Have I told you about the trip we made pre-Covid-madness on a coach, down to the West country? No, I don’t think so. If I have (this sometimes happens, as my brain is in constant overload with books, schedules, deadlines, etc) then stop me.
We had a few days spare. This doesn’t often happen, so Him Indoors was keen to scoot off somewhere.
‘A coach trip,’ he said. ‘To Falmouth?’
My head was still spinning, so recklessly I agreed.
Now Falmouth is a place of great beauty and full of fine friendly people who made us very welcome – when we eventually arrived.
There was the rub.
We must have stopped in every town all along the south coast during our trip down there, with the driver merrily calling out the name of each as we stopped for toilet breaks. Exeter services came and went (and good God the price of a sandwich in the place!). By halfway through the trip, it wouldn’t have surprised me if our cheery driver had called out: ‘Edinburgh! Who wants the loo? And our next stop is Cardiff!’ because by that point I thought we were never going to arrive, that we would forever be on the road to nowhere, not hugging the south coast at all, as the driver had promised, but going loop-the-loop around the whole country until we vanished up our own exhaust pipe.
Eight hours – EIGHT HOURS! – later, we arrived in Falmouth and were briskly decanted into our hotel, which was nice. No balcony to sit on and admire the sea, but still. Warm, comfortable, nice.
We fell into bed and instantly into exhausted slumber, and I thought as I drifted away that I am never getting back on that damned coach. There was a trip out next day to Penzance, but I said no. My back was up. And it was sore, too.
I sauntered down to the hotel pool instead but recoiled when I found that hotel guests (and this happens a lot, I’ve found) were last on the list to use the amenities they’ve paid for, and that every kids club within a hundred miles took precedence. Unable to find a patch of water to swim in for all the lilos, plastic dolphins, sponge swimming aids and grisly floating plasters, and with a group of mums very busy having a lively conversation in the middle of the pool (Why? Why? There’s a perfectly good edge-of-pool site available) and giving me dirty looks whenever I tried to get past them, I gave up and instead went and sat on the beach.
Ah, but Falmouth’s a pretty place, and the beach is lovely, and the people are the friendliest in the world. Charming! I settled down and time passed and then it was dinnertime, and I hit another snag.
Mostly Him Indoors and I like to dine alone, together. But this was not allowed! Ah no. The jolly tour operator insisted we all sit together, us coachload, around a big round table. Have I mentioned I’m deaf in one ear? And there’s the rule, isn’t there, that you speak to the person on the right first, and then to the one on your left? Well, this is where a problem arises, because I struggle with my stone-deaf right ear, trying to lip-read, and when there is a gaggle of folk around me all I can hear is the racket coming in through my left ear, which is why Him Indoors and I like to dine alone, with him artfully seated on my left so that I can hear every word he says.
But this was not allowed! We had to mingle.
And just when I was getting – sweating with stress – to the pudding course and hopeful I had not offended the gent on my right too much by saying ‘Eh?’ at too-regular intervals, the tour operator pipes up: ‘Right! Now everyone move two seats to the left!’
Reader, I went to bed rather than risk it.
Next morning, Him Indoors and I formed a cunning plan. We would get down early to the restaurant, and bag one of the tables for two we had seen – and coveted – the night before.
We snuck down. The dining room was all but empty. We settled ourselves at a nice little table, and the waitress came over, all would be well.
‘Aren’t you with the coach party?’ she asked, eyeing us suspiciously.
‘Ah!’ says I.
‘Well yes,’ says Him Indoors.
‘Then you have to sit at the table for eight over there, the circular one where you sat last night. Okay?’
Oh damn. Not okay, not in the least. But we dragged ourselves over there and so last night’s stress-laden rigmarole began all over again.
Oh – and I didn’t get the coach back home, by the way.
I caught the train.