Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adventures in England, Part 01

At last we are back in Richmond, have Internet access, and can share with you our doings in England.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
We Arrive in Southport

We arrived early at Manchester and caught a very, very slow train to Southport, arriving there around 11:30 in the morning.  That was just about enough time, we calculated, to transact our business at the bank before our contact people would leave for lunch.

First we had to ditch our luggage. We caught a cab from the train station to the Premier Inn, Ocean Plaza. It was well before check-in time, 2:30, but the receptionist was happy to put our bags in the back room meanwhile. Then we took the same cab to the bank.

“Ah, there’s a band ta welcome ya!” said the cabbie as we approached the corner where the band always sits.

I laughed and said, “I believe they welcome people all day, every day.”

“That’s so. Wear us out playin’ the same things all day. Bunch of damned foreigners, ya know.”

We – foreigners – didn’t say anything, but smiled to ourselves.

The bank business went very smoothly, at long last, now that we were there in person, and within 45 minutes, we walked out of there quite the poorer, having transferred the full purchase amount for the flat to our solicitors’ escrow account.

Elated, we walked across the street, past the World War Memorial, to the Tudor-style row houses which hold the offices of our solicitors, where we had a 1:00 appointment. On our way, we passed the rising bollards that had so perplexed us on the last trip.  We read in the Manchester Guardian (local newspaper) that somebody is suing somebody because some bollards that were supposed to retract didn’t, preventing an ambulance getting to the patient, who died as a result.

Our solicitor couldn’t see us until our appointment time at 1:00, but then again everything was quick and easy. Sign here, we’ll exchange contracts this afternoon on your behalf, and complete the entire process tomorrow. Give us a ring in the late morning to confirm that the keys are available for you to pick up. Oh, and by the way, here’s my bill for the remaining legal fees.

MacDonald’s was nearby, so we decided to MacDo it for lunch, and said afterward we liked the Big Mac there better than we like the ones in the States.  We don't know why.

Then, behind Lord Street in the pedestrians-only shopping area, we found a telephone store. We stopped there and got ourselves a pair of cell phones. We also bought a USB modem for the laptop. Now we should be all set up.

Then, back to Lord Street, under the glass arcades to the bank, to take out the cashier’s check for the legal fees, then back to the law office to pay them.

And finally, we straggled, exhausted, back over the modern bridge over the lake to Ocean Plaza.  We checked into our hotel and retrieved our baggage. We took a 3-hour nap before forcing ourselves to get up and walk to the Bella Italia Ristorante on the other side of the parking lot. We had wine with our meal and drank several toasts:

“To our new flat!”

“To England!”

“To Ormskirk!”

“To us, my beloved.”

Back in our room, we watched an hour of the BBC and then fell asleep early, saying grateful prayers.


123 said...

I must have your wrong email, this bounced back to me.

If you were interested in catching a show while in Merseyside, my Uncle Ronnie is in a musical at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, "Twopence to Cross the Mersey". The review from the Liverpool Echo is below.


Oct 7 2009 by Catherine Jones

REVIEW: Twopence to Cross the Mersey at the Empire theatre

IT’S grim up north, particularly if your parents are as feckless as Helen Forrester’s.

Helen’s autobiographical tale of her erstwhile wealthy family falling on hard times and struggling to survive in 1930s Liverpool is perennially popular - despite the rather depressing subject matter.

So popular in fact it’s garnered £2million in box office receipts since it first opened in 2004.

The cast may have changed since then, but the central themes remain.

Still, this 2009 show has had a makeover from producers the Fennah brothers with, apparently, one eye on the viability of a tour outside its natural stamping ground of Merseyside.

While all the songs remain it’s been gently tweaked, shedding a character here and a scene there to make it all together brighter and tighter.

It’s a canny move which knocks the running time down to a smidgeon under two-and-a-half hours.

But what Twopence - despite having (apologies to Pete Wylie) a heart as big as Liverpool - still needs is a really knock out, hum-it-on-the-way-home song.

Butterfly in the Rain, the ballad given a sensitive performance by “older Helen” Pauline Daniels at the start of the second half, is probably the closest the show currently gets, but I’m not sure you’d remember the words without cribbing.

Daniels, reprising the role from two years ago, is an engaging narrator of Helen’s tale of woe and also brings some solid vocals to the mix. Her voice blends nicely with that of “young” Helen (Emma Grace Arends) in several duets throughout the evening.

It may have been a first night glitch but Arends, who won the role in an open audition and makes a good job of creating a believable young teen, just needs to watch her pitching.

In fact, the best voice on stage is that of Emma Vaudrey who plays Helen’s mother. It’s alas for her that Celia Forrester as a character has zero redeeming qualities.

Elsewhere there are some amusingly-drawn cameos, with Ronnie Orr’s irate shopkeeper and an entertaining dole queue double act in Anthony Watson and Ciaran Kellgren.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

We didn't have time for a show, but would LOVE to see this one! I wonder whether it will still be running this summer...??? If so, we'll definitely make a point to catch it.

Thanks for the tip, and various others, as well!