Seen it Live: Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix

The end of the Formula 1 season may be upon us as the countdown to Abu Dhabi is underway, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to next season. We’ve just launched our new F1 page on our website, launched our social pages and Leger HQ has been fully submerged in Grand Prix chat, predictions and rumours.

Our E-commerce Executive Richard Mansfield took our ‘See it Live’ tour to the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year and has kindly answered some of our questions to celebrate the launch of the new pages.

What made you want to take a See It Live tour?

I have always loved the atmosphere and thrill of live sporting events such as football, rugby, and Supercross. An F1 weekend was one of those spectacles I have always wanted to experience, and since working at Leger I have always said after my trip to Paris a few years ago, my next tour would be a See it Live weekend.

IMAG1631How long have you been interested In Formula One?

I have watched it from a very early age, I remember watching Damon Hill win his first title in 96, sat with my dad on the sofa, pretending to drive an imaginary car and crossing the line to win.

Why did you choose the Spanish Grand Prix?

One of my favourite drivers is Fernando Alonso and to see him at his home Grand Prix was something I couldn’t miss. I also saw this as the perfect Grand Prix for the weather, although not guaranteed.

How would you describe the atmosphere from the coach to the track?

Electric! From the minute we got on the coach at Leger HQ to walking in to the track, we knew we were going to be amazed by the whole experience. Discussions around the coach of favourite drivers and favourite tracks didn’t take long to get in full swing. It was also interesting to hear the stories of fellow travellers who have been to other F1 weekends with Leger.

Do you have a team you support or was there a certain driver that you were looking forward to seeing race?

I don’t have a favourite team. My favourite drivers are Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

How was the weather whilst you were there? Does it have an effect on your visit?

The weather was perfect! The sun was out all weekend, couldn’t have asked for better. I would imagine the weather could play apart in your race weekend. But as long as you are prepared for it the racing will always be an unforgettable experience.

How much of the track did you get to see whilst there?

I was pleasantly surprised as to how much of the track I could see, bearing in mind I opted for the general admission ticket. The track walk at the end was also a bonus, especially walking up the start and finish straight.IMAG1639

Which part of the track did you enjoy the race from?

Through the Gp2 and GP3 and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup we took in as much of the track as we could then for the BIG ONE we sat at corner 8 with the in view of 7 and 9.

What was your best experience of the trip?

(Apart from the big race itself) Without a doubt the buzz and build up on race day, from arriving to the track to sitting on the coach on our way home the atmosphere and excitement is something I will never forget.

What advice would you give to people heading off to the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time?

Take in the track and views during qualifying and early races to guarantee you find your favoured spot for the big race. Also, be sure to pack sun cream! I lost mine on the way in to the circuit and as you can imagine it was VERY hot. There are places for cover from the sun, but I would certainly recommend a hat sun cream and plenty of liquids.

Do you have to be a F1 super fan to enjoy a Grand Prix See It Live experience?

Certainly not, as much as I love the sport and follow every race. I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘Super fan’. A See It Live weekend can be enjoyed by anybody, I am sure there are many others who would agree in saying once you have experienced one, you are itching for the next opportunity.

Would you go on a Grand Prix tour again? If so, which one do you fancy?

I certainly would, on our way back my Dad was already looking at our next race weekend with Leger. From start to finish it was such an unforgettable weekend. At present we are stuck between Belgium Grand Prix or my Dads favourite the German Grand Prix.
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Part Two: A Personal Account of Visiting Battlefields in the Centenary Year

Part two of Paul Prendergast’s personal account of his emotional experience on the Battlefields Flanders Fields – Britain’s Bastion on the Western Front tour.

We started off at 8.30am, our first stop was Hill 60. This was my first personal call of the day so when we got there I left the main group for about 10 minutes. This was due to me wanting to place a Cross of Remembrance at the Queen Victoria Rifles Memorial on the hill.
This was in remembrance of Percy Kimmons, 6655 1/9 London Regiment, aged just 34 when he died on the on 09/10/1914. The significance behind this is that I have his Death Plaque and his medals at home. He was a Postman when he joined the Army. I was very proud to lay this small token in his memory.
On hill 60 we went to see the bunker on top of the hill and also you can walk round the craters on the hill which is a very odd feeling.
 
We then went on to the visit the Passchendaele Museum which has got some great exhibits, but also has a series of underground dugouts and trench systems that just give you a very small idea of how the trenches would have been but without the Death Blood Lice and Rats. We can never contemplate what actually happened to those men who walked through these to their deaths, fighting for our freedom today.
During the weekend we stopped at Ploegsteert or Plug Street to the British this is where Winston Churchill served during the War, also the place of the Xmas Truce. The weekend also included a visit to Bayernwald a series of German trenches and Bunkers that you can walk round, it is said that Hitler won his Iron Cross here.

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Cross of Sacrifice at Tynecot

We also visited Langemark German War Cemetery where there are 45,000 men buried this includes a mass grave containing 24.000 men buried together this includes some British men and the enemy, but now at rest with each other.
We then went on to visit Tyne cot cemetery which is the biggest CWGC cemetery in the World it contains, 12.000 men buried and 34.000 names on the memorial wall the scale of this makes you think what a waste it was .
When we got back on the coach it was mentioned that our cemeteries are better than the Germans, I could only say that ALL Men Are Equal in Death, and every headstone and name had a family and a story.
All the tours were fantastic and our guide Peter Williams, was without doubt a very good guide.
Now, at the start of this second part of my blog, it was said the tour was going to be a very personal and emotive trip for me. When we got back to the hotel, I had to shower shave, put on a shirt, tie and suit. The reason? I had the honour to be laying two wreaths at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate at 8pm on the 05/10/2014.
The wreaths that I was laying were for the 1/10 Service Btn Queens Royal West Surrey Reg (Battersea Pals). The reason for this is that I was born and raised in Battersea, London, SW11. I wanted to pay my respect to all the local men who fought so that I could have my freedom today.
The second wreath that I would be laying was for the 1/2 8th Btn London Reg Post Office Rifles. A very personal tribute this because I worked for Royal Mail for 38 years before I took early retirement this year.
Every sorting office that I have ever managed, and in the country, has a plaque dedicated to the men who fought and died in WW1 and WW2.
When I left Royal Mail my last office was Stockwell London SW9, the plaque in there has got 6 names of men that went to fight. None came back. This is where I got my interest in WW1.I was also wearing my Granddads’ medal for his RAF service in WW2 and my Great Uncles medal bar from WW1, I will also be wearing this when I march pass the Cenotaph on the 09/11/2014.
The Mennin Gate, Ypres
The Menin Gate, Ypres

I arrived at the Gate around 7.15pm, it was packed already so I took my place in the line behind other people. There was 9 wreaths to be laid I was third in line for my first.
My first wreath was for the Battersea Pals. I started to walk and was struggling to find my thought at the honour that I had to lay the wreaths at the Gate. I reached the top of the stairs, laid the wreath, bowed my head and turned back.
Then I realised that I still had one more to lay for the Post Office Rifles, so I took my place at the back of the line. I had to walk alone to the other side to lay the wreath, a large crowd people waiting for me to do so.
I reached the top of the stairs laid the wreath and then turned and thinking about what these men did for us, I bowed and then started to shed tears the emotion was just too much.
I walked back and got myself back together, I was told by people on the tour that I did really well and assured that anyone would have gotten upset thinking about what these heroes went through.
I have now been on 4 Leger tours in the last 12 months and already have 3 booked for 2015.
This is by far for me my best trip yet and would recommend this Flanders Field Bastion on the Western Front to all people who want to visit.
The morning we left Ypres I walked down to the gate the sun was rising and I looked down on my wreaths with PRIDE and EMOTION. I thought, when I was at the gate, I was alone with 54.000 heroes. Not many people can say that.
Some people might read this and say that my account of this is very emotive, but however many times I visit these places, I will always remember the two wreaths laid at the gate and every time I visit a cemetery or memorial. That every name carved on a wall, headstone or cross, gave their lives for our today.
The 11th November will be here within the week so please wear your poppy with PRIDE, show our living Soldiers that they are not forgotten and remember, without them giving their lives you would not be here today.

LEST WE FORGET

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If you would like hear more from Paul on and read more about his experiences, follow him on Twitter: @paulthedom
 

A Personal Account of Visiting Battlefields in the Centenary Year: Part One

Paul Prendergast is a valued customer of ours who recently embarked on a personally significant Battlefields tour to Flanders Fields – Britain’s Bastion on the Western Front with Leger. Commemorating this significant year, he set out with the intent of remembering heroes close to his heart. Read more about his emotional experience in his own words in this special two part blog.

The journey started with my coach pick up at Pease Pottage in West Sussex, the driver asked me how long I was going away for I told him just the weekend, he joked that I had enough bags to last 2 weeks. (I will explain about this I had a suitcase and 2 bags plus a cardboard box which will come into play later)

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Sunset over Menin Gate

We headed down to Dover to pick the ferry up and then headed over to France to begin our journey to Ypres. We arrived in Ypres about 7.30 pm too late to attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate so I decided to unpack and go to the Market Sq. for something to eat.
There are lots of places to choose from and all of the places are affordable and family friendly. The first day of the tour began with myself taking a moment to walk down the road to the Menin Gate whilst it was nice and quiet at around 7.00 am. It brings home to you when there is no one about that the names of 54,000 heroes are inscribed on the gate, this is all the families have to show as their bodies were never found during the conflict.
The group met at 9.00am and went on to the Flanders Fields Museum it was a fantastic place to visit, you are given a wristband and you can interact with certain items in the museum. It has some great displays also that opened my eyes to how these men survived the War. We then visited St Georges Church, this is another must visit place I have never been there but it was fantastic, all the Kneelers in the church are covered with the regiments that fought at Arras and Ypres during the War.
I took some pictures of them Post Office Rifles RAMC and Queens Royal West Surrey regiments, I will explain about these in the second part of my blog and why they are the reason for my trip.
I also then visited St Martins Cathedral which is a vast and beautiful place I walked in there and I had the place to myself and took a moment to reflect, I thought about what these people went through during the conflict and can only imagine, on the way out I lighted a candle for all of the fallen during the war.
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54,000 heroes remembered on the walls of The Menin Gate

We then went down to the Menin Gate and where our guide Peter Williams explained about the gate when and why it was built, I listened with intent due to the fact that I would like to become a Battlefield Guide and was taking lots of notes, also Peter lives in Ypres so his local knowledge was also quite useful.
We then went to Lunch at Hodge Creater Museum which for me is the best Museum to visit and I never get bored of looking round at the fantastic collection that is there. I also visited which in my view is one of the best Cemeteries to visit and I never forget to look round at has many Headstones as possible because people forget that every solider at rest there and their headstone tell a person’s history and storey so I take the time to visit and read all I can.
Our last visit on Day 1 was to Essex Farm cemetery, this is another place that I have never visited and was amazed as to what was there. The cemetery has buried in it a VC winner Pte T Barratt of the Staffordshire regiment he was 22 when he died on the 27-07-1917. Among the buried there is another person, V. Strudwick of the Rifle Brigade died on the 15-01-1916, aged 15, a boy who wanted to fight for his country.
The buildings that were used by the RAMC are still intact it was used as a Casualty clearing station it was quite a emotional place because knowing that thousands of people had passed and treated and died here so that put a few things in perspective.
The place is also well known for the poem IN FLANDERS FIELDS.

In Flanders fields the poppies blowrotate 1
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scare heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, through poppies grow IN Flanders fields to you

 
 

Tomorrow, we will post the second part of Paul’s blog, in it he will give his account of the special occasion in which he placed wreaths at the Last Post Ceremony taking place at the Menin Gate on the 5th October, 2014.

BBC 1's The Apprentice takes on Coach Tours.

Nana Markin

If you haven’t heard, the BBC 1 hit show, The Apprentice, is taking on the task of putting together a one day coach tour on tonight’s episode.

The Apprentice sees 20 entrepreneurs take on a series of tasks to prove their worth. An investment of £250,000 is at stake to fund a business partnership with Sir Alan Sugar. Each week we see contestants eliminated with brutal honesty coining the famous phrase ‘You’re fired’
Coach tourism is worth £2.35 billion to Britain’s economy and forms a large part of Leger Holidays, as you can probably imagine, the talk of this episode at Leger HQ is rife.
Without giving too much away to the avid fans of the show, the task is set to create a day trip to a top UK tourist attraction outside of London. They are provided with two luxury coaches as both parties depart to their chosen destinations.
We’re said to expect a display of coach sing-a-longs and some questionable lunches on top of some unsuccessful negotiations for attraction entry prices.
Luckily for Leger customers, this is something they don’t have to worry about. With the launch of our new coach, Luxuria, entertainment is far beyond ‘Eye-Spy’ and Karaoke, you are now able to enjoy your own interactive seat back TV with plenty of games, films and music to choose from.
We’d love to know your verdict on the episode, would you go on any of the tours they put together? Leave us a comment or hop over to Facebook or Twitter.

To keep you going before the Apprentice at 9pm tonight, here’s our top 5 reasons why we love coach holidays:

  • Magnificent Scenery

From rolling countryside to snow covered mountain peaks, you can see it all on a coach trip. It makes for some beautiful photographs too!

  • It’s all planned for you

If you’re planning on visiting more than one city, you could be looking for moths for a great deal. Your itinerary is perfectly thought out, taking you to the best places and lovely hotels and you don’t have to lift a finger when it comes to the planning.

  • Meeting great new friends

A coach full of interesting people, with their own stories and experiences all there to enjoy the same thing. There’s no wonder Leger customers find life-long friends on their holidays.

  • Visiting several amazing locations in one holiday

Don’t place yourself in one location with the only escape being your flight home, we can take you from the beautiful island of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea to the Grossglockner Glacier in Austria within days of each other.

  • Great Value

The value of a coach holiday simply doesn’t compare to an air holiday. Multiple destinations, luxury travel and inclusive meals for less than some plane tickets? What’s not to like?
Getting to know each other in the lounge
Why don’t you pop over to our Facebook page and get involved with our Apprentice style task, put together your perfect 5 day tour!
You can also see what our brand new coach, launching in 2015, Luxuria has to offer by clicking here.
The Apprentice, Wednesday nights at 9pm, BBC1

Directors Choice: Huw Williams goes Walking in the Italian S

Here at Leger we offer a fantastic selection of different and exciting tours, ranging from the classic sights of Europe to experiencing live events such as the Formula One Grand Prix. However, one experience that we are particularly proud of is our walking tours. We have taken our customers hiking through the Austrian mountains to walking in the footsteps of heroes through the Battlefields of World War One. Our Marketing Director, Huw Williams, loves walking and in turn has chosen our Walking in the Italian Süd Tirol tour as his Directors Choice. Huw has kindly answered some of our frequently asked questions about his tour and walking tours in general.

What is a walking holiday and what does it entail?

A walking holiday with Leger is a combination of a coach holiday with sightseeing opportunities combined with graded, guided walks through beautiful, interesting scenery.

As your Directors’ Choice, what made you choose this tour?

I had never visited the Italian Sud Tirol, a destination we’ve specialised in for 30 years, so I thought it was about time!
My wife (who accompanied me) and I also love walking, so it seemed to be the ideal combination. It was a Silver Service departure, too, so that made it even more appealing as I am quite tall and appreciate the extra legroom.

What are the perks of a walking holiday?

The fresh air and exercise in amazing, scenic surroundings give you a real sense of contentment and well-being. A chance to take a step back (excuse the pun) from day-to-day demands and appreciate the simple pleasures of life….one of which is spending time with a small group of walking companions and making new friends.

Are the walks taken as a group or do you go your own pace?

All walks are accompanied by an experienced guide and the group walks together. Inevitably, people walk at different paces and this is catered for, within certain limits.

What did you expect before heading off on the tour and was there anything that left you pleasantly surprised?

Walking guide Christina
Our walking guide, Christina

The tour mostly met my expectations, which it should considering my job! However, my expectations were exceeded by: the comfort of Silver Service and the performance of our drivers; the amazing hospitality at our hotel in Uttenheim, the zum Schlossl (Anna is such a good cook); the friendliness and expertise of our walking guide, Christina; and especially the truly stunning scenery of the Sud Tirol. It was breath-taking.

Is a walking holiday suitable for single travellers?

Absolutely, there were several guests travelling on their own and, to my knowledge, had a great time. Coach and walking holidays are perfect for getting to know your fellow travellers quickly and making new friends.

Which was your favourite walk of the tour?

The Waldner Pilgrimage, from Prettau up to  the Waldner Alm. It had unbelievable views. But every walk was rewarding in its own right because of the varied features of each one.

What would you say to people who think they aren’t fit or experienced enough to try a walking holiday?

A reasonable level of fitness is important. If you rarely take exercise or have mobility issues, our walking holidays are not suitable for you.
However, if you’re a regular walker, whether over gentle or more challenging terrain, we’ll have something to suit because our walks are graded according to difficulty.
I would certainly recommend you do some preparation beforehand, though. It will enhance your enjoyment. And ensure you have suitable boots and clothing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re inexperienced because all walks are fully guided and you will receive pre-walk briefings and lots of tips and advice to help you get the most from each day.

What advice would you give to someone about to head off on their first walking holiday?

Savour every moment and take lots of pictures to remind you what a wonderful time you had…until the next time, that is. Believe me, once you’ve done it you’ll want to go again.

What three words would you use to sum up your experience on this tour?

Exhilarating, friendly, fun.

And finally, given the choice of any European country, which would you personally choose as an ideal walking tour destination?

For me, it’s the mountain scenery I find irresistible. Therefore, it probably has to be somewhere in the Alps. The Italian Sud Tirol fits the bill and that’s probably because it used to be part of Austria until the end of the First World War. So, as I love everything about Austria, I would choose it as my ideal European walking destination. Maybe I’ll choose Walking in the Austrian Tyrol for my next Directors’ Choice!
 
Here are some of Huw’s fantastic photos from his Directors Choice tour, Walking in the Italian Sud Tirol, this tour is available to view here


 
If you’d like to take a look at the fantastic choice of walking tours available to book now, click here.