Hello, my name is Alison and I am delighted to join the Keswick team of Archipelago Choice.
I have previously worked with a walking tour operator who organised group travel led by their own leaders and I was personally responsible mainly for the accommodation across Europe, but latterly helped to develop the product. Moving from this background, of what was essentially packaged holidays, it is a refreshing change to be able to offer bespoke holidays and I am excited to speak and sell these holidays directly to the public. Travel has been my career for many years, two airlines, a travel agent and a small tour operator specialising in holidays walking up Mt Kilimanjaro!
I moved to Cumbria 23 years ago with my husband, Paul, heavily pregnant and now with my son, Jake, we would not live anywhere else. We love the spectacular scenery and, as a local, know where to go for quiet picnics in the Summer to avoid the crowds.
I spent most of my childhood in colonial East Africa – Dar es Salaam. My father worked for Brooke Bond Tea & Coffee and he used to travel around tea plantations. If his trip coincided with school holidays, we went too. This was before most of the parks and two land rovers departing from Dar es Salaam loaded to the gunnels with tents and provisions. It was a big adventure! Camp was set up as darkness was descending, fires were lit to keep the elephants away and I remember lying on a small camp bed being serenaded by the rest of the wildlife. Most days after school, my mother took us to the beach and there was always a gang of children at our house. I was a proud member of the BOAC Junior Jet Club and still have my logbook signed by all the captains who flew us back and forth between UK and Africa, each journey becoming shorter and less re-fuelling stops over the years. First flight on a VC10!
I have travelled widely in Europe with my previous job and experienced quite a few trips to other countries in South America, Central America, USA, India, Africa and Australia.
One of my favourite adventures was to visit Guatemala not long after the civil war. It was only a short trip of 4 days, but it was an amazing experience. Guatemala City was like any other Central American city, large, noisy and a bit smelly but once we travelled to Antigua, the old Spanish Colonial capital, it was brilliant. Surrounded by volcanoes, and parts destroyed by previous earthquakes, it still had a faded grandeur that was enticing. We then travelled to Lake Atitlan and then finally the highlight, into the mountains on winding roads, until we reached Chichicastenango (translated into “settlement of poisoned ivy”). We stayed in the ancient Mayan Inn where each bedroom was exquisitely furnished with dark antique furniture and an open fire that was lit each evening by your fire boy (mine was at least 80 years old called Geronimo). We were awoken at about 4am by the locals arriving for a huge market, herding pigs, carrying impossible stacks of wooden hand carved furniture. All these people were Mayan Indians all in their colourful dress.
This is my first week at Archipelago Choice, getting used to driving between Penrith and Keswick. I appreciate that there is a lot of information and new product knowledge and hope that it will not be too long before I make my first booking.
We specialise in tailor-made holidays and our team of experienced specialists are ready to put together your personalised trip; just give them a call on 017687 75672.