We left Chester at a very civilised hour of 9.00, giving James the opportunity to spend some more time in his own house! The journey to Southport started to worry us, however, as the rain set in – this hadn’t been in the forecast we saw! By the time we arrived about an hour and a quarter later, there was a distinct chill in the air, the wind was still strong, and the rain was a steady drizzle. We’d visited Southport pier last year to do a bit of busking, so we didn’t feel the need to explore fully or hang around: we found a shelter towards the sea end, played one piece, and there being no audience around for us, then headed back for the car. When we were just about to leave, however, one of James’s former colleagues turned up with his family, so we got the cellos out again – this time under the pier – and played them a tune before we left!
St Anne’s is only about 7 miles north of Southport, but due to the Ribble estuary, the trip around in the car takes around an hour. When we did get there, however, we were joined by a crew from BBC North West Tonight, who accompanied us for our final four piers. They’ve done a nice piece on us for their evening bulletin today: it starts at about 20:45 here. By this time the rain had relented, but the wind was if anything even greater. We played a few pieces, and did a few bits for the camera, before heading for our fish and chips. When we did so, however, James looked longingly at a MASSIVE éclair in the café window, prompting the café staff to bring it out for us free of charge (which was gratefully appreciated by all!).
Then the short distance up to Blackpool, where we were met by a few friends, including several members of James’s family. Blackpool is the only town in the country to have three piers, with the South and Central piers being largely covered by traditional amusements and rides, but North pier including a lot of clear space and some more old-fashioned features. We did both the South and Central piers relatively quickly, with plenty more filming along the way, including a good sing-along to “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” on South pier after we spotted a West Ham fan passing by… but then made the walk up the shore to pier number 58 of the tour, Blackpool North.
A final spot of filming outside the pier itself, then a few tunes on the lovely Victorian main deck of the pier meant we had completed our challenge. Well, almost: after the film crew had done their bit, we headed to the far end of the pier and the Sun Lounge, where the pier organist, Trevor Raven, graciously allowed us to interrupt his set to play a few more pieces to the audience there. This was a truly lovely way to end the final day, and helped us boost the donations even further.
So, there we are. We’re now all back home, and completely worn out, but very happy that it all went so well! This won’t be quite the final blog post of the tour: tomorrow we’ll post one more, in which we’ll reflect on the tour as a whole, and reveal (amongst other things) the top three fish and chips places we visited, our favourite three piers to visit, and give an update on money raised. Suffice to say for now, we’ve smashed our initial target, so many thanks to all for your generosity – both the charities, CHICKS and Alzheimer’s Society, are truly grateful!
Weather report: Still quite blustery, with a bit of everything thrown in. One final word of support for Jargar Strings here: despite all of this, we seldom had to retune any of our strings, even from one day to the next. Today’s temperatures varied between 15.9 and 22.4 celsius, with humidity between 63.7% and 71.6%.
Quote of the day: “Can we just have that one more time please?” Said several times by the TV crew: one of the joys of being filmed in this way!
Pier of the day: Blackpool North