The Gerrard Chronicles 2015 - Traveller's Tales - 1

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Cruising to Dublin, the Canary Isles & Madiera for Xmas

December 17th 2014 to January 5th 2015

...on Fred Olsen's ship, the "Boudicca". This is fully reported on this link.

A Working Cruise to the Azores

March 26th 2014 to April 11th 2015

...on Cruise & Maritime Voyages's ship, the "Azores". This is fully reported on this link

Ken was e-mailed at a week's notice by CMV to work on this ship & gave nine lectures. With good colleagues, Ian the Photography lecturer & the lounge duo, Alona & Natascha and a competent show team, he thought this was the best working gig he had had so far, not that the agency had come across this year at all. However, when he got home & e-mailed just that to the Entertainment Manager, not only was he told that there had been a complaint against him but they refused to say what it was, although he sent two guesses, based on things he had said that could have been misunderstood, which were not it. Other old shipmates were later very shocked to hear this, which is most unjust. It has put Ken off cruising altogether, although we already had this next one booked & Avis would like to go to the Black Sea next Autumn.

Cruising to the Western Mediterranean

May 16th to 31st

...on the Fred Olsen ship, "Boudicca". This is fully reported on this link.

Liverpool Tate Trip July 29th seeing Avis' sister Alyson & Lois

Away at 0904 & up the A40/M40 to Oxford. Then, A44 to Evesham but the police closed Fish Hill, so we had to take a tiresome diversion. There was occasional rain & some quite heavy outbursts in Cheshire. Evesham to Worcester to Kidderminster, where there had been a crash & the police closed part of the Ring Road, which clogged the entire town up & took ages to get through but the road to Bridgenorth was a breeze. Just before, we stopped at Quatford at a cult biker café (google it!) The Food Stop Café where we had drinks & extraordinary sandwiches, double deckers on dodgy bread. I had bacon, egg, mushrooms & black pudding but Avis had sausage, not black pudding. This was £8.90 & rather more than I had needed, let alone Avis. On to Telford & via Eccleshall (another road jam for works) to Newcastle under Lyme, where we got on the M6 but that had slow patches for road works. Liverpool had diversions, so I approached the Liner Hotel, where we usually stay, from the ‘wrong’ way. No big deal, though. We were on top floor but the view is still restricted. The room (or cabin, as they call it but much bigger than any real liner cabin we have ever had) is fine, though. Dinner: although the Menu was £15.50, it was very varied. (This is expensive for Oop North-West). We both had mushroom starters and teriyaki salmon with roasted veg Avis had banofee pie for pud & I had a huge slice of chocolate cake with half a jug of cream, necessary to get it down. This was all much better than expected. The restaurant filled up, largely with uglies but one beautiful woman with a plug-ugly husband on the next table.

The usual breakfast buffet but they have moved it. We walked to the Walker Art Gallery & looked at Victorian paintings, Avis feeling they had to be tolerated because they included William Daniels but there was also a show of recent British realist painting, a few of which were not rubbish. We had coffee & tea there, then walked through the pedestrianised area to Albert Dock & the Tate. We had hot chocolates (it was that cold a day). When Alyson & her daughter Lois arrived, we had lunch & then, we went round the Jackson Pollack show, which they got in free on our membership cards. This was quite interesting, as there was more than the black & white work promised & some were in multiple forms: drawings & screen prints, so he must have used Avis’ photo technique to get the drawings onto screens. The other show was fairly poor, though. Lois is still working in a supermarket (so much for Arts degrees) but is hopeful of promotion soon. Alyson is a lot more relaxed, probably now she is retired. Because of having to stagger round with a stick, she is a proper petrolhead & has a new car. We walked along the riverside to the car park & Alyson gave us a lift to the hotel, where we picked up the truck & carried on.

Avis, Alyson & Lois

We headed East. This all took a lot longer than I expected, as there were colossal traffic jams, first on the M62 as we approached Manchester & then, frequently round the M60 ring road. I turned off (eventually) on the M67, which had its own jam at the end. From Glossop South to Buxton, it was a breeze & delightful, as the Sun lit the mountains. The Palace Hotel has just been taken over by another firm, Britannia Hotels & is a bit chaotic, so we were upgraded room wise but, although it is a nice room, we did rather wonder what a lower grade one would be like. Some of the refurbishment has not been well thought through & I did not like the way the bathroom had been done from a practical point of view. The best thing about the dinner was the conversation with the lady University Professor who picked up on Mara’s old job of checking the way drug companies were testing & her Schools Inspector husband. Otherwise, the food was too bland: chicken liver pate, pork & cheesecake for Avis. At least, my shop-bought lemon pie was very lemony. We were checking this place out for a possible Xmas venue & it does not cut the mustard, grand though it is. Really, it is a hangover from another era.

We skipped breakfast but might have got it for nothing, as the dinner was included in the bill, although that is not what we signed up for. We drove off towards Bakewell & turned onto the road to Chesterfield, finding a breakfast spot at Hassop in what had been a railway station but was now, a Garden Centre. Drinks & bacon baps. We went on, in bright, sunny weather, to Bolsover, where we had coffees but the price for getting in the castle, we deemed too high, given the time available to look round it. So, we went on to Ollerton then Newark, where we drove through the attractive town, worth a proper visit some time & down the A1 towards Stamford, where it proved impossible to park, so we had lunch at a greasy spoon further down the A1, the Stibbington Diner, which provided liver & onions with too many peas & chips. Not to be (too) snobbish, the staff & clientele were a pretty grotesque lot & so was their diet. I think we were the only ones on a non-killer option. We carried on home by the A1, A14 & M11 but there were jams on the A14 because of a previous accident, although the only sign were the intermittent jams. However, on the other side, the jams seemed continuous from well South of Cambridge & we wondered if it was the Holiday Season responsible, it being a Friday.

Avis' actual birthday August 13th

So, with Fredericks shut, what to do? I suggested we go to Aldeburgh. The weather forecast was poor & it was dull, with trivial sprinklings of rain both ways, although the Sun came out on the way back, too late. We stopped at the Braintree Mulberry Tree for coffees but the system has changed & I don’t like it. At Aldeburgh, we had a splendid lunch in the Regatta Restaurant, who produced sparklers for Avis’ birthday & a walk on the front but it was windy & everyone was wrapped up against the English Summer, as one does. The sea was a dirty, yellow-ochre colour. We drove up to Leiston & came back via Saxmundham.

Avis on the front at Aldeburgh

The front at Aldeburgh

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 1/12/2015 Copyright: ©Ken Baldry 2015 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.