Tuesday, 18 December 2012

My Phantom Journey of 2012 (Part 6)

On my way to Cardiff
(Along the Severn Estuary, Gloucestershire)
Look what greeted me 
at Cardiff Central Station?

Following a 'go slow' on my train between Leeds and Sheffield and potentially missing my original connection, I ended up spending an hour at Birmingham New Street Station before I could get a connecting train onto Cardiff.  I arrived in Cardiff later than planned so it was a matter of dropping my luggage at the hostel and getting ready for the evening performance of Phantom at the Wales Millennium Centre.  The quickest way was for me to get a train from Cardiff Queen Street Station to Cardiff Bay which only took five minutes.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Inside the Venue
Me and Lindsey before the performance

I arrived in good time to get some food at the venue's cafe and met up with Lindsey and Jamie.  Jamie and I swapped our tickets so Lindsey and I could sit together and be nearer the stage.  Despite the leg room in our row the view was excellent and were pretty close to the stage.   As always Phantom was fantastic as ever.  It was my first time seeing Earl Carpenter's portrayal on the tour and the performance consolidated the fact why he is one of my favourite Phantoms.  The emotions he puts in the character of Phantom impresses me to no end!  It was definitely worth while travelling a long way to Cardiff for the performance!

We struggled to find the stage door afterwards but I managed to find it by 'accident' via a goods entrance way.  I briefly met Earl, Katie Hall and Simon Bailey and they signed my bilingual Phantom Programme.  I did not want to hold them because more or less everyone was dashing out!  Lindsey, Jamie and I parted company after an amazing evening!

My signed programme, Cardiff, December 2012

Bilingual Programme, Cardiff, December 2012

The sun was shining the following day, Saturday, so I decided to explore more of Cardiff Bay instead of the City Centre.  I got on the train again and had begun my explorations.  I saw the Roald Dahl Plass where a Christmas Fayre was happening and some of the traders dressed up in fancy dress.  I also visited the Lightship 2000 and Norwegian Church Arts Centre where I saw the Arnold Lavery Exhibition and paid a visit to the lovely Norsk Cafe.  I visited the Pierhead Building and learnt of its history including past life at the Bay.  Pierhead belongs to the Welsh Assembly and is hired out for community and national events but there is a permanent exhibition.  After the Bay I headed back in the City Centre for some dinner before returning to the hostel.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay
Lightship 2000
Tea & cheesecake at Cafe Norsk
Norwegian Church Arts Centre, Cardiff Bay
Inside the Norwegian Church Arts Centre

Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff Bay

The next day following an unsettled night's sleep I happily checked out the hostel and had brunch in the City Centre before my long train journey home.  In all it was a great weekend.  May my Phantom adventures and travels continue on in 2013 in both Liverpool and Birmingham and also to see The Brilliant Original in London.  I am so grateful for the Phantom UK Tour to give me an opportunity to travel around the UK and visit exciting cities as well as support this amazing production!

Cardiff City Centre

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My Phantom Journey of 2012 (Part 5)


On my way!
End of September it was very busy at work and I was in the midst of getting my final essay done at university.  Still  it was the time to go and see The Phantom of the Opera in Edinburgh including John Owen Jones's last night as Phantom.  I had an early start for my journey! I got the 7.05 am train from Leeds and got into Edinburgh around 10.30 am.  I checked in the hostel near the Playhouse.  My dorm was not ready so I left my luggage in the lockers, hung around and got some studying done plus it was raining! When the rain stopped I ventured out and did some shopping.  I decided then to book a ticket for Phantom that evening.  I had to sacrifice a road trip out to the Scottish Highlands but I knew I will not regret it.  Eventually, I was able to go to my dorm and when I was close approaching it I could hear very familiar music! To my delight I was going to share the dorm with Keiko, a Phantom Phan and John Owen Jones Fan! I was very happy.  She was also going to both Friday and Saturday night performances which was great! After the horrific dorm experience I had in London when I was down there for some Olympics action. I was very happy as well as relieved!

Edinburgh Playhouse
I cooked a meal and afterwards I got ready for the evening's performance.  The Playhouse was only five minutes walk from the hostel.  Nice and convenient! I sat high up in the balcony.  Had a good view and it was not as vertical as I thought it would be so there were no signs of vertigo.  I thoroughly enjoyed the performance although I felt a bit emotional as I will only see John Owen Jones one more time as Phantom the following evening.  Bearing this in mind I felt emotional at Stage Door.  It was great to meet up with Sabine, Kathy, Vivienne, Pearl, Winifred and also Keiko!  It was also nice catching up with some of the cast, having our photos taken and getting our memorabilia signed.  I went to bed on a high that evening!

Me with Sabine & Kathy
Me with Anthony Gabrielle, Musical Director

Me with John Owen Jones
Keiko & John Owen Jones

Me with Iris, Sabine and Kathy

I spent Saturday morning studying and enjoying coffee! I agreed to meet up with Sabine, Kathy and company for lunch.  We had lunch at the Omni Centre and it was fun chatting even if I speak more or less no German.  Still great to spend time with like minded Phantom Phans!  Sabine and Kathy were going to the matinee and I was going to explore the City!  I went into the City Centre to visit the City Art Gallery and Scottish National Gallery and for a general wander.  I returned to the hostel for a rest before having dinner and getting ready for the evening show.

Lunch with Sabine, Kathy, Iris and Olaf
Edinburgh Sights
From left: Omni Centre, City Art Gallery, Scotman Steps. Scottish National Gallery, St Andrew's Square

I sat in the balcony again but lower down where I had a better view of the stage.  The leg room was something to be desired though but fortunately I was in an aisle seat so I could stretch out.  John Owen Jones was on fire that evening and I was so close to tears during The Music of the Night and actually crying during The Final Lair!  I felt so emotional afterwards.  John had a great sending off and standing ovation at curtain call.  He even took his mask off!

There was a crowd of us at stage door.  We waited patiently and amicably despite the rain.  It was a nice atmosphere compared to packed stage doors in the past!  I saw those again who I saw last night and also some of their friends which was nice.  Eventually, John Owen Jones came out and took a photo of all of us (I was in the photo lol!),  We then waited out turn to give our thanks, got our memorabilia signed and posed for photos.  There were some interesting gifts which were acknowledged by him from his tweets.

Me with Lawrence Connor, Director
Waiting for John Owen Jones!
Stage Door Crowd!
Me and John Owen Jones (Last night)
Vivienne, Pearl & friend with John Owen Jones
Group photo of us with John Owen Jones
Phantom in Edinburgh (Billboard in Leith)

The following day was some kind of anti climax from the night before.  However I did have a walk to Leith to see the docks area and the Ocean Terminal.  I saw the Yacht Britannia but I did not want to pay their extortionate admission fee to look around.  So I just took photos from the Ocean Terminal's viewpoints and also you can look out to the Firth of Forth and the distant Forth Bridge.  Leith, for a long time, was a run down area since the decline of the docks activity in the 1970s.  Extensive regeneration has taken place in the area and it is such a pleasant area to wander round and taking in the history through its building.  There is a good choice of restaurants for one to chose from.  There is still a tired feel to the high street and residential area though  It was an interesting way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Leith Sights
 Photos from the Historic Dockside, Ocean Terminal and Town Centre

On Monday I caught the train down to Berwick Upon Tweed, a town on the Scottish/English Border where I planned to spend a couple of days before returning home.  After a 40 minutes journey I arrived and walked to the hostel near the River Tweed.  I could not check in the dorm so I had to leave my luggage went out exploring.  I visited the Town Centre and its walls where there are great photo opportunities.  I also paid a visit to the Tourist Information Centre and asked the staff what they recommend I should do during my visit.  I eventually checked in my dorm and went out again to do some grocery shopping for my meals.  After cooking dinner and relaxing I settled down for the evening!

Berwick Upon Tweed Town Hall

Old Bridge, Berwick Upon Tweed
I had one full day in Berwick so I took full advantage of it and did the Lowry Trail.  I had begun the train in the town centre in mixed weather including rain! I then crossed the river towards Tweedmouth, a nearby village, and Spittal Beach and as walking the weather cleared with sunshine. When I reached Spittal beach I was greeted with sunshine, blue skies and blue sea! It was magical!  I had fun spotting the portraits.  I had managed to find them all except for one, the lighthouse, as the area was cordoned off.

Berwick Sights
 Photos from theTown Centre, Tweedmouth and Spittal Beach

The following I went home via First Class on the train.  I had got a cheap deal and I thoroughly enjoyed being pampered with a comfy seat, wifi and free food and drink including wine!