Kaye Holland, co-founder and director of media & communications at Talk of the Town London
Kaye is the co-founder of Talk of the Town - a new walking tour company that aims to provide the inside track on the London scene, for locals and visitors alike.
The Talk of the Town (TOTT) team consists of veteran tour guides, Time Out journalists, actors and life long Londoners who know where the buzz is coming from and want to share their love of London.
Why? Because TOTT don’t want anyone to waste a minute of their time in Europe’s most exciting metropolis lost in Leicester Square or chowing down in the chain gang. Not when ‘real’ London is ready and waiting to be discovered.
For more information or to book a TOTT tour - which can be scheduled to suit different palates, pockets, schedules and group size - please visit www.talkofthetownlondon.com
What do you think makes a good group trip?
Without a doubt, a good guide. In my mind, nothing beats a person bursting with local knowledge. But know-how isn’t enough. You’re going to be spending all or least part of your trip with this person so you want someone who genuinely loves what they do and isn’t going through the motions, simply sprouting information while thinking about what they’re going to have for dinner that night. A great guide is someone that can give you an insight that you wouldn’t get from a guidebook and crucially whose company you enjoy. For me, the best guides always end up feeling like friends.
Describe the best group trip you’ve been on and why?
That would be a trip to see the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China. The army of life size warriors and horses that were built to serve Emperor Qin in his afterlife(!) more than 2,000 years ago, had long been on my bucket list but I enjoyed seeing the famous forces even more because of our group. Everyone was on the same page when it came to food and finance and our guide was fantastic. She surprised us with her excellent English, wicked sense of humour and tidbits on the Terracotta Warriors - but also knew when to leave us in peace.
Describe the worst group trip you’ve been on and why?
A recent trip to Mexico was memorable - alas for all the wrong reasons. What should have been a dream trip turned out to be a disaster as our group fell out over food (some of us wanted tonosh on local cuisine while others insisted on eating pizza EVERY night), finance (everyone had different budgets) and almost everything under the sun. My Mexico trip made me realise how important it is to choose your companions carefully and to make sure that everyone knows the purpose of the trip. I discovered the hard way that while group trips promise fun and friendship, they don’t always deliver.
What’s your favourite destination for a day out?
That’s easy: London! It’s the greatest city in the world and one of those places that looks the part no matter what the season. I love London’s brilliant bars, parks, theatres and art galleries and adore seeing the old and the new side by side: the London Eye towering over the Thames, the tatty fabric shops in Broadwick Street Market nestling between Soho’s multi million dollar film companies... The capital gives me energy or as Sir Samuel Johnson once famously said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
What do you always pack?
As little as possible. I like to travel light and hate being weighed down by stuff - I start to feel, pardon the pun, stuff-ocated. But I’ll definitely pack my passport (I’m always ready to jump on a plane), camera, sun cream and waterproof jacket so that I’m prepared whatever the weather - and a warm jumper (I’m one of those people who are constantly cold). Oh - and dry shampoo! I swear by it when travelling.
What do you always leave out?
Anything that doesn’t fit in my backpack - I hate having to lug loads of gear around. Travel gadgets generally don’t make the grade. I’ll bring my smartphone and laptop and leave everything else at home. In my role as director of Media & Communications at Talk of the Town, I’m require to Tweet and post pictures on Facebook and Instagam. However when left to my own devices, I’ll happily put my iPhone down and just enjoy my new destination!
What was your favourite group trip last year?
That would be a skiing trip to Limone Piemonte in Italy. I was nervous about it - partly because it was my first group trip in the wake of the Mexico debacle and partly because I had never been on the slopes before. (Usually when winter rolls around, I’m all about jumping on a plane to place where the sun is shining, the sand is the colour of icing sugar and cocktails are flowing). But travelling should be about new experience so, inspired by the Sochi Olympics, I decided that 2014 was the year that I would give skiing a go - and it was great!