In May we decided to have our house valued. The estate agent asked us if we were thinking of moving and within 2 hours we were looking at a detached house in the next street to ours. The house is bigger with lots of garden and also has outline planning permission to build another detached dwelling on the site.
Anyway, after our offer was accepted we immediately put our house on the market and it was sold within 3 days! The exchange was to have been on July18th but for whatever reason our buyer pulled out at the last minute leaving us with the problem of selling it again. There is no redress here in England if someone pulls out of a house sale; no matter how much money one may have spent in the process. However, we were lucky again and received another offer within a week and moved in on October 31st.
Our legal system here, the solicitors etc. are terribly slow and the whole system could do with a tornado sending through it. They think they have all the time in the world and have no sense of urgency. They hardly deserve their fee of £1000!
An excellent time was had in the USA. The visit to Chicago gave us sore feet after a couple of days due to all the walking we did. We did the usual sightseeing tour but enjoyed walking most. The jet-lag effect of flying the Atlantic left us sleeping two evenings out of the three though so we did not see so much night-life.
The Days Inn hotel, alongside Lake Michigan, was roomy but a little noisy; all the staff however were extremely helpful.
Seen a lot of places; Sears Tower, Navy Pier, Science Museum. Downtown Chicago seems very nice with big shops in Michigan Avenue, the Wrigley Building, Chicago Times building, the Home of the Blues club, but the train ride from the El (elevated railway) to the south-side passed through some very poor neighbourhoods and left us a little nervous when disembarking the train to catch the bus. Despite our fears though, and being surrounded by a total non-white populous, the people were very friendly and helpful. However, the area's shops looked like they were fortified to stop a war and promoted images of lively but dangerous nights. A black taxi driver advised us that he would not visit or pick up fares in the south-side during the evening.
At San Antonio we were welcomed by the Hailles who whisked us off to sample the first of many Mexican style meals and what a welcome! What a great home they have in Boerne, as George says "you go the end of the world and turn left"; such rugged terrain and so much of it, we guess that's how the West was won! Bambi that come right up to the door, possums that visit, stick insects that crawl up your walls, cicada that keep you awake, neighbours with pigs, and skunks that smell. We steered clear of the fire-ants and scorpions though.
During our ten days with George and Mary we met their family and friends, spun ball, shot pool, and relaxed in their swim pool. We must have tried just about every Mexican dish available, the names of which elude us at this time but we'll never forget the tastes; beautiful. George's pancakes and barbecues; Mary's cornbread and avocado; all absolutely ace!
Ginny rode on a neighbour's horse but Barry could not get on board and just managed to survive without broken bones. * Say Hi'yall from us to everyone please Mary * Everyone was so friendly. We were pleased also to receive a telephone call from Don and Melanie Hanak during our stay; just not possible (time and funds) to see them this time round but we hope to visit next time.
We did so much; visited Dallas, a Cowboy museum, Six Flags, Loredo, the Alamo, and the other Missions (the baseball ones). George's Chevy was awesome and we even got a drive through town too (pity the wheels were loose!). San Antonio has the delightful River Walk and a quaint little Mexican quarter where we purchased a glittery, Texas lone star waistcoat for my stagework.
Dallas was quite an experience, we visited Southfork and the old Texas Book Depository (now a museum with lots to read and see). It was the Kennedy connection that was a particularly unique experience and we are thrilled to have visited this memorial.
Once again plenty of walking was done with the resultant sore feet. After taking the obligatory tour to see the main sights we later walked to the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Sears tower (not as high as Chicago of course), the Quincy Market (a lot like London's Covent Garden), and followed the historic Boston trail (a path of red bricks built into the sidewalk which runs by all of the sights of interest). As in Chicago we ate well; the clambake at Dirty Dick's was particularly memorable.
The flight home
The journey home jetted us first to Chicago but due to inclement weather arrived a half hour late. This meant that we missed our connection to Birmingham (and home!) by about 15 minutes. Trying to get help from American Airlines staff was nigh on impossible. We were told that there were no other flights leaving for Birmingham and would have to wait 24 hours (a whole day!) before we could go home.
We were put up for the evening in a hotel near to the airport; too far to taxi into Chicago (that would have cost $30 each way) so we stayed around the hotel. Free meals and accommodation on AA though.
Ginny has yet another job after being fed up with keying in 2500 wage details every week. Once again she is an office administrator, this time with a company that manufactures parts for windows (construction not PC !). She took a drop in salary but is happier with her work now.
AAODS (Atherstone Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society)
Not much happening with AAODS through the summer but the new committee is pushing the society forward with a number of one-night shows booked in clubs around the area. Neil Harper, our Oklahoma choreographer, has agreed to produce "The Little Shop" and things look good for the show. We have also secured the rights to perform "Me & My Girl" in 1999. Last year's successful Autumn Soiree is to be repeated but unfortunately, due to disco and Karaoke bookings, Ginny and I will not be able to participate. All in all it is likely that we will be involved with AAODS in only a small way in the future.
Coleshill Operatic Society (COPS)
"Fiddler on the Roof" was reasonably attended despite earlier misgivings about advance ticket sales.
The show was widely acclaimed and was a success in summary for COPS. I succeeded in smashing plenty of plates in the wedding scene, the viciousness of which improved during the week. There were however a couple of warnings from the producer; after members of the orchestra were stoned with plate fragments from the scene.
My Fair Lady
This show was a non-starter for me. After writing to the society I received a very apologetic letter explaining the reasons for not telling me I had not got the Higgins role. I believe the society is not very competent though and I doubt if we will ever go to see another of their shows.
St Augustine's Musical Theatre Company
Follies rehearsals are on temporary holiday for August, except for principals, and are due to resume early September. The producer has had enormous difficulty casting the lead roles and although I have been approached I am remaining in the role of Roscoe. The elusive top 'A' is now within my range after a few lessons with a Birmingham-based soprano and I can achieve it with ease.
Disco and Karaoke
The Angel Inn at Atherstone (AAODS' chairman's establishment) is now a regular Tuesday gig, being billed as a Karaoke Masterclass. Budding Karaoke singers use the evening to try out new songs and develop microphone technique and singing styles etc.
Centre FM are waiting to hear if their franchise bid has been successful.
Sold a few months ago. All funds going toward our house purchase.