Silver Travel Advisor’s most prolific reviewer and contributor is Eleanor Wasley who has contributed thousands of articles, comments and suggestions to the main site and to the Forum.
We caught up with Eleanor recently, and asked her to tell us a little more about herself and her amazing adventures both in the UK and around the globe.
I’m a Yorkshire lass by birth, which explains my love of the north. I feel a lightening of the spirt as soon as I see the signs on the A1 “To the North”. We moved to Orpington when I was 13 months. It was the winter of 1947 and my father recalls the snow was halfway up the back door. I used to love going into London on the train and the Natural History Museum was always my favourite, closely followed by the mummies in the British Museum. London was a great place for a teenager to grow up in the early 60s.
University beckoned, and I went to Durham to read botany. It was the start of a love affair, not only with Michael, but also Northumbria. Michael moved to Scunthorpe and joined the traffic department of British Steel. He had the biggest private railway in the country to play with. This prompted an interest in trains and then buses. We married, and I taught science for a while before daughter arrived, and I had the luxury of being a full time Mum.
Louisa inherited a love of trains and buses from her Dad and was a volunteer fireman on the Ffestiniog Railway for many years. She worked for the local bus company for a while before moving to transport planning at the local council.
Now married, she has two boys (aged four and two) and, guess what, they are bus and train mad too. They only live a few minutes walk from us, and we are very lucky as we see a lot of them. Holidays now have to be planned round grandparenting duties.
Holidays have always been an important part of our life. Until about 6-7 years ago we were very boring and holidays were spent in the UK. Favourite places were Northumberland, Llyn Peninsula (for the Ffestiniog Railway) and Galloway, as well as the Western and Northern Isles. We spent most of our time walking, with a few preserved railways, castles or churches thrown in.
Our first trip on the Norwegian Coastal steamer was a real adventure – we had to get passports. We were hooked and made several more trips. This set us thinking about Iceland and Faroe Islands, another fantastic holiday.
By now the wanderlust was biting, and we sat down one evening with a bottle of wine and drew up a list of all the places we had always dreamed of visiting but thought we would never go to. We started off with the usual suggestions of Canada and New Zealand. As the bottle went down, the list got more and more exotic. Michael fancied Patagonia. I added Greenland. Siberia and China were soon added, which lead us to think about Mongolia. Initial research quickly showed many places which were difficult or impossible to visit in our youth now had a tourist infrastructure. Planning began in earnest.
Resort style holidays were out, as spending hours lying by the pool would bore me rigid. We don’t do shopping either. Working ferries, yes; cruises, no. Group tours are not for us either, as they seem to include a lot of places we didn’t want to visit and never had enough time for those we did. Tailor made was the answer. We have been lucky with the companies we use, especially Audley Travel, and have worked closely with their destination experts to get an itinerary to suit us. Over the years, we have come to realise that many of the must-see tourists sites are over run with other tourists. Very often there are similar, less well know sites and these are the ones we try and search out. Everyone goes to the Sunday Market in Kashgar. We didn’t. Instead, we went to a local market a couple of days later, where we were the only westerners.
We’ve never regarded ourselves as ‘adventurous’ in our wildest imagination. We just get into the places the usual tourist doesn’t and do the things they don’t. I remember getting off the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and going to watch the loco run round the train, only to find that the connecting steamer had gone. Obviously, tourists are not expected to admire the loco.
We are well down the list now, although more places keep getting added. Life would be very boring if there was nowhere else you wanted to go.
I’ve always kept a holiday diary. Discovering Silver Travel Advisor has really added a new dimension to my life as I love the ease with which I can share my experiences of far-flung places as well as local days out.
We try and come back from our holidays with a better understanding of a country, its geography, history, the people and how they live. We feel privileged to have visited places like Greenland, Mongolia, Bhutan and Ladakh before they get overrun (and spoilt) by tourism. We have got into some strange places in the past. In the depths of non-tourist China, peoples’ jaws did literally drop when they saw us. There have been times when we have looked at each other afterwards and said ‘that wasn’t worth it’ but those we can count on the fingers of one hand. Every holiday is an adventure.