The voting is over and my passengers are boarding for the sixth grand coach tour.
Following her success with the cake for Beethoven on the last tour, Teagan skips up the steps with another delightful cake for whomever we will visit today. She may be in for a shock!
Donna, Hugh, David, Alka, Ritu, Vashti, Francis and Ane dash past me and on up to the back of the bus to form a new singing group in competition to the bunch at the front. I can already see that this is going to be a very lively trip, and it will get even hotter when we arrive at our destination.
The next groups of passengers to board include our time-traveling minstrel, Howard, accompanied by Lia, Itchy Quill, Dominique, Beth, Krissy and Portergirl. It is a huge relief to me that the introduction of a musical instrument has brought order to the singers and they are all singing along to the same tune now. Everybody appreciates the humor of starting this latest coach tour with Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A’changin’.
All of the seats are soon full. There are many familiar faces on board, and a few new ones too: Nydia, Carrie, Donna, Hugh, David, Alka, Ritu and Deborah. They are all very excited, but settle down quickly as I pick up the microphone to make the introductions.
“Ladies and gentlemen; welcome aboard my sixth coach tour. It is fantastic to see so many new faces today. Before I tell you all where and when your votes are taking us today, I want to make a little appeal.
“I am thinking of building a second time-travelling coach in the near future to cope with the popular demand. The epochal chrono-coils are so expensive though. I’ve got lots of potential sponsors, but they want to see more time-tourists. If you have any friends or relations who might like to come along on one of our trips, please tell them about Lance’s Coach Tours. And don’t be shy about re-blogging, tweeting and sharing my reports amongst all your online friends. The more passengers I get, the more trips we can embark on, and the more buses we can have in the fleet.”
“Just tell us where we’re going Lance!” shouts Almost Welsh Sarah impatiently.
The rest of the passengers have more sympathy for my appeal, but I can see that everyone is eager to get going.
The door closes as I announce, “Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to announce that I have arranged with the Queen …”
“Oooooooh!” echoes around the coach from the assembled tourists.
“… of the Iceni, Boudica, or Boadicea as some of you may know her, as she prepares for battle.”
More “Ooooooh”s and “Aaaaaah”s fill the coach.
As the bus drives out of Victoria Coach Station, I confirm, “Yes, ladies and gentlemen. We will soon be joining the hoards of Iceni, Trinovantes and other Ancient British tribes as they prepare to annihilate the Roman Legion of the Ninth near to the city of Camulodunum, known today as Colchester.”
I can see the various reactions of my passengers. The faces of Ritu, Janet and Erika light up as the anticipate meeting the famous warrior Queen. Sabiscuit, Yvonne, Gail and Brandy look more fearful at the thought of visiting a live battlefield. The prevailing atmosphere is one of great excitement.
“We won’t be travelling far in terms of distance, but we are going back almost two thousand years in time. That’s not the furthest we’ve been. Some of you were with us on out first trip when we visited Stonehenge during its construction.”
“And don’t worry about the risk of death or injury. We’ll be meeting Queen Boudica at the core of her forces which number around one hundred thousand. The Romans won’t get near us.”
The Crazy Bag Lady chuckles and nudges Teagan in the ribs. “I think you’re going to need a bit more cake than that, unless you can perform a miracle!”
“This cake is exclusively for Boudica herself,” sniffs Teagan.
As we leave London, the countryside becomes a blur. Before we’ve sung three more songs, the coach slows and we stop on the top of a hill. We are surrounded by ferocious lookin tribesmen and women and horses. It seems as if we are invisible until we leave the coach and join them. Although we are clothed in modern garb, and speaking a different language, the ancient people treat us as though we are their own. We can understand them perfectly, and they can understand us. Such are the vagaries of time travel.
“Lance!” exclaims Queen Boudica. “I am so pleased to see you. And you brought all your friends, just as you promised.” Turning to the tourists, Boudica welcomes them loudly. “Please stroll around the camp and speak to whomever you wish. Today is a day of rest. Tomorrow we will do battle with the invaders. They will all die!”
Carol, CC, Bec, Sassycare, Jo and Jane are already wandering around flirting with the soldiers who are checking all their equipment for the battle ahead. There is much laughter coming from another quarter, where Jane, Diana, Heartafire, Olga and Simple Head Girl are sitting close to a fire, telling jokes.
“Ask Lance,” says Carrie quite jovially. He’ll probably give you all a lift down there on his bus. The officer just stares back at her back at her with a confused frown on his face, totally baffled.
A small crowd has gathered around Queen Boudica and Eloise as they indulge in a very technical-sounding conversation about the design of the Queen’s chariot. Barbara, Nydia, Carrie and Donna are all wondering how Eloise could know so much about chariots. “I made one for the school play,” she explains.
“That’s hardly in the same league, Eloise,” says Carrie.
A few seconds later, the queen squeals with delight.
“I would never have thought of that. Thank you so much. Fixing blades to the wheels will chop the Romans to pieces as we charge through them.” She turns away to give instructions to her chariot riders.
“I don’t think that you used that trick in your school play,” exclaims Nydia.
“No. You are right. Health and safety would hardly allow it, and I think I could have been in serious trouble with the parents had their children gone home legless.” A huge grin split her face as she realized the double meaning of what she’d just said.
A few hours later, the passengers are disappointed when I tell them that we must leave for the journey home. It has been a great experience for all. Only a few would carry that knowledge to their graves that one of their number had accelerated the demise of the Roman occupation by giving the Queen of the Iceni a bloodthirsty idea to chop down legionnaires in the field.
The trip back to London is full of song and speculation as to where and when we will go on trip number seven. Of course, I am open to suggestions through your comments, and I shall launch a new poll in the next few weeks. In the meantime, please re-blog, tweet and share my coach trips as widely as possible. The more people who join us, the more trips I will be able to run.
There were many other bloggers who were on this trip who were not mentioned in my report. The following people shared the fun of a grand day out on the battlefield of first century Britain:
Please share this experience with as many people as possible. I promise much more fun in the future or, more accurately, in the past.