Last time there was a general election, in 2015, Janie and I escaped to the North-West after voting, reaching North Wales overnight and reaching Dublin by noon the next day – Ogblogged here.
This time our escape on election day was coincidental – we had planned this trip to Southport weeks before the election was called.
The main purpose was to spend the weekend at the county cricket match between Lancashire and Middlesex, with Charlotte and Chris (Lavender and Escamillo Escapillo). Daisy and I decided to take advantage of my/our honoured guest status and go up to Southport a day earlier, to take in Day One of the cricket that way on the Friday.
On Thursday morning I got a wave of memories from my first ever election day, which I Ogblogged – click here.
I linked that Ogblog through Facebook and kicked off a wave of memories from old friends – here.
Little did I realise that morning, holding my nose and voting in Notting Hill (soon to be renamed The Kensington Keele-like Kremlin On The Hill) what a momentous election it was going to be.
I then went to the gym and did some thorough exercise before loading up Dumbo and heading off to the house in Noddyland (otherwise known as The Egalitarian Enclave Of Ealing).
To the extent that any faffing about on this occasion was anyone’s fault, it was mine, as Janie was sort-of ready by 11:00 but we didn’t get away until just before 12:30. Traffic was awful around Birmingham and then again as soon as we got past Keele, so the journey ended up taking us over 6 hours including pit stop at that Toll Road service station.
We had booked into The Bold Hotel in Southport and were soon put at our ease thanks to the friendly staff there, not least Kathy who helped us to sort out all those little things that need sorting out on check-in.
When investigating Southport, I had liked the look of The Vincent Hotel, although I felt that the smaller Bold might be more to our taste as a residence. Still, I had liked the look of The Vincent for dining and suggested to Daisy that we dine there on the first night. This was a good idea.
We dined in The Vincent Pacific – a newly themed restaurant in that hotel specialising in Asian/Fusion cuisine. The chef seems to specialise in subtle marinades that make meat ultra tender and an unusual (some might say excessive) liking for raspberries. What it lacks in authenticity it more than made up for with quality ingredients, superb presentation, very tasty food and a very warm atmosphere (staff and ambience). One of the better meals we’ve had in the UK outside London. Expensive by North of England standards but, compared with Leftie-London prices, very good value.
Of course we didn’t realise that we were from Leftie-London while we dined, except that, towards the end of the meal, I felt a buzz from my mobile phone and saw that the BBC exit poll was predicting a hung parliament.
By the time we got back to our hotel room, I had received an e-mail from John White saying, “I can’t believe the exit polls!”. As I am a well-known sceptic on pre-election opinion polls but equally a well-known believer in the veracity of modern exit polls, I sent John a one word reply: “believe!”.
9 June 2017
So we woke up to find our once-great nation in political turmoil but never mind, we were off to the cricket, so nothing much matters on such a day.
It is a 40 minute or so walk from The Bold Hotel to the Trafalgar Road Ground – roughly the same length of walk as the walk from my flat to Lord’s. A very pleasant walk it was too.
Keith Hayhurst, who looked after me so well and kindly at Old Trafford last year – Ogblogged here – is also the host at Lancashire out-grounds. He took a shine to Daisy, who got the Lancashire CCC history in more detail in one session than I got in four days at Old Trafford, together with a generous copy of Keith’s book. She also got some fascinating snippets of Keith’s own life story, which were new to me and should really find their way into another book, if only Keith could be persuaded to realise what an unusual and interesting life he has led.
There were quite a lot of visitors from the Middlesex Committee at the ground on the Friday – I imagined that this fixture might not be so well attended but had underestimated the travelling tenacity of our dedicated Board.
The hospitality tent was heaving, not so much with Lancashire/Middlesex dignitaries but with an impressive number of corporate and individual hospitality customers. The Trafalgar Ground is a delightful setting for out-ground cricket; perhaps the envy of the county circuit for its setting and ability to stage a first rate (as well as first class) event.
At lunch we sat next to David Kendix, who was concerned that anything he might say could be used in evidence against him on Ogblog. I promised faithfully not to breach any confidences on Ogblog, which (obviously) makes it very difficult for me to think of anything at all about that conversation that I can divulge.
One interesting and disclose-able fact came up in that conversation; the last time Middlesex had played Lancashire at the Trafalgar Road Ground was in 1981, including the day of the Royal Wedding between Charles and Di – scorecard here. Quite a contrast with the match that was starting to unfold in 2017 – scorecard link with trigger warning for Middlesex supporters of a nervous disposition.
I always enjoy chatting with David, who is a mine of information about cricket but wears his profound knowledge lightly and with great humour in conversation.
So before we knew it (Middlesex collapsing to allow an early tea at the innings break didn’t help) it was tea and we hadn’t really watched all that much cricket.
So after tea, Janie (Daisy) and I did a circuit of the ground, taking in some cricket from various vantage points and working out where might be the best place to sit with the youngsters over the weekend.
We decided that the area near the scoreboard mound was probably ideal for our weekend purposes, although Daisy particularly had big eyes on a little viewing deck that one of the neighbouring houses has built at the edge of their garden. Apparently they have done an informal deal with the club to allow the scoreboard to use their electricity in exchange for some of the best seats in (or I should say “just outside”) the ground.
After a couple of hours of that last (probably to be three hour) session, we started to feel a bit chilly and thought we should stroll back to the hotel, not least because Lavender and Escamillo Escapillo had texted us to announce their arrival. So we went back to the hospitality tent to say our goodbyes, then enjoyed the 40 minute walk back to The Bold.
The weather forecast for the next day was shocking, but we had a cunning plan…
…to be continued.