Tuesday, 7 June 2011
The Seagulls Beat The Germans To The Picnic
The doors opened and down the steps came fifty German pensioners. They were like their bus, substantial, immaculately dressed and coiffured, and exuding self confidence.
'Wo ist die Toiletten?' The tour guide had selected me as a helpful candidate to know this essential piece of information. As they trotted off to the far corner of the car park where the lavatories were situated, the driver emerged and opened all the lockers on the bus. He took out tables, flasks, bottles and many coolers full of food. This was an upmarket picnic. It's what I expect when I see a German bus. They do things properly when they take bus tours around Europe. They've paid good money and therefore expect nothing less than the best. Oh how different to the British approach.
Today, however the Germans were a victim of their own success. Their picnic was so good that they attracted every seagull within a thirty mile radius.They were everywhere, circling in the sky, sitting on top of the bus and waddling around on the tarmac. They were waiting for the tourists to make an error. It didn't take long. A lady with dyed 'Martian sunset' red hair left her ham roll on the wall. It was swiftly removed by a bird. The lady was not pleased and much discussion. The tables were put away, the doors hurriedly shut, the tourists ran onto the bus, the engine roared and the bus left the car park in a hurry.
It had been a mischievous sort of a day from the first moment I arrived and parked the coach. A lady peered through the open door with a slightly disappointed look.
'Is this the bus for the women's club trip?' she asked.
'Depends where you are going,' I replied unhelpfully.
'Oh certainly not.' She looked taken aback. 'We never go anywhere near there. You might not come back.'
She thanked me and walked off pensively, not knowing whether I was serious or not, though she was relieved as a shiny new bus with the name of the women's club clearly visible in the back window swept past. She began to break into a jog.
Confusion reigned as the second bus with our company logo arrived in the coach park. The market day service was filled with regulars who always made this trip. Part of the unwritten law was that the bus door was left open and they could venture on and off when they felt like it. It was like a taxi service. Supermarket trolleys would come and go, bags would be carried on and left on the seats. Woe betide any other passenger who sat in anyone's seat. That just wasn't done.
The addition of a second similar looking bus made life difficult. Half of the passengers sat on the wrong bus. They had sorted themselves out by the scheduled departure time. All that was left on my bus were some sweetie papers, some earth and some green leaves scattered across the floor.
Someone had dropped a geranium.