First of all, some statistics. 2925 miles travelled across 41 counties, including six ferry journeys. 83 hours and 7 minutes travelling time (in 15 days – 14 pier days plus one travelling up to Scotland at the start). 58 piers visited (53 played on the pier structure itself, four played under, and one – Colwyn Bay Victoria – played outside the front as there is no way on or under). At least 20 different pieces played (including one, “I do like to be beside the seaside”, well over 60 times).
But the most important statistic: to date, £7,758.95 raised for Alzheimer’s Society and CHICKS, with donations still coming in. This is thanks to some fantastically generous donations from supporters both online and who have seen us in person, friends and strangers alike. It makes it all truly worthwhile, and knowing that extra support to people with dementia, and that several more children like the little lad we met in Paignton will be able to have respite breaks as a result of this, is just wonderful.
We’ll post occasional updates on the blog over the coming months, as we have more things to report (and of course in our occasional newsletter: subscribe here if you want to receive it!), including the current status of the fundraising. But for now, there are a couple of subjective ratings that we need to report…
Pier of the Tour
As we have done with our piers of the day, this is a subjective view about our overall experience of visiting each pier: taking into account the architecture and set-up of the piers, the reception we received from pier staff, locals and visitors, and the general enjoyment we had from them. The three of us each nominated a top five, and when collating the ratings this left us with the following top three…
In joint second position, we have Saltburn-by-the-Sea and Swanage. Saltburn was a delightful surprise to us all: we hadn’t anticipated such a beautiful structure and setting, and a fantastic start to the English part of the tour. Well worth the long drive for! Swanage was also a lovely Victorian structure in a delightful setting, but we had the additional joy there of playing for the Purbeck Pirate Festival, giving us a brilliantly large and receptive audience, and the experience of playing in pirate costumes!
In first place, however, was Clevedon. This is an absolute gem of a pier, with stunning architecture, and recently restored in quite brilliant fashion. Despite the weather being dreadful when we were there, the new visitor centre gave us a sheltered place to play, but still with a marvellous viewpoint. We also had a large and generous audience here, and were made very welcome by the pier staff. Congratulations!
Honourable mentions also go to Southwold and Colwyn Bay, each of which made at least two of our lists.
Fish and Chips
As regular blog readers will know, we had fish and chips every single day of the tour (and now need to go on diets!). We each rated these on ten categories, with a mark out of ten per category, giving each meal an overall score out of 300. The top three were:
3. Pieseas Chip Shop, Harwich (239 points). An excellent traditional chip shop.
2. Gatehouse Grill, Southampton (258 points). Slightly upmarket, on what remains of the pier itself, but great quality food and lovely view.
1. Beach Hut Café, Mumbles Pier (270 points). A wonderful café, beautiful setting, and top quality fish and chips. It’s worth disclaiming that we were given these free of charge by the staff, but we discussed how our ratings may have differed even if we’d paid for them in full, and it would have still been clearly in first place.
There are some thanks we need to give, of course. First, thanks to all the pier owners and staff who allowed us to play on the piers, including some who went out of their way to welcome, support and promote us. Thanks also to the many friends, old and new, who have accommodated us as we went round: your help is critical to making this work, as we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it if we’d had to pay for accommodation each night! Thanks to our corporate sponsors, who have both donated to the causes and provided other forms of help: Allianz Musical Insurance, Jargar Strings, The Jolly Design, Captain Fawcett, Henderson’s Relish, and Thornbridge Brewery. And finally, thanks again to everyone who has donated to Alzheimer’s Society and CHICKS, and/or come to support us along the way. Your support has kept us going!
So, what next? Well, there will certainly be more Extreme Cello antics in the future… we anticipate another major event in 2018, so look out of details for that in due course! We’ll have some more smaller events between now and then too, so we’ll keep you informed of those too. For now, though, we’ll leave you with a few images from the Pier Pressure tour, and a video clips of us playing "Under the Boardwalk" - more videos can be found at our YouTube channel!