Adderley Travel is an Anglo-Swedish family business founded by Timothy and Sofia Ray in 1999
We are Tim & Sofia, and we started this business shortly after Ryanair started its first low-fare services between London and Stockholm and these services – the first such flights between our two countries – allowed us access to a Swedish audience. After a few false starts Tim's father, a life-long keen gardener, suggested garden tours, because he knew people visited Britain for our gardens – and he was right, they do, and we quickly became the specialists we are today.
Initially, we concentrated our marketing in Sweden and its neighbouring Nordic nations, but the world wide web is a wonderful thing and soon customers joined us from farther afield and, today, customers of over twenty different nationalities enjoy our tours across Britain.
We love what we do, and we take great pride in doing it, and we know that our customers like what we do too – and we are especially proud that so many of you return to us, again and again.
The Ray family
In the early 1990's Sofia was studying at Stockholm's Hotel & Restaurant college, whilst, across the North Sea, Tim was moving his business out of London to the tranquillity of the Norfolk countryside. We met in February 1993 on a pink minibus on the Indonesian island of Java, travelling around the world in opposite directions!
After a lot of letters and telephone calls – no sms or emails in 1993 – and a brief expedition by Tim to Stockholm, to take Sofia out to dinner for her birthday, Sofia moved to Britain in early 1994. We set up home in Norfolk and married in April 1997. Today, together with Tim's father and two of our four children – Charles and Edward – and two dogs – Nelly and Buzz – we live as a multi-generational extended household in Wymondham, a medieval market town to the south-west of Norwich, Norfolk's county town.
Alice, our eldest child, is currently at Liverpool University studying Politics & International Relations with a view to a commission in the Royal Navy.
Lily, our younger daughter, is studying to become a filmmaker at Falmouth University, Cornwall, and hopes one day to make documentaries.
Adderley is the maiden name of Tim's paternal great-grandmother. A large family with many branches, but all stemming, so we think, from the village of Adderley in Shropshire and our branch, which we have traced to 1510, has in it Tim's great-great-great uncle, William Alsager Adderley, who co-founded the Staffordshire china manufacturer, Adderley's.
We started this business with no previous experience as tour operators, per se, though Sofia had some training and Tim had spent much of the 1980s showing off Britain to his New Zealand housemates. We did, though, have a very clear vision of what might attract like-minded people to join our tours, and central to that vision were the following four key guiding principles:
Groups must be small, comprising no more than a dozen or so like-minded people.
Compact tour areas
Likewise our tour areas must be of a manageable size, set in interesting areas that we can explore unhurriedly, without spending all day on the bus.
We must eat well. Britain produces some of the very finest ingredients, and we make a habit of showcasing the very best regional cooking at superb local pubs and restaurants.
And we must sleep well too. A good night's sleep in a pleasant room is key to a good tour, and we seek out family-run, independent hotels serving good food, in attractive locations.
We took it as read that the backdrop to our tours would be the spectacular beauty of British countryside and coastline, and that Britain's history and heritage would be on daily display.
These are the four founding guiding principles of our business, they have served us well and we don't intend to change them!
So why choose Adderley Travel?
Because we will take you across the Kylerhea straits, the narrows between Skye and the mainland, on the "Glenachulish", the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland.
Or because we take you to The Shed, Porthgain for the best Fish & Chips in Wales.
Or because we occasionally dine at the 14th-century Star Inn, Harome, one of Britain's first Michelin-starred pubs!
Anyone can take you to the gardens, that's the easy bit. For us, it's about how we get there and where we go afterwards. We go out of the way, quite literally sometimes, to make it just that bit more special for you!