By Sarah Harris
The red cards are poised, the Segways are on standby and our favourite tour guide is back in business.
Brendan Sheerin is pinning on his name tag for Coach Trip: Road to Marbs. The new series is following in the fake-tanned footsteps of Coach Trip: Road to Ibiza, whisking a coach-load of 18-30 lads and lasses to the Mediterranean sunshine for sea, Sangria and, ahem, well you can guess the rest.
I was lucky to ask Brendan a couple of questions this winter whilst he was treading the boards of our very own Grand Theatre.
Since moving to E4, the ages of the contestants have dropped significantly. What’s it like working with the younger generation?
To tell you the truth, I find it easier. The young ones aren’t interested in cathedrals, the population of Brussels, or the paintings in the Sistine chapel, they just aren’t bothered. But we still have a lot of fun. They probably teach me more than I teach them. I’ve been learning all these new-fangled words, blurred and wonga, I even now know how to dab. It’s a massive generation gap for me but they love me. They’re very respectful but they can be a bit naughty, especially where alcohol is concerned. I’m like their dad.
The majority of the year you live out in Spain, what quintessentially British things do you miss whilst you’re not here?
I live in Torremolinos in Malaga, in a Spanish block where everyone else is Spanish, Argentinian or Mexican, I’m the only English person there so I really am distanced from British culture. So on the odd occasion when I do fly back here, I indulge in Yorkshire puddings, fish and chips, steak and kidney pie and jam roly polies to my heart’s content. Hand on heart it’s the food really. Living in Spain, I do have tapas and paella and such, but once I come back it’s like a treat, a big party. I’m never out of Marks and Spencers. I can spend hours just wandering around spotting what’s new since the last time I was here.
Now, being the internationally acclaimed tour-guide that you are, I’m sure you’ve done some pretty intense research on Swansea before coming here. What sights and activities are you most hoping to enjoy whilst here?
I’ve been down to Mumbles and I was in Castle Gardens the other day having my lunch and that was lovely. I’ve seen the castle but I’ve yet to look around it fully yet. I know Swansea was a Viking trading port and was incredibly important for the copper industry. It was called ‘Copperopolis’ from the 1720s onwards if I’m not mistaken. Oh, I’ve done all my research. I’d like to see the Glynn Vivian art gallery and of course the museum. However, I must say Dylan Thomas’ house is a must see for me, he was a beautiful poet, one of Wales’ national treasures. On my day off I’m planning on getting out and about in the car, driving down the Gower and I might even treat myself to a cheeky Joe’s ice cream.
So what will everybody’s favourite tour guide be doing once he eventually hangs up his pin badge and puts down his clipboard? Well, don’t be shocked if you see him gracing our TV screens once more on Strictly Come Dancing. “You never know,” he says coyly. “I used to be an Irish dancer so I might be able to do a jig around the floor”.
Brendan’s Travel Tips
You must be very, very careful with your passport. The amount of young people who lose their passport you would not believe. It’s so important! What I’d recommend is taking several copies and if you’re going backpacking, carry them all in separate places, your bag, coat, shoes even, so then if something does go wrong and you lose your bag then you’ll still have a backup and a way to get home.
Research the country and customs It’s just common sense really but people never think. Especially religious sights like cathedrals, they can be beautiful places and it horrifies me to see people walking around them in shorts that are really, really, eye wateringly short. These places are houses of God, and I know he probably doesn’t mind but I just think it’s nice to be respectful. You’re a visitor to these countries, enjoy yourself but remember you’re representing your country.
You may think you need 16 tops but you don’t. You’ll never wear them. All these countries have laundry facilities. You can get clothes washed for a tuppence, ironed and pressed and sent back to your room. A top tip and one that I share with all my friends is to lie everything you want to pack out on your bed and then half it.
All countries have their budget airlines, not just ourselves. Buses are a lovely way to travel and get about but they aren’t the fastest mode of transport if you have time restraints.
Even if it’s just please or thank you. Just a couple of basics. You don’t have to be fluent but people respect you a bit more if you show you’ve made an effort.