This post is a collaboration with Stagecoach, but all thoughts and experiences are my own
Belle and I very much enjoy a day out, but there are two factors lately that are making day trips feel like a lot less fun than they should be.
One is the driving. I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve been really busy this year, or that I’m getting old or something, but the thought of getting in the car again and driving for God knows how long just to have to drive all the way back again isn’t getting me excited. Secondly of course there’s the cost of fuel. When we got our car three years ago it cost about £60 to fill up. Last week it cost me £93. I’ve never been someone who doesn’t go somewhere because of the petrol cost but it’s hard to ignore at the moment isn’t it?
So, I don’t want to drive and petrol is too expensive, so what to do??
COME IN STAGECOACH!
To be honest I never think about buses. I think because I’m prone to travel sickness I’m a little wary, but since I discovered Dramamine while touring, my travel has been pretty revolutionised. I have checked emails in the BACK OF A CAR! Who’d have ever thought it! I’ve got the coach from Taunton to Bristol airport before, but I’ve never thought of going on a bit further and into the centre of Bristol.
I decided to take on the Stagecoach bus trip challenge and plan a day out by coach.
I started off on the Stagecoach journey planner, investigating the route to Bristol. The coach that goes to Bristol from Taunton is the Falcon, travelling between Plymouth and Bristol, all day every day. It has plug sockets and Wifi, comfy seats and seatbelts – very different to what you might think of when you think bus.
I worked out that to get to Bristol by car at the moment, including petrol and parking in the town centre, would cost me about £40, which seems an awful lot to just get somewhere. I was intrigued to see if the Falcon could do better for two people, especially given how expensive trains are at the moment. (You can get an off peak day return from Taunton to Bristol Temple Meads at the moment for £15.60 per person, but then you have a little walk into the town centre too.)
Looking at the prices for the Falcon, having inputted our search details, I was initially confused. I’d put in two people, but the prices were surely for one? Nope, the coach is just that cheap. If you pick your timings carefully you can get a single journey for £8.80 for TWO people, so less than £20 for two people for a return trip. Not only that, but the Falcon can drop you right by the harbourside, or in the centre of Bristol by Cabot Circus.
Off we went.
Before we even arrived in Bristol I got to enjoy one of the main perks of not driving – the coach picnic. We travelled late morning and I deliberately didn’t eat breakfast, knowing that I would not be able to help but eat my coach picnic as soon as I was sat down and buckled in. I don’t know what it is, but there is just something terribly thrilling about eating snacks while you’re going along, looking at the view.
We used to live in Bristol, and I really love it as a city. There is loads to do there, and plenty to fill a day completely for free if you want to save as much money as possible. The museum and art gallery at the top of Park Street is fantastic, and you can easily spend a couple of hours wondering around the harbourside and exploring the M-Shed and Arnolfini. We’ve also done a couple of Treasure Trails in Bristol when Belle was younger and would definitely recommend them as a way to see the city without children complaining about walking. They’re only about £10 for the whole family and are a lot of fun.
I’m going to come clean though, we didn’t go to the museum, or an art gallery, or learn anything about the city. We had much more important things to think about, namely that Belle had her ears pierced six weeks ago and was ready to change her studs for something fancier. Because we’d saved money by getting the coach, Belle argued that basically the earrings would be FREE and that I should be very happy looking for them with her.
One of the things about days out is that they don’t actually always have to be a grand adventure. Sometimes they can just be hanging out with friends or family, doing everyday things. We had a great time pottering about the shops around Cabot Circus, trying on clothes, and just having a lovely time out of the house and away from home.
We don’t often go into Taunton just to look around the shops, as quite a few of our favourite places have closed down in the last couple of years, so it was lots of fun browsing around the places we don’t get to go in often.
This looks like something I’d buy doesn’t it?
Belle found her earrings – gold hexagonal hoops that look a bit like bolts and are very cool – and we spent the rest of the money we saved for the return journey coach picnic, including Krispy Kreme donuts. (Belle went for strawberries and kreme. I went for a classic glazed raspberry. You can’t beat the classics right?)
And yes, I appreciate that a lot of our day out was about eating, but I enjoy eating, so there.
For me, this donut summed up day pretty well. As much as I love doing new, exciting (and often expensive) things, like zip wiring off piers or performing on stage, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had in the smaller, cheaper things. Sometimes the best day out is just mooching about the shops, enjoying someone’s company, and getting a jam donut.
Back on the Falcon for the trip home I enjoyed a cosy snooze, which you don’t get to do if you’re driving. The return journey also highlighted another benefit of coach travel for me, something I’d not considered before – that you get to have cuddles. That’s my kind of day out.
Plan your next day out with Stagecoach now.