And so we’re off again – the English and Welsh leg of the challenge began today! A lot of travelling again, to visit three very contrasting piers… more of which later.
Leaving Sheffield to head north for the second time this week, our first stop was Saltburn-by-Sea, in Cleveland – a place that none of us had visited before, and we were all very taken by it. A simple pier in some respects, it had a classic Victorian air to it, and the setting – under the local cliffs – was spectacular. We were surprised to be met there by Anne, an old friend of Clare’s who lives in North Yorkshire – not the last time we’d be met by friends today! Playing for about 20 minutes in the calm morning air, with just a handful of people around, was a great way to begin the day and the main part of the Pier Pressure challenge.
What a contrast the next place was, then. Cleethorpes – a drive of more than two hours away – was full of typical seaside tourist traps, and was packed by lunchtime, as you would hope a seaside town to be on a sunny summer Saturday; this was exacerbated by several thousand Sheffield United fans, there to watch a pre-season friendly with Grimsby Town. As two thirds of the Extreme Cellists are ardent Wednesday fans, this was something we could only mitigate by playing “Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday” to them! Anyway, we were met in Cleethorpes by our Sheffield friends Meem, Max and Monty (and Meem’s sister Lynette), who directed us to a most delightful fish & chip shop for our daily dose, before going to play for 30 minutes on the pier – which had been voted this year’s “Pier of the Year” by the National Piers Society. This performance also included one of the more bizarre moments we’ve had, in which four people dressed as aliens came and danced in front of us for a few minutes while we played “Good Vibrations”! This was also probably our windiest pier so far, and so it's great to report that the Jolly Design stands we're using stood up very well to the task.
Sadly there was no time to hang around, as we had to press on to Skegness – very much pier of two halves. The shore end is under cover, and full of arcades, bright lights and noise. The outer deck, though, resembled a typical Victorian pier, occupied mainly by deck chairs. It was a lovely setting above a large beach, being well-used on a warm sunny day. Clare’s old friends Kate and Shaun, and Kate’s sister Jane, were there to meet us, and supply us with ice creams as we played for about 40 minutes. We’ve now got a fair repertoire going for this tour – in addition to our usual pieces, we’re doing arrangements of “Tom Bowling”, “La Mer”, “Summer Holiday”, “Sea Fever”, the aforementioned “Good Vibrations” (as it’s by the Beach Boys), “Summertime”, “Under the Boardwalk”, and of course “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside”. They all got an outing here!
And so we’re now on our way to Norwich, where we’re staying with another old friend of Clare’s, Jo, before tackling East Anglia. Tomorrow we’re playing at Cromer (10.00); Britannia (12.00) and Wellington (13.00) piers in Great Yarmouth; and South (14.30) and Claremont (15.30) piers in Lowestoft: and then giving an evening concert at St Edmund’s church, Southwold at 19.30. I’m not sure whether we’ll do tomorrow’s blog before or after the concert, so it may appear a bit later than usual!
Weather report (see day 1): Today’s temperatures varied between 21.3 and 23.1 celsius, with humidity between 62.2% and 67.0%.
Quote of the day: “So, at this roundabout you go round to the right, and then come off to the left. Hold on, that’s what you do on all roundabouts…” – Jeremy showing all the intelligence needed to become a professor…
Pier of the day: Saltburn (for its simple charm and calmness)