Beavis Holidays 1949 – 2013Buses Magazine July 2009 focused on one of the former B.E.W. Beavis’s unusual vehicles, EAD 500L, a 1973 45 seat Seddon Pennine 5 with Van Hool Vistadome bodywork. This was unique, as the only Pennine 5 supplied to a UK operator. It came with a Perkins V8 engine which, like all Pennines, was at the rear.Back in 1973, the Vistadome seemed very exotic. Note the unusual cutaway front dome above and slightly recessed from the windscreen. Then again, Beavis was to develop something of a reputation for the mysterious, the extrinsic. And it retained so till the firm closed, albeit that others had caught up with the ideas pioneered locally by Beavis. B.E.W. Beavis bought their first coach in 1949. Prior to that, they ran private hire cars. Demand for continental holidays was then in its infancy and Beavis was very much at the forefront. It oft traded as Alpine Tours (though latterly the partnership used Beavis Holidays). Alpine Tours was because of their extended holiday programme across Europe that invariably ended up in Switzerland or Austria. To a teenager in the early 1970s, the late Brian Beavis seemed quite old, even then, whereas his late wife, with a shock of red hair, seemed incredibly young. Brian’s nephew, Chris, who was one year ahead of me at Marling School, played an active role within the business as transport manager. The partnership was officially licensed as Beavis and Baxter.Returning to EAD 500L, this was not the only Beavis vehicle with a round hundred registration. Others included DAF/Plaxtons YDG 500S and LFH 900V, a pair of Bedford/Plaxtons UDF 200/1H, Leyland/Plaxtons TAD 100R and HFH 600N, A Mercedes minibus ODD 400W and Ford/Plaxton NDG 300P. And, after that, everything came with ALP in the registration. Beavis were one of the first to use cherished registrations.Family HolidaysAs a family in the 1970s, we took three continental Alpine Tours holidays (and an additional one to Folkstone!).One was to Fortezza in the Dolomites of northern Italy; a second to Kitzbühel in Austria; and a third to Interlaken, Switzerland. A feature of all was a post-channel ferry stop at Abbeville in Northern France and the long slog across open flat French countryside thereafter. I got to loath both Abbeville and northern France.That to Interlarken was for my parents’ silver wedding anniversary. It was on this tour and one other that there was actually another teenager, somewhat rare, as you might expect.I can remember but two of the vehicles we used. One was an AEC Reliance with Plaxton bodywork seating I think less than 40. B.E.W. Beavis was ahead of the game in offering decent legroom. Another was a Ford R1014, again with Plaxton bodywork, seating 41. I fancy the third was a Leyland Leopard with Plaxton Viewmater bodywork, with an on board lavatory.On the first two occasions, Mavis Beavis was the courier/guide. She seemed to have a good command of foreign languages and also the resorts to which she went. The driver on both occasions was Colin Hook who, apparently, as at 2009, was still driving part-time for Beavis then at over 70. I recall Hook owned a signal yellow Mk II Ford Escort Mexico warm sports car.On the third occasion, Hook was on his own. It was here that while descending the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, he ran out of diesel. This was a serious omission but Hook did say that his gauge was faulty. We coasted downhill to the valley bottom and somewhat miraculously came to a stop on a filling station forecourt. We were in the Ford so he could relatively easily bleed the front engine that intruded into the passenger area next to the driver.On one trip, we stopped overnight at a motel not far from Dijon, France. Beavis advertised no overnight travel. Here we enjoyed a steak so rare and so tender that it fell apart on the fork. Half way through, someone suddenly whispered it was horse meat. Like a ripple, this spread around the room and we all downed our cutlery… Beavis didn’t get the blame but the French hoteliers did… but by morning we all saw the funny side of it.