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Monday, 2nd September - Friday, 6th September


1. WE ARE OFF! There are 24 of us going on the trip. That compares with just 15 last year (to East Sussex) and 32 the year before (to Suffolk). A final letter was distributed on 27th August along with the Information Pack I prepared for the trip.

2. As last year, Norman Allen Group Travel Limited (NAGT) will be the Tour Operator for the trip whilst Probus acts as NAGT's Booking Agent and the Group Organiser, taking responsibility for arranging the Itinerary for the trip. NAGT has booked rooms for us at a hotel (see next paragraph) and has also booked a 32-seater executive coach for us from Astons Coaches, whom we used last year. NAGT can help arrange insurance cover for those who wish it but Probus does not get involved with insurance matters so, if you are interested in obtaining insurance for the trip, please approach NAGT directly on that (contact is Hilary Christmas at 01432-357903).
[Through the Booking Form, those coming on the trip have already confirmed that:
- they have read and accepted NAGT's 'Booking Conditions and General Tour Information' (which may be seen here).
- they consent to the use of their data in line with NAGT’s Privacy Policy (which may be seen here).

3. Our hotel will be the 4-star Holiday Inn (which was known as 'The Derbyshire Hotel' until earlier this year) in South Normanton, DE55 2EH. Our booking is 'half-board' so breakfast & dinner with be provided for us as well as a bedroom. The hotel is not in the prettiest part of Derbyshire but, because of the uncertainties we had about our numbers, we were not able to book early enough to obtain any of the best-situated hotels in our price range. However, our hotel is well placed for most of our trips, has recently completed some significant refurbishments, and should be very comfortable. [The refurbishments have led to most of the bedrooms having walk-in showers, something that will please many in the group.] They have agreed to provide us with a small conference room so that those who wish to may gather together in the evenings separately from the other hotel guests. [Some 'evening entertainment' is being planned!] The hotel has a Leisure Club (open 6.30am to 9.30pm) which has its own fitness suite, spa pool, jacuzzi, steam room & sauna. It also offers some spa treatments (see here) though those treatments are available only between 9am and 5pm and should be prebooked so they will probably be worth considering only by those participating in Group D (see below).
[The only significant 'attraction' in just-about walking distance from the hotel is the East Midlands Designer Outlet (about 1 mile away) which offers 65 stores and is open 9.30am to 8pm.]

4. Our itinerary for the trip has been confirmed as follows which, apart from a 5-minute earlier start for Group A, is as was advised to participants in June except for details being added for Day 3, which will now be somewhat longer than was originally expected, and going to the NSC instead of Calke Abbey on Day 5:

(1) Monday 2nd: leave Ewyas Harold 9.30am: a brunch at the Hopwood Motorway Service Station (M42) then visit Crich Tramway Museum (we should have about 3 hours there); get to the hotel about 5.00pm.

(2) Tuesday 3rd: split into 2 groups ('either Chatsworth or something different'):
      - Group A (was 15 now 13 people): leave hotel 9.25am; visit Masson Mills (about 3 hours) then Haddon Hall (about 3 hours); back to hotel 5.30pm.
      - Group B (was 9 now 11 people): leave hotel 10.45am; visit Chatsworth (about 4½ hours); back to hotel 5.30pm.

(3) Wednesday 4th: coach drive around the Peak District:
      - It was originally planned to leave the hotel about 10.00am and get back around 5.00pm but it proved to be impossible to fit enough into 7 hours without it being too much of a rush. Instead, we are going to start at 9.00am and get back to the hotel around 5.30pm with the 8½ hours being split roughly into 4 hours in the coach (the longest without a stop being just over 1 hour), 4 hours split between Eyam (morning tea), Castleton (lunch) & Glossop (afternoon tea), and ½ hour set aside for stopping at Monsal Head on the way back from Glossop to the hotel. As long as the weather is reasonably kind, the journey should provide many good views of this lovely area. For those who wish it, those stops offer enough 'down-time' to relax so that the day, though long, should not be too tiring. For those with a lot of energy, the stops should include enough of interest to make the day a truly interesting one.

(4) Thursday 5th: split into 2 groups ('either a potentially busy day or a reasonably relaxed day'):
      - Group C (14 people): leave hotel 10.00am; visit Heights of Abraham (about 6 hours); back to hotel 5.15pm.
      - Group D (10 people): leave hotel 11.30am; visit Hardwick Hall (about 3½ hours); back to hotel 3.50pm.

(5) Friday 6th: leave hotel 10.20am (not 10.30am): We will have 2 stops on the way back home: the first for a visit to the National Space Centre in Leicester and the other at Strensham Service Station (on the M5 just before we turn onto the M50) just for a short break. We should get back to Ewyas Harold around 5.30
pm, just in time to get to the 'Choice Grenfell' show in the Abbey at 7.30pm!

Peter BG
1st September 2019