Dotted around the Leger HQ are a number of Postcards all unique in their own way, from destinations all over the world, including Korcula, Rothenburg in Germany.
Although all of the Postcards were sent from all over the world, they all have one thing in common, not one of them was received in the last four years!
It got us wondering if Postcards are becoming a thing of the past. Has a simple text message or email put an end to the famous seaside souvenir?
This made us dig deeper in to the history of Postcards which resulted in some interesting finds –
The first one ever sent was a hand painted design, which was posted to a writer named Theodore Hook from himself in 1840 bearing a penny black stamp.
However the first known printed picture Postcard was created inFrance in 1870 by Leon Besnardeau.
1871 was the year the first picture postcard which the image functioned as a souvenir was sent fromVienna.
The first American Postcard was developed in 1873
In 1984, Royal Mail gave permission to British publishers to manufacture and distribute picture Postcards.
Records show in the peak of the “saucy” themed seaside postcard, sales peaked at a whopping 16 million a year.
The study and collecting of Postcards is termed Deltiology.
Do you know any more facts about Postcards? Have you received or sent one recently? Let us know in the comments section below.
Following British success in 2012, everybody has gone Tour de France mad, including us at Leger.
The success lead to the team looking in to the history of the prestigious race and a hunt began to find the best stat for a team competition. Below are some facts and stats we have found:
The Tour de France started back in 1903, where the first winner was crowned as Maurice Garin.
The Shortest race was 2,420Kms with the longest lasting 5,745Kms.
There was 198 entrants in 2012
Usually there are 20 teams with 9 riders in each team.
There has been 4 deaths in the races history
In the battle of the nationalities France lead the way with 36 winners closely followed by Belgium with 18 and in third is Spain with 12.
Having wanted to go on Legerâ€™s Story of Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler battlefields tour for quite some time, Linda and David Barrington-Smith found it was certainly an experience to remember.
Linda is a Freelance Journalist and David is a professional photographer. They have both travelled with Leger Holidays before and this time they have kindly written an article about their experiences whilst on our tour – The Story of Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler.
On January 20, 1942 in the dining room of a beautiful lakeside villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, 15 high-ranking representatives of the SS, the NSDAP and various ministries met for a conference, chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, to discuss and co-ordinate the implementation of what they called â€œthe final solution of the Jewish questionâ€. The â€˜Final Solutionâ€™ being the code name for the systematic, deliberate, physical annihilation of 11 million Jews in Europe.
While the enormity of the European Holocaust can be very emotive and hard to take in, Legerâ€™s The Story of Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler battlefield tour helps bring into perspective the events of that terrible period in European history.
The tour is one that we had wanted to take for quite some time. So when the opportunity finally arose, we didnâ€™t hesitate!
The local pick-up arrangements for the trip down to Dover, where we met up with our excellent tour coach drivers Dave and Gary and specialist historical guide Richard Bass, went smoothly, as did the journey to the first overnight stop.
Day two saw the tour start to follow the story of the Frank family with a visit to the Anne Frank House and museum in Amsterdam.
For just over two years Anne Frank and her family hid in the Secret Annexe of the canalside house at Prinsengracht 263 where Anneâ€™s father, Otto Frank had his business.
A bookcase marks the entrance to the annexe, reached via several flights of steep stairs, which they shared with four other Jews.
Although today the rooms are sober and unfurnished, they still breathe the atmosphere of that period of time.
Anne, who was 13 when the family went into hiding, wrote her now famous diary in the annexe. Quotations from this, as well as historical documents, photographs, film images and artefacts illustrate the events that took place here.
On August 4, 1944 the occupants were betrayed and deported to various concentration camps. Only Otto Frank survived the war.
After our visit, the tour continued to Hannover for an overnight stay.
The next day we paid our respects at Bergen-Belsen where Anne Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus in March 1945, only a few weeks before liberation.
Today, Bergen-Belsen is a place of remembrance â€” a tranquil cemetery with mounds of mass graves containing more than 70,000 people and various memorials â€” including one dedicated to Anne and Margot Frank.
We have visited the site before, but at that time the new Documentation Centre hadnâ€˜t been opened. A forbidding concrete building, designed to make one aware that Bergen-Belsen was not a pleasant place, we spent quite a while looking at the excellent exhibition. Packed with information, videos, photographs and personal belongings excavated after liberation, it graphically tells the story of the people that worked, died or somehow survived at the camp.
Next stop was Berlin.
The first day in the German capital was spent studying the â€˜Final Solutionâ€™, starting with a visit to Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.
Established as a concentration camp in 1936, up until 1945 more than 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned here; tens of thousands died from hunger, sickness, forced labour and abuse, or were victims of systematic extermination.
Liberated by Soviet troops in April 1945, the freedom was short-lived as the Soviet secret police turned it into a prison camp and the misery and death continued for another five years.
Several buildings and structures survive or have been reconstructed, including the camp entrance, guard towers, cell block, small gas chamber and crematory ovens.
After this sobering visit, a walk was taken across the Glienicke Bridge, where East and West swapped spies during the Cold War, before going on to the House of the Wannsee Conference.
Our second day in Berlin was packed. Starting off at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, we then visited the Olympic Stadium before continuing to the PlÃ¶tzensee Memorial Centre, in the old prison yard behind the modern day prison, where among nearly 3000 people executed here were some of the July 1944 plotters. The execution chamber still houses the original gallows.
After this chiller we saw the German Resistance Memorial Centre, located in the historic section of the former headquarters of the Army High Command at the Bendlerblock. It was here that Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and other members of the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944 were shot by firing squad.
Then it was on to the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre with exhibitions illustrating the European dimensions of the Nazi reign of terror.
After seeing the site of Hitlerâ€™s Bunker, we finished up at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Designed by New York architect Peter Eisenmann as a Field of Stelae containing 2711 stark concrete blocks, it is only by walking among them that the powerful atmosphere of this memorial can be felt.
Next day the tour travelled on to Krakow in Poland.
The first day in this beautiful city we strolled through the old narrow streets of Krakowâ€™s Kazimierz district, which still retains a unique atmosphere of its Jewish past. After the ravages of the Second World War the area became run down. But in recent years it has become a thriving district once again, thanks in part to Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List.
Next stop was PodgÃ³rze, site of the former Jewish Ghetto between 1941 until 1943 and from where the Jews were deported to the nearby PlaszÃ³w Concentration Camp and other death camps. Today, the main square has been turned into an evocative memorial to the victims of the Krakow Ghetto, laid out with 70 large bronze chairs symbolising departure as well as subsequent absence.
Close to the ghetto lies Oscar Schindlerâ€™s Factory of Enamelled Vessels Emalia, used by Schindler in his remarkable attempt to save the lives of his workforce. It has been turned into a modern museum with ingenious exhibitions combining period artefacts, photographs and documents with multimedia and set-piece arrangements to create a full-immersion experience of life in Krakow from pre-war until after liberation.
Oscar Schindler, his factory, and the fate of its Jewish workforce feature prominently. The main part of the exhibition dealing with Schindler himself is his office which retains original elements of the interior in the shape of architectural detail and a 1940s map of Europe with city names in German.
Opposite a desk from the period, with an arrangement of Schindlerâ€™s family photos, is a stunning glass cube filled with metalware. The walls of the metal cylinders inside the cube bear the names of around 1100 Jews saved by Schindler.
Afterwards the tour headed for PlaszÃ³w Concentration Camp, a windswept park where all traces of Nazi atrocity have been erased. But we did manage to see the house that the campâ€™s notorious commandant Amon GÃ³th lived in and the PlaszÃ³w Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the camp.
Next day was spent at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex â€” a symbol of terror, genocide and the Holocaust around the world. The total number of victims at Auschwitz between 1940-1945 is estimated at between 1.1 and 1.5 million people, around 900,000 thought to be Jews.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum includes two sections of the camps â€” the brick buildings of Auschwitz I and the immense concentration and death camp at Auschwitz II (Birkenau) three kilometres away.
Some of the most chilling exhibits at Auschwitz I, set behind protective glass, must surely be the cans of Zyklon B used in the extermination process, tons of human hair, suitcases with names and addresses of deportees, shoes, artificial limbs, spectacles, childrenâ€™s toys and clothing â€” which make pretty powerful viewing.
While there is less to see at Birkenau, its size and solitude makes it more deeply moving than Auschwitz I with its thousands of daily visitors.
At Birkenau one can see the watchtower, railway line and selection ramp â€” images well-known from documentary films and books; remnants of four crematoria, gas chambers and cremation pits, all of which make a profound impression on everyone who visits the camp.
Leaving Poland an overnight stop was made in Prague in the Czech Republic, where we saw the site of Reinhard Heydrichâ€™s assassination. Then it was on to Nuremberg for a look at the Courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials took place, before travelling through the Rhine Valley on our way to Calais and the ferry home.
Although our epic 4570 kilometre journey was emotional at times, there were lighter moments â€” a free jazz concert in Celle, dancing to a pop concert at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and a cruise on the Rhine among them.
It was certainly an experience to remember.
Keep an eye in your local newspapers and magazines for further details about this thought provoking tour from Linda and David Barrington-Smith
Andy Parkin, Legerâ€™s Assistant Studio Manager has been designing Leger brochures for the past 14 years and has worked on many of Legerâ€™s Battlefield Tours brochures. In October this year he left the comfort of the office to explore the D-Day Battlefields in Normandy.
I always had a general interest in World War II, but more specifically the D-Day landing beaches. So when I was given the opportunity to join a Battlefields tour, the D-Day Beaches tour was the obvious choice.
I was travelling on one of Legerâ€™s Silver Service coaches â€“ despite working for Leger for so long I rarely travel by coach â€“ and was surprised at how comfortable it was, plus, the fact that we had comfort stops along the way gave us time to get a bite to eat and stretch our legs. At the back of the Silver Service coaches thereâ€™s even a lounge, so people headed there for a chat or just to mingle with the other passengers.
What time did the excursions start and finish each day?
We got on the coach around 8.30am and got back about 5ish every day. It was very busy each day as we had a lot to pack in but we had plenty of time to get to all the places of interest on the itinerary, and also time for a sit down meal for those who wanted. We didnâ€™t get any free time as such, but we could have a wander around on our own at most of the places we visited. To be honest, I stayed with the guide because I wanted to hear what he had to say. He really brought these places to life â€“ without him it wouldâ€™ve been hard to understand the full story so we all tended to stay together as a group. Each day was packed full of interesting facts and unbelievable stories of bravery and, of course, some sorrow.
How long did you spend on the excursions each day?
It all depended on where we went and what we saw. For example, we spent 1 hour 20 minutes at Omaha Cemetery which, after the guide had told us a few stories, still wasnâ€™t long enough. I personally would have liked another 30 minutes or so to have a look around the Visitorsâ€™ Centre, but overall the time we had at each place was just about spot on. We covered lots of miles on the trip but there was certainly no time to get bored as people were chatting about what theyâ€™d seen and learnt. On the way there we watched Dadâ€™s Army which gave most of us a laugh and, of course, no visit to the D-Day Beaches would be complete without watching The Longest Day starring John Wayne.
Are the beaches well kept? Are they still used for recreation?
This is a very good question and one of the facts that I found quite touching. All of the D-Day landing beaches and the surrounding areas are very well respected and looked after and this is passed down to the local people from one generation to the next. During the summer months all of the beaches are used for recreation purposes, except Omaha Beach, the hardest hit of them all.
What was the Specialist Battlefields Guide like?
Our guide was Richard Bass, a retired police officer with an unbelievable wealth of knowledge of the D-Day landings and the immediate aftermath. What I would say about trying to understand what happened there is that itâ€™s like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle you canâ€™t finish yourself: you know where the corners and edges go, but you need someone to complete the big picture. Thatâ€™s where Richard, our guide came in. He really did put meat on the bones if you like, and at every place we visited went into great detail about what had happened there.
I had a few brief conversations with Richard as we walked around the battlefield sites, as did many of the other passengers. He told me heâ€™s been working for Leger for 9 years and is still learning new things every day. I asked him if heâ€™d ever been caught out by a question that he couldnâ€™t answer. He said… â€œyes by a 12 year old boy, he asked me about a grave in one of the cemeteries we had visited and I just didnâ€™t know the answer, so as soon as we got back I researched the question and got the answer for him… it happens sometimes and fortunately it hasnâ€™t happened sinceâ€.
What were the passengers like?
We had a fairly mixed group of 30 male and 13 female passengers which made for a very well-balanced group, with couples and a few singles mixed with groups of friends and fathers with sons etc. After the dayâ€™s events most of us met up, either at lunch time or at the hotel bar for a drink to talk about what weâ€™d seen and what was on the itinerary for the next day.
You travelled alone on this tour. Would you have enjoyed it more if you were travelling with someone else?
Possibly, but you soon get talking to the other passengers, all with a common interest, I never felt alone because of the nature of the tour and as a group weâ€™d always got something to talk about. If I was to go again I would take my Dad, heâ€™s always had an interest in the Second World War. I think heâ€™d find it just as fascinating as I did.
Was the tour as you expected?
It was, and more! Thereâ€™s so much detail and so much to take in. I never thought that I would remember everything â€“ you just canâ€™t â€“ but once you look back at your pictures the memories soon start to come back. Iâ€™ve even got one of Richardâ€™s books on my wish list so I can learn more about the places we visited and the events that took place there.
Did you think the tour was value for money?
The guide was worth the money alone! You canâ€™t put a value on someoneâ€™s knowledge, itâ€™s priceless! Iâ€™d love to go on another Second World War tour because this has got me fired up for more.
Would someone with absolutely no knowledge in D-Day Landings enjoy the tour?
Itâ€™s a great introductory tour for anyone who has a general interest in the events surrounding D-Day â€“ you donâ€™t need to know much about what happened, as long as youâ€™re interested, thatâ€™s the main thing. Even someone who joined the tour with absolutely no knowledge of what happened on D-Day would have a great understanding of the events that unfolded after being there with the guide.
What was the best part of the tour?
I found all of it fascinating but Omaha Beach was, for me, the most emotional and poignant, maybe because itâ€™s so well documented and Iâ€™d seen it in films such as Saving Private Ryan. Itâ€™s a very subdued place and itâ€™s not until youâ€™ve heard the stories and youâ€™re actually standing on the beach that you fully appreciate what the troops were up against.
Can you sum up the D-Day Landings tour in 5 words?
Emotional, fascinating, informative, engrossing, captivating, educational, memorable and inspiring… I know thatâ€™s more than five words but if you join the tour for yourself youâ€™ll understand why five words is simply not enough.
Find out more about this tour here.
I got into gardening just after I got married and Iâ€™ve been addicted to it ever since. Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m no Charlie Dimmock but Iâ€™m certainly not afraid of grabbing a trowel and some compost if thereâ€™s a bit of landscaping to be done.
I suppose Iâ€™d politely class myself as an experimentalist. I like to indulge in my hobby and follow the likes of Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh before interpreting their ideas in my own garden. So far, this approach has seen me right. And, apart from a minor mishap with a 7ft Verbena, I have to say Iâ€™m pretty bloominâ€™ proud of my home-grown sanctuary (forgive the pun)!
For my next wave of inspiration, however, Iâ€™m planning a little trip overseas with a coach-load of my fellow flower enthusiasts. Having worked at Leger for so many years, itâ€™s hard to believe I havenâ€™t been on a horticultural-themed tour before now but itâ€™s certainly always been on my list. Over the years, Iâ€™ve booked hundreds of our customers on a garden-based tour and the feedback theyâ€™ve given on their return has always been great. In fact, itâ€™s enough to leave you green-eyed as well as green-fingered! If, like me, youâ€™ve been considering a green getaway yourself, here are Legerâ€™s top three reasons to persuade you to turn your gardening hobby into a hob-iday:
â€¢ The sights: There arenâ€™t many places in Europe where you can immerse yourself in a sea of springtime flowers like those found in Holland, France and Brussels. In one easy trip, youâ€™ll see tremendous trees, flowering shrubs, a huge variety of perennials, water gardens, fountains and lakes; it really is a gardenerâ€™s paradise.
â€¢ The scale: part of the joy of gardening is seeing all the colours, structures and shapes of plants working together. However, until youâ€™ve experienced the acres of flora at Keukenhof Park (Holland) or the grand designs of Monetâ€™s Garden (France) you canâ€™t truly appreciate just how inspirational a garden can be. With so many carefully landscaped scenes in one place, youâ€™ll be buzzing with ideas to take home with you.
â€¢ The shared experience: thereâ€™s nothing as enjoyable as sharing some of the most spectacular garden scenes in Europe with people that share your appreciation and passion for gardening. Of course, itâ€™s up to you how much you talk about your experience on the coach home!
If you have any further questions about Leger Holidaysâ€™ horticultural tours please do get in touch through our Facebook page or call us at 01709 787 463.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas up at Leger Holidays this week, as bookings for our festive markets continue to fly in. From the bustling bazaars of Bruges to the Christmas cave markets of Valkenburg, Brits are heading to Europe by the coach load to get their festive fix. But what is it about these seasonal markets that make them so magical? We asked our driver of 24 years, Phil Hayton, about his experience:
“Over the years, I must’ve visited the European Christmas markets over 120 times and, let me tell you, I never get fed up of them. From Berlin to the Tyrol, there are so many markets to choose from and each location has its own character and offers something completely different to the next.
“Cologne is great for those that want a bit of variety; it’s got six different markets spread out across the town and a cracking atmosphere to enjoy. Whereas RÃ¼desheim offers more of a picture-postcard setting with its wooden chalets and olde-worlde feel. One thing they do all share though is an overwhelming jovial mood that you just won’t find anywhere else.
“People often ask me which specific part of the markets I enjoy the most but, I have to say, I struggle to name one thing. The food and drink is always good. For me, there’s nothing better than wrapping your hands around a glass of hot GlÃ¼hwein or enjoying a sneaky bratwurst sausage between meals! There’s just so much to try though and the smells travel for miles around, there’s certainly no chance of dieting whilst you’re there!
“The atmosphere is also second to none. The decorations look great, the locals are friendly and you’re surrounded by crowds of shoppers that are feeling just as festive as you. We even deck our coaches out with fairy lights to join in on the seasonal spirit!
“All I can say is, if you’ve never been to an original Christmas market before, get it on your list! We do have some great markets here in Britain but nothing really compares to seeing one in Europe itself. It’s hard to explain as the sights, sounds and smells are unlike anything I’d ever experienced before but even now, 120 trips later, I can’t wait to go back again!”
Fancy booking yourself a merry little Christmas this year? Be sure to head over to our website for the more details or pop over to Facebook to ask for further advice from the team.
This cheesy, saucy, BBQ chicken dish is a great alternative to fajitas for those tortilla wraps lurking in your cupboard! Plus, it’s a great dish to prepare ahead of time and then bake when you’re ready.
Our recipe below will take about an hour to prepare and cook and should serve four.
What youâ€™ll need
2 finely chopped onions
1 finely chopped garlic clove
3 diced peppers
Mexican spice mix (Old el Passo or Discover packs are fine).
A large jar of passata
350g BBQ flavoured, pre-cooked chicken
1 chopped red chilli
75g grated cheddar cheese
How to cook it
Pre-heat your oven to around 160Â°C.
Add a glug of olive oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan and throw in your onions, garlic, peppers, chilli and a pinch of your spice mix. Cook until soft.
Pour the passata into your pan along with the remaining spices. Simmer over a medium heat for five minutes.
Lay out your tortillas and place a small amount of chicken into the middle of each. Top with your tomato and vegetable mix, a small sprinkling of cheese and then roll them up and place into an oven proof dish.
Once all 8 of your tortillas have been added to your dish, pour the remaining tomato and vegetable mix directly on top of the tortillas.
Squeeze over a good dollop of BBQ sauce and your remaining cheese.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese and tortillas are golden.
Freshen things up
If you would like to freshen your dish up a little try adding some crÃ¨me fraÃ®che to the top of your enchilada’s and serving on a bed of lettuce. This will ensure your enchilada’s aren’t too stodgy but are still delicious!
Image courtesy of flickr user acererak
The small city of Ypres in Flanders was once the centre of the European cloth trade. A pre-1914 guidebook described it as a â€˜medieval gemâ€™ in terms of its architecture, but during the four years of the Great War it became a symbol of sacrifice â€“ the great British bastion on the Western Front.
By the close of the conflict more than 250,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers had died at Ypres; one in four of Britainâ€™s casualties in the whole war, and roughly one in three of those who died on the Western Front.
Gas was first used here in 1915 and it later saw the introduction of the fearful Mustard Gas in 1917. Extensive trenches were constructed by the spring of 1915 and there was two years of stalemate with no major battles; yet casualties continued on a daily basis, as the many cemeteries testify to today.
One of the warâ€™s most symbolic battles was fought here â€“ Passchendaele â€“ producing those almost standard images of the Great War: vast crater zones, and a muddy, mangled battlefield. In 1918 the German advance was once again stopped here and some of the first American troops in action took part in the final battle, when tanks, aircraft, artillery and infantry all working together finally ended the stalemate in Flanders.
A true insight
Our new Flanders Fields tour looks at these fascinating aspects of the war around Ypres, by taking some old favourites and adding in many of the new sites rapidly opening in the lead up to the centenary of the Great War in 2014. We start at the newly-renovated In Flanders Fields Museum, which has not featured in our programme for some years.
The new museum is excellent, leading the visitor through the background of the war, the first days of fighting in Belgium and the formation of the Ypres Salient. There are many new exhibits on display and some amazing and engaging films.
WW1 archaeology features heavily and a display on the Yorkshire Trench and Dugout ties in nicely with one of our later visits. In fact, there is so much to see, we have put aside most of a morning to spend here, followed by a proper daytime look at the Menin Gate, looking at its background, architecture and history, and the whole commemoration of the missing.
Harry Patch was the â€˜Last Fighting Tommyâ€™. On the tour we follow his story and see where he fought and a new memorial to him on the battlefield where he served in 1917. Trenches also feature heavily in the tour, from the newly-constructed trench system at Zonnebeke where the evolvement of British and German trenches can be seen, to the preserved remains of Yorkshire trench to the fascinating Bayernwald trenches, a place where Hitler served in 1914.
Everything in detail
High ground and its possession and repossession by both sides is the key to understand the battles in Flanders and we look at the Messines Ridge and the huge mining offensive there, seeing some of the mine craters, including the largest mine fired at St. Eloi â€“ more than 95,000 pounds of explosive! We also go up Kemmel Hill â€“ the highest point in Flanders â€“ and reflect on the price paid for the battles in Flanders during the Great War.
This new tour enables us to concentrate on a popular battlefield location, look at locations in some detail, honour the veterans and visit new sites which offer us a fascinating insight into what the war in the trenches of Flanders was really like.
By Paul Reed, Leger’s Head Battlefields Guide