It seems to have been a very long time since our last tour, when we visited Queen Boudica as she prepared to go into battle, but it is really only a single click on the control for my newly installed chrono-coils. The tip that Eloise gave the Iceni Queen that day, certainly cut the invading Romans down to size the next day!
Today is my sixtieth birthday, so I am pleased to see so many of my old friends coming along to join me on our seventh time-traveling coach tour. And it’s great that some of you took the trouble to bring along a few of your own friends to share the experience.
Welcome aboard, one and all, friends old and new. We are going to have a palatially magnificent time together today.
I was tempted to drop in to re-visit Ludvig van Beethoven as he shares my birthday and I am sure that he would have enjoyed another of Teagan‘s lovely cakes. The combination of cherries, mascarpone and marsala certainly settled his mood after we’d delighted in hearing his third symphony last time we saw him in Vienna.
Then there was a thought that we might visit another birthday boy: Arthur C Clarke. But he had a lot on his mind when I saw him at the weekend. MGM were pushing him for final copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which they believed could be the greatest movie of the ‘sixties. Of course, we now know that they were right, but I couldn’t tell him that, could I?
In the end, I couldn’t ignore the vote.
“Today, ladies and gentlemen, by popular demand, we are on our way to Shangdu, which some of you will know as Xanadu.” As I announce that, the ever present Howard strums a chord on his guitar and bursts into an impression of Olivia Newton-John. I wish he’d change the tune, but all the passengers join him.
As the bus rolls out of Victoria Coach Station, I make an additional announcement which has the effect of raising the excitement even further. “If I have set the dials correctly…”
“And you usually do!” shouts Lucie.
“….. we will be arriving in Kublai Khan’s famous Summer Palace during the visit of the Venetian traveller, Marco Polo!”
Victo Dolore jumps out of her seat, screaming in delight. “This is a dream come true! Are you serious, Lance?”
“I most certainly am. Now fasten your seat-belts, we’ll be there and then in just a few minutes.”
Our bus accelerates smoothly and the landscape around us becomes a blur.
Some of the newcomers are wondering if we are really going to Shandu.
“WHERE we go is not the most amazing thing about these trips,” explains coach tour veteran, Ritu, to some of the newcomers. “It is to WHEN we go.”
This worries her audience.
“Do you mean that we could end up in any time? Or any place?” asks Jennifer, fearfully.
“Oh. Don’t worry. Lance knows what he’s doing. He built this coach from scratch. He knows every nut and bolt of it. Furthermore, he knows all of the characters that we visit as if they are all his old friends. You’ll see.”
Marissa, Karin and Chuck breathe a sigh of relief as the bus slows to a halt. It seems that we have hardly left twenty-first century London. In fact we have arrived almost eight hundred years before we departed.
The doors open with a swoosh and the passengers disembark into a magnificent hall. The floors are marble. The pillars are marble. The distant walls are marble. The multiple colours are dazzling.
“Wow!”exclaims Kamal, who has always had an eye for true beauty.
As a distinguished-looking man, in garb that is very strange to the recently-arrived travellers, approaches, all of the people in the large hall bow towards him.
“Welcome Lance. Thank you for bringing so many guests to my feast today. I know that you promised me, but I was fearing that you would turn up alone.”
Vashti links arms with me and hugs me as I reply to the regal figure. She is in awe, and she wants to be close to me. This is an amazing experience for all of us.
“Esteemed Kublai Khan. I was honoured to be invited to your very special feast. as I told you, this is an historic occasion which will be recorded for all to marvel at for many centuries to come. The least I could do was to bring a few of my friends to meet you and your guests.”
“It is I who am honoured, friend Lance. Not only do I welcome you, the great time-traveller, but we also have another esteemed guest in our midst. All the way from Venice, may I introduce the greatest trader of our time, Marco Polo?”
He steps aside to reveal his guest.
I look around my tourists. I can see that they are all extremely impressed. Their normal, continual chatter has been silenced as they realise the enormity of the occasion. As Lance has just told the great Khan, this is a truly historic occasion. They can hardly believe that they are a part of it. If video and social media had existed in those times, they knew that they would have been recorded and viral, right at that instant.
Kublai Khan claps his hands. Servants appear with tables and a feast appears, seemingly from nowhere. It is magical. All of the guest, including the passengers on my bus, sit themselves on the large cushions and start to tuck in to the wonderful dishes.
“Is that real gold?” Sylvia asks Lance, pointing at the glittering, spiced rice.
“It certainly is!”
The food and wine flow. The travellers admire their fine surroundings. Huge silk curtains hang from the ceiling. Magnificent statues surround the revellers. Queries reveal their identities. Some are the brothers and uncles of the Khan, but the most revered, by far, is the statue at the head of the hall. It is none other than the grandfather of our host, Genghis Khan himself!
Dancers and acrobats entertain us as we eat and drink.
Kublai Khan and Marco Polo are fascinated as Howard produces his guitar and plays a jolly 1960’s tune and all of my passengers join the chorus. It is certainly a merry event.
Sadly, the feast is over too soon and I usher my guests back onto the bus.
We all enjoyed the food. We all enjoyed the drink. We all enjoyed the entertainment. Most of all, we all enjoyed meeting two of the thirteenth century’s most famous characters.
“Now THAT is the way to throw a party!” exclaims Jeannette, with massive conviction.
As we whizz back, or should I say forward, to modern London, the excitement continues. On thing that we all have in common is that we are all bloggers. Everybody is thinking the same thought: “I can’t wait to share this with my blogging followers!”
Supplementary to that thought, they are processing to the front of the coach to suggest future destinations for Lance’s Coach Tour Number Eight and beyond. Where and when would YOU like to go?
There were many other bloggers who were on this trip who were not mentioned in my report. The following people shared the fun of our wonderful trip to the Shandu Summer Palace to meet Kublai Khan and Marco Polo:
Donna, David, Alka, Francis, Ane, Lia, Itchy Quill, Dominique, Beth, Krissy, Lucy, Nydia, Carrie, Alka, Deborah, Almost Welsh Sarah, Janet, Erika, Wendy Kate, Sally, Tooty Nolan, The Owl Lady, The Crazy Bag Lady, Carol, CC, Bec, Sassycare, Jo, Jane, Diana, Heartafire, Simple Head Girl, Barbara, Nydia, Carrie, Bec, Jason, Sassy, Amber, Steve, Allison, Vonita, Julz, Faraday’s Candle Sisters, Fiona, Ordinary Wife, Lili, Bridgette, Nunziapier, Izma, Meredith, Charise,
Boikanyo, Razorback, Marianne, Cindy.
Previous Six Coach Tours:
- Stonehenge during its construction: meeting the foreman
- 1920’s New Orleans
- Macedonia in 338 BC to meet Aristotle and the young Prince Alexander (the Great)
- Syracuse in the mid-third century BC to meet Archimedes
- Vienna in 1801 to meet Ludwig van Beethoven
- First Century AD Britain to visit Queen Boudica on the eve of a great battle