Monday, 11 February 2013

Weekend Trip - Young Voices

We have just had a rather different weekend. The Granddaughter (TG) is in her school choir and their school has put their choir into the Young Voices concert. The Young Voices organisation founded by David Lewis is designed to get children involved with live music at an early age. Follow the link.

The concert had been planned for January and we were planning to go then, but the weather prevented us even leaving home, which was a good job since the show was cancelled and was then re scheduled for Friday February 8 th. We had also re-scheduled to travel to this later date and meet TG’s parents there and attend the concert. So Friday morning we set off by train to Manchester and arrived around lunch time.

We were quite lucky to arrive so soon because we had a problem getting there. We had arrived at the station with a good twenty minutes to spare before the train we had booked should depart. Since we were to leave the car overnight, we tried to get the car parking ticket machine to issue the required ticket. But we could not find any way of getting two different days parking from it. The parking firm, had a sign that gave the option of paying by phone and so after about tem minutes of getting that to work, we went into the station to collect the tickets which we had pre booked. The ticket machine was the slowest printer in the world and after nearly five minutes produced the seemingly twenty or so tickets you apparently need for a return journey and we arrived on the platform where, most unusually and I may even say miraculously, our train was just leaving exactly on time.
For the rest of the trip, every single train we used was almost five minutes late. Only the one we really needed to be delayed was on time. The tickets we had bought, were only valid for the train we had just missed, so seeing the porter, we asked if it was possible to use them on the next train or should we buy new tickets. He said it was entirely up to the individual train manager and he would ask when the next Manchester train arrived. This was almost an hour from then, so we went and had a coffee in the Pumpkin café. For the Harry potter fans reading this, they do not serve pumpkin juice, nor was it pumpkin shaped, despite the curious name. When the next Manchester train arrived the train manager asked and we were allowed to use his train with our existing tickets, so we set off at last of the big city. This put my estimation of the Cross country service up a lot. However, the train was fairly empty, so there were lots of un-booked spare seats available, I am not so sure we would have been so lucky if the train was full.
So we were in Manchester and booked into a hotel, where we had a rather grand view across the canal to Salford from our eighth story window.
The view from our hotel window - The pink sign reads Welcome you are now in Salford
 TG’s parents who had travelled down alone were already in the hotel, TG had travelled with the school earlier. We met up with her parents and one of her older brothers, who lives near Manchester and later went for an early meal in a rather nice Italian restaurant, very close to the hotel. We then went on to the Manchester Arena to the concert. Being new to all this, we were not quite sure what to expect. When we arrived, the arena was thronged with people and at the far end there werewhat seemed to be thousands of children, all around the ages of eight or nine and the din was terrific before the concert started.
Rows and rows of young performers
The concert consisted of a number of medleys sung by all the children interspersed with professional acts which the child singer Connie Talbot who did a couple of numbers too. Whilst some of it was not part of my kind of music, much of it was very good and it was worth the later trip to the phisio required to get the kinks out after sitting in the tiny folding seats for two hours.

The children were all given torches and they waved tham around creating a constantly changing constellation of lights when the main lights went down
I was impressed that all the children were expected to sing a very large repertoire of songs and did so very well.  Now and again the less tuneful songs they sang, trailed off into a bit of mumbling, but the more memorable tunes were sung nice and clear.
At the end of the concert, we were let out of the Arena block by block, just like at school and after being re-united with TG, we all went back to the hotel.  Most of the other children returned home in the coaches that brought them, but TG's parents wanted to stay in Manchester to do a bit of shopping the next day.  Back at the hotel we sat and talked whilst the excitement of being in such a big event slowly turned into tiredness and after a while she was taken up to their room and to bed.
Manchester at night
The following Saturday was shopping day and the three women, Grandma, Mum and daughter/granddaughter toured the clothes shops whilst the three men, Grandpa, dad and son/grandson stood around bored. Well, I did visit a few shops, like Waterstones and, but we did a lot less shopping than the womenfolk. By about three in the afternoon, more physio was required, because central Manchester’s shopping district seems to have a distinct lack of seats for tired shoppers. There are some outside, but Saturday was not a day to linger outside if you could help it. Inside the Arndale shopping centre there were exactly three seats that I could find. For a place that boasts of being the largest indoor shopping centre in the UK, I found this a serious flaw and a very good reason not to go there again. For anyone not able to walk any great distance, but not yet ready for a wheelchair, it is a serious flaw.
The journey home was uneventful, transport wise, with everything panning out OK, although the train was five minutes late in starting. Sitting opposite us in the same table seat we had booked, a single and seemingly rather lonely man got chatting and kept us talking animatedly for most of the journey. As he remarked, talking passed the time quickly and seemingly very soon we were arriving at our station. We found the car was still there with no penalty tickets, wheel clamps or broken windows and soon we were home again.


  1. If you didn't fancy shopping you should have gone to the John Rylands Library which I guarantee you would love. It's not far from the Arndale and has lots of seating (not to mention good coffee!)

  2. What excitement for TG...and to have you all there, too!

    Traveling is never easy these days. We went off for the weekend to Quebec City for the Winter Carnivale...lots of -- VERY COLD - fun! Have lots of photos to show you when you come. But surprisingly, the travel was relatively easy...made all our flight connections, used plenty of taxis around town with generally speaking pleasant drivers (also English French is deplorable!). The city is historically interesting...may go back during the summer next time, so that we can truly enjoy the sights!