Llandudno. A Great British coach trip.

The first day of March is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. Born in the sixth century, this one-time bishop and worker of miracles is usually depicted with a dove on his shoulder and standing on a hill as in this rather nice stained-glass window.

Castell_Coch_stained_glass_panel_2

David’s best-known miracle was the raising up of a hill (as in the window) on the very spot where he stood, though it’s unclear why, in a land which boasts an abundance of hills, this should be his miracle of choice. He lived a very simple life and when he wasn’t working miracles the Saint was a great reader and scribe and enjoyed a humble meat-free diet. The leek was possibly his favourite vegetable, becoming first his personal emblem and later that of the Welsh nation.

leek

Today being Saint David’s day got me thinking back to last summer and a rather memorable journey I made to north Wales. Whilst Cymru is a separate country it would be misleading of me to give the impression that my journey there was an epic trek. From my home in the north of England to my destination in north Wales is less than a hundred miles, or about 90 minutes by road.

This was to be my first trip there since being a teenager . I’d been on many occasions during childhood summers, but it hadn’t left an impression; I think it mostly rained. Having heard good things about the revamped sea front, off I went with mum to partake in a quintessentially British experience: the coach trip.

My mother is a coach trip expert, travelling the length and breadth of the Kingdom with her friend and fellow enthusiast, Phyllis. I have occasionally stepped in when Phyllis has been otherwise engaged, and my limited experience has led to the following observations about coach world:

  • The front seats which offer an unrestricted view through the windscreen are the most desirable and are snapped up about 5 years in advance
  • Coach folks always board with at least three carrier bags filled with foil-wrapped sandwiches, thermos flasks, and family packs of crisps and mini cheddar biscuits. Invariably, they get to work on their bounty within 10 minutes of setting off
  • Anybody boarding with no provisions looks under-burdened and therefore suspicious
  • Coach folks often bring an assortment of coats and cardigans in case of unpredictable weather. Any garments not required at the destination can be left on board to mark ownership of seats under the watchful eye of the driver
  • The driver, usually called Stan, Jim or Bill, is often well past retirement age and likes to treat his charges to a selection of Nashville Greats and Sixties compilation CDs, which are very well received by the coach audience
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A typical British coach

The sun shone for us on a glorious morning when mum and I set off for the land of dragons and daffodils, though we didn’t expect to see either of those on an average Wednesday in August. We found our seats, deposited our bags in the overhead luggage rack and got ourselves settled. We were amongst the first on board so by default became members of the welcoming party for those who joined at various stops over the next few miles. At this point I’ll explain a little about the complex but unspoken rules of coach trip etiquette. Geisha tea ceremonies seem like child’s play in comparison, and you must at all costs get it right if you want to avoid feeling an on-board coolness which won’t be coming from the air conditioning.

  • New arrivals greet those already seated, not the other way around. No exceptions.
  • A hearty ‘Good morning’ is the suggested salutation, but at the very least a smile and a nod are required, though this is a weak form of greeting and will provoke raised eye brows and possibly mutterings
  • If you are new to coaching, know your place! Most of these seasoned gallivanters will know each other from other trips. You are new.
  • If you are asked about other places you have travelled to, understand that this means on coaches and within the UK. Don’t talk about your Nordic river cruise or your wild nights in Marrakesh. They are of no interest to these good people, and you will be judged.
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Moody skies over the Welsh moors

Fast forward through Cheshire and into north Wales, in and out of a nice but unnecessary pit stop, and onto the Welsh moors. Purple heather and sloping green hills (possibly raised by Saint David) in the distance made for a beautiful vista. Inside the coach sounds of appreciation rose as we wound our way along the serpentine roads. Being afflicted with the curse of travel sickness, I could not share in my fellow travellers’ pleasure here, and perhaps by some miracle I just about made it to our next stop, the village of Betws y coed.

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Betws y coed train station

Upon disembarking, our lively party headed off in little groups to the café, ice cream parlour or for fish and chips. Green around the gills and desperate to recover before getting back onto the coach I left mum to her battered haddock and went for a short stroll. We only had an hour at Betws y coed which, along with my delicate state, prevented me from exploring further, but I enjoyed watching the birds feed in the midday sun.

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The station is used for regular services and for occasional vintage steam trips
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A steam train which has been converted into a restaurant
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wild art
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Birds tuck in at a local cafe

Back on board, and mercifully the rest of the journey to Llandudno was smooth. We arrived in fine spirits ready to walk along the promenade, paddle in the surf and relax in the sun’s warm rays. All signs of clouds had disappeared to reveal an expanse of azure sky.SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420

Great Orme overlooked the pier and the vintage tour buses waited for their next passengers.

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From time to time I spotted fellow travellers seated along the sea front or in a tea room window. There arises yet another coach trip etiquette minefield: to acknowledge or not to acknowledge?  But that’s another story….

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25 thoughts on “Llandudno. A Great British coach trip.

  1. Northern Lights March 1, 2018 / 10:39 am

    Very amusing and great photos of Lllandudno.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shazza March 1, 2018 / 1:20 pm

    My mum goes on coach trips and loves them. Amusing account. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda's Travel Diary March 1, 2018 / 1:29 pm

      Thank you. Coach tripping is a fascinating world! It’s also the only context where I, with almost half a century of life under my belt, am ever addressed as ‘young lady’. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lana March 2, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    So interesting. I have not done a coach trip since I don’t know when!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 2, 2018 / 8:36 pm

        My friend went to Bolton market on one recently. She said the spats of the oap ladies was comedy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 2, 2018 / 11:07 pm

        Yes 🙂

        Like

      • Amanda's Travel Diary March 2, 2018 / 11:19 pm

        Gosh, that really is an odd destination for a day out! As markets go, Bolton’s is not bad at all, but the rest of the town has nothing to offer visitors. There are two or three good veggie/vegan eateries though. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 3, 2018 / 6:28 pm

        Oh good coz I have been invited to the next one hehe

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amanda's Travel Diary March 3, 2018 / 6:49 pm

        If you decide to go on the trip you might be interested in visiting ‘The Kitchen’ on Great Moor Street in the town centre. It’s a veggie/vegan cooperative which serves a good range of vegan food. The food is cooked by the coop members, some of whom are Turkish, so they usually have some tasty near/middle eastern options as well as the usual deli foods, soups stews etc.

        http://thekitchen.coop/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 3, 2018 / 6:51 pm

        Fab thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 3, 2018 / 6:54 pm

        I just want to be there now!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amanda's Travel Diary March 3, 2018 / 6:57 pm

        🙂 I don’t live very far from Bolton, and it seems very strange to me that people would want to go there on a day trip! Enjoy the market and the food, as there’s not much else in the centre of town. There are a couple of nice old houses just outside though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 3, 2018 / 7:01 pm

        My friend travelled from Crewe with an elderly relative. She was fuming as she told this lady not to park in a certain place before they hopped on the coach to Bolton. She was ignored and later there was a £25 fine of which my friend was coerced into paying half!
        And yes she said the same as you – not much doing. Actually I think I have been in the late 90s – is there a metal elephant statue?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amanda's Travel Diary March 3, 2018 / 7:18 pm

        Oh no! I hope their day out was worth the fine. 😦 There is – or was – an elephant statue near to the shops. I’m not sure if it’s still there. Bolton isn’t a horrible place; it’s just not that interesting. There has been some investment in recent years, and shopping are which had gone downhill now has a couple of nice restaurants in it. There is a good emerging vegan scene in the town and it has even held its own vegan fair and social events; I’ve been on a few of them, including a really good ‘wine’ and ‘cheese’ evening in a private room above a pub. Another nice place to eat is Healthy Indulgence Cafe on Bridge Street.
        http://boltonianvegan.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-healthy-indulgence-cafe.html

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lucila Miguez March 4, 2018 / 5:30 am

    I really enjoyed reading about this trip, Amanda. You had me in stitches! And what a lovely account! Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lana March 4, 2018 / 8:15 am

    You are enticing me up there quicker! I remember now in Bolton I asked a young lady where the nearest Starbucks was and she was clueless as to what I was even talking about hehe. Bolton was a bit slow to catch on the coffee culture perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

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