All work and no play is something I know nothing about. Along with all of that touring and cat petting, I had to throw in some pure entertainment. Before we left for the UK, I booked tickets for Dawn French’s one woman show, Thirty Million Minutes, and for the Coronation Street Tour. I was ridiculously excited about both of these events.
We are big fans of Dawn French from her role as Geraldine Granger in BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley. Her show was to be at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, and we weren’t going to miss it.
Called 30 Million Minutes because that’s how long she’s been alive, French’s show is a memoir of sorts. Poignant at times, it is also kick-ass funny. I love her “out there” sense of humour. She’ll talk about anything, that woman! God, we laughed (maybe I cried just a little).
After the show, we wandered around the West End and through Covent Garden, taking in the Christmas lights and the fun atmosphere (thanks, winter… it was only 4:30 in the afternoon, but it felt like an evening out!)
I’ve been watching Coronation Street (Corrie) for 25 years or more (I blame my sister, Breta, for introducing me to this particular addiction). Once it was clear that Karen was going to be a permanent fixture in my life (funny, Breta is to be blamed… ahem… thanked for that, as well), there was no option, but for Karen to become a fan.
The tour, which was held at the original studios, gave us a peek into some of those homes we have been visiting for so long. We were told where the actors go when they get to the tops of those stairs in Gayle’s house (nowhere… they just stand out of sight and wait for the scene to finish shooting), we were treated to a video featuring iconic scenes from the early early days to the more recent exciting live shows, and we sat in a booth in the Rovers.
While there was no chance of running into anyone famous, stepping out on those very cobbles where so much action had taken place over the years was ridiculously thrilling. After the inside tour, the doors were opened, the theme music played, and we walked The Street. I tell you, this was a chance of a life time (cue the eye rolling, I don’t care, I’m a Corrie fan through and through).
The tours end on December 31, so our timing couldn’t have been better. I have thought of giving up on the residents of Coronation Street, but that won’t be happening anytime soon, now!
Once we left London and had been in Heysham for a bit, I was offered another once in a life time experience. My friend, Cath, who lives just 61 miles away, called to invite me to a Manchester United match. That’s right, a Premier League game with one of the top rated teams (and the team most people on Coronation Street cheer for) in their home stadium. Being the huge sports fan that I am, I obviously jumped at the chance!!
OK, I declined. I’ve often said that Iron Chef is my favourite sports show (heh – it takes place in the kitchen STADIUM). I will watch figure skating or swimming during the Olympics, I own a Riders bunny hug, and I’ve been known to clang a mean cow bell at our niece’s races, but that about sums it up for me. Attend a whole football game? In a crowded stadium? A game I’ve never watched (before this, the only soccer game I had ever watched before involved Danika and her friend, Danielle, holding hands as they ran up and down the field, totally oblivious to where the ball was or what the rest of the players were up to)? Add to all of that, we were expecting miserable cold and rainy weather, so I anticipated sitting in an uncomfortable seat, freezing my butt off, watching a game I didn’t understand for hours on end). No thanks, Cath.
It was so cool!!!
We got to our amazing seats (about 13 rows from the pitch) early on, watched the stadium fill (73, 250 people – OMG – I. do. not. like. crowds.), and the game began. Unlike hockey with the tiny pucks, they use neon balls which I could see! Unlike Canadian and American football, the action keeps going (no nap-worthy huddles or long, boring discussions between the refs); the play managed to keep my attention (this was good, since there was no jumbotron, chearleaders, or half-time show – usually the only things that really catch my attention during football at home).
Half-time came (or whatever it’s called – come on, I wasn’t TOTALLY paying attention) and we went to the concession stands (oh, crap, they’re not called that, either – I am not doing well learning the language in this country) to check out the offerings. The fact that there were steak and chili pies available isn’t the weird part of this story. It was the orderly and polite way everyone left their seats, slowly made their way up the bleachers, and got into nice, orderly queues. There was no pushing or bumping, no spilling of beer, no loud drunken singing or shouting. I don’t have to be scared of crowds here. 73,250 British people? Bring it on!
This was a totally unexpected experience. I hadn’t been looking forward to it for months, had never even hoped to go to a football game in the UK. That’s the joy of traveling and forcing yourself to do things outside of your comfort zone. New experiences that lead to great memories.