Believe it or not, on September 17 it is only 100 days until Christmas! While GTOs’ heads may be full of Christmas shopping trips and glittering West End shows, why not take a breather and go on one of these fam trips on offer?

VISIT ESSEX The Essex autumn fam trip is set for September 21 and will take in attractions and hotels in north-west and mid-Essex. Guests will meet at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Stansted Airport. GTOs will be taken to the market town of Waltham Abbey. A short walk through the gardens will take organisers to the first attraction – Epping Forest District Museum, which underwent a complete overhaul last year. After a look inside the Abbey, the group will head to Royal Gunpowder Mills, set within 170 beautiful acres. The site has a 300-year history of manufacturing explosives. After lunch the tour will go to one of Essex’s hidden treasures, The Gardens of Easton Lodge. Designed in 1902 by Harold Peto for “Daisy”, the Countess of Warwick, they were abandoned in 1950. Volunteers have started restoration and the gardens now have a magical atmosphere. The last stop will be Essex’s famous Audley End House and Gardens. Contact: Carol Jolly carol.jolly@essex. gov.uk 033301 39308. VISIT WILTSHIRE A little deeper into autumn this time, the second fam trip invitation is to Wiltshire, October 2- 4, meeting at Salisbury Station. The tour will start on Sunday with a visit to Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta and Arundells. The group will have dinner at The Cathedral Hotel Restaurant, and an overnight stay in a Salisbury hotel. Monday starts with a visit to Old Sarum and Longleat House. After lunch in Bradford on Avon the tour continues to Great Chalfield Manor and Bowood House & Gardens. There will be an opportunity for shopping and dinner at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Swindon. Overnight in Swindon. On day three, the tour will visit Avebury Stone Circle and Marlborough College Summer School for the new ‘one to one’ meetings and exhibition’ event. There will be a drop off at Pewsey station. Contact Florence Wallace flowallace@ visitwiltshire.co.uk 01722 341309. ■
Travelling is about more than just snapping a few photos – why not go one step further and write a travel journal or keep a scrapbook? Here are some tips…
1. Writing is fun but sometimes you get lost for words. Look to literary legends or quote banks and use the inspirational words of your icons. Jot your holiday thoughts in your scrapbook as reminders. Even just picking up your pen can trigger creative thinking. 2. Don’t stick to a formula – play around with your writing colours, sizes and styles. Use different pens and pencils or digital fonts. Have some purely visual pages and others text based – be creative! 3.Don’t feel like every page of your scrap book or journal needs to be a masterpiece. It’s supposed to be a fun way of archiving some of your thoughts and personal memories and inspirations. Enjoy it. 4. Everyday stationery is essential to your scrapbooking. Add ‘post its’ to highlight important bits. Attach an envelope to the pages to hold business cards and memorabilia. Coloured paper clips are a cute touch. 5. Give a particular photo you want to stand out a backing and add a border. Or create colourful doodles around the photo and create an eye-catching border

Here’s your chance to win a fabulous barge trip and overnight stay in Whitstable, Kent, for you and nine friends. The winner and friends will sail along the Kent coast from Whitstable to Faversham aboard the historic Shepherd Neame sailing barge, Greta. Also included are a tour, beer tasting and lunch at Shepherd Neame Brewery, and a three-course dinner and overnight accommodation at The Marine Hotel, Whitstable. Entry closes 12noon on September 30. Enter your details on the website for your chance to win https:// www.visitkent.co.uk/whitstable-barge-trip WIN A WHITSTABLE BARGE TRIP FOR 10!