“ Experiences travelling, facilities available, wheelchair accessibility, steps, subsidies, travelling in comfort, design, discounts, purchasing tickets, buses using lifts, low floor buses, airbus, tip-up seats, draft directives, how to improve the service, step free doorways, bus stations, stopping signs, information available, door-to-door transport services, and more.... „
* Prices may differ from that shown
I write concerning a disgraceful piece of driving by one of your coach drivers.It occurred at 5.05pm on Monday 4th August at Penn Inn roundabout just outside Newton Abbot, heading to Torquay. His no. plate was YC02 CHG. When one comes off the roundabout there cars have to 'merge' one by one to join a single lane. Your coach driver has no idea of the meaning of this, and pushed me into oncoming traffic. This is extremely dangerous, and has been reported to the police. He could have caused a fatal accident. I was shocked and dismayed at his loutish road sense, and bullish tactics of pushing someone onto the other He was an absolute thug and should have his licence revoked , and I hope the police do revoke it. He has no business as a coach driver.People like him cause death on the roads.
When I announced to hubby last year, that I had found a 6-night break for us to celebrate our Pearl (30th) wedding anniversary, and described the hotel we would be staying in, he initially said that it sounded perfect. Then I told him that it was in the Shearings Coach holiday brochure, and his immediate reaction was, ?But only old fogies go with Shearings!!? I showed him the brochure, pointed out all that was on offer, and after considering it for a while, he agreed to give it a go. It means we can leave the car at home (and he can have a rest from driving as I don?t drive at all) and can sit back and enjoy the scenery for once. It is possible to book Shearings Coach Holidays online, but on this occasion I used a travel agent. We went down to Travel Choice in Romford, and in a very short time the holiday of our choice was booked. As we were pretty early in booking (last August, for an April holiday) we even got our choice of seats on the coach: right at the front just behind the driver. The efficient young lady who made our reservation also noted on the booking form that it was our 30th anniversary on the 6th April (we travel on 4th). The total cost of our particular holiday was £480. We had to pay a £100 deposit, with the balance payable by 15th January this year. This has been duly done, and we now await our tickets and itinerary. OUR HOLIDAY ACCORDING TO THE BROCHURE In the Shearings Brochure, the holiday we chose was billed as ?North Wales Little Trains holiday? The reason for this will become apparent further on. We will be staying in the Marine Hotel, on the sea front at Llandudno in North Wales on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. The hotel boasts an indoor swimming pool, and nightly entertainment. It is owned as well as run by Shearings, and although officially 3 stars, it seems to have many extra facilities you would expect from a higher classification of hotel. I am not going to go into the hotel itself for the purpose of this op, as I am writing another one, just on the hotel. As previously stated, our final bill was £480 for the 2 of us. Working out at £40 per night each, this includes travel from Romford to Llandudno and back, 6 nights half board, and three inclusive coach trips whilst we are there. There will, apparently, be further optional coach trips, which will be charged for if taken. The inclusive trips are 1)A full day travelling in Snowdonia National Park, including a ride on the Festiniog Railway. 2)A full day trip to some of the villages in Snowdonia, culminating in a rail trip around the lake at Lanberis, and a visit to a hydro- electric mountain. 3)A half-day trip to Caernarfon. I expect we will do these three excursions, and spend the other three days exploring Llandudno and the local area, as we have never visited that part of the country before. It will probably depend on the weather, and what the optional trips are. I also aim to make good use of that indoor pool! Once again, as you can probably now tell, I have prepared this half of the op before the event and will complete it on return. I seem to do that quite often these days! However, it seems to work for me, so why change the habit of a Dooyoo lifetime? OUR TRIP Firstly, our travel documents and itinerary were picked up from the travel agents just about 10 days before the trip. Included in the pack were suitcase labels for both directions of the journey, and a leaflet laying out the travel arrangements, including baggage weight, times of departure and where to pick up the feeder coach etc. Everything seemed to be straightforward enough, so we booked a taxi for the Sunday morning, and got ready to rumble! Our feeder coach was timetabled to depart from central Romford at 9.28 a.m. It arrived very punctually, and the driver, Chris, took our luggage from us and that was the last we saw of it until we reached our destination! Picking up a few other people en-route, we travelled, very comfortably, for the hour or so that it takes to reach London Gateway, via the North Circular ring road. London Gateway is situated at a service station on the M1, not far from the junction with the M25. Here, Shearings deal with all their transfers from feeder coaches all over the south of England, and I must say that the set-up was pretty impressive. As we entered the transfer station, Chris told us that we would have about 30-60 minutes to wait whilst all the cases were transferred to their respective destination coaches, and to listen out for the announcements which would be given when a coach was ready for departure. We already knew which bay number we would be departing from, so used the time for a much needed cuppa etc. In the event, we waited about 40 minutes until our coach bay was announced, and then made our way to where our driver, Bill, was waiting to greet us, and show us to our seats. As stated previously, we were directly behind his driving seat. All the seats are fitted with seat belts, but I was rather taken aback that not many of the passengers appeared to use them. I would have thought common sense would tell people that they are not there just for decoration! Bill was our driver for the entire duration of our holiday, and he told us a little about himself as we set off up the M1. He lived in Conwy, not far from Llandudno, so knew the area very well, and had been doing the Llandudno run for about 3 years. He informed us that we would be stopping at Exhall, not far from Coventry, where Shearings had yet another transfer depot for feeder coaches from the more northern parts of England, and that we would be taking on some more passengers there. That would also be our first ?comfort stop?. We duly arrived in Exhall, after travelling for about an hour and a half. This was a much smaller, and less impressive depot than London Gateway, but nevertheless, baggage transfer for the new arrivals was swiftly and efficiently carried out, and we were on our way in just over half an hour. During this leg of the journey, Bill gave us the week?s itinerary, where we would be travelling to, and times etc. As well as the three included excursions, there were 2 other half-day trips, costing just £7.00 per person, so we decided to book both of those, as we would still have 3 free afternoons to do any other things around Llandudno that we fancied. It did mean that we had to be down to breakfast every morning by 8.am in order to be ready to pick up the coach at 9.15 a.m., but that was not really a problem. After another ?comfort stop? at Sandbach on the M6, we continued on our way, and reached the Hotel shortly after 4.30 pm. Bill informed us that the earliest he had ever got there before was 4.45, and that usually it was closer to 5.30 when he pulled in, so we were well ahead of schedule. After registering in the hotel and finding our room, our luggage was delivered safe and sound to our doors. As far as I am aware, not one passenger arrived without their luggage, so the efficiency of the baggage handlers at both transfer depots was spot on. THE T 82;IPS Every morning, at bang on 9.15, we left the hotel for whatever trip was planned for that day. To be honest, we visited so many places, and saw so many wonderful sights, that I could probably make this op into a book! I was going to do a day-by-day diary, but that could take so long that I am going to amalgamate and summarise the main parts of each trip. Needless to say, the scenery in and around Snowdonia is breathtaking in places. One day, it was raining, and the cascades of waterfalls down the sides of the mountains were awesome. We would not have seen many of those had the weather been dry. The low clouds, hiding the tops of the mountains made things look slightly eerie at times. We visited charming little villages, like Betws y coed, Lanberis and Portmadog, and travelled along the Conwy Valley, where just a few weeks ago, the fields and villages were flooded when the River Conwy burst its banks. The railway running through this valley is still out of action due to this flooding causing structural damage and subsidence. We travelled on 2 separate railways: The Ffestiniog steam railway, from Portmadog to Blaineau-Ffestiniog, where there is one of only 2 working slate mines left in Wales, and the Lanberis Lake Railway. Both of these are narrow gauge railways, and both began life as working railways for the slate mining industry, but are now primarily tourist attractions. The price of both these trips was included in our holiday. We also visited Caernarfon for half a day. Bill informed us that in the Welsh language there is no ?v? so the ?f? has the ?v? sound and the ?ff? has the ?f? sound. There is also no ?x? in Welsh. TAXI is spelt TACSI. Honestly! The highlight of the trip, for me anyway, was the visit to ?Electric Mountain? near Lanberis. This is a complete electricity generating plant, buried deep inside a mountain that used to be used for slate mining. From the outside, nothing is visible. Even electricity cables are buried underground rather than on pylons. Yet inside the mountain, there are miles of tunnels, and an absolutely enormous cavern, longer than 2 football pitches, and as tall as an 8 storey building, where electricity is generated using the power of the water that occurs naturally in the mountains. It was simply awesome. On all the trips, Bill would point out different landmarks, and at no time were we sitting on the coach for more than about an hour and a half. Sometimes he would veer off the designated route in order to show us something more spectacular, and finally, on our last day there, we got a good view of Mt. Snowdon itself, still snow covered, and for once, not hidden behind cloud. On the day of our anniversary, we visited Caernarfon, and Bill announced the event to all those on the coach, so the booking agents must have passed on that information. On our journey back to London, 6 days after we had set off, the trip was reversed, and we arrived home, tired, but very happy, and an hour ahead of the scheduled time. THE COACHES Shearings coaches are all very comfortable. Most of them seat 50, and all are fitted with seatbelts as standard. All those travelling to the continent have air conditioning as standard, and those used in this country are being replaced gradually, so that they will all be air conditioned in time. There are also adjustable footrests, which are good because they take the pressure off the backs of your legs, which is vital on a long journey. There is room under the seats for small holdalls, and some space above the seats to store coats e tc. The windows are double glazed, and made with darkened glass. There are also curtains which you can draw closed should the sun be especially bright or hot. All the seats do recline, but only a few inches. This is easy to do, with a small lever on the side of the seat. The armrests are also adjustable. Some coaches, mainly those on long journey routes, are also equipped with an on-board toilet. Ours was not, but as I have already said, at no time were we more than about an hour and a half on board without a break. Passengers with limited mobility may have found it a little difficult to get on board, as there did not seem to be any sort of lifting device, or wheelchair access, although there was space under the coach for transporting wheelchairs. We had a couple of passengers on board who used wheelchairs, but also had some walking ability, and were able to get on and off with a little assistance. I have to say, that I found the journey too and from North Wales very pleasant indeed, and it did not seem to take very long at all in either direction. WOULD I RECOMMEND SHEARINGS? In one word YES I most certainly would. This was the first time we have done a coach holiday, and although we were probably the youngest ones on board, that did not seem to matter in the slightest. We were taken to places we probably would never have gone to had we travelled by car, and hubby certainly wouldn?t have enjoyed the scenery as much had he been driving. From start to finish, we found all the Shearings staff to be polite, efficient, and only too willing to do all they could to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. If the coach felt a bit warm, a quick word with Bill and the heating would be turned down and th e coolers turned on, and vice verse. So please don?t think that ONLY old fogies go on Shearings Holidays! Granted, there were a number of retired couples on our coach, but to be honest, people of all ages would have enjoyed our holiday. If you want a holiday where you can cram in lots of sightseeing, but don?t particularly want to be driving, then consider Shearings. They have coach holidays all over the UK, Ireland and Europe, and are expanding even further afield, bringing in holidays where you fly to your destination, and then begin the coach part of your trip. I have compared their prices to those of one of their largest competitors, and Shearings come out on top. Many of the hotels they use are actually owned by the company too, which also helps to keep overheads down. Go on. Give them a try. I know we?re glad that we did, and will definitely be using them again. www.shearingsholidays.com