21 May 2009 - UK to USA

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After many months of fevered preparation, the day finally dawned when Kettle Bridge Clogs' Silver Jubilee Tour of New England officially started! Perhaps the most amazing achievement was that every single dancer and musician in the side managed to rearrange their personal commitments so that they could make the trip. Some paid a high price though by having to take their "other halves" with them. Such sacrifice must not go unreported!

The majority of the touring party congregated at London Heathrow Terminal 5 for an 11:25 flight. This gave ample opportunity for a communal "Full English" breakfast, rather setting the tone for the rest of the trip.

By a co-ordinated effort in pre-booking our seats on the plane, the whole party ended up in the same section although not all adjacent. The flight left on time and was a very pleasant experience with good food, excellent entertainment and a smooth passage. We even arrived on time at Logan International airport, Boston, Massachusetts. As always, there was an anxious wait for our luggage to appear but miraculously nothing went astray. Well done to British Airways and the infamous Heathrow Terminal 5! Not only that, the notorious US Immigration staff seemed to be on their best behaviour and seemed not to be fazed by a mob of strange English dancers wanting entry to their country.

We congregated in the airport arrivals lounge for the next stage of our journey. Pip had spent many months on trans-Atlantic phone calls arranging for the hire of three large self-drive minibuses for us to transport Kettle Bridge dancers, musicians, hangers on and copious luggage between the different venues. The five volunteer drivers (Pip, Ian, Alan, Geoff and Steve) were therefore dispatched in a taxi to the van hire site. The whole process of getting the buses paid for and with the correct number of seats taken out (to cope with the vast mountain of instruments and other luggage) took far longer than expected but we eventually arrived back at the airport after about two hours. In the meantime, those that had arranged their own hire cars were well on their way.

We loaded up the buses with people and possessions and headed out of Boston. Progress was painfully slow due to an enormous tailback on the westbound I90 motorway that we were using to head for Vermont. The walkie-talkies that Pip had provided for each bus really came into their own and enabled us to pretty well keep together as a convoy.

The delay meant that we all needed a comfort break so we stopped off at the Framlingham Service Plaza for a quick spot of relief and to refuel one of the buses. Next stop was the Ludlow Service Plaza for a very welcome bite to eat. The sandwiches all seemed to be "super size" and this was rather indicative of our US eating experiences to come. This was also the opportunity for a driver change (except for Pip) and we set off again into the setting sun.

We finally arrived at the Golden Eagle hotel near Marlboro to find Sue and Tony L and Brian waiting for us, having driven up independently. The hotel staff were suddenly frantically busy checking in three bus loads of very weary Brits and it was with great relief that we finally crashed out in our basic but adequate rooms.