We know that friendships are often forged on Explore trips, so it's always great to hear stories like this one from Averil Baldwin. She shares her experiences of a twentieth reunion with a group she once travelled with.
"Recently we had the twentieth reunion of our Explore Syria/Jordan group. We had shared an adventure holiday together all those years ago and, of the original group, there are still fifteen people who have met every spring for a reunion in Bournemouth in a private house. This year was special - our twentieth anniversary - so one of our number organised a brilliant weekend in a hotel in Oxford.
The group of people has not been entirely static – two of our members got married in the intervening years and their spouses have been warmly welcomed by us all. Two of them have been awarded OBEs. One of them had to fly into Heathrow at 8.30 pm on the Saturday night from a conference in Vienna. His wife picked him up at the airport and they were just in time to sit down and eat with us. Sadly our American friend could not be present because he was in Madagascar on an Explore trip.
As well as the annual reunion, Explore has enriched our lives because there are a great number of personal friendships within the group and a lot of visiting between reunions goes on. Twice we even went to the States to see our American friend – the much travelled Douglas Molander who some of you may have met on other Explore holidays.
For my husband and myself the original Syria/Jordan holiday was absolutely wonderful, and the start of so many Explore trips and a real fascination with the Middle and Far East. Our guide on that occasion was a tall and very serious man named Saad and he was brilliant. We learnt so much from him that we have headed east on our holidays ever since. Last year we did a stretch of the Silk Road from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan with Explore's most excellent guide – Chris Bradley. This September we are going to Armenia and Georgia.
After that...who knows. One thing is for sure - it will be with Explore!"