THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2009: (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!) Today I leave for the UK with Tracy Byrd’s band. Tracy and his family left on Tuesday to spend some extra time in London prior to the performances. After we leave London, Tracy will do 2 shows in Zurich, Switzerland and 2 shows in Untermeitingen, Germany. We will not be back in the US until March 15th. This will be my longest trip away from home. Met the guys at the airport and got checked in. Since my bag was overweight, they wanted to charge me $150, but once they will pulled up my reservation and saw that I was a “Platinum” member, they waived that fee. I then checked a bag for Marc, too, because he had a bag that was overweight. I can’t believe the airlines charge THAT much for overweight bags. It’s $90 for a domestic flight if your bag is over 50 lbs. We had an uneventful flight to Atlanta, and an uneventful into London. Thank goodness. This is everyone’s first trip to London, and we are all very much looking forward to it. Landed in London and went through passport control as a group because of the work visa. We ended up being the very last ones to leave the area, but at least we knew we would not have to wait on our luggage, it would be waiting for us. Greg met us just outside baggage and we were on our way. We are staying in Taunton, which is 2 ½ hours outside of London. We drove past the Windsor Castle on the way out of town. Got the hotel about 3:30 pm, got checked in, showered and had dinner. We all went over to the venue, which is about a 45 minute drive. It is a very narrow and winding road, and every few miles there is a sign that state how many “casualties” there have been in the next area ahead. It definitely makes you more away of the road conditions. Someone later told me that it is actually referring to motorcyclists because they weave around the curves so fast. Really cool venue. One the guys said it was like a Chuck E Cheese with alcohol. There are all kinds of activities for children during the day and then the concerts with bars at night. There is a little carnival area, in door water park, Bob the Builder area and beautiful apartments overlooking the sea. Back to the room about 10:30 PM and off to bed.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7: Up, but not too early, had breakfast and we all headed to the venue about 11 AM. As the guys were loading in, Greg took me over to check out the apartments and we ran into Tracy heading over for sound check. Sound check was quick and easy, then we headed over to the apartments to hang until show time. The apartments are fully furnished and overlook the sea. Very beautiful. We cannot stay here because there is no staff on duty full time or a full time restaurant, and the internet was down the entire day. 🙂 We all headed to the venue about 3:30 PM, Tracy had a great show. Afterwards he did a couple of interviews and we all headed back to the apartment to rest and off to dinner. Tommy Cash and his wife are here, the joined us for dinner. He is a very nice man, and his wife is just lovely. Back to the apartment, all of the guys took a nap as I worked on my road report. Headed back over at 10 PM for another show. Another great performance. Both shows were sold out, but I think there was a lot more at this show than the first, or it seemed that way. Tracy did a m/g after the show for those who were waiting outside the backstage area. Tracy headed back to his apartment and we went back to our hotel. Got back about 2 AM.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8 Today we are going to Stonehenge, and then on in to London. We will be staying at a hotel near the airport, but have tomorrow off so we can spend the day in the city sightseeing. Left the hotel about Noon, and was supposed to be about 40 miles to Stonehenge. Two hours later we finally arrive. 🙂 But, it has been raining and the wind is blowing so hard and it is so cold, we get out of the vehicle, walk up to fenced area, snap some photos and leave. There was no way that we all were going to stay very long. It had to be about 30 degrees w/ the wind chill. Too cold for us. LOL We arrived at the hotel about 3:30 PM, got everyone checked in and rested for a bit. I got on line and call Verizon. I got the new Blackberry Storm just for this trip and they did not activate my SIM card. So I have to call them and get it activated. Now I can get my emails and calls wherever I am. 🙂 We all had dinner together and off to bed by 11 PM.
MONDAY, MARCH 9 Up and out the hotel and headed to the city by 9 AM. Blue, who is our diver, is hanging with us. He is so sweet!! 🙂 We would have been so lost w/o him. Got our “daily” train ticket and we were off to the city. Blue has a friend, Joel, who is a London tour guide. Joel met us at the Piccadilly Circus and hung out with us for a while. Took us down to the Changing of the Guards and told us about the many infidelities of the Kings over the years along the way. Joel is a great guide and makes the tour a lot of fun. After seeing Buckingham Palace, we walked by Westminster Abby. It was closed today, we later found out from Joel that the Queen was there, and that was why it was closed. 🙁 It is a very beautiful building with so much history. I love visiting the cities in Europe. Their buildings have so much history and the architecture is so beautiful. From the Abby we went by the Parliament (Big Ben), to the London Eye, which we road. What an amazing view from the city. It is a huge Ferris wheel, but you are enclosed in a big capsule that holds about 25 people and the ride is about 30 minutes. You move so slowly you barely even notice that you are moving. From there we walked down the Thames River side, had lunch in a really cool local pub, walked across the Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is where Lady Di and Prince Charles were married. Hopped on the double decker bus and rode down to the London Tower and the London Bridge. Headed to Trafalgar Square, which is the very center of London. It was just about to get dark and Mike and I took off for one last look of Buckingham Palace for some photos. The Queen was not there this morning, which you can tell by the flag on top of the Palace. She was home this evening. They had changed the flag to her own personal flag. Got some pictures and we all headed back to Piccadilly Circus where we met Joel again. He took us all over to this little pub for drinks. We were also met by his wife, Mari, who is from KY. She came over here over 10 years ago on vacation. Joel was her “tour guide” and they fell in love. They have been married for 10 years. 🙂 They are great people. Left the city about 7:30 PM and headed back to the hotel. Back about 9 PM, had dinner and off to bed. This was one of the most amazing days ever. I wish that I had about 3 more days here. We walked at least 6-7 miles, all over the city. It was so much fun. We travel to Zurich tomorrow.