Fortunately, after the dramas of yesterday, today started more serenely. A lot more serenely, in fact, as we had one of the nicest breakfasts we’ve ever experienced, courtesy of our fantastic hosts Rachel and Clare, who had put us up a few miles outside Southwold. With a 9am departure time, it felt almost as though we were on a proper holiday! Of course, this couldn’t last, and so we had to get on with five more piers to play on…
And what a contrasting five piers they were. The first of the day was Southwold, which we’d visited briefly last night, and so we knew what a gem this pier was. We played near the old water clock towards the end of the pier – one of many wonderful features along the way – and with a great view of the town & lighthouse behind us (see picture). A good crowd greeted us, and donated generously towards the causes.
But we had to move on soon enough, and travel down the coast to Felixstowe. This was a complete unknown quantity to us, and there was very little of the pier open after the arcades at the shore end. So we played one piece very quickly, and moved on! Harwich is only a few miles from Felixstowe as the crow flies, but it’s a long drive around the estuary, and so it was nearly an hour before we got to Harwich and our fish and chips (which were great today!).
Harwich was a revelation in many ways. A far nicer town than we had anticipated given its port status, the pier is only a small one, but has a real charm about it. We were also greeted there by some members of the National Piers Society, who had come along especially to hear us! It was one of those places where we’d like to have stopped for a bit longer, but unfortunately two more piers awaited us…
Walton-on-the-Naze was another very interesting pier. After a largish amusement pavilion at the shore end, there is about a third of a mile of simple, old-fashioned boards, full of people fishing. This gave it some real character, and the exposed girders at the far end proved a great place to play the cellos! This was also the hottest place of the day – another great summer’s day, ideal for bringing out the seaside crowds.
Finally we went on to Clacton-on-Sea, which was as busy as you’d expect a seaside town to be in the summer, even at 5pm when we played. Another fairly long pier, this one is mostly filled with amusements, and so we walked along to almost the very end before we could find a spot to play quietly. Unfortunately, this meant that the music stands were more susceptible to the sea breeze, and two of the three toppled over while we were giving a rendition of “Summertime” – a nice bit of irony, perhaps! I think this may have been captured by a photographer in attendance from the National Piers Society, so watch this space for relevant images…
The day finished with James winning a giant “Mr Angry” cushion in an archery contest on the pier. Fortunately this didn’t represent our state of mind after another successful day, in which think we made well over £100 in donations for Alzheimer’s Society and CHICKS (but will count later). Thanks to everyone who’s been out to support us today, or made donations via our JustGiving pages. You can of course donate to the two charities here!
We’re just now on our way to Basildon where we’re staying for the night, before starting tomorrow in Southend (9.30am), then playing at Gravesend (11.30), Herne Bay (13.30), Folkestone (15.00) and Deal (16.15). We’re then giving a short concert at St Margaret-at-Cliffe at 18.00, so expect another long day to report on tomorrow!
Weather report (in which we test out the range of conditions in which Jargar Strings operate well!): Today’s temperatures varied between 22.1 and 28.6 celsius, with humidity between 36.0% and 46.5% (by far our driest day so far).
Quote of the day: “Is that a new type of fishing rod?!” A fisherman on Walton pier reacts to seeing James carrying his cello!
Pier of the day: Southwold