Does the idea of a coach holiday fill you with horror?

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Latest Post | 0 comments

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Our last morning

We had to get up for a 7.15 breakfast and from thence to the coach where our baggage was arranged according to the town at which we were going to be dropped off. We left two minutes after the departure time – 8 17 am – and were treated to lovely frost-covered fields, more blue skies and a delightful rising sun. Banks of fog were in the distance.

I have been on a handful of such trips in my life and I feel I have had enough experience to be able to give you the lowdown on the advantages, the disadvantages, the features and what to expect.

Summary of the trip

This is about a five day and four night excursion to Bosworth Hall, which is in Leicestershire. It is situated by the rural town of Market Bosworth,  which has a population of just over 2,000 residents. When I saw an advertisement for the offer in the local journal back in October I jumped at it. You might think that late November is a bad time to do anything when you are preparing for Christmas, and after the heat of the sun has disappeared and the days are shortening but the whole thing is weather dependent so if it is good weather it doesn’t really matter when you go.

And so it proved to be on this occasion. Cloudless skies, no rain, little wind, crisp mornings – fun companions. What is more to want?

We were supposed to be picked up at 12:40 near Green Park, Bath but due to a timetable miscalculation the driver arrived about half an hour later. The coach had started from Penzance, yes Penzance, at 10 minutes past six in the morning so we were the last stop but one, Bristol being the last, before the journey up the M5, across to Birmingham, to our destination.

Is it cheaper to go in a group?

Included in the offer was four nights bed and breakfast and evening meal. 2 day excursions were offered and a third one as it happens to Stratford on Avon for a small extra charge. Between 6 pm and 9:30 pm we were offered drinks at  two for one prices. For this offer we were asked 249 pounds per person making just a little short of 500 pounds between us.

Had we done this off our own bat as independent travellers, the costs would have been as follows:

Petrol – 385 miles – bearing in mind the stopping and starting, it would have been about  100 pounds
Bed breakfast and evening meal is listed at 118 pounds per night for two which makes 472 pounds
Parking – Had we driven to the two centers on the Tuesday and Wednesday plus parking charges at the hotel the parking would have been not less than 60 pounds

Driving is not just a question of petrol consumption. The area around Birmingham is very busy indeed and we had a lot of ‘stop and start’  driving by coach so journey time was increased.  Because the city is so central to the UK and the motorway system there are vast warehouses hundreds of meters long where the major firms have their distribution hubs

Anyway. this is the least interesting part of my account where we have demonstrated that you can save at least 100 pounds through taking the combined offer.

Are you ‘organised?’

I have had examples of some tours that are over-organised and you have to get up at 6 o’clock and move on from your hotel to another place and spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on the coach. You can be taken from place to place for commercial reasons, the receiving a commission on any sales. In this case however we were dropped off and left to our own devices for reasonable lengths of time. All we were able to do was to see the main features and get a feel of the place and whether it was worth a return trip.

No trips are compulsory and if you want to just lounge around the hotel and their extensive grounds then you can. NB not all restaurants offer high quality food especially at lunchtime. The foodstuffs  are kept in the freezer and heated up for the occasion and this can apply to hamburgers, chips, even pizzas and I would not necessarily recommend their quality. These days you can expect to pay upwards of 12 pounds for a main course so if you can possibly survive until the evening meal, just have a coffee and sandwich or just forget about lunch altogether. No one has died of starvation from taking this advice.

Who goes on coach trips?

It must be said that people of a certain age, and that means retired individuals and retired couples, take the opportunity to escape from doing the cooking and washing up and enjoy being treated by being driven round areas that you would not normally think of going to. It is in everyone’s interests to  behave well and nearly everyone rises to the occasion. It is obvious that if you don’t behave, you will be ignored or even ostracized by the group so everyone is on their best behavior.

Everyone that we met bought along a jolly positive mood. The English sense of humour comes to the fore here with its combination of self depreciating humour, situation humour, a little bit of black humor thrown in and a lot of teasing, puns, play on words and so forth.

Even if you don’t like someone you know that you are only going to be with them a few days so you might as well be nice to them and pass the time of day. Observations, humour, and talking about the weather go a long way.

It reminds me of my early days hitchhiking when I was a student many moons ago. Someone would pick you up and they would talk about their personal and professional lives knowing that they were anonymous and you would not meet them again. Something of the same spirit is here.

The driver, Paul, had obviously been doing this for a long time and explained why everyone had to sit in the same seat which was for identification reasons should there be a serious accident. He told us how to get out of the bus and how to pull the various knobs and levers to open the windows or doors. He told us politely to use the onboard toilet appropriately as ‘whatever goes in stays in until the last day’. He told us a little bit about the history of the places we were about to visit. He explained about our calculations on when we should arrive at a particular place using our GPS system. He pointed out that the roads as the coach sees it is different and therefore they perhaps have to take a longer route.

How to comport yourself as a single person

We had one Scottish person from Bath, Andrew, who was on his own. He had a leg problem which meant he had to walk with a stick. Everyone else was in a couple by the way. It could be difficult if you go on your own but there are ways to avoid it. Andrew made a slight mistake of overselling himself to me. I was situated across the aisle from where we were seated and in an attempt to impress me he told me lots of puns, some were good and some which were not so good. I found his manner a little bit clingy and did not over engage him in conversation.

He tended to have meals on his own which was his choice. In the hotel restaurant most of the seating was for two people but there were tables adjacent where you could talk to people next door without invading their space or their privacy.

If anyone is thinking of going on a coach tour on their own my advice is forget about the fact that you are on your own, pretend to be one of the crowd, and talk to anyone. You will find like I did that most people are happy to be approached and don’t really mind if you’re single or with one other person or more. You can ask how people are, did you enjoy the day, or if you like the hotel. In other words come along and put yourself aside and be a good listener and over the period, you will make nodding acquaintances with your companions. Ask them if they had a good day out for example. They do not come on the trip to escape from people, they come to have a good time so just be part of it and forget you are so-called ‘on your own’.

If you are visiting a town on one of the excursions, you don’t have to walk with other people because you will probably bump into them at one feature, museum, or another and it is quite acceptable to open a conversation. You need to have a good memory for faces. Putting it another way, your single status may bother you but I promise you that others are not bothered and frankly couldn’t care less. You might even find they are more solicitous if you are on your own

As for the economics, there may be a single room supplement but I find that these days, hoteliers are becoming more flexible and have a mixture of family rooms, double rooms, twin rooms, and single rooms. They want to engage with as wide a cross section of clients as possible.

However, he did not always present himself in the best light when at one of the visits he turned up 20 minutes late for the return journey and thus kept the coach waiting. The company had to ring him up to discover where he was. When he finally appeared he was jovial but non apologetic which did not go down too well.

Ooops!

There were one or two inconveniences: due to the heating system not fully working, the swimming pool and the spa were also not working and some people had cold rooms. We would have loved to have a swim but the supervisory staff, which they are obliged to have on duty, were not in evidence. I would be philosophical if I were you and know that in large scale organizations not everything can go right all the time.

Nobody got hurt in the making of the movie, as they say, so just take the rough with the smooth.

The evening entertainments was pretty ghastly. There was a female who could not sing in tune and there was a male guitarist who played to a background virtual orchestra so loud that I could not hear myself think. So we just gave up on that one and went and played Scrabble and watched TV.

 

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