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Review: Shanklin

Escorted Tour - Coach

United Kingdom

You will do what you are told

  • By SilverTraveller soopernan

    35 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Feb 2012
  • Wife

56 people found this review helpful

Some strange characteristics about a coaching holiday:
1. All breakfasts taste the same.
2. Evening entertainers sing the same songs.
3. It’s impossible to win at bingo
Have you ever been to the Isle of Wight in the middle of February on a coaching holiday? No, neither had we until this year. It was certainly an experience, and one that was certainly enjoyable, especially if you possess a good sense of humour. We live on the south coast, so a Daish’s holiday was perfect for us, as it collected from the end of our road, depositing at the front door of their own hotel at Shanklin. £114 for four nights was a very reasonable price, especially as it included half board with evening entertainment. The journey and crossing were uneventful, the driver tried to tell a hoary old gag about a zebra being confused for a mare. No, I won’t repeat it here, the driver was the only one who laughed, I have an idea that I have it on an old Max Miller LP from 1936 and I am sure that Max stole it from a man who entertained Henry Vlll.

The Isle of Wight is off the south coast of England, three main ports with ferries. No tunnel, no bridge. The crossing from Portsmouth takes just under three quarters of an hour, arrives Fishbourne which has nothing apart from the ferry terminal. Shanklin is on the lower south east coast, a half hour drive away. Don’t expect any motorways, or dual carriageways, on the other hand expect motorists to obey the speed limit as most windy roads are only suitable to keep within the law.

We were allocated a small double bedroom in the 61 bedroom hotel, being moved by Jo the duty manageress without any quibble when we enquired if there was an alternative, which proved to be a great improvement. It soon became obvious to us that there are various expectations of guests on a coaching holiday. The main one is: do what you are told. Dining room first evening was a good example. Be there at 6.15pm first night so you could find your correct table, subsequent evenings 6.30pm. Doors didn’t open early, guests queued up outside in a very orderly way. We were allocated our table, which was to be ours for all meals, with the same waiter, Arun. We have an idea that most staff were English and local, including reception and housekeeping. Makes a pleasant change to be able to understand English language. Each of our four days had a different United Kingdom theme, tonight’s was Ireland, with menu choices reflecting. First night’s entertainment was simply superb. Mature male singer with backing tracks, he used to be known as the Wight Presley until he put on weight so his Elvis suit didn’t fit. His two sets worked round the bingo. A feature every night was to be a bemused look of the entertainer as people from the Nottingham coach filed past to perform on the dance floor. The chairs were empty as these 40 or so friends did line, sequence, or hand bag dancing on a reasonable sized floor. Day two’s breakfast had a limited but adequate selection, where portion control was apparently adequate. No quibble about requesting extra toast, or changing the menu slightly for personal choice. There was an all day coach trip at a very reasonable £7 to places that included Isle of Wight Pearl, a family run business with the other three outlets being Jersey, Cornwall, and Tenerife. Of course, a lot of places were seasonally closed, including Osborne House, but there was still sufficient to keep us occupied for the day. We had chosen dinner at breakfast time, tonight’s theme was Scotland. There were the three usual choice of starters, a National soup, fruit juice, or something from tonight’s country, three main courses not including salad, and three sweets. Tea or coffee were included. Tonight’s act was a male keyboard player. His singing was exceptional, such a talented young man. The gags were very good – “Did you have a good meal tonight? Where did you go?” but some were banter with the audience thereby unrehearsed. No, I didn’t win the bingo tonight. Breakfast was the same, coach trip was to Newport’s market. This is weekly, held in the town square. As an open air market there’s no guarantee how many stalls will be present, but I was more than satisfied, buying three lovely thick winter shirts for £10. Wearing one now as I am writing this article. Only £6, we return via the Arreton Complex. Good but expensive snacks/restaurant, shops, crafts, glass blowing, usual attraction that has had a great sum of money spent building and developing. Open year round. Welsh theme tonight, entertainment still very high standard, but I still didn’t win the bingo. And I had my own special dabber as well. Day three we caught the bus to Cowes on the north of the island. The public transport system is excellent, frequent, and we could use our mainland bus passes. Cowes has two parts, east and west. The Southampton ferry comes into east, then there’s a small ferry to take costing £2 per car to the main area of west Cowes. Lots of shops, pubs, restaurants, and a Royal Yacht Squadron. Who could ask for more. Kenneth Kendall has an art gallery in the main road to the town, opposite is a fascinating shop selling old clothing and lots of retro. Well worth a visit. Tonight was English night, sorry to say that the girl singer wasn’t up to much, and yet again didn’t win the bingo. Next morning, the cases had to be outside our bedroom door at 7.15am, breakfast at 7.30am. I took our cases downstairs personally, showed Dave our return driver (no comedian this one) where I had placed our luggage, coach leaving at 8.30am sharp. Being good little travellers, we were early, Dave said “Where are your cases. I haven’t got them yet”. Yes, Dave, very funny, hearty laughter. However, another different Dave the coach driver walked past. “Have you got my cases?” Probably came the reply. Not what you want to hear, as there was insufficient time to sort out before departing for the scheduled ferry. We suitably arrived to see said ferry toot tooting as it left, so the two Daves sorted out the unnecessary luggage problem. So, what are our impressions of our first coaching holiday. Would we do it again? Certainly,like to try somewhere different. Would we recommend? Yes, we think so, but only if you suspend a lot of independence. You are left with a lot of free time, but you also have a schedule to keep. It was fun, though.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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