Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Huge Demand For Four-Hour 'Day Trip From Hell'

The Daily Mail rightly called it the 'day trip from hell' – but it seems coach tourists just can't get enough of it.

Now, such has been the demand for tickets that bus and coach operator Brighton and Hove have had to put more dates on what is possibly the oddest day trip of them all.

Described on the Brighton and Hove website as a day trip “...designed for lovers of modern coach travel”, their M25 coach tours have proved so popular that they had to add two further dates. That's right, a coach tour around the M25.

The company freely admits that London's infamous orbital motorway has been named the least entertaining and most boring road in Britain, and the most hated place in Britain as voted by BBC Radio 4 listeners, who presumably know a truly hateful road when they see one.

But, says the company's website, “Let us try to prove these judgements wrong with a “flight of fancy” around the London Orbital”. Oh, let's not...

It's a big ask. Highlights of the tour will include visits to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five, the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex and the Dartford River Crossing. And then there's the new services being built at Cobham in Surrey complete with a McDonald’s, a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and a Shell garage.

At £15-per-head, I'm amazed that Brighton and Hove are able to shift any tickets. Yet apparently they are having to beat customers off with sticks.

The obvious question, of course, is not 'will you be calling a South Mimms' but rather more simply – why?

I've been thinking about this and perhaps it's the all-pervading sense of mystery and suspense. For example, each trip is set to begin with the toss of a coin to determine exactly which way around the motorway the coach will travel, and hey, it doesn't come much more exciting than that.

In addition, although the trip is only meant to last four hours (only?), given the number of traffic jams and bottlenecks generally encountered en route, who knows how long it will take. See what I mean about suspense? I mean, is there a toilet on board?

And if that's not enough for you, then what about the nail-biting competition in which passengers are invited to 'guestimate' to the nearest mile the total distance the coach will travel around the M25, with a bottle of Champagne for the person guessing the closest. And, in the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn from a hat! Oh, still my beating heart!

There's even an entertaining commentary by the co-driver who will regularly regurgitate 'interesting facts' about the M25's evolution as you travel.

I've just checked today's date and no, it's not April 1, so I suppose all this must be true. Could this be the most ironic bus tour in history? Or was it just a bet which some transport manager got terribly, terribly wrong?

South Mimms, anyone?

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