure tour itineraries operate as advertised. I’m also a point of contact for driver and customers.
• GLENTON tours I’ve been on include a shopping trip to Newcastle, Malta & Northern Ireland.

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