Friday, 8 February 2013

What was it like for me?

Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, DorsetOur break in Scotland was the first time either of us had ever been on a coaching holiday, which is not to say that we didn't know what to expect.
I think coach holidays must be aimed at people who are adventurous enough to want to visit different places, but are not adventurous enough to want to take responsibility for organising any aspect of their adventure. In our case, we went because it was cheap.
On the coach itself, of course, you have no say. You go the way the driver wants to go and you stop where and when he or she wants to stop. I know enough about the bus industry to realise that these stopping points on a long journey are determined not by passengers' requirements but the perks given to the coach driver for delivering 50 punters to a grateful eating or shopping establishment. Those passengers who went on the organised excursions each day reported that they had been to so many "Woollen Mill Outlet Villages" and the like that they were "completely milled out!"

And the regimentation doesn't end there. At the hotel, which to be fair was pretty decent, you are given fixed meal times and even allocated a shared table at which to sit. Not that you are sitting there for long, as a three-course meal can be served and cleared away in well under an hour; it has to be to make room for the next sitting! But the food was acceptable, the bar had some local bottled beer and the walking we were able to do straight from the hotel was great.

We had realised when leaving our car unexpectedly at Burton-in-Kendal services on the M6 that it might not be the best place. This service station exists only on the northbound carriageway - there is no southbound equivalent. This meant that the coach driver couldn't drop us off here on the way back! A little knowledge of the regional bus network however came in handy. We arranged to be dropped in Carnforth where by chance we were able to cross the road and wait only a minute for the hourly 555 back to Burton-in-Kendal village and a short walk to the services. Even better, the access road appeared to have no signs prohibiting traffic leaving the motorway along it and the gate that could be used to block such access didn't appear to have been used for a long time. This meant we were able to drive straight out and set off right away in the direction of home without having to drive ten miles up the motorway to the next junction and back again.

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