Staff Review: SUP with Active360

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This week, Maddie and I ventured back into the heart of London to try something a little unusual – Stand Up Paddleboarding! We were lucky enough to experience how beautiful The City can be on a warm summers day – with the weather on our side and perfect for paddleboarding (26 degrees!) .

A short tube hop away from Victoria, we arrived at Paddington Tube Station, ready to see what the day had in store for us. The Active360 boat was easy to find, and our instructor Anu was waiting for us by the barge on Paddington Basin. We got changed into our special paddleboarding shoes (provided), and Anu demonstrated how to paddle, get up onto the board and what to do if we fell in (which luckily, we didn’t!).

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After our safety instruction, we headed into the water. We both found the sensation quite daunting at first, as neither Maddie, nor I, had ever SUP’ed before. Within 15 minutes on the paddleboards, however, we were up and standing. Although wobbly at first, we quickly relaxed into it and could enjoy the beautiful sights around us.

We paddled through Paddington Basin, past old Dutch and French Barges, under various cute little bridges – including the half-penny bridge – all the way to the fork between Regents Canal and Little Venice. As ours was a private experience, we chose to make our way through Little Venice, which worked out wonderfully. There were dainty, little restaurants on the river bank, low branching trees and spots where geese and their chicks were all hanging out.

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We were surprised by how peaceful and green this part of London is, as this was not something we had experienced before. Our instructor Anu was a wonderful tour guide, explaining various sights along the way and disclosing interesting facts about various parts of the city.

All in all, it’s safe to say our SUP session was by far one of the best experiences we’ve done so far, and we’d both love to go again in future. It definitely showed London in a different light, far from what either of us had experienced before. We would like to say a massive thank you to Active360 for having us and – of course – to Anu for being an excellent tour guide!

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Harbour Hotel, Afternoon Tea – Staff Review

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As I arrived at the Harbour Hotel (one of the Mr and Mrs Smith’s boutique hotels) for afternoon tea I was impressed by the location. The front of the hotel overlooks the stunning coast of Brighton and the iconic pier, with the new i360 being only a short walk away. What better place to relax with your afternoon tea than with a view that provides the opportunity to really see Brighton’s vibrant beauty.

On arrival, we were warmly greeted and taken to our table by a well-presented member of the hotel team. As we walked through the hotel restaurant I was impressed by the spacious layout, which allows for a good level of privacy but with sufficient room to accommodate larger numbers of people on busy days. The design of the room was comfortable with a contemporary touch that is perfect for an afternoon tea for visitors of all ages.

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The three of us were quickly seated towards the back of the room, which was furnished with relaxing sofas that made us feel at ease. Within a few minutes, the server was asking for our order from an impressive selection of quality teas. The service was to a very high standard with friendly staff that were committed to making sure that we received everything we required.

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Within the Harbour Hotel, they created an ideal atmosphere for our traditional afternoon tea. The music was very appropriate and worked well with the delivery of a relaxing experience. As we saw the food arriving we were all very impressed by its presentation using a traditional tiered cake stand.

Within the Harbour high tea, there was a wide selection of sandwiches, wraps, cakes and scones. It was fantastic that at the beginning when we were given our food the server went through exactly what everything was and what ingredients they contained. This was especially useful for us as we were visiting for the first time and demonstrated a high level of customer care.

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All of the food was delicious with the variety of different fillings and flavours that really complimented each other. It was obvious that everyone was enjoying the food as this was the first time we all went quiet for a while! We especially enjoyed the scones and couldn’t help ourselves using up the entire pot of clotted cream. By the end, there was very little left and we all agreed that we were very satisfied with the amount of food that we had been given and the exceptional quality.

On reflection, I would definitely recommend to all my friends and family going to the Harbour Hotel for afternoon tea. With its perfect setting within Brighton, quality environment, good selection of food and tea being served at a professional standard this all makes for a memorable and quality experience.


We would like to thank Rebecca for publishing this great review and look forward to her joining the Experience Days team in June!

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Staff Review: Afternoon Tea at Malmaison Hotel

tea-experience-in-brightonIt took me approximately 0.3546 seconds to agree to try out the Afternoon Tea at the Malmaison Hotel in Brighton Marina. It took only a few seconds longer to Google the menu and check out what was on offer! Those mini burgers had my name written all over them…

On the day of the experience, Evie and I took the short journey from our office in the centre of Brighton to the Malmaison Hotel based in the Marina. Upon arrival, we were welcomed into the restaurant lounge area which overlooks the harbour and seated on a table by the window. After the final member of our party of 3 turned up, the awaiting staff attentively came over to take our order. To drink, Evie and I ordered two coffees and Abiola ordered from the selection of teas on offer, choosing a Lemon and Ginger infused brew. To accompany our drinks, we all went for the full monty and ordered the deluxe Afternoon Tea, including a vegetarian option for Abiola.

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With what seemed only a few minutes, the food arrived on a traditional tiered platter including the sweet, savoury and of course – the scones! Malmaison offers a modern twist to the traditional afternoon tea – for savoury bites the tier includes a hot smoked salmon and creme fraiche wrap, chipotle chicken and avocado wrap and a mini burger (bean burger for the vegetarian option). Following this – and personally my favourite part – the mass of sweet treats available includes gooey chocolate brownie, lemon and polenta cake, strawberry and vanilla pavlova, frozen summer berry smoothie and finally a peach and amaretto trifle. The food was delicious and the service outstanding, combined with the harbour view this Afternoon Tea is not one to be missed. My only regret was ordering a creamy coffee earlier as I couldn’t quite finish the food!

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Thanks again to Malmaison for letting us indulge on this delicious Afternoon Tea!

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Expert Interview with Greentrack Events

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Following our exciting time at Greentrack Events in Bournemouth, Peter kindly took time answering some of our questions on how Greentrack Events came about. Keep reading to find out more!

Q. How was Greentrack Events born?

As a result of chasing rainbows in other commercial directions, when reality came home and I had to put something together that was real and could appeal to the general public.

Q. How did your passion for military vehicles begin?

Back in the sixties, I spent three years with the Guards Brigade, where, in the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, after public duties, we were posted to Germany where for the first time we were issued with Humber APC’s. We used these for quite a long time before the Saracen APC superseded them. After leaving the Guards, one is always hankering to repeat the experience and one of the ways is to buy a reminder of those days, namely something of which you had first-hand knowledge of. I’m my case I was offered a Humber APC, which was not being used, by a local multi-millionaire who is married to Lord Montague’s niece. I then bought an Austin K9 3 3/4 tonne ex Royal Signals radio truck, closely followed by an Austin Champ jeep, now fitted with a Ben gun. This was followed by the Land Rover 101 ex-artillery tractor. Lastly, I acquired a long wheelbase Land Rover in reconnaissance trim.

Q. What would you say is the best thing about driving these military vehicles?

The best thing about driving these older ex-military vehicles is the nostalgia. The bigger military vehicles are really impracticable to own and let out for public driving, as they are inordinately expensive things to keep going and need a lot of backup. Our vehicles are unique and appeal to those people – sometimes with a military past – and generally because they look like ‘big boys toys !’ On top of that is the reasonable cost involved.

Q. Can you tell us a little more about the vehicles you have?

The Humber 1 tonne armoured is a 1954 troop carrier. Weight 5 1/4 tonnes, Rolls Royce 6 cylinder engine. 2 and 4 wheel drive. Designed to take a section of infantry, safely, to a position where they can de-bus and attack the enemy, then retreat. Ours was fitted out later as a Mk2 that went to Northern Ireland, which were up-armoured to stop more modern weapon penetration. They do about 6/8 mpg off road.

The Land Rover 101 forward Control, 1974, an ex-artillery tractor bought from Scotland about 8 years ago. Very able off-road performance and will do 70 mph on a good day! Used to tow a 105mm pack gun with a tonne of ammunition and a crew of 6. Powered by a 3.5 LTR Rover V8 petrol engine, it is a permanent 4-wheel drive vehicle. Not the least trace of power assistance anywhere on the vehicle!

The Austin Champ, 1955 Jeep was in service immediately before the Army bought Land Rovers. It’s a chunky looking vehicle with a R.R 2.9 litre engine. It is a soft top with canvas sides, when fitted, or completely open. Seats 4/5, they were not as reliable as the Land Rover as a lot of people thought that they were over engineered. Great to drive and will go as quickly in reverse as forward!

Austin K9 1954 Radio truck.  Ex Royal Signal, weighs 3 3/4 tonnes with a radio shack on the rear, behind the 2 seater cab. Excellent off road performance, 4-litre petrol engine, high driving position and has a ‘crash gearbox. Good looking as well!

Land Rover Long Wheelbase. 1974, kitted out as a reconnaissance vehicle, seats 7 max. Usual Land Rover performance, excellent off road. Great fun to drive.

Q. If you could say one thing to every customer what would it be?

Be prepared to leave us with a large smile on your face!

Q. Do you have any plans for expansion in the future? 

I feel that we have enough choice of vehicles at the moment to really please and give prospective clients a super time with us.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add/mention that has not been covered?

Besides the one-off drives, we love to have groups of up to 10 people where we can arrange something different for them, ie. a longer drive with BBQ lunch, an orienteering experience with some ‘sniper’ shooting and a bottle of ‘bubbly’.


We would like to thank Peter for taking the time to answer some of our curious questions and hope you enjoyed finding out a little more about Greentrack Events in Dorset.

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Staff Review: 2 Hour Western Horse Riding in Hampshire

2-hour-western-horse-riding-in-hampshirePutting on our best Calamity Jane cowgirl impressions, Leoni and I headed to Hampshire for a 2 Hour Horse Riding Experience across the New Forest to roam around with the wild ponies. It was truly my idea of horsey heaven!

The Burley Villa Ranch is located in New Milton and is easily accessible. After parking in the on site car park, we grabbed our cameras and set off to meet our noble steeds. Before mounting up, you’re required to fill out a short health and safety form before heading to the tack room to get a helmet fitted and a pair of cowboy boots (or any boots with a heel). Phil then kindly took us on a tour of the Ranch whilst our rides were being prepared. We checked out the many horses on site, the huge indoor arena, BBQ area and the Wild West Themed shack with its own life sized John Wayne cutout. After checking out the impressive collection of cowboy memorabilia, we headed back to the stalls where the horses were tied up and were ready to get this Cowboy show on the road!

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Leoni was going to be riding a beautiful cob called Concho and I was on his best friend, Coyote. Our instructor for the day, Charlie, helped us on board before we set off to the outdoor school to get to grips with the basics. We learnt how to stop and make our horses walk on, before moving onto a ‘jog’ – don’t worry this hack is still perfect for beginners as jog is not much faster than a walk! With the ability to control our horses, we headed out of the Ranch towards the New Forest to begin our 2 hour hack. It was amazing riding amongst the wild ponies and cattle which live on the forest. Our horses were all impeccably behaved and looked after us along the way. The hack takes you to a river which is great to plod and splash through!

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With heavy hearts after having enjoyed our hack so much, we arrived back at the Ranch where we dismounted our horses and they were taken for a much needed lunch break! The venue is truly a 5* facility and the staff could not have been more welcoming. This experience also comes with lunch so it was a shame we couldn’t stop, but we can’t imagine there would be anything better than feeding our hungry bellies with a good ol’ western BBQ.

Thank you to Phil, Charlie and the rest of the Burley Villa Team for making our Western Horse Riding Experience so relaxed and one to remember!

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Expert Interview: Debbie Carter – Chocolate Craft

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Calling all chocolatiers! We caught up with Debbie, the Founder and Managing Director of Chocolate Craft. She gave us a little more insight into the Luxury Chocolate Making Workshop, perfect for chocaholics.

Q. How was Chocolate Craft founded?
A. I was actually an NHS Nursing Development and Research Manager who wanted a career change and wanted to run my own business. That was back in 2004 – some 13 years on, we continue to be an expanding business supplying the likes of Fortnum & Mason with hand decorated chocolates, whilst being firmly established as the region’s leading chocolate teaching and chocolate based team building events business.

Q. Where did your passion for Chocolate come from?
A. It was borne out of a passion for cooking and creativity. With its great versatility in both flavouring and composition, I found chocolate to be my perfect ingredient!

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Q. What is your favourite thing about teaching chocolate making classes & workshops?
A. Without a doubt, seeing the fun and enjoyment that people of all ages get from learning a new skill and developing their own handmade creations – then seeing how proud people are with what they’ve made.

Q. If you could tell every customer one thing, what would it be?
A. Get creative and enjoy!

Q. Do you have any funny stories about Chocolate Craft?
A. No funny stories in particular, though every workshop is guaranteed to deliver fun and laughter!

Q. Is there anything you would like to add or mention that has not been covered?
A. Only that anyone can make chocolates – men, women, boys, girls, mums and dads, grandpas and great-grandmas! It’s totally accessible and even beginners can, with the right tuition, produce highly professional results.


We would like to thank Debbie for taking the time to share her experiences with us. Whether you’re young or old, chocolate is everyone’s favourite, and an experience with Chocolate Craft makes a fantastic gift for all!

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2020 Archery – Expert Interview

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We had a great catch up with 2020 Archery’s Heidi, who told us the ins and outs of the company! Archery is one of the oldest target sports in the world, so there’s lots to say on such a fascinating subject. Keep reading to find out more…

Q. How was 2020 Archery founded?

A. I was shooting with a club called Hampstead Bowmen in North London and I became Volunteer Course Co-ordinator. I realised that there were at least 100 people on the waiting list hoping to learn how to shoot – or just experience traditional target archery – and we just didn’t have the capacity to assist everyone in their goals. At the same time as realising that there were many people needing archery coaching, I realised that I had achieved everything I wanted to competitively (I was shooting at County Team level) so I began making the transition into teaching. Everything grew from there.

Q. Where did the idea behind running the archery experiences stem from?

A. Archery can be a difficult sport to get into – it can be perceived as expensive as lots of gear is needed, and weather dependant because most people usually see archery done outdoors. I realised that we could shoot indoors all year round and, if we provided everything needed equipment-wise, it would be a super fun thing for people to try as a one-off. Then, if they love it (and we hope they do!) it’s an easy transition onto one of our full beginner courses.

Q. If you had one thing you could tell every customer what would it be?

A. We make sure that Archery is totally achievable for everyone on our experience days. There ARE prizes to be won but it’s the taking part that counts. If you love the idea of bows and arrows but you don’t know how to get started we’re here for you! Oh, and we make an absolute point of keeping everything safe. We provide special long arm guards so that no-one goes home with a bruised arm. If you’ve ever done archery on a holiday camp and experienced ‘string bite’ you weren’t being looked after carefully enough. It’s a personal bug-bear of mine! Archery shouldn’t ever hurt!

Q. What is your favourite thing about the sport?

A. I love that archery is super sociable and friendly but that you’re only answerable to yourself trying to do your best on the day.

Q. Do you have any plans for the future? Expanding, adding more experiences etc.

A. We specialise in archery so we’re definitely not going into catering or cocktail making experiences!! We have recently launched Indoor Archery Tag though. If you haven’t heard about Tag it’s super fun, Hunger Games style combat archery. We have open Tournaments every few weeks – you just need to find 3 or 4 mates and £75 and you can give it a go!

Q. Do you have anything you would like to add that has not been covered?

A. Archery is a great activity to experience. We try and make our events fast paced enough that you don’t get bored but there’s also time for socialising with your friends. We share bows between pairs (but you get your own set of arrows) so you can give constructive feedback to the person you attend with and it allows for a bit of a breather between arrows. Oh, and we give individual support to every participant for their first three arrows. No-one gets left behind and we’ve never – in ten years – had anyone that hasn’t hit the target!


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We would like to say a massive thank you to Heidi for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you have enjoyed finding out more about 2020 Archery!

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Stand Up Paddleboarding; A History

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Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP as it is often known, is the latest trend to take the water sport world by storm. It’s the perfect combination of testing your fitness whilst also spending a day out on the water; making it easy to understand why it has become so popular.  SUP can still be enjoyed in the autumnal months (you may want a wet suit though), so there is no excuse to not try it out. Read on to find out more about all things SUP…

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The definition and origin of SUP has caused quite some controversy over time, however all SUP lovers can agree on two things that have always remained the same; a surf-style board and a long paddled ore. Ancient cultures from Africa to South America have always used long boats and spears to fish, travel and surf, and it’s thought this is SUP’s true origin – and arguably even surfing’s! After a day of hard grafting, fishermen used to ride waves on their journey home for fun, and thus a new water sport was born.

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The SUP we recognise today has a strong Hawaiian influence. This came from surf instructors in the 1940’s, who would stand on their boards and use the support of paddles to steer in the right direction in order to gain a better view of the surfers. SUP roots can also be traced back to Tel Aviv, Israel, where lifeguards would use the boards to paddle out to swimmers in difficulty and come to their rescue (maybe not quite Baywatch style).

As well as the attraction of trying a novel sport, SUP has multiple health benefits. It is a great alternative to going to the gym, but still allows paddlers to work towards that six pack and achieve better core strength. Your cardio workout will be done for the day if you spend enough time out on the water, or even race against your friends to really get your heart pumping; you’ll even catch some extra vitamin D and hopefully top up your tan – result!

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We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about SUP as much as we enjoyed researching it, and have encouraged you to give it a try. Here at Experience Days we have a range of SUP experiences to suit your every paddleboarding need, so make this year the year you discover a new hobby!

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Expert Interview with Adventure Bay Surf School

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With summer looming, grab your wet suit, your board, your best surfer dude impression and head out to the water. If you need a few tips from the best in the surfing trade, we’ve spoken to Dan at Adventure Bay Surf School in Cornwall (one of the UK’s hottest spots for catching a wave) to find out what sets his experiences apart from the rest. Here’s all you need to know…

Q: How did it all start for Adventure Bay Surf?

A good friend of mine started Adventure Bay surf school 6 years ago. I was working as a surf coach at A-Bay when he made the decision for his family to find more year-round work. It felt like a natural progression to step into his shoes and fulfil a dream of owning my own surf business. Now I just want to offer the best possible experience to people that come down to S.E. Cornwall whether that’s surf lessons, coasteering experiences or just visiting the beach.

Q: What is the best part of the surfing experiences you offer?

For me, the best part of my job is seeing the expression on people’s faces as all the hard work and determination pays off and they get their first proper wave and ride the whole way to the beach. Being surrounded by the tall cliffs of Whitsand Bay means that it is a truly majestic place to learn to surf.

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Q: It must be pretty chilly in the winter months! How do you ensure customers can still have a good time when it’s cold out?

Wetsuit technology has improved so much in the last 10 years. We have partnered with Sola wetsuits to offer the best, warmest and most comfortable wetsuits we can. Besides, when you’re concentrating on your next wave the cold doesn’t seem to matter anyway.

Q: What are customers most frequently asked questions?

Probably, “Will I stand up?” or “Where do I park?” Part of the charm of Whitsand Bay is that it is off the beaten track and far from the bustling crowds of Newquay or St. Ives. Whilst we do have a small café and facilities here at the beach it does mean people have to park roadside and find their way down the cliff to the beach.

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Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Or any funny anecdotes you could share with us? 

Just that with brand new surfboards and paddle boards from Skunkworks, brand new wetsuits from Sola and an epic crew of coaches Adventure Bay is ready to make sure that everyone; old, young, couples or families has the best possible time in the sea this year whether surfing, coasteering or paddling!

Thanks Dan! Now it’s time to head to the beach, see ya there…

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Expert Interview – East Somerset Railway.

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We caught up with East Somerset Railway’s Richard Masters who told us a little more about the nationally loved, old fashioned steam trains. Read to find out more!

Q. How did East Somerset Railway start out?

A. The present East Somerset Railway was founded by the artist David Shepherd back in the early 1970s when he was looking for a home for two large steam engines that he had bought from British Railways to save them from going to the scrap yard.

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Q. What is the best thing about working with steam trains?

A. It depends on your point of view! For some, it is being able to drive the engines and others it is just having the chance to get their hands dirty or to be outside in the fresh air or to meet people and help them get the most from their visit.

Q. Could you give us a brief history behind the steam trains?

A. The two main engines that we have to pull the passenger services at Cranmore were both rescued from scrapyards about 40 years ago. 5637 is a former Great Western Railway locomotive that was restored by the owners before coming to Cranmore in the 1990s. 46447 is a former London Midland and Scottish Railway locomotive whose restoration was completed at Cranmore in 2014 as part of a very important agreement with the owners that secured its use for the ESR for 10 years.

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Q. If you could advise every customer one thing what would it be?

A. To enjoy themselves – the East Somerset Railway is a great place to visit!

Q. How fast do the trains go?

A. Our maximum permitted line speed is 20mph.

Q. What is the main difference between East Somerset Railway trains and conventional trains?

A. The East Somerset Railway trains are solely steam hauled.

Q. Do you have anything you’d like to add that we have not yet covered?

A. As well as coming to visit, people might like to think about volunteering with us. It is a very rewarding hobby and a highly sociable and enjoyable place to be.

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We would like to thank Richard for taking the time to answer our questions. If you would like a go at experiencing these steam trains, there are a few options including Steam Train Journey with Lunch, Stream Train Rover for two and Steam Train Rover Family Ticket.

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