Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A new look at familiar places

Here are a few snaps from my holiday with Traveleyes, or should I say reams of snaps, ha ha, yes there are rather a lot, I have put them all into one post. Get yourself a coffee and settle down for half an hour while you peruse, or feel free to split it into two parts if you want to come back to it later. Don't forget to click on the pictures if you want them bigger.

We arrived at the Rendevous Hotel, Skipton, at 3.30pm and after a relaxed check in and familiarising ourselves with the hotel layout, we enjoyed a champagne reception. At our reserved tables in the ballroom, we were served a delicious three course a la carte meal. Our evenings entertainment was a live cabaret featuring the music from Grease. Everyone soon got into the party spirit and was up out of their seats dancing to the lively music.

After breakfast the next day, we took a walk down the canal towpath which ran directly behind the hotel, to Skipton town centre. Amar and Claire are leading, Amar is the founder of Traveleyes, and Claire is his lovely assistant.

Each blind or visually impaired (VI) traveller is assigned a sighted guide. The pairs are changed daily so that everyone gets to know each other. You will see that some are carrying canes and some are not, it is up to the individual. Here we are re grouping for a few minutes to let everyone catch up.

Dont you think Amar and Claire make a lovely couple, ooops that's me always matchmaking, Claire has a boyfriend elsewhere. Shame, they do look nice together.

Our narrow boat was waiting for us when we arrived for our cruise. People need a helping hand to embark. When moving in unfamiliar confined spaces it is best that the guide goes first to give instructions on how many steps and the position of handrails. Maggie is helping Jillian.

Carol is stepping into the boat, and Claire is ready to assist Amar.

Ready to go, and it's a lovely sunny day. Drinks and biscuits were served.

I've got my head sticking out of the top to take this picture. We were passing our hotel and the conservatory you can see behind is our dining room. There were quite a few boats cruising up and down. The bridge with the white railings you can see, needs to be manually opened to let boats through it. Someone gets off the boat and pushes a big lever and it swings sideways, then they close it and jump back on the boat again.

After the boat ride we had free time to explore Skipton. I was let off guide duties for today because we have one too many, so I was able to take a few more photo's. This is the Town Hall, the Salvation Army are entertaining the visitors.

The Parish Church next to the castle.

We all met up again, waiting to go to the castle.

Approaching the entrance to the castle.

It was our lucky day, there was a medieval reenactment group performing in full costume. It was great, it brought everything to life. We also had our own private guide, who painted a wonderful picture with words.

Ready to go to battle.

They mingled with the visitors and it was ok to ask questions. Everyone was very helpfull as they allowed the VI's to touch their costumes to feel the thickness of the fabrics. When one of your senses is not working properly you need to be able to use the others to compensate, and touch is very important.

The characters walked around the grounds freely, from children, babes in arms, dogs, to wealthy landowners and servants, they were all there. I never knew history was so fascinating. Even the dogs had decorated collars.

This lady is being quizzed by Liz, who took a keen interest in the weight of her dress.

I took a few moments to explore and find different angles for photographs. Here, I am looking down at our group in the courtyard.

This is looking towards the entrance from the tower.

This beautiful castle is very well preserved and the gardens are immaculate. I have really enjoyed this visit.

At this point we split up and a few of our group decided to go back to the hotel. I went a walkabout around the outside of the castle and found this walkway alongside a stream. The sound of the rushing water tumbling over the wall was a very pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle of the traffic and market just around the corner.
That evening we returned to Skipton and enjoyed a meal in a nautical themed restaurant, a fitting end to the day.
The next day. A day out in York. The coach picked us up at the hotel and deposited us in York centre close to the city wall, where we met our guide. We had an interesting walk along part of the wall, then had free time to have lunch and a walk round. Four of us picked up a bite to eat from good old Marks and Sparks and found a table to sit and eat, in the middle of a continental food market. Suitably refreshed we had a walk around the narrow cobbled streets, Shambles being the most famous one, then had a stroll around the food market, with the mouthwatering aromas wafting past our nostrils.

After meeting up again we then went to the Jorvik Viking Museum, Jorvik being the original name of York. This was built on the site of a Viking settlement, and there is an authentic re-creation of houses, workshops, and backyards of how it used to be. We sat in little cars which run along a track and as you slowly glide through the exhibits, the story unfolds through the speakers in the headrests.

Some of the moving characters are very lifelike, as they go about their daily business.

Later that evening we had a short walk up the canal to the Bay Horse pub, and had an excellent meal. Egged on by my dining friends, yes you Bob and David, I over indulged a little. I wouldn't normally have a pudding, or a coffee afterwards, but on this ocassion I thought I would be sociable and join in the frivolities. Boy did I pay for it later. Think of a rock laid in your stomach, then later a train rumbling through. Just thought I would sneak in a picture of my room here, shame I was feeling rotten as I was lying in bed.

This is Bob and Amar strumming and singing, just before we retired for the evening. They were fantastic, Amar is a man of many talents.

The following morning we had a short coach ride to Keighly Station, where we got on a steam train for Howarth, Bronte country. It's a nostalgic step back in time on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

Some of our group are chatting as we wait for the train.

I love the sound and the smells of a steam train, this is ours arriving. It took a few minutes for them to take off the engine, fill up with water, and move it to the other end of the carriages, to hook up for our trip.

We reached Howarth and the coach driver kindly met us to take us to the famous Main Street, as it was raining. We had free time to call in a cafe for lunch, then walked up the hill to the Bronte Parsonage. Although I have visited this area before I hadn't been on the steam train and I hadn't been inside the Parsonage, so this was all new to me.
I have included some pictures of Haworth in a previous post, so as my attention was taken up with guiding, I didn't feel the need to take any more. Sorry.
Back at the hotel, it was decided that we would eat in the conservatory, but I couldn't face yet another meal. I had already scaled down my breakfasts as I mentioned, and after the sandwich at lunch time I only wanted something light. So when everyone was seated, I put my walking boots back on and set off along the canal towards Skipton in search of a morsel. I suddenly remembered that Tesco was not very far away, and it was just after 8pm, so it was worth a look for some bargains.
I was dead lucky. I spent £1.62, on a big pot of tuna pasta salad, granary bread, lettuce, melon slices, and orange juice. Enough for two days. Mind you when I got back I had only half a loaf left, most of it had been fed to the ducks, ha ha. I had a picnic in my room and watched Dragons Den, bliss. Of course I did join the rest of them in the bar for a natter afterwards.

On the last morning we went a walk along the canal, and watched some people open a bridge to pass through. This was an automatic one where you did not require muscle power, but inserted a key and pushed a button.
The bridge swings parallel to the water, then back again.

Some of the group had to catch early trains, Liz was very excited because she is spending the next ten days in Nottingham where her new guide dog would be waiting for her. They both have to go through the training process, and at the end of it they will be going home together. How exciting is that.
The rest of us had lunch in the dining room, and surprise surprise, a celebration cake was wheeled out. This has been the first UK Traveleyes holiday, and everyone agreed, it had been a great success. Here is Amar cutting the cake.

If you know anyone who is blind or visually impaired, or indeed a sighted person who might like to go on holiday with Traveleyes, please point them in the direction of their web site. It is an international company so anyone can join in.
Amar and his team do everything they can to make their holidays enjoyable for everyone.


  1. Looks a great way to have a holiday. I have registered with their website. You never know, one day I might actually take it up.
    I`m glad you had such a good time. Fantastic pictures as well!!

  2. What a lovely holiday. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ooo Ilona some of my favourite places. It really does look like a lovely holiday and what a great gang of people. Glad you had fun.
    Twiggy x
    PS I think they make a lovely couple too :)

  4. Wow, what a worthwhile way to have a break! And what a dish - Amar, I mean, not the cake!

  5. Great photos and commentary on the trip Ilona. What a wonderful concept and everyone looked like they were having so much fun. Many of my favourite places as well♥♥ Sigh.....

  6. It's an excellent idea to bring people together and get them out and about meeting people and doing things they wouldn't normally do. Thanks for sharing - and thank for the lovely pictures.

    You should sell your stories ...

  7. Hi Ilona,I clicked on your Link and found it so interesting!,Skipton was one of the places me and my Daughter went to on a pre Christmas trip last year.We loved the place!.Everyone so friendly...I know this link is an old one..but it is still a lovely place and hope to go again this year,Debi,xx


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