Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday 30 June 2012

Catherine's on her second weekend away with KK Catering and blitzed by travelling, chips and chapattis - constantly in demand, fetching, carrying, serving, cleaning; new people, new customers, new places, cash, hot oil, hot water, salt'n'vinegar. Today they've been serving crepes and chapattis at Aston University, tomorrow it's fish and chips at Brighton; goodness knows when they'll get back or if she'll last the pace. I'd be less worried if she hadn't been feeling so ill this morning when I took her to Hazel Grove for a 6.30am start. But she likes the money and it isn't IB brainwork.

Our ladies choir concert at WB Uniting Church went really well for a change - helped along by a good turnout of friendly faces, and some compliments from Macclesfield MVC, and also because for all but one piece we felt confident enough to manage without copies. For me, I discovered that the top As and A flats were no trouble at all once I'd left off worrying about them. Also, when Dorian said at the interval, 'Judy, can I have a word?' I thought he was going to ask me not to attempt top soprano any more, but he said he was planning to compose a choral piece to celebrate the choir's 40th anniversary, and would I write the words?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Saturday 16 June 2012 - back from Ireland

C and I loved Ireland, but the weather made our 4-day trip hard work. She's been sleeping it off most of today. 

Tuesday we spent in Dublin mostly, looking round Trinity College and the city. The College looks very solid and eminent; maybe less desperately elitist than Oxbridge colleges though very hard to get into. Or maybe the postgraduate students showing us round were so friendly and down to earth that they made the whole place seem more welcoming. I can see why C dreams of going there, but she's not at all sure what to expect of last month's exams and knows Trinity may well remain a dream. As cities go, we liked Dublin too - there were crowds of other tourists of course, like us - or rather, not like us: mostly American - but it still seemed more spacious, less hurried and of a more manageable size than places like London or Manchester. We walked on the waterside paths, didn't do the Guinness tour, and took the bus to Wicklow.

Wicklow suited us just fine. It's a little town with a working harbour, a pebble beach, a golf course and some industry; unpretentious and not touristy; rather like Peel without the kippers and trippers. The main street is lined with small shops, making you think small-scale enterprise is coming back after all, back to the 1960s. But we were told it's a facade - the shopkeepers had agreed to keep their window displays going, rather than boarding them up, even though the doors were locked and the shelves empty, so as not to deter people from coming to the place altogether; the Irish economy is as dire as the media says it is. No wonder it felt so quiet and the people had plenty of time for us clumsy English visitors - the qualities we so liked about the place weren't altogether a blessing for it. 

We did some walking in the hills and by the sea, and would have liked to do a lot more, but we weren't equipped for the weather, got soaked to the skin both days, and never really dried out properly, as the hostel we were staying in was warm and cosy but didn't have enough space or radiators to cope - that's what made the trip rather hard work.

On Friday it was still raining, so we decided to go back to Dublin to find indoor things to do before catching our plane back to Manchester that evening. This amounted mainly to McDonald's, the Natural History Museum (old-fashioned; full of fossils and endearing but moth-eaten stuffed animals, and the information texts hadn't changed much since the 1950s either) and window shopping. Fortunately the rain eased off. 

We got back to find a hole in the lounge ceiling. A leak from the shower or bath had worked its way through the plaster board to stain the ceiling. Dave had prodded it with a screwdriver, and down it came. Again. 

And it's still raining. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Monday 4 June 2012: Jubilee concert

Chapel-en-le-Frith Town Band, Male Voice Choir and Ladies Choir staged a concert in Chapel Memorial Park for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Cold, windy and nearly 3 hours long. We sang like mad, but people could only hear snatches, depending on the wind and where the (single) mike was pointing. The band improved over the course of the afternoon. At least they were audible, and looked the part. A surprising number of people stayed to listen, in their overcoats with thermos flasks and union jack flags - being stalwart and stoic and not letting the side down after seeing the thousands who lined the banks of the Thames yesterday in driving rain to watch the Royal Pageant. Catherine stayed all afternoon too, reading the Kindle and waiting for it to be over.  She said it would have been better to skip each choir's own inaudible items and stick to the joint items with the band, such as Rule Britannia and Jerusalem, which were really all the audience wanted to hear and wave their flags to. We liked the hot tea and Victoria sponge in the interval and tried hard to feel British but were just too cold - or perhaps that was part of it.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday 1 June 2012

The week in Majorca turned out to be a wonderful holiday and just what they needed after exams. It was sunny and hot but not too hot; busy enough to be cheerful but not too brash; cheap but not trashy; plenty to do but nothing they felt coerced into doing. The apartment was clean and simple; the transport arrangements worked without a hitch. The four stayed friends throughout, sometimes going round in twos, mostly going round together. They had a couple of beach days, hired a pedalo and swam in clear calm water; a boat trip to an island of lizards; a day at a water park and half a day in Palma. A revelation for Catherine: they went to a club for a foam party, made friends with "some really nice people who were Irish and students but not even drunk", and she surprised herself by enjoying it. It's a treat to see photos of the four girls, even Erika and Catherine, looking happy and relaxed. A week was just enough: less wouldn't have done the trick, but they were ready for home and tired by the travelling.
With unfortunate timing, the washing machine broke down and one of the guinea pigs keeled over dead this morning, but C intends to sleep rather than let either of those things worry her.