Coach Trip…

with 6 comments

Last weekend I spent a long, rain-soaked, weekend in the South West of England with my aunt and a coach load of elderly folk.  I was literally the youngest person on this trip by a good 30 years, (my aunt being the second youngest at 57), and the whole experience is something that I won’t be repeating in a hurry.  Here’s what happened: 

Coach Travel
For starters, coach travel in general is not very nice.  On a coach you have about the same amount of room as cattle being exported across the continent, and possibly the same toilet facilities – I think my muscles atrophied on the journey due to the cramped conditions.  You are also completely at the mercy of the coach driver the whole time, and the coach driver in this instance was an alarming chap who looked as if he had worked as a Butlins red coat for most of his life before getting kicked out for being too old and tired.  You know the type – permenant fake smile plastered all over face, jovial yet slightly patronising manner, and the trapped look in the eyes of a man who knows that he has probably wasted his life.  His idea of ‘entertainment’ was to put on the film version of Mamma Mia! (to the delight of all the old dears who clapped along).  I hate Abba.  I especially hate being made to listen to the songs of Abba against my will. (Note: if you have never seen this film – just don’t.  It’s rubbish.)

So after a 6 hour coach journey, punctuated with frequent toilet breaks, and rubbish movies, we arrived at the hotel in Torquay which could have actually been the set of Fawlty Towers.  While the staff were pleasant enough, there were drafty corridors, creaking floor boards, peeling wall paper, and the lingering smell of damp everywhere you went.  But the real highlight for me were the truly horrendous Christmas decorations strewn about the place.  Dusty tree, dull baubles, and a ‘haunted’ father Christmas Each (see right) which looked like it might walk around the building at night. Hideous.   

However, it wasn’t the damp, the chill in the air or the fear of being torn apart by possessed Christmas decorations the meant I didn’t get much rest that weekend.  It was actually the noise produced by my sleeping roommate.  Now, I love my Aunt, I really do – but I spent a considerable amount of time on both nights that we shared a room thinking up different ways to kill her, or at least mute her.  She snores like a freight train.  On the second night I was so desperate for sleep that I resorted to fashioning ear plugs out of wet toilet tissue to block out the din.  I kid you not. 

Eden Project…
However, the Eden Project was absolutely stunning, and left me with a burning desire to visit a Brazilian rain forest for real (I’ll just add that one to the list of other places that I want to visit before I die…).  I would recommend a visit to everyone, and you can see some of the pictures from the trip here.

The pitfalls of travelling with old people (when you are not old yourself)…

  • Toilet breaks – too many frequent stops en route meant a much longer travel time than by car
  • Calamities – seem to frequently befall the elderly.  On this trip there was a tumble-down some stairs, a put out back, and two of the party were lost for 20 minutes trying to relocate the coach
  • Boarding / Alighting time:  So much extra time needed to be factored into the schedule just to accommodate the slowness of all 40 people to get on and off the coach. 

The joys of travelling with old people (when you aren’t old yourself)…

  • They are a friendly bunch
  • They can complain more than me…and I love to complain (as you can tell from this blog post), and I am in good company with other complainers.  (The weather was the most talked about thing on the coach)
  • Elderly people get drunk easily and therefore cause lots of amusement in hotel bars
  • You don’t run out of travel sweets

The perfect end to a perfect weekend… 
On the way back to London we stopped off in Bath for a few hours, which was nice (apart from the deluge of rain which had pretty much followed us around for the whole drip).  When we got back onto the coach the driver informed us that on the way back to London we would be stopping for a break at a service station located just 10 miles from my flat.  ‘What a bonus’ I thought, and called V to pick me up from there (saving me the journey back from the coach’s final destination which was around 30 miles away).  The coach stopped, I alighted (case in hand) and waved the coach off into the night.  After waiting 30 minutes or so for V to arrive I realised that something was wrong with the situation.  A few enquiries later, it transpired that I was actually at the Reading M4 service station – 60 miles from where I live in London – not the local service station to me.  The coach driver had either lied or changed his mind and didn’t think to tell me.  Perhaps it was to get me back from not laughing at his jokes or not singing along to Mamma Mia!  Either way – a very disgruntled V had a very long trip to come and pick me up and take me home again.  A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

So what I have taken away from this experience:

  1. To pack ear plugs when sharing a hotel room with someone.
  2. Never, ever, believe what a coach driver says ever again
  3. Pay attention to my surroundings / location at all times 
  4. To never recommend the film Mamma Mia! to anyone I like (and to recommend it a lot to people I don’t like)
  5. And finally, to wait until I am old and crumbly before ever going on another coach trip.  And even then, I won’t go on one.

Written by Lores

December 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

6 Responses

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  1. HAHAHAHA… SOOOOO funny! Sorry, I’m sure it wasn’t at the time, but a great read… sounds like the kind of thing I could do!

    Kyra's Mom

    December 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm

  2. I was never a big fan of bus (coach) travel either. Yet obviosly still in demand throught the world. I believe to be a near-impossible feat to maintain comfort being in crampped quarters with large number of people one barely knows whilst moving down the highway. Good on you for chillin with aunt and being open minded enough to even try. It at least gave you some blog material.


    December 5, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  3. Anything but snoring. Oh, poor you, how did you resist the lure of a firmly-held pillow over Auntie’s face? I remember being once trapped on a yacht for three days with one crew member who snored louder than a Harley Davidson. He slept soundly all night, blissfully roaring while I sat wishing him dead. I have never hated anybody so intensely.

    It’s the worst torture, far far more irritating than a dripping tap.

    By the way, I have never yet found any earplugs that can block the noise. And even if they do, there is an irresistible impulse to remove them every so often just to check if they are working, or if the person has actually had the decency to stop snoring.



    December 6, 2009 at 9:59 am

  4. @Luschka – glad you find my predicaments amusing 😛

    @Chaz – thanks! Yes, I do feel like I have ‘family brownie points’ for giving it a go and being my aunts travel buddy!

    @merewoman – I totally agree, snoring is just about the worst thing ever. A close second is teeth grinding, I cannot bear that noise either 😦


    December 7, 2009 at 8:50 am

  5. This made me laugh so much ! Particularly the ‘haunted santa’ and:
    “…the trapped look in the eyes of a man who knows that he has probably wasted his life.”

    I am sorry to hear that you didn’t have the best weekend, just drain it all out in the salt caves… X


    December 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm

  6. Thanks Kate – I’m not sure how I get myself into these situations sometimes… !!!



    December 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

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