As predicted, the unexpected occurred. We piled on the bus just after breakfast last Sunday morning to leave behind the quiet of Wales for the hustle of the big city.
It soon became evident that our driver lacked several basic skills in the operation of a tour bus. Not only was his GPS not working (a considerable problem since our castle really did seem to be situated at the end of the world), but our poor driver had turned the engine off in order to seek help with the GPS and then could not restart the bus.
While the students clambered off and amused themselves on the lawns, he wandered around trying to contact his dispatcher. Unfortunately he meandered in circles as he talked, which took him not only uphill (where he could maintain cell phone connection if he was lucky), but also downhill where he certainly could not.
We were hours away from the arrival of another bus and many more hours away from London. The situation was difficult: most of the staff had just gone off for a day at the beach; our belongings were packed; everyone was more than ready to leave pastoral bliss; the driver had no idea where we were or what to do.
Teachers to the rescue! As the driver dithered, one of our teachers climbed into his seat while the other opened the engine compartment at the back. While the Math 12 teacher pressed the restart button and the English 10 teacher turned the key in the ignition, voila!, the bus started. A few verbal directions and a little hand waving from the director of the college and we set out, hoping to find our way to the highway.
We made it to London five long hours later after a wrong turn toward Swansea and a pit stop with the bus running. London was a welcome sight and the students were elated to find out that after a weekend of open showers and rudimentary dorms, they each had their own room, their own private bathroom and shower, and their own access to the Internet.
Of course, the little surprises continued. After a few days of fiddling and consulting, the Internet was finally fixed in my room this very evening. Perhaps I should have abandoned protocol a few days earlier and simply called in those two teachers.