A wonderful Mediterranean holiday was had with Shearings a good few years ago now.
The coach tour was scheduled as a tour to Corsica and Sardinia driving down though
France to Marseilles via Provence sightseeing en route to the ferry.
En Route Sightseeing though France
Pont du Gard (Provence link)
After visiting the islands we returned though Italy and Switzerland back to Calais for the
return crossing to England. Despite a few early starts, the tour was most enjoyable.
The following tale is an alternative account of the more amusing observations.
The Story begins with the Feeder Coach
Waiting on a Sunday morning for the grand arrival of Shearings luxury coach. Small
mini bus pulls into the old Hemel Hempstead bus station Bay 5 – really an oily patch of
tarmac outside the King Harry Pub. The door is pulled back to reveal a motley lot
from Milton Keynes! Cramped, with no choice of seats we were in front of a family,
grandparents, parents and daughter. Why is it that some women’s thoughts are
connected directly to their tongues? Over the next 2 hours she had verbal diarrhoea
covering life’s events where she had “been there, done that, got the T-shirt”, plus
what might happen to the rest of the relations left back at home. The granddaughter,
an attractive female in a strappy little number, broke the incessant chat with an
occasional girly squeak.
The question was, were they going on our coach tour holiday? We sincerely hoped
they were transferring to another coach at the Dover interchange stop. I was faced
with a trade-off between mouth almighty, or the girly blonde. We continued to
wonder, when the talking stopped, replaced by a wonderful quiet. Crunch, suck,
chipping sounds, rustle of cellophane. The reason for the momentary silence was
the boiled sweet gob stoppers. We were not sure if the chipping sound was the
breaking of sugar coating on the sweets or the enamel on their teeth.
We too were all feeling peckish after about an hours travel: the family were no
exception, the only difference was that they had come prepared – sausage rolls,
cake, the lot. But do you think this silenced the woman – No! Food sloshed around
her mouth at the same time as the monotonous words. It was fortunate that the seats
were of the high back coach style otherwise we would have been on the receiving
end of the say it and spray it debris.
Luckily my earlier dilemma over the blonde was at an end as the family disappeared
into the crowds at Dover.
Professional Coach Trippers
Coach full of Shearings professionals here. Hardly a groan when the driver, Paul,
announced a 6.30am Monday morning call. Cases outside rooms prompt at 7, then
down to breakfast. We were early, but still no match for the professionals. Did they
go to bed? Did they wash before coming down? The average age for the coach
seemed greater than ours and the majority originated from up North, so they may
indeed only fully bathe once a week. Yes, I recall the days of the mills and mines, tin
bath in front o’t fire. Being early didn’t do them any good, because the maitre’d
made everyone wait at the door of the restaurant anyway. It gave time for us to pair
off the travellers. Who was married to whom, who were siblings with whom. No blue
rinses to be seen, the women had various shades of natural looking dyed hair. How
chemicals have improved.
The men sported varying shades of grey, either all over or just on the sides of their
heads. Was the woman with the dark permed hair and assertive style spectacles
really married to the man with staring eyes and monks haircut? Is the ‘emergency
service’ built man with No 2 haircut, married to the woman who does cross-stitch
whilst travelling through the textile regions of France? Is she married to the little
man who spends most of his time slumped forward fast asleep? Maybe all will be
revealed by Tuesday!
Caused a bit of a minor upset at breakfast this Tuesday morning. Had to move a
chair and place setting to make 2 seats together. Did I detect some moans and
whisperings amongst the professionals, who, incidentally, raided the restaurant in
such a hurry as to leave only one vacant place on every table. Back on the coach at
9am prompt and Mr Sleepy also promptly slumped forward into his dreams. Bit of re-
arrangement up front of the coach. Those in the first two rows, who had probably
booked their tour 2 years in advance. One lady now had a bad leg and wanted to
swap with someone on the other side of the coach, so that she could stretch out in
the gangway, probably tripping up anyone who dared to venture to the tea making
facilities at the back of the coach.
Coffee Making Area
We gave some nicknames to others on the tour – Mr Oblivious who spends most of
the time reading a novel or standing at his overhead locker. His head is either
buried so far in either, or he has tunnel vision, the result is the same – blocking or
tripping up other passengers.
Mr Sleepy woke to make coffee. Twenty minutes later he is still at the coaches
refreshment bar. Had he gone back to sleep? No he couldn’t find the coffee, mainly
because Shearings use pre-packed cups.
En route to Sardinia, after the Corsican evening, probably a few sore heads after the
vino and enjoyment of running down the Albion Hotel because, on arrival, they had made
us stand outside whilst they sorted out an accounting problem. This morning was the only
time we had hot water to wash in. The hotel owner, Madame Pooch, probably took a leaf
out of the old steam trains trick of keeping the heating off until the last part of the
journey to save fuel.
After saying farewell to Ajaccio we are swaying our way around
the roundabouts which lead out of town. It’s a coughing, sneezing and sniffing
morning this morning and Mr Oblivious is blowing up his wife’s neck pillow. Two
people have cake walked up to the bar at the back of the bus, elbowing everyone on
The first to pass us was the youngest on the coach, travelling with her mother or great
aunt. Either they are just enjoying a holiday touring together, or she is being chaperoned
as we were about to take the ferry to the hot-blooded Italian island of Sardinia.
The second to pass was a lady who remarked how she was getting jostled about
much more at the back than the front. Well I assume she was referring to the bus
and not last nights Corsican evening.
Part One of Three