Silver Travel Book Club - February 2021

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Silver Travel Book Club

Each month, we'll explore a different destination, and lucky Silver Travel Book Club readers can win a free copy of the month's book.

ShearingsThis month the Silver Travel Book Club – proudly sponsored by Shearings – is reading The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders by Ben Aitken.

When Ben Aitken learnt that his gran had enjoyed a four-night holiday including four three-course dinners, four cooked breakfasts, four games of bingo, a pair of excursions, sixteen pints of lager and luxury return coach travel, all for a hundred pounds, he thought, that’s the life, and signed himself up. Six times over.  

Good value aside, what Ben was really after was the company of his elders  those with more chapters under their belt, with the wisdom granted by experience, the candour gifted by time, and the hard-earned ability to live each day like it's nearly their last. A series of coach holidays ensued Scarborough, St Ives, Llandudno, Killarney, Lake Como, Pitlochry during which Ben attempts to shake off his thirty-something blues by getting old as soon as possible.

Llandudno

You too can explore the traditional seaside town of Llandudno on a short break with Shearings. The tour includes 3 nights hotel accommodation at the County or Marine Hotel with Welsh breakfast, 3 evening meals, local joining points and porterage at the hotel. On day two, you'll explore the stunning scenery of Snowdonia National Park and visit quaint Betws-y-Coed, a lovely village surrounded by dense woodland. Also featured is an optional excursion to Anglesey, separated from the mainland by the Menai Strait, where you'll visit Llanfair PG, its full name is the longest place name in Britain! And a perfect photo opportunity. The best of Llandudno's attractions including the Victorian Pier, the Alice in Wonderland trail and the Oriel Mostyn Gallery are all within a short walk of the County Hotel. Whilst The Marine Hotel occupies a fabulous place on the Llandudno seafront close to the very best that the resort has to offer in terms of shops, bars and restaurants. 

For full details of the itinerary, dates and prices please go to www.shearings.com/holidays/llandudno-weekend

And for information on other Shearings holidays please go to www.shearings.com

Snowdonia National Park
Ynys Llanddwyn on the coast of Anglesey

To purchase a copy of 'The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders' by Ben Aitken at the reduced price of £11, visit www.paypal.com/paypalme/iconbooks. Follow the link, transfer £11 with reference GRANTOUR in the notes and then email [email protected] with proof of purchase and address details.

How to win a copy of 'The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders' by Ben Aitken

The Gran Tour by Ben Aitken

Have you been on a coach holiday or day trip and had an experience that you would like to share with other Silver Travellers? Did you sit next to someone who was memorable for any reason (like Ben Aitken’s fellow passenger Gill in the Gran Tour, who decided to toss her bra into in George Clooney's garden for no apparent reason!)? Did you visit a place that made a significant impression?

Simply add a comment at the end of this page to tell us about your experience and the best two entries will win a copy of the book.



Read our interview with Ben Aitken to find out more about his hilarious adventures on The Gran Tour.

Read more about all of our Silver Travel Book Club books.


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Other Members' Thoughts - 33 Comment(s)

  • Lottie
    about 2 months ago
    We do quite a few coach trips which have good full itineraries.

    One year we paid for my late parents to go on a Shearings trip for their anniversary. They had a fabulous time and my Mother described one short photo stop they made, somewhere I think in the Welsh hills, where they where told they could feed the sheep. She said some people didn't bother to get off as there was barely a sheep to be seen. That didn't stop her as an animal lover and countryside person she was she stepped down and called to the sheep nearby and started feeding it. Well she said the mobiles probably wouldn't have worked there but the Baa Baa lines were working superbly as no sooner had she started to feed one than there was a stampede or should we say a waddle of galloping furry balls appeared over the hills towards her for their share of the goodies. Well she says I've never seen folks move so fast to get photos as she was surrounded by them. We didn't see all the tourist photos taken that day but we saw a lovely photo of her joking with and tickling the Curly Watts lookalike driver.
  • you
    about 2 months ago
    A book about living life to the full...not half empty OR half full
  • Jeanette-Purvis
    about 2 months ago
    I feel that after reading The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden I would certainly love to read The Gran Tour. This sounds just the sort of book that I would need as a great escape from all this worry/anxiety through covid at the moment. I can bury my head in a book and dream of better things. This would be a tonic that most of us really need at the moment. Holidays away is far from my thoughts so spending time at home indulging in reading and relaxing with great books is a holiday in itself.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    about 2 months ago
    Like Ben you all seem to have had some wonderful, entertaining and interesting experiences on your coach trips. Just one more weeks to leave your comments and I look forward to reading.
  • office3342
    about 2 months ago
    Our first ever holiday as a couple was as students in the 1980s. We had won The Pools and our prize covered a coach holiday to Austria based around Mayrhofen. The highlight had to be when we went up a mountain dressed in tee shirts and shorts only to discover it was snowy at the top and the Austrian ski team were up there practicing!- schoolboy error!
  • shellee1
    about 2 months ago
    I took my mum on a Shearings holiday to Whitby a couple of years ago - last holiday pre-covid in fact. I wasn't sure what to expect but I liked the hassle free travel aspect of it and we had an absolutely amazing time - will definitely use them again. We met a really lovely lady who fell between our ages too so she kept my mum company when walking got too much for her (so I could still wander) and I kept her company in the bar as mum doesn't drink! Sadly she died suddenly just after Christmas last year before we could all travel again, so the next trip mum and I go on will definitely be a tribute to her
  • Dympna
    about 2 months ago
    My bus tour to the Eastern European cities is forever my best memory holiday, I was on my own and soon became friends with the other coach travellers and to this day remember them and we exchange Christmas cards still ever since 2006. Longing for another couch holiday.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    2 months ago
    1234mll - we have contacted Shearings re your query and this is the response from their UK Product Manager.

    Llandudno is a mostly flat town, and has a very flat, long and wide promenade which follows the bay.

    The included excursion to Betws-y-Coed can be adapted to a customer’s own interests or abilities. It is a town associated with outdoor pursuits and attracts those hiking Snowdon Mountain, but it also has nice cafes and shops where someone could spend time more leisurely.

    The Marine Hotel does not have any disabled friendly rooms, but there is wheelchair access to the hotel and wheelchair access to the guest lift (customers would have to manage stairs in case of a fire), and it does have ground floor bedrooms.

    The County Hotel also has ground floor rooms and a lift to higher floors, but we don’t have as much information on that hotel at present as it’s currently closed.

    Both hotels are situated on the flat seafront.

    All clients will have to get on and off the coach unassisted - this is usually around 4 steps.

    Ultimately, it would depend on the nature and severity of any mobility concern and ultimately, the client would have to make the decision if they feel the tour is suitable or not.
  • Leah50
    2 months ago
    I, with my Maltese husband, treated his naturalised Canadian brother & his American wife to an inexpensive coach trip to Paris whilst they were visiting us in England, We had a whale of a time over three days, saw all the sights, fabulous food, enjoyed the company of everyone else on the coach...the driver & courier were brilliant! Everything was great until on the way home, we were herded off the bus at Calais, why did all four people with our surname have four different nationalities? So embarrassing, it took more than two hours for the customs guys to believe we were OK, during which time our coach had missed two ferry sailings. We couldn't believe that everyone on the coach was so understanding when we were at last allowed to leave...they were actually worried about us!
  • Riversiderouge
    2 months ago
    I'm going to be absolutely honest with you. A coach trip in the UK was never on my bucket list of things I must do before I pop my clogs. Having said that, without Shearings I would never have visited some of the special places that are on offer in the far north and the far south of our homeland. Our trip to the north included a day to the late Queen Mother's holiday home, The Castle of Mey. The highlight of the visit were the stories told by one of Her Maj's loyal servants, an eccentric little grey haired lady who could write a book, but of course never would.
    Our trip to the south included an excursion over Dartmoor where the coach turned a corner close to the famous prison and came face to face with the local gentry on horseback. Dressed immaculately in their red and black coats and surrounded with a pack of hounds; it was an amazing sight to behold up close. Shearings coach driver told us that he had driven people over Dartmoor for more years than he cared to remember, and this was the first time he had seen the local hunt.
  • GrannyAnny
    2 months ago
    We were travelling by coach in Northern India. One morning we were asked to wait before getting aboard. Somewhat to our consternation a bus-blessing was held, with chanting, bells, and smoke, and then a lemon was tied under the front of the bus. We were fine as long as the lemon hung there, we were told. As we were in the foothills of the Himalayas, with very bumpy winding roads, the continued existence of that lemon became a matter of great importance.
  • SilverTravelEditor
    2 months ago
    These comments have certainly entertained me on a cold afternoon. It's good to see that Silver Travellers and coach drivers have such a brilliant sense of humour ! Some very memorable experiences here and I look forward to reading more.
  • GypsyWanderer
    2 months ago
    I chose to travel to Croatia by coach, from Rome. Far cheaper than a the two flights I would have had to take and not much longer in time. A fellow passenger fascinated me, a very smartly dressed lady, probably in her late thirties, and will a small overnight bag. She only spoke Russian so we communicated by Google Translate!
    I first met her at the coach station in Rome where she was asking if my coach was her coach, going to Venice Mistra. Yes. I had to change coach there and had ninety minutes to wait so we headed for the railway station for an early morning coffee. There I discovered she was travelling to Russia, by coach, and stopping off at different cities along the way. She was having a day in Venice and was confused. Where were the canals? I helped her leave her small bag at left luggage and put her on the train to Venice where she have such a treat when she left the station and saw the Grand Canal in front of her. She would be on another coach that evening,
    I am still intrigued. How did she look so fresh? How did she manage with only a small overnight bag? What an amazing trip, sleeping overnight on a coach and exploring by day. Now I am wondering, how long did tthe whole trip take? How much did it cost? What an amazing lady.
  • Joe-Jennings
    2 months ago
    We did a coach tour of northern Italy. One day we were going through the Dolomites and the coach was traversing the twisty mountain road with steep drops. As we went round some of the hairpins, some women were screaming. The driver said if it frightens you, just close your eyes: I do.
  • JennieSilver
    2 months ago
    We've got a book swop going in the village. Plastic lidded boxes by the front gate. A help yourself basis organised through the Facebook group. I've picked up a couple of paperbacks on my daily walk and whilst not my usual reading material, it's proved interesting.
  • you
    2 months ago
    I need more books to read, no charity shops or 2nd hand bookshops open.... I am running out of reading material....
  • sefalleyne
    2 months ago
    My friend and I, then in our 20's, went on a Shearings coach trip to Newquay.
    We were by far the youngest but the elderly couple we shared our dining table with were the best company possible. We went on a tour of the Eden project together - the coach company wasn't doing one. Drinks in the bar and ice creams by the beach, all 4 of us had a great time.
  • AnnePe
    2 months ago
    While staying in Stockholm we went on a boat trip to Sandhamm, one of the outer islands. On the way back my husband arranged for the whole boat to sing Happy Birthday to me.
  • ChristineT
    2 months ago
    On a cruise around the Baltic some years ago, one port of call was the city of Helsinki. We signed up for a day tour around the city, and out into the countryside. It was a great way to do some sightseeing and meet other fellow passengers, but what really made the tour stand out was the tour guide. An extremely funny Finnish lady who kept us all entertained with her dry wit, anecdotes and insights into the Finnish people, their culture and lifestyles. Beer, sausages and sauna diplomacy. I haven't laughed so much on a coach trip ever since.
  • Jeanette-Purvis
    2 months ago
    When I was much younger I was fortunate enough to take a holiday to Austria. It was a school holiday ski-ing trip. Going abroad was a new experience for me as I only ever had holidays in Wales in a caravan. We travelled on a train and I remember stopping at a railway station in France and they were selling Giant size Toblerones. It was a favourite chocolate bar of mine so I put my head out of the window of the train and bought one (think I spent nearly all my spending money on this - it was quite expensive. The ski-ing was not quite so good as I could not really ski very well and ended up at the bottom of the mountain saved by a storage shed. But happy memories all the same a great experience.
  • jaxb
    2 months ago
    Not a coach tour, but a memorable coach trip. I took the evening coach shuttle from Oxford to Cambridge to stay with a friend. It was a foggy night, the driver got totally lost, but was rescued by a number of the passengers who evidently knew the route better than him. I’m pleased to say we did not miss any of the pick-up points.
  • Clover-Park
    2 months ago
    Most of our holidays had been by train until a few years ago but in 2017 we went on a coach trip to Ireland.
    We realised it was going to be fun when, on reboarding the coach after our first comfort stop, the guide asked "Is anyone not here?" That certainly got everyone laughing and chatting to the people nearby. She made the whole holiday really interesting, telling us so much about the places we were visiting and people connected with them.

    Our final stay was at Letterkenny where my husband enjoyed looking round the small, free, Donegal County Museum. There was a mass of fascinating exhibits and information. In one cabinet was lots of memorabilia from the former County Donegal Railways and we were tickled by the notice cautioning the staff : "It is well for each Member of this Railway to bear in mind that goodwill based upon years of conscientious effort may be entirely destroyed by a moment's carelessness or indifference towards a customer." How very true!!
  • Creativetraveller
    2 months ago
    I did a coach trip a long time ago in South Africa, we stopped at a small town in the middle of the night and pick up an elderly Canadian man who had traveled the world, his wife had died a number of years previously we talked far into the night and he decided to pair up with me, I was about 30 at the time, we traveled to Namibian, he looked after me and I did the same, he got on really well with my mum they had both been in the war, years later he wrote me a letter to say he had stopped travelling and was quite unwell but he just wanted to say that the trip he did with me was the happiest experience he had had in many years
  • Haitch
    2 months ago
    I managed to book a coach trip for our honeymoon, we were serenaded on the coach and every hotel dressed our room delightfully. It was a trip round Turkey including Ephesus which was a lovely sunny day but the night we landed it snowed the first snow seen in 30 years in that part of Turkey
  • Hardyplant
    2 months ago
    Our garden club has had many 4 or 5 night coach trips visiting gardens around Britain and the majority of the holidaymakers are elderly and well known to each other. However, after a drink (or three!) you discover people's hidden talents – like the couple who did some amazingly energetic and accomplished jiving one evening. They had to reprise it outside the coach at the end of the tour for those who'd gone to bed early on the night in question. TIP: stay up until the bar closes or you might miss something good (or be talked about!).
    While on a Titan coach tour Jerez made a big impression on me – and not just because of the sherry – although that helped. We did the obligatory tour of a famous bodega followed by sherry tasting and while we Brits did as we were told by the fierce Spanish lady guide, sipping the different samples and nibbling the savoury snacks provided, we watched amazed as the American group next to us washed down their sherry with copious amounts of Coca Cola; they'd insisted on being supplied with large bottles of the stuff.