Well, after a rather mammoth journey the main Company travel group finally arrived in Norfolk on Sunday evening at about 2145 local time (0245 Monday, UK time!).

We’d left the Hippodrome at 0700 on Sunday morning and hadn’t even made it to the supermarket on Thorp Street before one of the coaches had broken down. As with the return leg of the trip to the Embassy for visa interviews, it was the coach I was on – I’ve now got a reputation as a coach jinx-er! So, after a hasty bit of re-arrangement, we got as many people as we could onto the working coach and sent that on it’s way to Heathrow whilst the 21 of us left on the broken coach waited for the coach company to send a replacement. That arrived within about 40 minutes and we set-off for the second time about an hour after we’d set-off for the first time! Everything went smoothly at Heathrow and the flight-time seemed to pass relatively quickly (a glass of wine and a couple of films helping things along very nicely!).

Once we arrived in Washington we had US immigration to get through – 45 minutes of queueing later and we’d all got into the country, collected our bags and started to assemble in the arrivals hall. The Virginia Arts Festival had sent two of their team of volunteers up to meet us: Dan and Sallie who did the same trip in 2007 and loved the Company so much that they’d insisted on being allowed to come and meet us again! Then it was back onto more coaches for the 4hr trip down to Norfolk. Everyone was delighted to arrive at the hotel and most people headed out into town in search of something to eat, before heading back to the fantastically comfy beds – by the time we got to bed, I think most of us had been up for 24hrs!

Norfolk is a really lovely town. The hotel is directly opposite the theatre and both are only a very short walk into the centre of town, although everyone here seems to drive everywhere! The people are really friendly, very welcoming and everyone seems very excited that we’re in town!

The Festival staff and volunteers are also incredibly hospitable and are really taking the trouble to make sure that everyone is well looked after and that everything is taken care of. Everyone seems to have found a different cafe, diner or restaurant that’s become a firm favourite and the breakfasts are particularly popular – most are so large as to negate the requirement for any other meal during the day!

The weather has been incredibly hot and humid for the past couple of days but the storms forecast for today failed to materialise. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t come tomorrow as the Festival have organised a trip to the beach for those people who have a free day tomorrow.

Today’s rehearsals have gone very well and the show is looking absolutely fantastic at Chrysler Hall. Phil [Ellis, Conductor] has been rehearsing with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra this morning and everyone is looking forward to hearing them at the General on Thursday.

Anyway, I need to head off and catch the end of the rehearsal – more soon!

Paul.

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