We recently received amazing feedback from a group who travelled on a once in a lifetime trip to Tuscany. Here they share with us their memorable journey and what they experienced as they came together in this beautiful part of the world.
Our group came from all over Canada, meeting up in Pisa for our journey to San Quirico d’Orcia and the Hotel Albergo Palazzuolo.
And what a group it was. A whole family of 6 celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, four girlfriends since elementary school on a milestone adventure together, several couples, the wives of whom had all grown up in a small town in Quebec together. Old friends met new friends, and the fun began.
Our hotel was lovely with a gorgeous pool to swim in after a days hike.
The HF guides were terrific guiding us through magical Tuscan countryside daily.
Good thing for the hikes as the hotel fed us delicious, abundant dinners every evening at one long celebratory table. The wine flowed, the laughter filled the room and memories for a lifetime were created.
There were many tearful goodbyes on the last day and promises to keep in touch, share photos and get together again.
We had a very special week under the Tuscan Sun. Thank you HF for making it perfect and unforgettable.
"I was happy to be chosen to experience the Pure Grenada tour hosted by the Grenada Tourism Authority. I was so excited, that I had to share my story with you! We were looked after by Lisa Braithwaite who us met us at the airport and Roger Augustine, a very knowledgeable native Grenadian that met us on arrival.
This was my first visit to a different Caribbean island and what a fantastic experience it was. After the flight we cleared customs and were transferred within 20 minutes. We checked in and were greeted with a lovely neck and shoulder massage. Just what was need after the flight!
The next day we experienced River Tubing - travelling through the rapids of Balhazar river, spinning and swirling in a modified river tube. It was fun, but also nerve wracking at the same time as it really took me out of my comfort zone. Considering I can't swim, my life jacket became my best friend during this trip!
The cruise to Port Louis marina was so amazing, sitting back and enjoying the calm of the sea, it was nature at its best for me. What really topped it off was the stunning sunset with a rum punch in hand.
We felt like VIPs for our dinner at the Blue Horizons Garden Resort as we were hosted by the manager Arnold Hopkin. It was great to see this hotel as it's the one our guests will be staying at. This was definitely fine dining at it’s best. The hotel had a very tranquil feel, and is set on 6 1/4 acres of land. It is home to 27 species of birds and also offers bird watching on a Sunday morning and a Garden tour in the evening, all complementary to HF guests.
The Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station is the largest nutmeg processing factory on the Island. Here I saw workers choose, grade and package the nutmeg. At the end of the tour, we explored the nutmeg world and took something home as a memory. Grenada is known as the Spice Island and is full of flavors.
The rum distillery dates back to 1785 and it is home to the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery. It uses traditional methods with sugar cane to produce its white rum. We were given the opportunity to see the rum in production and sample a taste. I definitely had to have a go on this one!
The Underwater Sculpture Park was really amazing and felt like a very different experience. In the Molinere Beausejour Marine Protected Area there are over 100 individual sculptures. These include a mermaid, Christ of the Deep and most recently added, the Nutmeg Princess. This was yet another challenge for me, however with my life jacket again and a very skillful diver, I experienced snorkeling for the very first time. With all the fear, it was well worth it to see some of the sculptures, fish and the corals. This experience was so amazing and it will be one which I will never forget.
Our mode of travel was a mini bus, which was a little bumpy at times on the local roads. The scenery made up for that as it was so vast with lush green mountains, beautiful beaches and the local life of the Grenadians. What I enjoyed the most was how quickly you could get across the island to see even more of its natural beauty. The local cuisine was infused with local spices and the rum punches helped compliment the meals.
My highlight was definitely the sunset cruise. Please take me back there now for the calmness of the sea! I loved everything about this island and I know that our guests will have a great experience.
Don’t forget to let us know how the experience was for you!
Our Leisure Activities Product Manager, Rachel Ashburner, recently tried out our Art and Crafts Heritage Tour at Conistonwater. Here she shares with us her experiences on the holiday.
The sun-drenched southern Lake District was the destination for my recent HF Holidays Arts and Crafts Heritage Tour. Yes, you read that right, ‘sun-drenched’, I hit a mini heatwave with not a cloud to see and glorious sunshine in this beautiful part of the world which is normally famed for its rainfall.
I studied History of Fine and Decorative Arts many moons ago but over the years life and work have frequently interrupted me indulging in my passion for the Arts so I was delighted to book on this tour! I arrived late afternoon at the beautiful lakeside country house Monk Coniston. A warm welcome is assured from House Manager John Croxford and his team and I had a luxurious newly decorated room in one of the cottages.
After a stroll around the extensive grounds and a relaxing in the sun watching the sail boats on Conistonwater, it was time for a delicious warm scone and a cup of tea (relaxing is hard work!). Chatting over my cream tea I got to meet my fellow guests and leader on my Heritage Tour and those on guided walking and self-guided breaks; it was a lovely mix of interesting people. Then it was time for a guided walk around the immediate area and a bit more relaxation before our tour group met up to hear about the programme for the week.
Over a glass of wine our fantastic leader introduced the holiday and told us a bit more about what we would be doing the next day. The discussion was fascinating as everyone on the holiday had their particular interests and were extremely knowledgeable – I knew it was going to be a stimulating few days. After a great 3-course dinner and an entertaining quiz over coffee it was time for bed.
John Ruskin was the theme of our first day and we headed out after a leisurely breakfast. First stop was the Ruskin museum in the centre of Coniston village. There are some stunning examples of Ruskin lace and numerous artefacts. The museum also houses other exhibits featuring Swallows and Amazon’s author Arthur Ransome and Donald Campbell’s Bluebird. Some guests chose to walk around Coniston village before we were transported to the lakeshore to enjoy lunch in sun before catching the boat across the water to Brantwood, Ruskin’s home in the latter part of his life.
Ruskin Lace in the Ruskin Museum
Brantwood is a fascinating architectural gem commanding glorious views over the ever-changing Lakeland landscape. We had plenty of time to wander around the house and garden trails before cooling off with some liquid refreshment on the terrace café. After a wonderful afternoon it was back on the boat to cross the lake in style.
Another delicious 3 course dinner awaited us back at Monk Coniston and we took coffee on the lawn and indulged in a game of croquet….as I said, it’s hard work!
Day 2 and we set out for Kendal and the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry. We were treated to a fascinating talk just for our group from the museum director who is a specialist on Annie Garnett. Annie was a contradictory woman who was a talented textile artist and business woman who ran her own spinnery; she employed women yet declared London ‘too suffragetty’ when she visited! We then went on to see the modern day Arts and Crafts movement in the form of the Quaker Tapestry.
After a leisurely picnic lunch by the river we were off to see the most breathtakingly beautiful Burne-Jones and Morris stained glass windows tucked away in a small church. It was one of those treats that you need someone to take to you see or else you’d never find it!
Then we were off to the highlight of the day to take afternoon tea at Broadleys, a wonderful Voysey Arts and Crafts home now the home of the Windermere Sailing Club, with outstanding lakeside gardens.
Beautiful Arts and Crafts details at Broadleys
A glorious end to a glorious day. I had to head home but tour continued …I’ll have to go again to finish it!
Thousands of you love to walk and enjoy England and Wales’ beautiful National Parks. They are stunningly beautiful in all sorts of diverse ways. That's why, together with Campaign for National Parks, the only national charity dedicated to protecting and improving the National Parks of England and Wales, we invited you to share your #summerofbeauty in our photo competition.
Hannah Garcia, head of Partnerships at HF Holidays reported: “We were blown away by the many fantastic entries demonstrating the outstanding beauty of the National Parks. What's really brilliant is that these Parks are there for everyone to enjoy and we are proud to support the work of Campaign for National Parks to protect them.'
The winning photograph, shown above, was a stunning panorama of the Western Brecon Beacons, taken by Mark Kent. The photo, taken from Fan Foel, overlooks Picws Du and Llyn Fan Fach.
Mark said, ' I've lived in South Wales with my family for just over five years. I fell in love with the Brecon Beacons National Park when I first visited the area, shorty after our arrival. I love to go there whenever I have the opportunity and my timetable allows. My camera always goes with me as I love to capture something of the beauty of creation. It sometimes means a very early start to catch the sunrise!'
Mark will receive a £250 voucher towards an incredible holiday with HF Holidays and a feature spread in Campaign for National Parks’ Viewpoint magazine.
Striking images from Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks were both runners up in the competition. Sue Court's characterful capture of a Highland cow in Dartmoor shows a fun side to the theme.
Julia Amies Green managed to capture a vivid coastal scene at Wind Hill looking towards Lynmouth in Exmoor: the judges loved the vivid colours.
Congratulations to all three winning entries and to everyone who took part.
Need inspiration for your next outdoors adventure?
With so many beautiful National Parks to choose from (13 exactly in the UK), HF Holidays are lucky to have country houses in nine of them. Use the links below to discover your next summer adventure with HF Holidays.