The next morning we left for our weekend break in Ironbridge, and upon arrival went straight to Blists Hill, where despite the occasional shower and the icy wind, we had the best time ever learning about life in Victorian times. We visited the bank, the general store, the mine, the sweetshop, the dressmaker, the candle factory, the school; had a ride on the carousel, almost got asphyxiated by the smoke in a squatter's hut, and joined in song with two Victorian gentlemen in the pub. We stayed in a lovely B&B to which I wouldn't mind returning for another visit one day. June was a wonderful hostess who thought nothing of going the extra mile for her guests, nipping round to the shops to get us our soy milk and cream for breakfast.
Lorna had taken the week off work and took the time to show me round interesting places in the Midlands. We went to Warwick Castle for a day and were in luck, as they'd just started the demonstrations again - we saw an archer miss his target 8 times out of 10, yet still a boy was stupid enough to place himself before it upon request, while his family laughed and clapped and spurred the bowman on to shoot at him. Wisely, he declined.
We visited Coombe Abbey where we had a relaxing walk in the extensive grounds and parklands -- followed by a not so relaxing trudge back to Coventry as the bus failed to show. That evening, we went to see Ice Age 2 in the local cinema, a film I can heartily recommend to anyone.
For my last weekend, we went to London, where we met up with Julia at Waterloo. I went off to get some cash while she and Lorna squeed over the fact that there was an Elf buying a train ticket there. However, he was small fry compared to the celebrities we were to spot in a few hours...
We'd gone to London to see Rainbow Kiss for no other reason than that the blurb sounded interesting and we'd all been impressed by Joe McFadden's Aladdin last year. The Jerwood is a small theatre in Sloane Square and we had a long climb (6 or 7 stairs) up to ours, where we sat down in the front row - rather a mixed blessing as I got to see a bit more than I had bargained for when Dawn Steele took her knickers off on stage and I saw straight up her miniskirt. It's a good play, if a little depressing for the lack of a happy ending...Its director was listed as Richard Wilson. Could it be the Richard Wilson? I don't believe it, but it could. He came in at the last moment and sat in the back row. Discounting the cast, this was the 2nd celeb we spotted while in London for the day!
After the play finished, we went down and toyed with the idea of finding the stage exit and waiting for the actors to come out; but Lorna, who had gotten herself a pint in the interval was still left with 1/4 of it and so we hung around the bar for a while. The place filled up quickly with the audience to the play downstairs (clearly, it was time for their interval), and among them was none other than Alan Rickman, as I live and breathe! We watched him in quiet adoration while he tried to get the drinks in and was ignored by the bar staff for a while. When Joe McFadden came in a little later, he had the same trouble, as they were just rushed off their feet. 20 Minutes later, Lorna had finally finished her pint, and we turned to go. Coming down the stairs into the bar while we were going up it was Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger in Only Fools And Horses), our final celeb for the evening. We went back to our hotel all dazed and starstruck.
Back in Coventry, Lorna's housemate Jez tried to convince me that Ray Winstone is a much bigger star in the UK than Alan Rickman. I wouldn't be persuaded, but now I'm curious -- who do you think is the bigger name in show business?