Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Travelogue UK Tour (Prequel)

I'm going back in time a little, trying to re-create some of the glorious earlier blogs that were lost. If this confuses you, just think of it as a Faulkner-type-blog, where time isn't linear.

First class.
I used to be part of the "Poor People's Parade," but let me tell you how very little time it takes to become accustomed to the royal life. By the time Zone 2 boarded, we were already wearing our little comfy red socks on our kicked-back feet, sipping on champagne, and perusing our menus. As the proletariats squeezed by, we were debating what to have for our First Course: the Greek Salad with Cream of Asparagus soup? maybe Fresh Caesar with Crab Salad and Basil Tomato soup? Yes, please, another mimosa! Oh, excuse me, ma'am, those bathrooms aren't for economy class!

Peter drank Spanish red wine with his Steak and Shrimp. I had French wine with my Buttenut Squash Ravioli. Letting our attendant talk us into the Hot Fudge Pirouette Sundaes was possibly our best move on the plane. Having that nightcap was a close second, as we immediately recline our seats into beds, curled up with our pillows and comforters, and slept several solid hours, before a delicious hot breakfast was served.
Our first day in Manchester was less-than-average. Thankfully, Peter's superpower is his sense of navigation. He managed to find the venue under the high-stress-level of driving in a city on the left side of the road. Still, we both breathed a huge sigh of relief when we plugged in trusty "Jane," the British voice we use on TomTom, the GPS Navigational System. We listen to Jane at home. We put our trust in Jane. We rely on Jane, to an unhealthy point. Jane is indespensable. Especially here, on their mysterious roads, with their strange roundabouts (Look, kids! Parliament! Big Ben!)

Kirsty McGee and Mat Martin are phenomenal people and phenomenal musicians. Please make them your friends and listen to their beautiful music. It was serendipitous that we met them, and they have made our second and third days in Manchester well-above-average.

Peter, Kirsty, and I walked all over Manchester through the rain, popping into cafes for teas occasionally to avoid a downpour. A lovely way to see a city is to go from music store to music store. It took us through several different neighborhoods, where we met oodles of passionate people.

Our first show was at a pirate-themed-pub in a village north of Manchester. The show at Hark 2 Towler was fun fun fun. We were up late late late, and we crashed in the rooms above the pub. The pubs close early here, around 11:30, but we locked the doors and played acoustically to the few people who remain, How brilliant are the English to have pubs offer rooms as well?

Peter took a long nap the next day.

And I can't sit still, as always, so I took the car out.

Wayne, our Aussie friend who showed up at our Tottington gig (how cool is that?), was also up for an adventure, so we decided to go to Wales. I mean, how often do you get to leave a not for someone after lunch that says: "Dear Peter, We have gone to Wales. See you at dinner. -heart- Brigid."

One of my best friends from childhood was born in Wales and I've always adored her parents' accents. I bought my trusty Volvo from her dad, and I've never taken off the Welsh vanity plate. So when the opportunity arose to go to Wales for an afternoon, I was rarin' to go.

England hadn't been the quaint beautiful countryside we were expecting, at least not in the area near Manchester. Honestly, it looks surprisingly like Kentucky as you're driving on the highway, except for the whole left-hand-side-of-the-road thing. But something magical happens as you see the sign: Welcome to Wales!

First of all, there is always a Welsh translation underneath, which reads something like this: "Llwyffglllenrrthhw i cchhhhhhhhw;lllf4h2" and is pronounced "CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCChhhhha!" I love languages, but Welsh baffles me.

The countryside changes dramatically as you drive from England to Wales. Suddenly, steep hills emerge and sheep freckle the landscape. A sunbeam shoots through the looming clouds bouncing rays of light off the stone cottages and ruined castles. It was really a magical place to ahve my first left-hand-driving experience.

We pulled into Llangollen (seriously pronounced "Clangoclan"), and I was immediately and unavoidably shouting things like, "Oooh! look! CUTE! Thatched cottage! Tea shop! Old cemetery! Boats on a canal! A 14th-century stone pub!" Just as I was sidetracked by a perfectly picturesque tea shop, it started to rain.

The tea shop could've been made for the Seven Dwarves, and it was the perfect backdrop for my first proper cream tea.

A whole other blog on cream tea sometime soon. This is getting long.

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