2018 Farm tour of Ireland, Wales, England & Scotland – F.A.Q.

Have you ever dreamt of a relaxing trip around Britain’s iconic rural landscapes – off the beaten track as well as to famous locations? En route enjoying great food and interesting conversations with locals involved in agriculture, as well as other farmers on the tour? Visiting some ag-related and cultural highlights? From the latest ag-tech to ancient history? Then I have the ideal journey for you!

Below are answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked by people interested in coming on this unique farm (& photography) tour.

2018 Farm tour dates:

We’ll fly out of Australia on Tuesday 17th July & arrive home on Monday 13th August.

Which parts of the British Isles is our farm tour visiting?

Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.

The farm tour starts in Dublin and ends in London.

We’ll spend approximately one week each in Ireland, England and Scotland, plus a few days in Wales.  Some days will be spent enjoying cultural highlights in historic cities, but most of our time will be spent roaming around the less closely settled parts of Britain, through landscapes that have been farmed for many centuries.

 

2018 Ireland & UK farm tour map

2018 Ireland & UK farm tour map

What differentiates this tour from other tours of the UK & Ireland?

Unparalleled opportunities to meet locals involved in agriculture:

The genuinely unique aspect of this tour is the number of rural locals we’ll meet.  A large number are champing at the bit to come and have a chinwag over dinner with us on special nights in Ireland, Scotland and England.  These are farmers and others involved in agriculture that I feel lucky to have got to know over the years because they are very knowledgeable and happy to voice forthright opinions but also love to share a great laugh.  In other words – they’re very interesting and great company.  Many will be driving considerable distances to meet us and these memorable meetings will be the very special icing on the cake of this farm tour.

None of us will feel like ‘just another tourist’, rushing around overcrowded tourists spots, only encountering other travellers and tourism industry employees.  You’ll have many interesting one-on-one conversations with locals who are involved in agriculture.

You’ll also get great travel photos:

I’ll be providing photography advice to anyone who has queries, en route. It’s my job to help you come home with the best travel photographs you’ve ever captured – and I’ll also be taking photographs of everyone on the journey.

The 2018 farm tour will spend an unforgettable evening at the Edinburgh Tattoo. And I'll be on hand to help you get great photographs!

The 2018 farm tour will spend an unforgettable evening at the Edinburgh Tattoo. And I’ll be on hand to help you get great photographs – whether you’re using a mobile phone or a DSLR!

What else will we be seeing and doing?

A hand-picked selection of a bit of everything, relating in some way to agriculture.  For example:

  • Farms (ranging from an Irish free-range farm selling pork direct to a Dublin farmers market, up to huge English and Scottish estates growing grain as well as running sheep and cattle)
  • An interesting variety of farmers markets, on-farm shops & other food retail outlets (and of course we’ll be taste-testing local specialties, from chip buttees to oatcakes, guinness and haggis. [Not compulsory. There will be steak and cake as well!])
  • 2 saleyards (‘marts’) – full of characters and with auctioneers who are great to see in action
  • The Royal Welsh Show – one of the best agricultural shows in the world
  • The Edinburgh Tattoo – an unforgettable evening.  AND the Edinburgh Fringe Festival will be on when we visit Edinburgh!
  • A historic woollen mill and tannery (and meet locals who send their wool to be spun and hides to be tanned)
  • Cultural highlights – including a sprinkling of the most spectacular palaces, castles and cathedrals (not too many – just enough!)
  • A surprisingly spectacular variety of arable and pastoral landscapes
  • Plus a few special surprises.

We’ll be tucking into great local food while conversing with a wide range of locals who are involved in agriculture, from farmers to agricultural journalists and leaders of farm organisations.

We'll spend the day at the Royal Welsh Show - widely viewed as one of the world's best livestock shows.

We’ll spend the day at the Royal Welsh Show – widely viewed as one of the world’s best livestock shows.

The Royal Welsh Show is held in an idyllic setting at Builth Wells.  We’ll be able to cheer on Australian shearers at the international-standard shearing competition. Meet an Australian who has lived on a Welsh farm for many years, whose Hereford cattle won first prize in 2017. Enjoy a fantastic array of Welsh food, straight from paddock to plate.  British Isles agricultural shows have a long history and tend to be well attended by a loyal public and remain focused on agriculture. ‘Fairground’ rides and gee-gaws are thankfully sparse.  There will be many highlights on this tour – and for some, our day at the Royal Welsh Show will be the pinnacle.

Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland have a rich, complicated and ancient pastoral history. Historic agriculture-related statues and icons can be found everywhere, including in the heart of the largest cities. The similarities and differences between agriculture in the British Isles and Australia provide much food for thought and pithy discussions.  There are a number of topics that are likely to evoke some interesting discussions amongst those who are interested in chewing the fat on thought-provoking issues. For example:

  • Bridging the world’s growing urban-rural divide via ‘open farm’ days and other means of educating the public – eg agricultural shows and farmers markets.
  • Animal welfare and environmental management rules and regulations
  • Livestock identification, rural theft and disease management
  • Managing urban encroachment (eg rising land values plus complaints from new neighbours re farm activities such as crop spraying, rising incidence of ‘dog worrying’)
  • The pros and cons of farm subsidies
  • Advancing ag technology; the latest innovations and what it means for farmers
  • The difficulties associated with managing priceless heritage while improving farm efficiency and profitability (plus the benefits of tourism & a large resident population)
  • The pros and cons of farming in a country with such long-established traditions
Everywhere you turn, there's interesting history.

Everywhere you turn, there’s interesting history.

As we travel, I’ll be helping with any photography and social media-related queries anyone has. From getting the very best results from a mobile phone camera, to the use of professional quality camera equipment.  This is a great opportunity for anyone who likes taking photographs to get some personal, one-on-one assistance.

How many people will be on the tour?

Numbers are capped, to ensure the enjoyment of all.  Final numbers won’t be known until just before the tour leaves, but our group will consist of more than a dozen people but less than twenty eight. I’m expecting it will be a typically interesting mixture of solo travellers and couples from across Australia –  mostly rural residents, many (but not all) directly associated with an agricultural industry.  Some passengers will have travelled overseas before while for others, it will be their first global adventure.  Interesting conversations guaranteed, as well as much laughter.

Who will be on the tour?

Farm tours are popular with an interesting variety of people – all with an interest in food and fibre production and/or country people/rural life:

  • Farmers and retired farmers. And people who grew up on a farm or cattle station and went on to a city-based career not associated with agriculture, who relish the opportunity to travel with the kinds of people they grew up with.
  • Teachers and a wide range of people involved in agribusiness – researchers, agronomists, rural property and livestock agents, rural lenders.
  • Experienced travellers looking for a more meaningful travel experience.
  • Most tours include passengers from right across Australia – and sometimes from other countries.

Passengers from other countries are always very welcome – it’s a fantastic way to kill two birds with one stone, meet Australian farmers and learn about Australian agriculture, at the same time as learning about the British Isles! The tour brochure lists prices including airfares from Australia but the land-only price is available from Quadrant.

How will we be travelling around?

By coach.  This has some distinct advantages:

  • The view! The value of sitting up high in a coach, when poking around rural Ireland and the UK, can’t be overestimated.  Most rural roads are hemmed in by large trees, old hedgerows and/or ancient stone fences. And that’s what car drivers are faced with at eye level, when poking around country areas. Whereas we have a bird’s eye view, up and over into the paddocks – so we can examine grazing livestock and assess crops being harvested, while admiring distant vistas.
  • Relaxing travel from one point to another! Instead of having to watch traffic, worry about being in the right lane and look for signposts, then find a park that isn’t miles away – we’re able to sit back and concentrate on the the view. And admire the coach driver’s skill – negotiating everything from busy multi-lane roundabouts to single-lane farm roads hemmed in tightly by unforgiving ancient stone walls.  We hop off and leave the driver to scout for parking in small villages and large cities where parking is at a premium.  No time-wasting and no passenger-driver arguments re taking wrong turns!
  • Entertaining coach drivers! We’ll probably have a driver/tour guide in Ireland, and a separate coach driver and tour guide in the UK. The drivers are great sources of information and anecdotes, and add to the enjoyment of the tour.
  • The room! As we’re a small group on a large coach, we can all have a window view with a spare seat beside us, if we want! And we can sit in a different seat each day, conversing with different people as we travel along – if we choose to.
  • Saving energy! While aiming to not overdo it, we will be squeezing a lot in. After a long day making the most of visiting an agricultural show, an interesting farm or historic estate, we pile onto the coach and can have a power nap if we want to.  Rather than having to tackle unfamiliar roads in search of our hotel and a park, in gathering darkness.
Who wouldn't rather be relaxing in their nightly destination rather than peering at street signs after sunset?

Who wouldn’t prefer to be relaxing in their nightly destination rather than trying to get the Google Maps woman to give fathomable directions, after getting ‘mislaid’ in a sign-less wilderness?

I’m not sure that group travel will be my cup of tea?

No need to worry! Farmers worldwide share some common attributes. Most are independent in thought and action. Almost all farmers – by choice – live away from towns and cities and spend a lot of time working on their own; yet enjoy a good conversation and laugh with like-minded people during social get-togethers.  So you’ll be travelling with people who just like you, prefer a bit of personal space.  Bus travel isn’t plane travel – we aren’t jammed in like sardines and we can change seats as often as we like. This makes it easy to move around and regulate the amount of time you spend gazing out the window, sleeping and conversing with others – and who you sit next to (if anyone).

There's plenty of opportunities for interesting walks - with others or on our own.

There’s plenty of opportunities for interesting walks – with others or on our own.

We’ll sometimes be walking in a group around a farm or with a tour guide, but on other occasions we can go our separate ways. Although quite often, rather than scatter like cats, passengers choose to walk around with others during leisure time periods, and arrange to have lunch together.  Because they’re enjoying the conversation and laughter so much. The bottomline is: passengers have a lot of choice as to how they spend their time, either exploring alone or with companions.

A dry sense of humour is common amongst Australian farmers, as well as a keen eye for details.  Travelling with great companions is what I most enjoy about these tours – the interesting observations and the fabulous laughter.  Many make life-long friends.

The farm tour includes plenty of opportunites for walks around farms and villages

The farm tour includes plenty of opportunites for walks around farms and villages

Are farm tours tax deductible?

When assessing whether tax deductions are allowable or not, the tax department considers whether the expenditure directly relates to the claimant’s production of income.

This farm tour is agriculture-focused and designed to be informative.  The ideas brought back can help people involved in relevant industries to reduce expenses or maintain or increase the production of income, so yes the tour should be claimable as a legitimate business-related expense. However – it is essential to seek specific advice regarding eligibility from your accountant, as everyone has slightly differing circumstances.

One of my roles as tour leader is to write up a comprehensive travel diary and I’ll provide a copy to anyone intending to claim the farm tour as a tax deduction. But it’s a good idea for anyone intending to claim a tax deduction to also keep their own travel diary, as well as receipts for all expenditure being claimed.  If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to ask me.

We'll be visiting cultural highlights, but the primary focus is on agriculture-related features.

We’ll be visiting cultural highlights, but the primary focus is on agriculture-related features.

Tour guides:

This tour is fully escorted. As well as myself, there will be a very knowledgeable local tour guide plus a coach driver, or a local driver/guide.  You are well looked after, every step of the way!

I’ve been to Ireland and the United Kingdom before. Will this tour just be the same-old, same-old?

No. I’ve spent a lot of time digging up farms who don’t usually have visitors and farmers and others involved in agriculture, who haven’t met up with tour groups before. Yes we will be staying in several obvious places such as London and Dublin, but I have dug up some great agriculture-related features that solo travellers and generic tours don’t visit.  This isn’t a tour that independent travellers could undertake – it is a personal tour.  And because of the events & special occasions squeezed into the itinerary, there will not be another tour that is identical to this one.

I haven’t been overseas before – will this farm tour suit first-time travellers?

Yes!  I’ll be providing as much travel information and tips as you’d like, before departure, and you can be completely confident that you’ll be looked after, from start to finish. For example I’m often asked what camera I recommend, packing tips (what type of clothes will we need & how to avoid taking too much) and the best footwear to take. Info is provided over the phone or by email, whichever suits you best.  I love being able to pass on tips that I wish I’d known from the outset.

And remember – there’s no such thing as a stupid question!  (Sometimes I have to look up the answers.)

However I do recommend queries are asked as early as possible. During the 3 weeks prior to the tour departure I will be under the hammer to get work completed before we head off.  It’s highly recommended that you get suitcases out early and pack the majority of what you’re taking at least several weeks in advance, and make a list of last-minute items. This leaves time to purchase additional things you need and makes your preparation enjoyable rather than pressured.  Although of course there’s plenty of shops where we’re headed, should you need anything en route!

What sort of hours will we be keeping?

Apart from one morning when we have to catch an early ferry – in deference to the night owls, we normally don’t leave at the crack of dawn.  But departing after our daily breakfast feast gives the early birds an opportunity for a walk around the village or town where we’re staying, before we head off for the day.  Summer days in the British Isles are long so there are often opportunities for daylight walks before nightfall, as well.  For me, early morning and evening walks are often a highlight of wherever I’m staying; a really good way to get the feel of a place.  Walking off cake, staying fit, making interesting discoveries and taking photographs during the best light of the day are the side benefits!  I eat like a horse when away but return home fitter than when I left.

Some days will be very busy, but these are offset by less busy days, including periods of leisure time.

On tour, no two days are the same.

All sorts of quirky sights, sounds and people can be found while walking around the villages and towns we'll be staying overnight in.

All sorts of quirky sights, sounds and people can be found while walking around the villages and towns we’ll be staying overnight in. This is one of my favourite signs and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

I would like a copy of the farm tour itinerary & more information:

Send me an email, or ring me on (07) 4728 4922 – I can fill you in on tour details that aren’t listed online, and answer any queries you have.

And send you a detailed itinerary!

Bookings and deposits are made via Australia’s largest farm tour company, Quadrant Australia, as they are managing logistics.

To ensure maximum enjoyment for everyone on the tour, passenger numbers are limited.  And it’s rare for a farm tour to include the Edinburgh Tattoo. Putting down a deposit as early as possible will avoid the disappointment of missing out on a seat.

Please note:

  1. All the photographs included in this blog post were taken by me, during visits to Ireland and the United Kingdom (and many of the photos were taken on mobile phones).
  2. All tour-related information is correct at the time of writing but details given are subject to some tweaking between now and the departure date, in order to give passengers the very best journey possible (or in the unlikely event of unforseen circumstances).

I’m so excited about this farm tour because I know everyone will enjoy it immensely, as well as finding it interesting and useful. I’ve put a few years of concerted effort into unearthing specific people and places off the beaten track, which will be of particular interest to Australians involved in agriculture.  I would love to take you along!

UK & Ireland - agricultural shows & landscapes

UK & Ireland – agricultural shows & landscapes

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