Tempers can get a bit frayed in the heat. The tour guide should always keep cool but lots of long days and people complaining about this and that do not help. Here is a typical day, hour by hour:
6:00: The alarm goes off and I stumble out of bed. I only need half an hour in the morning but I prefer an hour to have a proper breakfast and get myself ready so I leave the house at:
7:00: Head for the Golden Tours office which is conveniently at Victoria. I aim to arrive by 7:30, although this is too early today as I have one of the last coaches out. Another guide wants to go to Bath so I swop with her to do Windsor, Stonehenge, Oxford (the same job as the day before).
8:00: I start checking people onto the tour after Andy, who is a contract guide, has filled his quota. I use one of the company scanners which makes this process (theoretically) more efficient.
9:00: We are on the way to Windsor now, I have introduced myself and our driver Sherry (one of the few female coach drivers in a male-dominated profession) and gone through safety procedures and found out where people are from – at least eight nationalities today, the usual.
10:00: In the line for Windsor castle, edging forward towards ticketing and security, which takes an age. Time for a short walking tour up to the state apartments and then off for a break and:
11:00: A coffee and bacon roll as I can hear and (just) see the guards march up to the castle. People should have had time for the state rooms, St George’s Chapel and Changing of the Guard.
12:00 But one family is late. We were due to go at 11:45 but they are still not here so I have to leave them. We give a lift to four other people left behind, two from Golden Tours (one of whom is very rude to me) and two from another company, who are very polite. Keep cool, Eddie.
1:00: On the M3 with the microphone off, having explained the difference between England and the UK with the help of my trusty Union Flag tool. Many are sleeping as I book Stonehenge tickets.
2;00 The group have an hour and a half at Stonehenge, which is (just) enough so I have a cup of tea and the remains of my lunch in the coffee shop. It is hot so I find the Panama hat handy.
3:00: We should be on the road but someone else is late, so we are further behind schedule.
4:00: More traffic as we pass Highclere Castle, used as Downton Abbey in the television series and, it has just been announced, an upcoming film. I tell those who are awake about it (http://diaryofatouristguide.blogspot.com/2017/04/easter-and-egypt-at-downton-abbey.html).
5:00: We finally start our walking tour of Oxford, which I keep brief so people have some free time.
6:00: Departure from Oxford on time, although one person complained that they wanted longer.
7:00: Our return delayed as we collect yet more people from a broken down coach on the M40. Sherry remains cheerful and co-operative through it all, more than can be said for some drivers.
8:00: Finally, our last drop off at Victoria but I have to take some items left on the coach into the office. I just catch the girls as they are going home and they unlock the door to store them.
9:00: Home for a couple of cold beers and a pizza. No time for proper cooking or anything much except sitting in the garden to relax at the end of another day. At least the tips were good today…