19 October 2020 – The sale of our French property Le Champ Masse has finally taken place – it only took just over 2 years. The end of the Bike Normandy era came with mixed emotions as although we love being here in Somerset we had a great time living and riding our bikes over there (was that work?) with some really memorable weekends over 16 years (the “Black Widows” wedding! Power cut & piano by torchlight; Quiz nights with the losers cycling to Chambois for the croissants! Spaghetti & marshmallow constructions; Disco nights; Pedalo racing; Gnomes; Spaniels, apples & cider making; Della on her bench; Otto nicking baguettes & spark-plugs!) just too many to mention them all and thanks to everyone who sent feedback with their memories. We look forward – hopefully – to seeing many of you again next year on the tours.
3 October 2020 – We’re now planning for next year and all our tour dates for 2021 are showing on our Fully Guided Tours page. We really hope that travel restrictions will be lifted so that we can enjoy a biking season again. We are taking bookings on the same terms as for this year – i.e. we shall only cancel a tour when it is clear that we cannot travel (probably around 4 weeks beforehand) – in which case you could either transfer any monies paid to a tour later in the year or we would refund any balances paid and transfer deposits to 2022. Please note: If you choose to cancel a booking for a tour in advance of us making a decision as to whether it will go ahead then our Terms & Conditions will apply. If anyone has any questions regarding this then please do not hesitate to contact us. On a separate note, the usual NEC motorbike show is not taking place this year. There will be a “virtual” show on-line – details to follow.
14 August 2020 –Well everyone survived the 5×4 (Five Nights in Four Countries) Tour by the skin of their teeth as we high tailed it out of Luxembourg and then Belgium before quarantine regulations came into force. The same for the new Colmar & Vosges Mountains Tour (replacing the cancelled Rhine in Flames Tour) as everyone (except us!) got back to the UK before quarantine rules were introduced. Unfortunately, with the FCO now advising against all but essential travel to France and having to quarantine upon return, we are having to cancel the Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps Tour and the Monte Carlo or Bust! Tour. We are constantly monitoring the situation and if the travel restrictions are lifted we shall continue to run the remaining scheduled tours. We shall only cancel these when it is clear that we cannot travel, in which case we shall refund any balances paid and transfer deposits to next year. If you choose to cancel a booking for a tour which is scheduled to start in September or October then our Terms & Conditions apply. If anyone has any questions regarding a booking then please do not hesitate to contact us.
28 July 2020 – The review of the “Masked Guinea Pig Spanish Tour” is now live! Huge thanks to those who came along, we had a great time and now have a new tour to boot! Fortunately we arrived home before the new quarantine requirements came into force. We’re now back in France about to start the 5×4 (Five Night in Four Countries) Tour with a full contingent. This is quickly followed by our new Colmar Tour (replacing the cancelled Rhine in Flames”). We shall continue to run our tours unless the Government introduces quarantine requirements which are known BEFORE we travel – or if the destination country has quarantine requirements. If restrictions are brought in WHILE WE ARE AWAY then there is nothing we can do about that and we will just have to deal with the consequences. Many countries now have additional entry requirements (Spain, Belgium and returning to the UK) the relevant forms are available through links on the UK FCO website, we shall also bring all the necessary details for each tour with us. If travelling you MUST bring a supply of face masks. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are booked on a tour and have any questions.
4 July 2020 – The announcement that the UK will now allow travel to most European countries without the need to quarantine upon return means that our remaining tours can now go ahead!! The FCO will be lifting its restriction on non-essential travel w.e.f. 10 July 2020 except, unfortunately, for Portugal. Unless this changes in the next week our planned tour to Portugal & Spain WILL be going ahead but ONLY to Spain. We have contacted everyone booked on the tour but if you are looking for a last-minute holiday then please contact us for details of the revised itinerary. We will of course be observing all safety requirements on board the ferry and in the countries we visit. Upon arrival travellers entering Spain must have completed a document for the Ministry of Health (we will provide details with your tour pack), have a temperature check and a visual health assessment. There is a requirement in all countries that face masks must be worn on public transport and in public places where it is not possible to respect the required social distances – e.g. in restaurants when using the toilets etc. In Spain and Germany the social distance is 1.5 metres, in France it is only 1 metre, all have a maximum of 10 people in a group. We can liaise with hotels where meals are included for us to respect these conditions. The requirement to self-isolate upon arrival in France was voluntary and should shortly be lifted now that the UK has removed this requirement. We are asking that everyone booked on a tour brings their own supply of face masks and hand sanitizer. Please contact us if you are unsure of any of the requirements, there is also lots of information on the FCO website.
11 June 2020 – The EU Commission has stated that the European countries in the Schengen zone (for us that covers our Tours to Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain & Switzerland) will re-open their borders to travellers from 15 June 2020. France has in place a reciprocal quarantine period of 14 days with visitors arriving from the UK – however this will be voluntary, not enforced and no penalties for non-compliance. Spain still has a 14 day quarantine requirement until 1 July 2020. The EU Commission has suggested that the restriction on non-essential travel should be lifted w.e.f. 1 July 2020. As the UK still has a 14 day quarantine requirement for arrivals until 29 June we have unfortunately therefore had to cancel our planned Black Forest Tour scheduled to start on 28 June 2020. We are very hopeful that we will be able to run the Spain & Portugal Tour in July.
8 June 2020 – Cafes & restaurants are opening in Germany
2 June 2020 – Cafes & restaurants are opening in France (already open in Spain & Portugal)
26 May 2020 – Spain announces that the requirement to self-isolate will be lifted from 1 July 2020 – great news for our Spain/Portugal Tour if the UK does the same…
24 May 2020 – France announces the same 14 day self-isolation rules for arrivals to France from overseas w.e.f. 8 June 2020
22 May 2020 – UK announces that starting from 8 June 2020 arrivals to the UK from abroad will have to self-isolate for 14 days. This is to be reviewed every 3 weeks so our “2nd” Black Forest Tour may be in jeopardy unless there is some negotiating in the next few weeks.
15 May 2020 – Spain has introduced a 14 day self-isolation period for anyone entering the country. This restriction will be reviewed every two weeks so we will continue to monitor the situation in advance of of first tour to Spain & Portugal on 13 July 2020
11 May 2020 – France has extended its State of Emergency with a gradual programme of “deconfinement” over the coming weeks. The re-opening of cafes and restaurants will be considered at the end of May.
7 May 2020 – Unfortunately we have heard that the firework display at Koblenz – part of our “Rhine in Flames” Tour – has been cancelled due to the restrictions on public gatherings in Germany during the Coronavirus outbreak. We shall be offering an alternative tour for the same dates & duration (i.e. 5 nights) to Colmar in France with a ride-out into the Vosges Mountains and free time to visit local attractions. Price t.b.c. Please contact us for more details.
29 April 2020 – Well the good news couldn’t last…Germany have today extended their worldwide travel ban until 14 June 2020. Obviously we shall keep our eyes on the situation as our Tour to the Black Forest is scheduled to start on 28 June 2020. We will just have to wait & see what happens after 14 June.
29 April 2020 – We have some good news for a change – today is Otto’s second birthday!! Happy Birthday Otto!!
Otto at 8 weeks old
Now he’s two years old
24 April 2020 – We have taken the decision to cancel the WW2 Extended Sights Tour scheduled to start on 24 May 2020 due to the continuing travel restrictions resulting from Covid 19 – the Coronavirus. This is the first time in our 18 year history that we have ever cancelled a Tour. The current “lock-down” in France is in place until 11 May 2020 however, talking to hotelliers and others there, it is expected that this will be extended for a further month. As of 8 April 2020 the FCO guidance for essential travel only is for an indefinite period and will be reviewed once European borders start re-opening. The first Black Forest Tour which should have started on 7 June 2020 will also not be taking place, many thanks to those customers who have moved to other Tours. Our next scheduled Tour is to the Black Forest starting on 28 June 2020 so at the moment we hope that we will be able to run this trip. Thanks to everyone for their patience in this difficult situation.
3 April 2020 – To be on the safe side we have rescheduled the Monte Carlo or Bust! Tour to run from 30 August to 7 September 2020, thanks to all participants for being so understanding.
Obviously the situation regarding summer holidays is still very uncertain. The travel restrictions have not [as yet?] been extended but we are receiving so many “what if” enquiries that we have expanded our Terms & Conditions to reflect the provisions of the European Union (Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements) Regulations 2019 in respect of “extraordinary circumstances” as follows:
In the event that the Foreign & Commonweath Office advise against travel to a particular country as a result of the Covid-19 “Coronavirus” pandemic and this affects a scheduled Tour then you may transfer your deposit and balance to another Tour in 2020 (subject to availabilty). However, if this is not possible, then any balances that have been paid will be refunded by the Company and any deposits may be transferred to another Tour in 2021.
The Company is not required to pay any additional compensation as the reason for the Tour not taking place is outside of our control.
This ONLY applies when a Tour cannot take place due to the FCO travel advice; it does not apply to any non-immediate departures that are not currently affected. Any cancellations for future Tours that are not affected will be subject to the Cancellation Charges as set out in our Terms & Conditions.
If balances are not paid when due (i.e. 8 weeks before the tour start date) then we will have to consider this as a cancellation and the deposit paid will be forfeited – as per the Cancellation Charges as set out in our Terms & Conditions.
Forebearance: If anyone has watched the Martin Lewis programmes you will have heard him speak of this. It is now clear that some insurance companies do not provide cover for cancellation of a holiday due to a pandemic. This seems extremely unfair to us (they take your money but want their umbrella back when it rains!) so we have amended our T&C’s so our customers do not suffer a loss. However, we have already paid out large sums in deposits to hotels on many of our Tours. There are companies that do include such cover e.g. AA, Admiral, Aviva, AXA, Churchill, Co-op, Direct Line, Halifax, Nationwide, Virgin…although not for any new policies. So if you do have a travel insurance policy with any of the above companies then we would ask that – in the event your Tour is affected – you try to make a claim against them first before seeking a refund from us. Unlike employees or the self-employed we’re not entitled to any Government grants, so as Tesco says, “Every little helps”…
March 2020 – Coronavirus update 17 March – The UK Government has stated that UK residents should avoid all foreign travel for the next 30 days. In France the Government has restricted all non-essential travel also for the next 30 days. These restrictions still do not impact on any of our tours, the first of which – to Monte Carlo – starts on 9 May 2020. As we wrote in the paragraph below, if you decide to cancel a tour due to a disinclination to travel it is most unlikely that your travel insurance will accept your claim. If the travel restrictions are extended and impact on the start date of a tour only then will you be able to make a claim. As we have no way of knowing if these restrictions will be extended there is nothing further that we can do at the moment except wait to see what happens.
March 2020 – many customers are asking about our policy regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. We cannot predict with any certainty how this is going to play out during the summer months as the situation is changing on a daily basis. We can only abide by advice given by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office:
in the event that the advice is NOT to travel to a particular country when a tour is scheduled to start then this will be considered a “Force Majeure” event. If this means a tour cannot go ahead then, to be clear, in accordance with our Terms & Conditions, no refunds or compensation payments will be made by the Company. In such an event you should claim against your travel insurance. [deleted April 2020] At the time of writing (14 March) all our tours are going ahead as planned – the only country that we travel to that is currently affected is Italy where the travel restrictions are in place until April – the tour is in August. Obviously we shall keep abreast of what is happening over the following months. Unless prevented from travelling due to advice from the FCO, if you decide to cancel a booking – i.e. you have a disinclination to travel – then it is most unlikely that you will be able to claim on your travel insurance. We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to have suitable travel insurance in place.
Jan & Feb 2020 – John’s just finished exhibiting a the London ExCeL motorbike show, great to see so many regulars & we hope to see some new faces on our tours this year too. Don’t forget if you’re considering buying luggage we can offer our customers a huge 20% discount from SHAD – contact us for more details before you buy!