© Ashdown Travel 2023
Travelling to new places has always been a fascination for me, and ever since I can remember, whenever time and budget permits, I go! Perhaps it was the summers spent exploring France as a child, or maybe the hours spent daydreaming as I watched the planes out of the window at home – either way, it was perhaps inevitable that I landed up working in travel.
I have worked for over 35 years in the industry – everything from Campsite Courier to Passenger Service Agent at Gatwick to Reservations Manager for a villa specialist. But the attraction of being able to tailor bespoke holidays worldwide for clients, led me in 1998 to the world of independent retail, and I’ve never looked back. I joined the team here at Ashdown in 2005 and happily, I still get great pleasure in creating the ideal itinerary for a client.
My career to date has enabled me to visit many places, but in particular I love islands! From small Caribbean hideaways like Anguilla and St Barth’s to the simplicity of the Greek Ionian Islands; the colonial charms of Bermuda; mighty Australia and the diverse Indian Ocean Islands of the Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius, they all have their own unique appeal.
For many years, Orlando was great fun for family holidays, and I do consider myself to be an expert on the thrills that this part of Florida can offer! But South Africa and Canada remain two of my favourite destinations simply because of their diversity. From stunning scenery and outstanding wildlife encounters to cosmopolitan cities and fabulous dining, you can have a multitude of experiences in just one trip.
Our third family holiday to South Africa in 2023 was another magical experience, building such precious memories together is priceless. We had so much fun visiting the different vineyards by Wine Tram in beautiful Franschhoek – the Lindt chocolate wine pairing at Vrede en Lust was a delicious revelation! We then moved into the Klein Karoo for an awesome game experience at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. This reserve is a major conservation project run on a not-for-profit basis and for just over 20 years has been re-wilding land and restoring the eco-system that had been previously damaged by farming. The numbers of game are fewer than you might find elsewhere but the quality of the game experiences are very special indeed. We then dropped down to the coast at Wilderness where the floor to ceiling windows of our suite afforded stunning views not just of the coast but also of the daring paragliders literally swooping alongside our room above the cliff! It was easy to explore nearby Knysna finishing with an afternoon cruise on the lagoon onboard a beautiful antique wooden cruiser originally built in England for the university Boat Race! To conclude the trip we headed back to Cape Town to visit the mighty Table Mountain, unspoilt Cape Point and the cheeky penguins at Boulders Beach. We will be back!
My career in Travel has spanned over 50 years and has included working for a Midland based European Tour Operator and after a few years at home following the birth of my two children, I spent the next 20 years managing branches of a large Retail Travel Agent.
During this time I visited many European and worldwide countries, my favourite being Italy where I have enjoyed the Lakes, the countryside and the cities. Driving down from the UK proved to be a truly wonderful experience; the scenery is fabulous passing through small villages and enjoying the local cuisine on the way.
A short spell at a cruising specialist gave me a real opportunity to learn about both ocean cruising and river cruising which has been of great value to me recently and given me the position of cruising specialist within the shop. Prior to working for Ashdown Travel I was the Weddings Manager for a Tour Operator and organised weddings for both group wedding parties and “ just the bride and groom” in faraway destinations.
I have been with Ashdown Travel since 2010 where I have had the opportunity to use my experience and have organised a group beach wedding in Thailand, a hilltop family wedding in Umbria, Italy and an intimate (just the two of us) marriage on the Greek Island of Mykonos.
I have travelled many Caribbean islands, Cuba, Mauritius, Seychelles, Egypt, India and Dubai; I have also taken holidays to Florida, California, Canada and most of Europe.
The Caribbean is where my current love lies; we holiday in Jamaica every spring at Couples Swept Away, an adult only Colonial style Hotel set on 7 miles of a beautiful white sand beach. The Hotel has a repeat guest ratio of over 30% which probably says it all, I have been there 12 times, and I can honestly say it is home from home!
Having started my career at British Airways Holidays working in telephone sales for a couple of years, I then joined Ashdown Travel in 1995, so I’m gradually working towards my 30th anniversary at Ashdown!
I have been lucky enough to have travelled to some wonderful places during my time in the travel industry.
Over the years I have travelled to some amazing places including Australia, Bangkok to Singapore on the Eastern Orient Express, St Lucia, the Grenadines, Barbados, Oman, Mauritius, Italy, Crete, Cyprus and more recently South Africa in 2018, then Menorca and Majorca in 2022 and 2023.
I love to chill out and relax on holiday, which in the past has been difficult with 2 children, however they are now grown up, so it makes holiday time a bit easier.
One of my favourite places is Palm Island in the Grenadines. My husband and I went there for our honeymoon in 2007. It is stunning! Palm Island is an all-inclusive, adult only, private island, where chilling out is a must. However, there are land and water-based sports available, plus boat excursions for those that like to do a bit more! An ideal holiday location!
In 2018 I was lucky enough to go on a work trip to South Africa. This was probably one of the best work trips I have been on.
We flew into Cape Town, where after a long flight, we were whisked away on the cable car travelling up to the top of Table Mountain. We spent a couple of days in Cape Town looking around the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Boulders Beach where you can see the Penguin colonies.
From there we travelled to Franschhoek and visited a wine estate. Next we went to the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. We were lucky enough to see a huge pod of whales with their babies while visiting here. Then Plettenburg Bay and finally finishing the trip with the most amazing safari at Shamwari Game Reserve, where aside from seeing most of the Big 5, we visited the Born Free Cat Sanctuary where they provide a rescue enclosure for big cats. A trip of a lifetime!
My career in the travel industry began 20 years ago where I have mostly worked for a large well-known high-street agent. Over the years, I have enjoyed planning weddings, honeymoons, family holidays and sending young adults away on their first independent holiday.
I joined Ashdown Travel in August 2023 after taking a 5-year break to bring up my daughter and I have been made to feel very welcome and a valued member of the team.
I have travelled to some fantastic destinations over the years including Barbados, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Goa, Orlando and Sorrento, to name a few.
One of my favourite and most memorable places has to be Kenya. Arriving at Tsavo East National Park for a 2-day safari and being greeted by so many elephants is an experience I will always treasure. Spending time on private game drives seeing elephants, giraffes, lions, buffalo, and zebra up close was just amazing. This was then coupled with a beach stay in the Diani Beach area, where I could relax on my sun lounger enjoying the views of the sea and beach. A visit to a restaurant built in a cave made a lovely change to eating at the hotel – we dined with open air views looking up to the moon and stars. Monkeys roaming around the hotel and peering through our window only added to my love of Kenya.
Mauritius is another favourite destination. I loved the stunning beaches and scenery and getting out visiting different places. La Vanille Nature Park where we got close to hundreds of giant tortoises was a great highlight. I also enjoyed private excursions taking in the scenic views and tallest waterfall in Mauritius at Black River Gorges National Park, Casella Safari Park, and the capital Port Louis.
I have visited Jamaica twice and love the great variety of activities it has to offer. From climbing Dunn’s River Falls to the less commercialised YS Falls, visiting Bob Marleys birthplace and childhood home as well as the Appleton Rum Factory. I had a great time at Mystic Mountain Adventure Park taking in the scenery on a canopy tour, followed by ziplining and a bob sleigh ride. I also enjoyed a boat trip along the Black River seeing numerous crocodiles.
My career started in the public sector during which time I carried out my accountancy training.
Over a period of thirteen years, I worked in accounts roles for three large government departments; my last role in the Civil Service was preparing accounts for the National Lottery Distribution Fund.
When my son was born I wanted to work closer to home and to work within the private sector, so I said goodbye to my London commute and left the Civil Service. Since then I’ve enjoyed seeing how independent businesses run and have worked for a range of local successful businesses in the areas of cleaning, manufacturing (including steel construction, and toy manufacturing), and now I’m happy to be working in the best industry of all, the travel industry.
I love hearing of fabulous holidays and new places to go; I just wished I loved flying as much!
I’ve worked for Ashdown Travel for over 5 years now, I love my job and couldn’t work with a nicer group of people.