Don't Miss The Flying Scotsman in 2016

The Flying Scotsman in Doncaster

Photo Credit: Richard Benson The Flying Scotsman - Photo taken at the Doncaster Works Open Day 2003 where this Scotsman was built eighty years prior.

The thing about home exchange is that you get to see and do things that you otherwise don’t have time to see or do. Railway fans how about a trip to England this year? The Flying Scotsman made the news recently by returning to work transporting travelers from London to Edenburgh after ten years and £4.2m worth of restoration.

A National Treasure

The Scotsman began it’s story in 1862 as the “Special Scotch Express”. A comfortable service linking the capital cities of England and Scotland. Weekdays at 10:00 a.m. a train departed London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverly simultaneously, crossing paths in York with a half an hour stop for lunch the Scotsman ten and a half hours after departure. A day’s trip to be sure, but a thrilling one compared to other ways of travel.

By 1888 the trip time had been reduced to eight hours.

The current Scotsman, the one you can see today was built in 1923, is 21 meters long and nearly 4 meters tall. It’s maximum speed is 100 mph (161 km/h) and was officially named The Flying Scotsman in 1924 after the Times started calling it “The Flying Scotchman” in 1875.

In the 1930’s travel on the Flying Scotsman had taken to the opulence and style of the time like a duck to water. The fine ladies onboard could “retire” to a room away from the gentlemen for quieter pursuits, a hairdressing salon provided haicuts and shaves and the a newstand had the latest newspapers. There was a luxurious restaurant car in the style of Louis XVI and in the bar awaited The Flying Scotsman’s very own cocktail.

The Flying Scotsman Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces / 60 ml Scotch whisky
1 1/2 ounces / 60 ml sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
3 or 4 ice cubes

The Flying Scotsman - The Film

Icon that it is, the Scotsman is also a film star. Here the film Trailer from the 1929 film starring Moore Marriott who apparently “had no teeth in real life and took four different sets of false teeth with him in order to achieve variety in his characters”, Pauline Johnson, Ray Milland - Academy Award winner for his role in The Lost Weekend directed by Billy Wilder, and the otherwise forgotten Alec Hurley,

That really was “back in the day” and the actors and Miss Johnson herself did their own stunts on the moving locomotive. Have a look, that is Pauline Johnson you see walking along the edge of the moving train wearing high heels.

First Film with a Warning Label?

According to the article at

Allegedly Sir Nigel Gresley, chief engineer of the LNER, was so concerned at the unsafe practices shown in the film, such as the decoupling of the locomotive from the train while in motion, he insisted that a disclaimer was placed in the opening credits explaining that such things could not happen on the LNER.[7] The notice stated “For the purposes of the film dramatic licence has been taken in regard to the safety equipment used on The Flying Scotsman”.[8] Film historian John Huntley claimed that Gresley subsequently forbade any further filming on the LNER until after his retirement.[9]

Over at The Arts Desk they have a nice clip of the restored version (DVD) of the movie which was shown in Glasgow in 2011. If anyone knows where I could buy a copy, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Off to America!

And so, you’d think that after all that glitz and glamour the Scotsman would settle down to a routine, but you’d be wrong. In 1969, the famous locomotive did what all famous folk do and went to America for a tour. Then to Australia. Then back to America where, this time, sponsorship fell through and the Scotsman was stranded.

I was about eight years old and remember my father, at the breakfast table, reading in the paper about how Alan Pegler, then owner of the locomotive had gone bankrupt and William McAlpine stepped in to save it and ship the Scotsman back to Britain. It was 1973 when the Scotsman made it back home again - and after a little relaxing on Britain’s rails - another overhaul - another trip, this time to Australia, it became clear that owning an iconic locomotive is hard on the wallet. In 2004 came the last in a line of “new owners”. This time British Railways, bought it with money donated by locomotive lovers all over Britain and a little help from Sir Richard Branson put them over the top.

See the Scotsman

After this week’s happy return, the Flying Scotsman will continue to delight railroad locomotive fans as a working museum exhibit and the oldest mainline working locomotive on Britain’s tracks.

Stunts, Speed and Style - March 25, 2016 - May 8, 2016 More special events: The Scotsman Season

Travel with the Scotsman

Today to travel via Flying Scotsman will send you off from Edinburgh at 5:40 am and deliver you precisely four hours later at King’s Cross. You will have stopped just once at Newcastle and enjoyed all the conveniences expected today; Wi-Fi, device charging points and a variety of catering options.

Dates for special Scotsman tours around Britain - A very few seats are still available but there is plenty of space trackside and you can look for a home exchange in Great Britain here.

For You Trivia Lovers

The book: Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn takes place on the Scotsman of 1923

Other Famous Flying Scotsmen

Eric Liddell was also known as the Flying Scotsman. His life and story are the basis of the film Chariots of Fire.

And then there’s The Flying Scotsman a 2006 German/British film about the Scotish bicyclist who broke the world’s 1 hour record on a bicycle he designed and made himself out of scrap metal. An old washing machine, I think…

Steam Locomotive Daytrips

Finally, wherever your home exchange in Great Britain takes you this year Steam Dreams can fix you up with the Flying Scotsman or you can take your pick of historic steam locomotives with daytrips and destinations all over Britain. Their new brocheure is due out in April.

Happy Home Exchanging and if you see the Scotsman, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your trip!

Questions from New Members

The reverse search check box is here.

Member Question. I wonder how I can search for those who want to go to Sweden? When I do my filter I can search on selected countries but the members I get on the list are not always interested in an exchange with Sweden.

Try this: On the search page, under the section “Preferences” > Reversed Search there is a check box “only show listings interested in my area” That should only return members who have Sweden (your area) in their Destinations Wishlists.

Our search engine will also show you members who have “Europe” in their list. Please, don’t hesitate to write to these members too. They are very open about their European destination and your home might be just what they are looking for.

Member Question. What would you say are the most important things I can do to make my listing attractive to other members?

Be sure to add lots of photos of your home and your neighborhood. But, also add photos of yourself and your pets. You can mark these to be visible for members only if you are uncomfortable with the idea that visitors to our site could see them. Also, it’s very important to keep your exchange dates and your destinations wishlist up-to-date so that our search engine can work to help you find the perfect exchange partner.

Here are the instructions for adding exchange dates and here is more about your destinations wishlist

Member Question. Our exchange from last summer doesn´t show at our page. It was our first exchange and we would like to be sure our listing is complete.

If this should happen to you, the best thing to do is to contact your local representative. They can change this for you and will pass the general problem along to our development team for checking.

As always, we appreciate the time you take to let us know when something doesn’t work as you expect it will. Your feedback helps us to improve our online system every day.

Improved Search Returns

Improved search returns make it easy to see if you already contacted a member about an exchange.

The green checkmark is your clue…

Lots of you have asked us for an easy way to know if you already contacted a member about an exchange in the past. Up until now, you had to click on the listing to see if there was a contact history involved. Now, you can see that directly in the search returns. Any time you see a listing with a green checkmark beside it, you know you have already been in contact with that member.

How about a non-Simultaneous exchange?

Enjoying our own balcony in our last exchange

Enjoying our own balcony in our last exchange

I started doing home exchanges for my holidays in 2005. I love any kind of home exchange and now that my family has grown and I home exchange with kids… even more so! It is great to feel at home when we’re travelling with our kids.

Sleeping in late on our last home exchange

Sleeping in late on our last home exchange

The problem is that, when you have school-aged kids, you need to stick to school holiday dates. And finding an exchange partner can become a bit more difficult.

That is what got me doing non-simultaneous exchanges more often. A non-simultaneous exchange is simply an exchange in which the dates do not overlap.

Actually, my first exchange back in 2005 was a non-simultaneous one: I went to New York for the 4th of July and the New York couple I exchanged with only came to my apartment in Madeira Island in August. The problem for me, back then, was that it meant that when the New York couple came, I had to temporarily move to my parents-in-law’s home… If you have a second home, like I do now, it is even easier!

I have just completed my 6th non-simultaneous exchange. My exchange partner, Rosemary, came in October 2014 to Madeira, and my family and I visited Torquay, in the English Riviera in August 2015.

In Torquay's harbour, with our exchange home showing in the backdrop

In Torquay’s harbour, with our exchange home showing in the backdrop

This way, we both got good weather, Rosemary got a better price for her off-season flight tickets and we got to go during the school holidays… All in all, it was simpler to get to the perfect dates for both exchanging parties.

We had a beautiful balcony to enjoy… day & night!

We had a beautiful balcony to enjoy… day & night!

Apart from the dates, the other great advantage of non-simultaneous exchanges is that it is easier to get to meet your exchange partners which a great way of cultivating international friendships. We love to make new friends while we’re busy seeing the world and enjoying the benefits of home exchange!

We had the pleasure to meet Rosemary and her friend Jennifer both in Madeira and in Torquay. We are reaching our 20th exchange, but Rosemary is an even more experienced exchanger than we are. We talked about past exchanges, about each other’s country and about life in general.

Meeting our exchange partners was great

Meeting our exchange partners was great

We even got to watch a video of an English TV show that aired in 2011 that featured an exchange to Rosemary’s house. The program focused on how home exchange can allow your holiday budget to be as low as £50 for a family of three… If you are curious, you can watch it too here.

To sum up, if your holiday dates don’t match the ones of your exchange partner, consider doing a non-simultaneous exchange. If you have to, consider (temporarily) moving to your parents-in-law’s! But do not miss out on all the great non-simultaneous home exchange opportunities Intervac has to offer you!

Belgian Family Reaches the Magic Number of 100 Exchanges

Two fantastic years of home exchange

Jos and Lieve Janssen-Moons had their 100th exchange this summer.

The Belgian James Bond (BE007) accomplished his mission by having his 100th exchange with a Spanish family from Barcelona.

Jos and Lieve started exchanging houses in the summer of 1981. Their first exchange took them to Linz (Austria). A second swap followed in Leeds (England) where they faced rain for two weeks.

All Over Europe and North America

Over the course of 34 years, they reached the magical number of 100 exchanges, scattered all over Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean. They got to know houses and made friends from Helsinki in the north of Europe to Lisbon in the south and from Devon in the west to Thessaloniki in the east.

Teachers, Jos and Lieve, experienced 20 exchanges in Germany and some 17 with Spain ever since their son started his family in Granada. Of course, they speak Spanish fluently now.

The USA and Canada became favourites and they lived in New York, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Washington DC, Chicago and Seattle. In Canada they were very glad to visit Montreal and Vancouver. During the exchange they became friends with a family of Windermere whom they exchanged with a year later. They even had the opportunity to swop houses with a family living on an Indian reserve in the Rocky Mountains. And yes, there they were confronted with a grizzly bear in their garden.

Of course, they also did some small holidays and long week-ends closer to home during Spring and Autumn months. 2008 was a fabulous year with 9 exchanges in 12 months! ! Nowadays Jos and Lieve are exploring Poland from Zakopane to Lublin and from Warsaw to Danzig. They even did some house-sitting in France, Switzerland and Belgium.

Intervac-People Become Friends for Life

Jos and Lieve proved this when they arranged and enjoyed an exchange together with the Spanish family they had exchanged with before. This time together, they visited Weimar, doing the Bach tour. Afterwards they renewed their friendship again - a third exchange in the Catalan Pyrenees. And the same thing happened with families from Marseille, Granada, Helsinki, Sevilla and Göttingen.

The family they exchanged with in Granada even supervised building Jos and Lieve’s son’s house there when he moved to Spain.

Not only their son, but also their daughter has taken up exchanging houses (Washington DC and Paris) making their family members of the 2-Generations Home Exchange Club.

Although Jos and Lieve moved from their home to a flat in Hasselt 20 years ago the offers to exchange keep coming. This year they have swapped houses with 5 more families.

During those 100 exchanges Jos and Lieve have just had 1 bad experience … Just 1 ! ! ! So, if you ask Jos and Lieve their best travel advice : Enjoy holidays …. Enjoy Intervac ! ! !

Lots of Improvements at Our New Site!

New homepage 2015

Intervac gets a new look and you get functionality you’ve been asking for!

And not only does it look good, it’s got improvements and little luxuries that will make the search for your next vacation adventure more comfortable and lots more fun.

What’s New?

  • Give our new search by location a try. You didn’t like it, we changed it. From now on, our search results will only show listings near the location you requested.
  • We have a separate map view for those times when you want to go somewhere, but you’re not sure where.
  • Search filters, anyone? Many of the ones you have been asking for: non-simultaneous, exchange hospitality, swimming pools, youth exchange, hospitality, and lots, lots more. Read more in our guide article Filtering Your Search Results.
  • Easy and fun to use via mobile phones and tablets without a special app.
  • Display your photos in the order you choose. They are easy to sort via drag and drop.
  • And lots small surprises. We hope you like them.

UPDATE: Members Are Talking!

“So, I’m testing out the new features and I especially love the contact history feature.” (US1008120)

“Hello, new look again … There are certainly good things.” (SE6274)

“Congratulations on the new look of Intervac. Now it is much more attractive and comfortable to use.” (ES277362)

Whether you love it or you hate it, let us hear from you via our webfeedback form, or send me a mail and I’ll pass your comments on to the Board of Directors and your national representative. They are working hard to please you.

layout/arrow_blue-down.png And while your are here, don’t forget about the fun with our Happy Home Exchange Photo Contest happening over at our Facebook page. The deadline for entry is September 30, 2015

Tips from our Chairman, 2015

Karl Gemfeldt I made my first exchange as a young boy in the 60’s. When I had my own family it was natural to continue with vacation exchange. Intervac has been a big part of our way of life. All the nice people we have met as a result of our exchanges over the years and many we still have contact with.

Intervac is led by home-exchangers, and we have the ambition to provide, with the help of our national representatives and our unique online presence, the best available service.

Members are, just now in the middle of a busy period, and our platform is working “around the clock” sending messages and inquires between members.

What should you do to get the exchange you want?

  1. Take action immediately! After having filled-up/updated your listing, search for offers which suit you and send an exchanged proposal to your favorites. You will receive spontaneous requests too! Please, as a matter of courtesy be sure you respond to all queries, even if you are not interested at this time.
  2. While negotiation with another member for an exchange, remember that if you have more than one page of text to send them, be sure to use the option to attach a file in our messaging center.
  3. For more tips and tricks, see also our growing knowledgebase/FAQ which can be useful even for experienced members. Do you miss a topic? Send us a message or leave a comment and we will try to add it.

-Karl Gemfeldt, new Chairman of the Board for Intervac International

Two Fantastic Years of Home Exchange

Two fantastic years of home exchange

Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Iceland - Home Exchange is the only way!

Dear Intervac friends,

We spent two fantastic years with you and Intervac. We would like to thank you for these wonderful memories. In 2013 we visited 5 European capitals. All these were great experiences.


We started with Groot Ammers in the Netherlands at Easter 2013 and visited Amsterdam. The lovely house was right on a small canal and in the distance we saw a windmill. Our very first home exchange was perfect.

Dear Willeke, I haven’t forgotten that we want to swap again. Whenever you want to - with great pleasure again.

Our second home exchange on Ascension Day was also very nice. Leuven is a very imposing city in Belgium close to Brussels. Shopping in Brussels is a real delight. But the kids mostly loved the Jacuzzi in garden.

Our summer holidays we spent in a stunning country which we took immediately in our hearts. Finland really surprised us.

The flight from Bremen to Tampere Kangasala takes only two hours. So great nature, such nice people and luckily very few German tourists. From Helsinki we flew into the white nights in Lapland. No words can describe this adventure. This fascinating country we want to visit again soon.

In autumn was scheduled Denmark. In Roskilde we learned a lot about the Vikings and of course we visited Copenhagen. Sagnlandet Lejre - Land of legends was a whole new experience of the journey through time for us. We can recommend it to everyone. Thanks for this valuable tip.

New Year’s Eve we spent in Sweden. We were looking forward to a lot of snow, but there was not a single small snow flake. Stockholm is a charming Capital and so easy to explore by public transport. Vasamuseet - The Vasa Museum has most impressed us and in the house of fantasy play - - Junibacken (Museum of Astrid Lindgren) kids and parents have a lot of fun. In Gamla Öxelsund nearby Nyköpping Pippi Longstocking would have felt well also.


In 2014 we went at Pentecost in the Netherlands for a second time. We had fantastic weather and a very relaxing stay in Stiens. We bathed in the North Sea, as we visited the island “Ameland”. It was so restful for us. All of us are now great fans of the Dutch lifestyle.

In the summer followed the most challenging exchange. In late summer 2013 we started countless requests for an Iceland swap. After 6 (!!!) months, towards the end of March just as we wanted to give up, we discovered fortunately the member profile from a very nice family in Alftanes . A dream came true and in summer 2014 we explored Iceland just like a great number of other German tourists also.

We have seen many amazing landscapes. Iceland is really an incredibly fascinating country. For the first time we met our exchange family very personal. That was wonderful.

In Alftanes we arranged a barbecue with our exchange family from Stiens, who stayed at the same time in the vicinity. It was really fantastic - the pure spirit of Intervac.

By the way - Happy Birthday Akke :-)

Our final exchange in Fall 2014 led us to Besançon in France. It was once again an overwhelming stay. End of October there was warm and sunny weather. The Vauban citadel was a real highlight and Arc-et-Senans - - the Royal Saltworks an architectural masterpiece. At Christmas we ate the very last piece of cheese from the region Franche-Comté. We have to exchange again to buy new cheese 😉

We would like to thank all of you for these last two fantastic years. They have opened so many new opportunities. In all of your houses and in all places we visited, we felt very comfortable and safe. Each home exchange was a great success for us.


Even in 2015 it will go on. We have agreed an exchange for Easter with a nice family from Dublin. We are curious and delighted.

Dear Shannon, we booked our flights on Christmas Eve! If a former exchange family will be at the same time in Dublin, we will be happy to meet all of you.

We wish all of you a happy new year and lots of wonderful moments with Intervac in 2015.

Kind regards, Anja & Henning