The day I lost a tooth guiding a tour at The Vue Grand


It started as any tour did – the previous evening up late preparing, reading over my endless notes and interesting snippets, hoping desperately that I remember the pertinent ones.

There was an international cruise ship entering the Port of Geelong as I entered the City of Geelong the following morning.

Today I am the tour guide sub-contracted to Abercrombie & Kent for a four hour visit to Queenscliff and The Bellarine Peninsula, something I am privileged to have been part of since 2005.

  What a sight! One that always gets the butterflies fluttering, the nerves kick in, to see that shiny, majestic, magical vessel out in the bay waiting.. for me! Well, not really, but it feels like it! If I arrive very early just on dawn, as is usually the case, all the lights are on, strung up like a Christmas tree, there is mist over the bay as the ship awaits, looking like it is a carnival about to begin. I always wonder what the passengers are doing right about now – certainly partaking of an endless array of breakfast goodies from what I’ve heard.

2014-02-25 12.14.25They are brought to shore by a tender as there is no pier access. I have about half an hour to find my coach driver and hopefully there will be a rapid bonding. I can tell from experience, very quickly, if this will work between the two of us. This is the most crucial part of the day and it sets up the entire tour experience for us all.

Used to the Melbourne tours from Station Pier, Geelong is still a relatively new experience for me. As well as the massive amount of information rattling around in my brain, one important fact stands out always – don’t forget to SMILE!

These people are well travelled, mostly from The USA. I tell them my main focus is that they have a great time in the next four hours…with me..they have never heard of this region which I now call home..will I remember everything..what is the current population of Geelong..don’t get mixed up with Melbourne!..oh the pressure is on.

I guess I never get into a completely relaxed state, it is well nigh impossible  …or should I sample some of those wine tastings? Part of the exquisite pleasure of this region is to be found at one..or two of the local wineries and a chance for my special guests to sample what they have to offer. More tales to tell on this subject later.

After welcoming the guests and introducing them, very briefly, to Geelong, we head out to The Bellarine to visit two wineries as part of the tour. Later, on a quiet Queenscliff morning we all enter The Vue Grand for morning tea.

There are “ ooohs “ and “ aahs “, cameras appear, very expensive cameras, as we are guided towards a palm tree decorated room straight out of the 1800s, adjoining the dining room and close to the toilets because toilets or “rest rooms” are crucial on all tours as I learned early on when forgetting to point them out!

For one brief moment, I can leave them to themselves as the smell of coffee lures amid the olde worlde ambience of this amazing building. I head for the cake stand.

How decadent this tiny morsel of mud cake is. Soft and sweet and delicious.I take a delicate bite whilst balancing my teacup in the other hand, thoroughly approve.. and swallow the remainder down.

Immediately I detect something is amiss – something of an oral nature, something my tongue tells me is strange, something that used to be there..Now ISN’T! God!

I dash to the “ Rest Room “, cup still in hand, to stand in front of the gilded mirror, horror stricken, looking at the gap where once there was a tooth! Where is it? I just ate the cake didnt I? I swallowed it all! Oh No! I swallowed the tooth!

On shaking legs and while the passengers were getting into all things sweet and of a chocolate nature, I consulted with my driver who assured me “ you can’t tell “!!

“You cant tell?” “ You don’t notice “?! There is no tooth in the front  of my face!!

And they were getting ready to depart where they would be waiting in high spirits and anticipation of more interesting commentary from t20141005_114834heir Tour who now did not want to speak, smile or otherwise engage in any interaction which required me to open my mouth.

With two wineries to visit plus the rest of the tour to conclude, my confidence took a distinct dive. A hurried phonecall got me an emergency dental appointment at the end of the tour. The missing tooth was allegedly and presumably now residing somewhere within my digestive tract, never to be recovered. Definitely.

Now, I noticed that this gentleman passenger came up very close and personal wanting detailed information on Great Ocean Road accommodation options. Was he looking at my mouth with a little bit more interest than was warranted, as I slurred my way through describing the delights of Apollo Bay?

As I bid them farewell back at Geelong, one passenger reminded me of what I had said earlier about them having a great time. “ We did” “. What more could I ask.

They probably didnt notice the huge gap where my tooth used to be. It took 3 long months of waiting for a replacement tooth and many dollars I didn’t have, that’s why people go to Thailand and have a bonus holiday!

Pauline Campbell

I am a former Australian domestic Airline employee of 15 years to Professional Tour Guide. Recently moved from coast to country. I prefer the quiet peace and beauty of where I live currently but there is a little Gypsy in me. Travel has been my thing. Now there is writing, blogging and meditation.

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