Paul Giamatti to join Downton Abbey cast

aaa I’m a huge Downton fan so I was really pleased to read that the star of films including Sideways, The Hangover Part 2 and Ironclad, as well as the mini-series John Adams, will be adding his undoubted talents to the cast of the country’s favourite costume drama.

Giamatti, highly respected within acting circles, will play the part of Harold, the ‘playboy maverick’ brother of Cora, the Countess of Grantham, in series four of the multi-award winning drama. Speculation is rife that his character will shake up the staid, stiff-upper-lipness of the British aristocrats resident at Downton Abbey.

Giamatti is an incredibly gifted actor (catch Sideways if you haven’t seen it for evidence) and his inclusion is sure to attract even more viewers to what is already one of the most successful British dramas for decades.

Fans are certainly in for a treat as his is not the only special appearance scheduled for the next series of Downton, which will also see Dame Tiri te Kanawa play the part of an opera singer (what a surprise) and the introduction of Eastenders actor Nigel Harman (Dennis Rickman) as a visiting valet.

The existing jewels in the Downton crown, Oscar winners Dame Maggie Smith and Shirley McLaine, return to lock horns as the respective British and American matriarchs and I, for one, can’t wait to see how Giamatti’s Harold spices up the drama when he is first seen in this year’s Christmas episode.

His introduction is, of course, another sop to the already huge and growing American audience and a reflection of the fact that the series is a huge hit across the pond as well as elsewhere around the world, with over 100 countries broadcasting the ups and downs of the aristocratic Crawley family.

Despite being somewhat sniffily received by British critics initially, the show has won numerous awards in the UK and US, although it still has yet to win a full BAFTA. Don’t ask me why not, as I can’t work it out.

As I love the programme and don’t miss an episode, it won’t surprise anyone to find out that P and P Tours, tops for bespoke tours and private escorted tours, provide regular Downton Abbey tours, which take in both Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey itself) and the village of Downton, as well as a Gems of Downton Tour and a Scotland Downton Abbey Tour, which features the locations North of the Border that were seen in series three.

For full details of all three tours follow the link below: -

http://www.pandptours.co.uk/downton-abbey-tours/

Our tours show you all the locations used in the filming of this British TV hit and our expert guide can fill you in with all the cast and production snippets that you won’t get anywhere else.

Now that details of the highly anticipated series four have been released, tour places, which are already limited, are sure to go quickly so don’t miss out if you want to catch one of our great Downton tours.  You won’t regret it.

 

The Solo Woman Traveller

aab

I know from my own experience that travelling alone as a woman can be daunting and lonely.

However, I have found it to be true that there is nothing more rewarding than taking the plunge – it can be confidence boosting, it provides an opportunity to focus on what I want to do, on my interests and my personal loves. And then it’s a fabulous way of meeting new friends, often other like-minded women, and experiencing a new culture.

Many of my clients on P and P Tours escorted and chauffeur tours are single women from across the globe who are travelling alone out of necessity or choice. Many share a passionate interest in Jane Austen and the literary world she created. Others just love this land of England!

In terms of travelling alone let’s be honest for a minute. Whilst family holidays or trips with a loved one can be equally fantastic, there is inevitably an element of compromise involved. There always is when the needs of more than one person have to be considered. How many times have you said to yourself “I’d love to take that excursion but the children/partner (delete as appropriate) wouldn’t enjoy it”?

Lone travel is the ultimate expression of treating oneself – you get to go where you want, when you want (work permitting) and do exactly what you want when you get there. You also learn so much about yourself as a person and if you’re lucky, you grow and become more self-reliant and resilient.

But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t obey a few simple rules that will help ensure your trip is as safe as possible.

First of all follow the well known military maxim – prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance, or in this scenario, an unwelcome incident. On escorted tours everything will be taken care of for you. But for a solo trip research the place you’d like to visit – see what the Foreign Office travel advice is. What are the local dress codes for women? What’s the best way to travel locally – bus, train, taxi? What are the local customs to be followed? All this information is readily available on the internet. Some travel forums are particularly useful, such as Thorn Tree:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa

Laws differ wildly country to country. What is perfectly acceptable behaviour in one country can be frowned upon in another and illegal in yet another. Research where you’re going, take note and be smart.

Next in my most important travel tips is – do what the local women do. Find out what locals wear, what places they avoid and find out if there are any specific practices to which women should adhere?

The other rules for staying safe are common sense and apply as much to home life as they do to travelling abroad. I’m talking here about walking in unknown areas after dark, leaving drinks unattended, displaying obviously expensive jewellery, etc. You wouldn’t do it in everyday life so why do it even when you’re enjoying a fantastic holiday. Be sensible to be safe.

Despite all of that, remember that you can still travel to some exotic and, perhaps in terms of perceptions, wild places and still be perfectly safe as a woman travelling alone. What’s more it can be a thoroughly enriching experience. And, if you happen to befriend another independent woman with similar interests who is travelling alone so much the better.

It’s a little known fact that we speak to more people and make more friends when we travel alone, purely because when you’re on your own the communication is all down to you. Travel presenter Angela Rippon captured it correctly when she said “A sense of adventure is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It would be terrible if we (women) all only thought it was safe to go to Bognor”.

And on a personal note – every tour from P and P Tours has at least one woman travelling solo – you’ll be among friends from the start of the welcome meeting.

A very special tour to celebrate 200 years of Pride and Prejudice

I’m as excited as a little kid when Christmas is just around the corner, and with very good reason.

Not only have I just moved into my beautiful new house but P and P Tours’ 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice Elite escorted tour is now just a few weeks away – and what an experience its shaping up to be.

Whilst I like to think that all PandP’s escorted tours are enjoyable occasions this exciting, unique event promises to be truly special, featuring as it does, an exclusive talk and presentation by the director of the famous 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Simon Langton.

Of course that series is popularly credited with launching Colin Firth from low key success and critical acclaim to mainstream super stardom. It will be interesting to hear Simon talk about the making of that iconic and much loved programme and just how much credit he takes for Colin Firth’s subsequent success.

Simon Langton was BAFTA nominated for that version of Pride and Prejudice, as well as some of his other work, for which he is equally well known, such as his TV adaptation of John Le Carre’s Smiley’s People, Mother Love and multiple episodes of other popular series The Duchess of Duke Street, Jeeves and Wooster, Rosemary & Thyme and Midsomer Murders.

And  that’s not all !!

Day One starts with an escorted walking tour of Bath visiting locations associated with Jane Austen with visits to the Jane Austen Centre, including a Georgian garden and the Assembly Rooms.

At afternoon tea,about guests will be treated to a costume display and presentation by international costume expert Natalie Garbett, entitled ‘What Jane Wore’: -

http://historicalclothinganduniforms.blogspot.co.uk/

After the excitement of Simon Langton’s presentation and Q&A session during the evening of Day One, Day Two features a tour of all of the film locations from the 1995 series and culminates with a tour of Longbourn, the home of the Bennett family in the 1995 BBC adaptation, to which PandP Tours has world exclusive right of access. The Longbourn event takes in all the film locations, both inside and out of the house and includes full afternoon tea , a dancing display by the fabulous Jane Austen Dancers,

http://janeaustendancersbath.co.uk/about.html

followed by the opportunity for us to have a go at Regency dancing ourselves. Great fun, particularly as we’ll be in full Regency attire! Lack of ability is not accepted Remember, as Jane Austen said herself in her greatest novel, “Every savage can dance”.

All in all, the 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice Tour promises to be two days that all Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fans shouldn’t miss. The full itinerary is shown below and there are still a few places available, although they’re going fast, so don’t miss out.

http://www.pandptours.co.uk/itineraries/

 

My Top 10 British Tourist Attractions

Now that the summer is finally gracing us with its presence it’s the perfect time to look at the most popular places to visit in the UK.

If you browse the internet there are a host of different Top 10 lists to compare – Top 10 attractions, Top 10 castles and palaces, Top 10 iconic landmarks – often with an understandable degree of overlap. Of course any list like this is largely subjective – for some a visit to the Top 10 Premier League football grounds would be of more interest than the places I’ve put forward, but there’s no accounting for taste!.

As I’m comparatively well travelled – especially within the confines of these shores, I thought it might be fun to share my own Top 10 attractions this wonderful country has to offer, whether you’re on a staycation or are an international visitor.

Any of my favourites can be visited by yourself but it is easier and often less stressful to take a chauffeur tour or private escorted tour.

My interest is in history and heritage and so here goes: -

aabBuckingham Palace – the obsession with all things royal, both here and abroad, means that the home of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II must top this list. An iconic landmark seen by the world during the annual London marathon, last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations as well as a being the focus for incidents of national joy or sorrow, Buckingham Palace is open to the public for tours of the State Rooms and Garden Highlights.

Westminster Abbey – the traditional home for royal weddings, coronations and burials Westminster Abbey is a must see location for those interested in the history of the great and the good of Britain. Visitors can visit the remains of historical figures such as Oliver Cromwell, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare and Charles Darwin, as well as the tomb of The Unknown Warrior. There are a range of tours of the Abbey including Verger Tours, Audio Tours and Guided Tours.

Blenheim Palace – birthplace to perhaps the Greatest Briton (according to the BBC poll anyway), Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim is a fantastic stately home to visit if you get the opportunity. Set in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside the palace is the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and is the only non-royal house to bear the title of palace. Visitors are able to tour the house and/or stroll around the palace’s extensive formal gardens.

Warwick Castle – the castle, built from a design put forward by William the Conqueror, is eternally popular attraction with families. A popular site for tourists since the early 1900′s Warwick Castle is perhaps best known for its Summer jousting events, its fabulous collection of armoury (second only to the Tower of London) and its haunted Watergate Tower. The castle, owned by Merlin Entertainments, attracts over half a million visitors who flock there to see the many seasonal events on offer.

Roman Baths (Bath) – the stunningly preserved Roman Baths and nearby Grand Pump Room receive over a million visitors a year thanks to the care with which the site has been maintained and then developed. Comprised of the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman bath House and a museum displaying locally found artefacts, the Roman Baths, in Bath, won the Silver Award for Large Visitor Attraction in the 2013 VisitEngland Awards. This is one of my favourite complementary locations to the Jane Austen Centre, a must for all Pride and Prejudice fans.

Stonehenge – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a focus for the famous Summer Solstice celebrations Stonehenge is one of the most iconic and recognisable images in the world. The prehistoric monument is believed to have been arranged as early as 2500 BC although so much about Stonehenge remains a mystery and a number of myths abound, including stories of satanic worship and alien involvement in the alignment of the stones. The Stonehenge site is now managed by English Heritage and is open to the general public.

Tower of London – or Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower, commissioned by William the Conqueror on his ascension to the English throne, has served many purposes – royal residence, armoury, prison, royal menagerie, home to the crown jewels and now major tourist attraction. The Tower is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the Crown Jewels. Visitors can enjoy the Medieval Palace tour, a Yeoman warder tour and check that the ravens are still in residence, lest the kingdom and the Tower itself falls.

Chatsworth House – set in the heart of Derbyshire Chatsworth is home to the Duke of Devonshire and his family the Cavendish’s. The house, home to a unique collection of priceless art, furniture and other artefacts, dates from the late 17th century but has seen several modifications throughout the intervening years. Chatsworth’s gardens, including the remaining baroque features blended with the later changes introduced by Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton are generally regarded as glorious, and have far too many highlights to mention here. My own love of Chatsworth stems from its use in the BBC’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation where it doubled as Pemberley, the Darcy family home.

Palace of Westminster – includes the House of Commons, House of Lords and of course the Elizabeth Tower, home of Big Ben, the third biggest free standing clock tower in the world and one of the most iconic landmarks in Britain. The old palace was the primary royal residence but after a fire in 1512 the new Perpendicular Gothic style palace became the home of parliament, and is now regarded as the home of parliamentary democracy. Although most visitors satisfy themselves with a photograph of the iconic building, there is access to the palace either through application to their MP for UK residents or the London Blue Badge Tourist Guides during the Summer recess.

Windsor Castle – still an official residence of the Queen, Windsor Castle attracts many visitors due to that continuing status and its wonderful architecture. The castle is another commissioned by William the Conqueror and is the longest-occupied royal palace in Europe as well as the largest occupied castle in the world. Famed for its facade as seen from the Long Walk and St. George’s Chapel and the number of state occasions held there Windsor Castle is open to the general public but there are also a number of specialist private tours available.

There’s my own Top 10 and, whilst there are some places I’ve had to omit in the interests of brevity, you can’t really argue that any of locations I’ve suggested aren’t worth a mention and, of course, a visit.

So, when you’re planning your private escorted tour with PandP Tours how about extending your stay by an extra day or two to take in one or two of these fantastic places.

Always England

aabWhenever I have a bad day at work, I close my eyes and think of England. Jane Austen’s England to be precise. Instead of worrying about an endless conference call or an overcrowded subway train, I remember an afternoon spent wandering the gardens of Hartfield, spending the night at Uppercross, or staring out the window of Longbourn’s sitting room on the lookout for Mr. Darcy. Because I’ve done all those things. And I begin to feel a little bit better.

I’ve loved watching costume dramas for almost as long as I’ve loved reading British literature. The gentle manners, the graceful language, the women in their elegant gowns and the men in their intricately knotted cravats, the well-proportioned gardens and the stately rooms – they’ve not only become a part of my life but help define who I am as a person.

So when I first discovered P&P Tours, I thought it was too good to be true. A tour company that takes me to the very country estates I’ve always dreamed of seeing? And in company with fellow Anglophiles, Janeites, and booklovers? You mean I’ll get to stand at the very spot where Mr. Knightley and Emma declared their feelings for one another? And wander the same gardens where Anne Elliott meandered, thinking of Captain Wentworth? And take tea in the Bennets’ sitting room? Really?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of two P&P Tours – Persuasion with Sense and Sensibility and Box of Delights – and I can honestly say that they were the best vacations I’ve ever had. With lush countryside passing outside the windows of our coach, my companionable group and I transported from the 21st century and into the pages of beloved novels as we flitted from one ornate estate to the next. These were the very rooms where Emma Thompson’s Elinor began to fall in love with Hugh Grant’s Edward Ferrars. This is the corner where Amanda Root’s Anne played the pianoforte and watched as Ciarán Hind’s Captain Wentworth flirted with every woman but her. And here is the prettyish sort of wilderness where Jennifer Elhe’s Elizabeth defends herself to Lady Catherine.

I’ve been to all those places so now every time I re-read one of the novels or watch one of the adaptations on DVD, it’s like I’m reliving my vacation memories all over again. I’m there beside my favorite heroines, and it’s as if I’m a part of the story.

I will always have those memories, and I’ll always have England.

- Marybeth Ihle

Pride and Prejudice – 200 years old and popular as ever

aaa man of dayIn 2012 we saw the British people demonstrate their passion for two of the country’s most devotedly held obsessions – the Royal family and sport – courtesy of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics, but in 2013 it is the turn of another of our beloved icons to take centre stage.

When Jane Austen penned her classic novel Pride and Prejudice in 1813, it can’t have occurred to her that 200 years later it would have such a hold on the consciousness of millions of people worldwide and that the work would inspire countless adaptations on television and the silver screen, including a zombie version.

Now that we’re over a third of the way into the 200th anniversary of Austen’s ‘own darling child’ (her own description of the novel), we’re experiencing a huge surge in Austen related events celebrating and commemorating the great author and all her works, not just Pride and Prejudice. For a fully paid up Jane Austen nut, this is pure nirvana.

There’s even a website and Facebook page dedicated to listing all the events being held worldwide, which is really useful for fans wishing to take part in some capacity: -

http://www.prideandprejudice200.org.uk/

Here at PandP Tours, it is no different – as experts in elite escorted tours and chauffeur tours, as you’d expect from a company inspired by a love of the original material, not to mention the sight of Colin Firth emerging wet-shirted from the pool in that famous scene!

This July PandP Tours has a very special two-day Pride and Prejudice Tour, which includes an exclusive presentation from Simon Langton, director of the pre-eminent costume drama adaptation, the BBC’s 1995 award-winning pride and Prejudice series. Here’s a link to our tour itinerary: -

http://www.pandptours.co.uk/itineraries/

The novel is loved by people (mostly women) throughout the world, many of whom take their appreciation to the lengths of visiting Bath, home of the Jane Austen Centre, which receives approximately 60,000 visitors per year, 80% of which are female – according to Centre spokesman David Lassman.

Our tour in July will share one of the major delights Austen fans enjoy – dressing in period costume. The venue for the second day of the tour is Longbourn and features the opportunity to participate in some Regency dancing as well as a full English tea.

Simon Langton AND regency dancing at Longbourn – could Jane Austen fans ask for more?

Whilst Bath may be the centre of the Jane Austen celebratory events, courtesy of the Jane Austen Centre and the marvellous period architecture still seen in the city, there are other British locations to which PandP fans can make a bi-centennial pilgrimage, including the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, the impressive and awe-inspiring Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which was used as Darcy’s family home in the 2005 movie, and Coughton Court in Warwickshire which regularly holds Austen themed balls.

Further details of these locations, including a mention of us at PandP Tours, can be found at the following link to a Daily Mail article: -

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2288953/Pride-Prejudice-200th-anniversary-The-best-UK-days-events-help-lost-Austen.html

So, if you a lover of all things related to Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen, make sure you get involved – there’s so much to see and do including, of course, with our very own Pride and Prejudice Tours.

 

A detour from P&P Tours – Welsh Rugby

The once in every twelve years

Although it’s a bit of a departure from my normal area of expertise the impending British & Irish Lions tour of Australia is still worth a mention, if only for the fact that it allows me to expose myself as a lifelong Wales fan, who is as pleased as can be to see so many of the victorious Six Nations team on the plane to Oz.

Lions tours occur every four years but, due to the rotational nature of the countries they visit – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – fans only get the chance to sample the unique delights of a Lions tour to one of those splendid countries once every twelve years, which must make them pretty special.

The last time the Lions toured Australia, in 2001, over 25,000 passionate rugby fans from all four Home Nations, for a short period friends and allies, visited Australia to make up the ‘sea of red’. This year, despite the poor financial climate, there are likely to be even more.

With matches every Wednesday and Saturday Lions tours offer a fantastic opportunity to mix rugby with the more traditional holiday activities such as hitting the beach or taking in the local culture, and, lets face it, there aren’t many better countries to visit than Australia. If you don’t believe, me grab a copy of Bill Bryson’s Down Under. You’ll be packing your sun cream and looking for flight details before you know it.

If you’re up for a Lions tour there are many specialist tour companies offering a range of escorted tours Down Under, and a range of options within that basic framework depending upon how many matches the rugby mad traveller wants to attend, which areas the tourist has a preference for and whether they want to see all the matches including the provincial games, or just the Test matches, or even just one match – anything is possible.

This year’s Lions tour is made even more special as their opening game takes place in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most vital and exciting cities – something that will start your Lions tour off with a bang.

Whilst some escorted tours provide the nuts and bolts – flights, accommodation, travel in-country and match tickets, other companies can and do offer something a little different.  As well as the usual escorted tours there are also bespoke, private tours available that give the traveller that little bit extra. For instance what could be better than being on a Lions tour in the presence of an ex-Lion, say Colin Charvis or Simon Shaw, someone able to regale you with those intimate details and amusing ‘war’ stories that truly bring the experience to life?

Some companies have been able to recruit the services of ex-Lions tourists who will accompany the group to the games and offer their own, unique insight into the action on the field.  Other companies, in the knowledge that many people have family Down Under, can tailor your tour to incorporate a stay with those distant relatives you only normally get to see on Skype or the webcam.

So, if you’re at a loose end this June and you can spare the time and expense get yourself on a Lions tour – you’ll make friends, experience the delights of Australia and, hopefully, witness the first victorious Lions tour since 1997. I know that if wasn’t so busy with PandP Tours I’d be there in a flash.

Tours go crazy – inner cities anyone?

Anyone interested in an escorted tour of inner city Handsworth?

In my business its always wise to keep abreast of the competition, just to see what else is on offer and, of course, to get an idea of whether I can improve upon the services I provide with PandP Tours.

I was utterly surprised then to recently come across the newest, and most different, city tour that I’ve seen in a while.

The Lozells and East Handsworth Heritage Trail, a project instigated by heritage West Midlands, kicks off this month intending to showcase the industrial and cultural heritage of an area of Birmingham that is relatively unknown outside of the news reports covering the riots there in 1985 and then again in 2005.

The two-hour escorted tour will take visitors around the notorious district of Britain’s second city taking in such sights as Soho House, home to 18th century industrialist Matthew Boulton, St. Mary’s church, home to the remains of James Watt, the Scottish engineer and inventor as well as the first Halal slaughterhouse in the West Midlands; although I’m not sure that particular location will be viewed as a highlight.

However, this tour isn’t even close to being the strangest one out there. In Belfast you’ll soon be able to take part in a tour of sites associated with the troubles and there’s even a bus tour of the M25 available if you’re daft enough to want to sit in a tailback for several hours whilst paying for the privilege.

What this goes to show is that the business of escorted and private tours is a complex and highly personal matter. If you’re obsessed with the paranormal or supernatural nearly every major town and city throughout the land provides guided tours of so-called haunted buildings and locations. Historical and heritage tours are similarly abundant in their availability and cover all aspects of life – social, economic, political, architectural, military, etc, etc.

My particular specialism with PandP Tours is, of course, costume dramas and film location tours, but if your ‘thing’ is contemporary drama or cinema you can also find what your looking for with tours associated with famous fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes, Chief Inspector Morse or Inspector Rebus spanning London, Oxford and Edinburgh.

You can also enjoy tours associated with the authors and their life rather than their creations – you name an author and I’ll bet there is some form of tour, whether escorted or private, available.

So whilst a walk around the less salubrious areas of Birmingham might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are sure to people out there for whom such a prospect will be just the ticket. And wouldn’t life be boring if we all liked the same things?

Free Tour place for a Reviewer

aaa man of dayCalling Reviewers and Journalists - here at P and P Tours we’d like to offer you the opportunity of coming along on one of our exclusive film location tours.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of the hit show Downton Abbey, or jump in Mr Darcy’s pond, here’s your chance. PandP Tours offer a range of tours for the costume drama enthusiast, taking in such literary and televisual classic treats as the Pride and Prejudice Tour, the Jane Austen Tour as well as incorporating the more recent massively popular TV hit series with our Downton Abbey Tour.

It goes without saying that this is a quid-pro-quo arrangement, so the offer is only open to a journalist with an pre-agreed outlet for a piece about their experience on whichever of our tours they choose to take. Remember you will be able enjoy that tour for free – just peruse our tour dates from the link below and contact us: -

http://www.pandptours.co.uk/tours-and-dates/

This opportunity would be an ideal chance to see just how personal escorted tours operate, what services they offer and, perhaps more importantly, what the tour clients have to say, particularly with regard to why they chose a private, more personal tour, such as those provided by P and P Tours, rather than the larger escorted option.

Here’s a link to one of our most popular tours currently, our single day Downton Abbey Tour: -

http://www.pandptours.co.uk/downton-abbey-tours/

 

Trace your family on a Genealogy tour

aaa man of dayP&P Tours has a partner who researches genealogy tours, either escorted tours or bespoke tours to France for individuals whose relatives fought in the two world wars. We asked them to tell us why these kind of bespoke tours are proving so popular. To find out more click here

 

Mass access to the internet has led to many things; some good, some less so, some beneficial, some (too much) a nuisance. One of the really good things the internet has allowed however, is access to public records on an unprecedented scale.

Mirroring this has been the recent growth in genealogy – the desire to build our family trees, trace our roots and unearth interesting facts about our ancestors. There are a host of individuals and companies that will do this, often painstaking, research on our behalf, although some people, with the desire and resources do it for themselves.

“Who do You Think You Are?” is a hugely popular television programme on both sides of the Atlantic, amply demonstrating that this interest applies equally to the family history of others too.

Merging our annual holiday with our hobbies and personal interests is nothing new, but the rise in genealogy tours is. These are tours where we, the punter, can have a company do the research on our behalf and then take us on a tour, showing us where our beloved relative, or family, once lived, worked and eventually died.

In the United States in particular, there is massive interest in Genealogy Tours. Thanks to the specific American history of mass immigration from all around the globe, and Europe in particular, an interested US customer has a wide choice of companies to choose from if they want to follow the paths previously trodden by their ancestors. There are a number of genealogical companies that offer regular tours to Ireland, Scotland and London.

Megan Smolenyak the American author of ‘Who Do You Think You Are? The Essential Guide To Tracing Your Family History’, the companion book to the US TV series explained. “It’s all about walking in your ancestor’s footsteps. It’s really catching on”.

As you’d probably expect there’s a range of options for the interested client with a genealogy bent. Companies offer tours for clients with highly personalised itineraries, visiting towns where their families originated, churches where the family enjoyed marriages, homes where they once lived and relatives were born.

For the client who is as interested in the research as it’s eventual revelations some tours centre around trips to archives so the client can be involved in the intensive research process. These too vary, between large group genealogical tours to national and regional document repositories, and small bespoke tours, chauffeur tours or escorted tours for individuals or family groups, that arrange everything including travel, accommodation and, of course, a guide.

One of the most interesting elements currently catered for are battlefield genealogy tours where family members can visit the locations where loved ones fought and, perhaps most poignantly, lost their lives in battle. With the wealth of information that is now available its is quite a straight forward process to research the movements of a specific unit and therefore the soldiers of which it was comprised.

WWI and WWII are catered for with all the major battlefield sites well covered, particularly the Normandy D-Day beaches and nearby military cemeteries – if you remember the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan, just before the beach landing scene, you’ll know what I mean as it captures the essence of a battlefield genealogy tour.

So, when you’re pondering you’re next holiday destination perhaps give some thought to a genealogy tour where you can really ‘follow in the footsteps of your fathers’.

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