Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps Tour 12 – 23 September 2015

The first group photo! Our longest tour and some have already said our best yet! Lots of photos to follow so this may not be finished before we have to leave on our ext tour...

The first group photo as we head into Italy! Our longest tour and some have already said our best yet!

“Hi John and Jen, we think this was the best tour we have done with you. The scenery was breath-taking. The roads were unbelievable. We had a great time and lots of fun. The hotels were good as was the food. Good group of people too. Many thanks & keep up the good work!”                                                                                   Stuart and Val Heath (5th & 4th trips), Kawasaki Versys 1000, Stoke on Trent

We start with a briefing at Caen

We start with a briefing at Caen

Our first stop - for waterproofs!

Our first stop – for waterproofs!

“Hi John and Jen, as you know this was our first bike tour and we just wanted to say that we picked a ‘goody’ for our first tour!  We were both hugely impressed with Bike Normandy!  Your meticulous research and attention to detail was evident right from the start.  Stunning scenery, fantastic roads, great hotels, good food and a cracking group of people what more could you ask for? … Oh yes technical riding and lots and lots of twisties!! We loved every minute rain included!  Thank you so much we will definitely be back for more. All the best” Paul & Louise Saltwell, Yamaha Tracer, Guernsey

We always regroup before & after any section of motorway

We always regroup before & after any section of motorway

“Hi John & Jen, this trip was my first proper European tour. What can I really say, except ‘Fantastically Fabulous’. The trip for me was all about Switzerland and the Italian lakes – it did not disappoint. The roads and routes chosen were fantastic, flowing, and at times just sublime passing through beautiful and stunning scenery. The constant back-drop of the Alps with their snow capped peaks and vibrantly green valleys was just breath-taking; Every twist and turn on the beautifully surfaced and flowing roads opened up another stunning view, real ‘WOW’ moments.

From the pretty little towns and villages to the vertigo-inducing drops into the gorges below the alpine passes, to the stunningly coloured lakes and dams, every twist and turn produced another jewel for the memory and photo album.

The hotels chosen for our stop-overs were exceptional, well-appointed and run by very friendly, welcoming and efficient staff (your painstaking research really paid dividends). The days off, or optional ride-outs were well planned and catered for all tastes, with a good mix of sight-seeing, local trips or shopping etc; Whether that was tobogganing (as some chose) or taking the Bernina Train to the end of the line (as I did) taking in the stunning views as it climbed and descended the Alps from Switzerland down to Italy.

I hope to join you on this tour again…this really was/should be your flagship tour. I will most definitely be joining you again in the not too distant future on another tour or shorter trip. Kindest regards”                            Andy Dunmore, 2nd trip, VFR 800, West Sussex

Our "back-markers" Tim & Karen ("Flo")

Our “back-markers” Tim & Karen (“Flo”)

Terrace & pool at our first hotel

Terrace & pool at our first hotel

 “Hi John/Jen, yet again we had a brilliant time on the tour, and even though this was the first one – it went as smoothly as any of your others. We liked having the stop-overs for more than one night in the hotels and the choice of ride out or being a tourist, with camera in hand – assuming you don’t drop it! The routes you had painstakingly researched along with the scenery really made this tour a bit special, and there is nowhere else like Switzerland for these roads and amazing scenery. I posted a number of pictures and some said I had “Photoshopped” them, but they are untouched. Every hotel was very good – comfortable and quiet. Can’t think of any negatives from the trip – even the wind and rain couldn’t put a dampener on it! All the best”                  Dave & Traci Wakefield (8th trips), Triumph Explorer, Crewe, Cheshire

“Hi John & Jen, the adrenalin level has just about come back to normal after the Lakes & Alps trip. This was my first proper European tour and started with the big one. My decision, along with Brian & Rob, was justified. It taught me a whole lot about motorcycling and myself and I learned it in the company of those who knew what they were doing. The back drop of Europe at its most splendid was almost an added bonus. The trip was well researched, well organised and professionally executed and all without getting too serious. It was first & foremost good fun. Many thanks, & we’ll be back. Regards” Chris McMorran, BMW K1300R, Twickenham

The lounge area in the hotel

The lounge area in the hotel

Drinks before dinner

Drinks before dinner

“Hi John and Jen, well what can we say – this tour was just brilliant and more. Breathtaking scenery travelling along a variety of superb twisties, hairpins,  fast sweepers and lakeside routes, we just didn’t know where to look next as the views were stunning both sides! The hotels were fantastic – particularly if  ‘one’ was treated with executive suites, studios and waterbeds (that nobody believed so we had prove it, eh Jen?)! [there is no favouritism for room allocation – honest! J&J] The food was a great choice and the waistline expanded far too much. The ‘Day Off’ trips just proved that you can have as much fun and experience the BN European Tour to the full off the bikes too (can’t believe that Glacier, the Funicular or the Toboggans) – just a great mix. We both had such a great time, thoroughly enjoyed back marking for you and met new friends that we plan to come back to Bike Normandy with – so that says it all for me. Regards”                                                                           Tim Hale (14th trip) & “Flo” Karen Reeve (3rd trip), Honda VFR1200, Bognor Regis

Cheers!

Cheers!

Dinner is included our first night

Dinner is included our first night

“Hi John & Jen, we really enjoyed the trip. The hotels were all excellent, scenery fantastic and a great group of people that made the tour really enjoyable.  Although the weather could have been better, it didn’t spoil our holiday at all. Best wishes”                                                                                                                                             Andy & Jane Hood (2nd tour), Triumph Explorer, Leighton Buzzard

“Hi John & Jen – it was a brill tour & we will be back! Best wishes”                                                                         Mark & Karen Hughes (4th trips), Aprilia Tuono V4, Westport Lake

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“Hi John and Jen, thanks for another great tour, shame about the weather but just enough sunshine to recognise the potential for it to become your flagship tour with stunning scenery, some fantastic hotels and truly technical riding. I hope to get on the helicopter experience over the Eiger and Jungfrau glaciers next time! As always, a great bunch of people and hope to see them again on future tours.”
Dave Cockburn (4th trip), Ducati Monster, Mold

“Thanks John and Jen for a wonderful tour, I had a great time and hope I will be able to join you on a future tour.”   Matt Brown (1st tour), Pan-European on loan as own BMW had broken-down!

A dry day - all the bikes outside our hotel

A dry day – all the bikes outside our hotel

Always a morning briefing before we set off

Always a morning briefing before we set off

The bikes stuck behind a tractor

The bikes stuck behind a tractor

Morning coffee stop

Morning coffee stop

We pass through lovely villages

We pass through lovely villages

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Bikes parked up at lunch stop

Bikes parked up at lunch

Scenic lunch stop

Scenic lunch stop

"Ducati" Dave, Karen & Mark at lunch

“Ducati” Dave, Karen & Mark at lunch

A deviation send us across a viaduct

A deviation send us across a viaduct

Our second hotel at Annecy

Our second hotel at Annecy

Drinks before dinner

Drinks before dinner

A free night to explore the old town

A free night to explore the old town

Tim chooses q quirky restaurant

Tim chooses a quirky restaurant

Menu with local specialties - in shoes?

Menu with local specialties – in shoes?

Tim's singing in the rain!

Tim’s singing in the rain!

Torrential rain during the evening

Torrential rain during the evening

The rain has gone - a lovely start to the day

The rain has gone so we have a bright start

Late for morning briefing Matt gets his first yellow card!

Late for the briefing Matt gets his first yellow card!

Lovely scenery this morning

Lovely scenery this morning

The group at the Petit St Bernard Pass

The group at lunch stop

The home of the St Bernard

The home of the St Bernard

Where Jen meets a real one

Where Jen meets a real one

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We then head into Italy taking motorway to our third hotel – staying here two nights

Dinner is included tonight

Dinner is included tonight

We dine in the hotel restaurant

We dine in the hotel restaurant

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Drinks on the terrace after dinner

Drinks on the terrace after dinner

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The next day is a day off the bikes

The view over lake Maggiore from our hotel

The view over Lake Maggiore from our hotel

Take a boat trip to the islands

Take a boat trip to the islands

Visit the smaller Isla Bella

Visit the Isla Madre – the largest island

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Explore the back streets

Explore the back streets

And shelter from the rain!

And shelter from the rain!

Visit the Isla Bella

Move on to the Isla Bella

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Visit the Borromees Palace

Visit the Borromees Palace

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Take in the gardens as well

Take in the gardens as well

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Resident white peacocks

Resident white peacocks

Waiting patiently for lunch

Waiting patiently for lunch

As viewed from the islands

As viewed from the islands

Alright for some!

Alright for some!

The hotel pool

The hotel pool

Jen braves the cold water!

Jen braves the cold water!

Dave enjoys a beer or two...or three...or...

Dave enjoys a beer or two…or three…or…

While Andy W files his nails!

While Andy W files his nails!

The view as we walk into town

The view as we walk into town

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Lake Maggiore

A free night to explore the town

A free night to explore the town

Val & Stuart thought they had escaped !

Val & Stuart thought they had escaped !

The next day we take the ferry

The next day we take the ferry

Dave's not happy - it's raining again!

Dave’s not happy – it’s raining again!

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Just what is Traci doing ???

Just what is Traci doing ???

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Lunch is alongside Lake Como

Lunch is alongside Lake Como

The rain provides for very atmospheric scenery

The rain provides for very atmospheric scenery

Plenty of restaurants to choose from

Plenty of cafes to choose from

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Fuel stop before heading into Switzerland

Fuel stop before heading into Switzerland

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Poor visibility as we tackle hairpins

Poor visibility as we tackle hairpins

For experienced riders only

For experienced riders only

You MUST be capable of riding hairpins

You MUST be capable of riding hairpins

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Wet roads as we pass St Moritz

We  arrive at our next hotel for 2 nights

We arrive at our next hotel for 2 nights

Drinks before dinner

Drinks before dinner

Dinner is included tonight

Dinner is included tonight

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We enjoy fab steaks

We enjoy fab steaks

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Ken manages to scrounge two desserts!

Ken manages to scrounge two desserts!

Breakfast area in our hotel

Breakfast area in our hotel

Our hotel for two nights

Our hotel for two nights

The view from our hotel

The view from our hotel

Cute resident miniature goats

Cute resident miniature goats

On our day off some of the group head out to ride the Stelvio Pass

On our day off some of the group head out to ride the Stelvio Pass

A Bernese Mountain Dog in the cafe en-route

A Bernese Mountain Dog in the cafe en-route

Unfortunately more wind & rain

Unfortunately more wind & rain

Twisty enough?

Twisty enough?

This is not for the feint-hearted

This is not for the feint-hearted

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They made it!

They made it!

The same day others choose to walk to the Glacier nearby

The same day others choose to walk to the Glacier nearby

Sue points the way!

Sue points the way!

Stunning scenery

Stunning scenery

The backdrop is almost unreal!

The backdrop is almost unreal!

Posters show how far the glacier recedes

Posters show how far the glacier has receded

Tim & Karen at 1950

Tim & Karen at 1950

Karen & Mark at 1960

Karen & Mark at 1960

Even more stunning as we near the Glacier

Even more stunning as we near the Glacier

Jane & Andy at 1970

Jane & Andy at 1970

Andy D at 1980

Andy D at 1980

Jen at 1985

Jen at 1985

Matt at 2000

Matt at 2000

Sue & Ken at 2005

Sue & Ken at 2005

We climb over rocks

We climb over rocks to get closer

Matt lends a hand

Matt lends a hand

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The 2015 marker !

The 2015 marker !

Fortunately there's a bridge

Fortunately there’s a bridge

We reach the Glacier - absolutely amazing!

We reach the Glacier – absolutely amazing!

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Mark & Karen

Mark & Karen

We made it too! (Chris, Rob & Brian gave up too soon!)

We made it too! (Chris, Rob & Brian gave up too soon!)

Mark & Matt get closer

Mark & Matt get closer

The girls don't want to get wet!

The girls don’t want to get wet!

A fissure in the Glacier

A fissure in the Glacier

Tim doesn't hang around...

Tim doesn’t hang around…

Nor does Mark!

Nor does Mark!

Sue & Andy D still taking photos

Sue & Andy D still taking photos

Back to Tim's coffee lounge !

Back to Tim’s coffee lounge !

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We then take the Bernina Express

We then take the Bernina Express

Ticket is included during our stay

Ticket is included during our stay

We take another train - also included

We take another train – right to the top

Ticket also included

Ticket also included

The opposite train descends

The opposite train descends

The viewing area at the top

The viewing area and cafe

The view from the top

The view from the top

The weather turns to rain

The weather turns to rain

Almost a dry day!

Almost a dry day!

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Drinks before dinner

Drinks before dinner

Dinner is included again tonight

Dinner is included again tonight

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Ken wears a 20 yr old JW Eggleton plumbing t-shirt!

Ken wears a 20 yr old JW Eggleton t-shirt!

Another lovely morning

Another lovely morning

The bikes park in garages underneath

The bikes park in garages underneath

Always a morning briefing

Always a morning briefing

Dry roads as we pass St Moritz

Dry roads this time as we pass St Moritz

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More twisty passes

More twisty passes

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At morning coffee

At morning coffee

Take the ski-lift up...

Take the ski-lift up…

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And the toboggan run down!

And the toboggan run down!

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Tim in disguise!!

Tim in disguise!!

The brave ones !

The brave ones !

Dave W goes first

Dave W goes first

John's next

John’s next

Andy H

Andy H

Followed by Brian

Followed by Brian

Matt goes next

Matt goes next

Followed by Dave C

Followed by Dave C

Rob's next

Rob’s next

Then Chris

Then Chris

Tim with Karen - who's afraid of heights!

Tim with Karen – who’s afraid of heights!

Sue can't wait!

Sue’s apprehensive…

But gets down safely

But gets down safely

And finally Jen

And finally Jen

All the bikes

All the bikes

At lunch Jane & Andy enjoy soup in a bun!

At lunch Jane & Andy enjoy soup in a bun!

As do Karen & Tim

As do Karen & Tim

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We  arrive at our next stop

We arrive at our next stop

Our next hotel for three nights

Our hotel for three nights

The stunning evening view over the lake

The stunning evening view over the lake

Rob, Brian & Chris on the terrace

Rob, Brian & Chris on the terrace

Tables reserved for dinner

Tables reserved for dinner

Dinner is included our first night

Dinner is included our first night

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Breakfast in the conservatory

Breakfast in the conservatory

A day off - Dave W leads a ride-out

A day off – Dave W leads a ride-out

Jen rides & John goes pillion!

Jen rides & John goes pillion!

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Photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

Photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

We visit the Trummelbach Falls

We visit the Trummelbach Falls

Dave C with cake - again!

Dave C with cake – again!

Coffee & cakes before our visit

Coffee & cakes before our visit

Those of us who rode to the Falls

Those of us who rode to the Falls

Take the train half-way up

Take the train half-way up

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The fantastic falls inside the mountain

The fantastic falls inside the mountain

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The corkscrew

The corkscrew

Stop for the local traffic

Stop for the local traffic

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John’s pillion all day! (thanks Louise!)

We ride to Grindelwald for lunch

We ride to Grindelwald for lunch

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Views of the Eiger & Jungfrau

Views of the Eiger & Jungfrau

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For the first D&T Tour...

For the first D&T Tour…

Andy W presents Dave & Traci with a bell!

Andy W presents Dave & Traci with a bell!

Another lovely evening

Another lovely evening

Drinks on the terrace

Drinks on the terrace

On the first day off some took the hop-on/hop-off paddle steamer around the lake, visited other waterfalls, took the steam train up the mountain – there’s lots to do in the area

Photo courtesy of Tim Hale

Photo courtesy of Tim Hale

Another of Tim's photos

Another of Tim’s photos

Geissbach Falls – thanks Tim

The hotel swimming pool

The hotel swimming pool

A free night - some find a pizzeria

A free night – some find a pizzeria

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The next day we offer a guided ride-out to take in some of the famous passes in the area – and we get sunshine when it matters most!!!!

A glorious morning view from the terrace

A glorious morning view from the terrace

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Beautiful morning view of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake

The group on the Grimsel Pass

The group on the Grimsel Pass – hurry up Andy D there’s blue sky!!

Sunshine when it matters most!

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Music in the cafe

Music in the cafe

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Ducati Dave

Ducati Dave

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More glorious scenery

More glorious scenery on the next Pass

Paul & Louise

Paul & Louise followed by Dave

Simply stunning!

Simply stunning!

Amazing views - photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

Amazing views – photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

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"WOW" - photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

The “WOW” factor!  Photo courtesy of Andy Dunmore

More hairpins

More hairpins

We ride this next...

We ride this next…

Cobbled pass!!

Cobbled pass!!

Dave & Traci

Dave & Traci

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Chris

Chris

Pretty lunch stop

Pretty lunch stop

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Andy & Jane, David C, Paul & Louise

Andy & Jane, David C, Paul & Louise

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The second time we ride this Pass

The second time we ride this Pass

This time the glaciers are visible!

This time the glaciers are visible!

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Paul & Louise again

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Wow, what a view!

Wow, what a view!

We did say you would ride this Pass

We did say you would ride this Pass

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Chris behind Brian

Chris behind Brian

You WILL ride loads of hairpins

You WILL ride loads of hairpins

Back at the hotel...

Back at the hotel…

Jen tries out Tim & Karen's water bed!!!!

Jen tries out Tim & Karen’s water bed!!!!

Drinks on the terrace

Drinks on the terrace

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Another lovely evening view over the lake

Another lovely evening view over the lake

Our morning briefing before we leave Switzerland

Our morning briefing before we leave Switzerland

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Coffee stop

Coffee stop

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Afternoon coffee in Chamonix

Afternoon coffee in Chamonix

With fab views of Mont Blanc

With fab views of Mont Blanc

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Our next hotel back in France

Our next hotel back in France

Drinks outside - a free night

Drinks outside – a free night

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Lunch the next day

Lunch the next day – raining again

Our final hotel

Our final hotel

Drinks before dinner

Drinks before dinner

Paul & Louise

Paul & Louise

Val & Stuart

Val & Stuart

Ken with Jen

Ken with Jen

Matt, Rob & Brian

Matt, Rob & Brian

Dinner is included our last night

Dinner is included our last night

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As back-markers Tim thanks "Flo" for keeping him on track!

As excellent back-markers Tim thanks “Flo” for keeping him on track!

Tim had a f*ck for a duck and a f*cked up duck!!!

Tim had a f*ck for a duck, a duck for a f*uck and a f*cked up duck!!!

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Stuart tells the first of many jokes

Stuart tells the first of many jokes

Oooh Cyril....

Oooh Cyril….

Andy D knew it was a marrow!!!

Andy D knew it was a marrow!!!

Jen takes a turn

Jen takes a turn

Then Matt tells a story...

Then Matt tells a story…

Dave W goes next

Dave W goes next

Ith it Dithco??

Ith it Dithco??

Breakfast on our last day

Breakfast on our last day

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Coffee stop

Coffee stop

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Where Andy D has the largest baguette!

Where Andy D has the largest baguette!

Strange cows!!

Strange cows!!

And the zoo's in town

And the zoo’s in town

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So cute !

So cute ! (Thanks Jane!)

And that's all folks!

And that’s all folks!

We’d like to thank everyone for making this, our first Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps Tour, such a huge success, we couldn’t have wished for it go any better than it did. Great riding in what were at times challenging conditions to say the least – but the sun did shine as the photos prove – and as Dave Wakefield says – they have not been photoshopped! A fantastic tour which will be hard to beat, we’re already looking forward to doing it again next year!