Tuesday, 31 July 2012

World of coronation St Tour - Day 3

Tuesday 31 July

Corrie’s creator Tony Warren was from Salford and when the show began the designer took to the streets of Manchester’s neighbouring city for inspiration. This morning we crossed into Salford to take a look at those streets calling at the park used as the Red Rec, seeing the famous rooftop views which appeared in the original opening titles, passing the church used for the first on-screen wedding, passing Audrey’s house, the spot Rosie was born in, where Tony Gordon escaped from the ambulance etc. We had free time at Salford Quays where the new outdoor studios are currently being constructed then we made a quick stop at Weatherfield’s community centre before heading to the location of locations – the studios.  As we arrived Izzy was crossing the road ahead of the coach!

We had a full, exclusive tour of the indoor and outdoor locations and bumped into Ken, Lloyd, Owen, Brian, Rita, Gary and Tina who were all charming.

Tonight we had a free evening to reflect on a wonderful day.

World of Coronation St Tour - Day 2

Monday 30 July

And of we go. When working out the itinerary I try and avoid starts which are too early – I mean, people are on holiday! This was a 10am one and this morning is a chance to learn a little about Manchester and see the city. I always start with a drive through the centre pointing out some Corrie locations – Liz McDonald’s pub, where Alf and Audrey married, the pub Liz dawn used to own, the roof John Stape fell from and so on. Then we pass Granada Studios and I talk about its history, show where the very first outdoor street set used to be and where the current one is. We then get off the coach for a 40 minute walk around the historic Castlefield area with its old industrial buildings, criss-cross of railway and tram bridges and its canals. Here you have Manchester’s story – plus where Tony Gordon tried to kill Roy Cropper, where Les contemplated suicide, where Zoe took the Mallet’s baby, where Danny said goodbye to Jamie and so on. Then it’s all aboard the coach for a drive past the Town Hall, China Town, the Cathedral and so on. We then head north to see the Commonwealth Games Stadium, now home to Manchester City, and Ryecroft Hall where a number of Corrie weddings – from Rita and Dennis to Gail and Joe have taken place.

Next stop was the canal basin where Richard Hillman tried to kill the Platts and where later David drove his car into the water to try and stop Sarah and Jason’s wedding. A busy morning huh?

The we had some free time in Ashton under Lyne town centre to take in the shops and market and enjoy a bite of lunch.

We rounded off our tour with a drive through the lovely Saddleworth villages, a set of villages which have provided the backdrop to number of films including Brassed Off, Yanks and have even appeared in Corrie – remember The Sage of Saddleworth, Victor Pendlebury?

Back to the hotel for a couple of hours to put our feet up before we moved next door to one of the oldest pubs in the city. Dating back to the early 1800s the Briton’s Protection hosted a lovely buffet meal and we were joined by a very special surprise guest – the lovely Julie Hesmondhalgh who plays Hayley. She spent the evening with us posing for pictures and answering questions.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Kemptville Travel Corrie holiday - Day One

Sunday 29 July

Rob and I went to meet our guests at Manchester Airport – a couple have made their own way to Manchester as they’ve already started their holiday in Britain.

We’ve been having some warm and sunny weather in the past few days, which is only fair as it seems to have rained every day since March – let’s see if our group can keep that going.  Today is sunshine and showers.

Anyway, once we’d checked that our group were indeed the Canadian Olympic Coronation Street Team we set off for Manchester city centre and our team hotel. It’s always important to check, when you’re on this kind of holiday, that your hotel is central. I’ve seen groups put on out-of-town industrial estate hotels where, when you have free time, there’s nothing to do outside the hotel itself. Our hotel is a good one and you can be into the main shopping streets in minutes, there are some lovely city walks, the theatre is a couple of streets away and there are lots of pubs and restaurants around for those free evenings.

I never like to give too much information on the coach – everyone’s tired and you can’t absorb too much so we hand out a special edition of the Weatherfield Gazette with a full itinerary and leave it at that for now.

A few hours later, after everyone’s settled in and unpacked, we meet for a sherry (the Spanish drink is Emily Bishop’s favourite tipple of course!) and a light meal. It gives me chance to say hello and start to get to know the guests – I like to know which characters people love – and loathe (I always hope the choices chime with the actors I’ve booked to meet the group later in the week) and whether it’s people’s first visit to the UK and so on. Then it’s off to bed.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Angie Freeman's back

Actress/writer Debbie McAndrew, who used to play Curly's fashionista girlfriend Angie Freeman, has written 'Losing The Plot', a comedy play with music which is set on a allotment.  I'm pleased to say that we're hosting a performance at Daisy Nook Garden Centre, Greater Manchester, on 25 September.  Tickets cost just £10 and include a drink and nibbles.  Call in at the centre (http://www.daisynook.com/ has maps) or give them a call for tickets.

Tis the season to be Corrie

Just one of the locations we'll get to see. 
Picture: ITV
It's about now that I begin checking out coach parking and roadworks in preparation for my tour guiding duties for visiting Corrie fans.  It takes quite a bit of planning - questions such as: Can the coach turn around in a cul-de-sac or will we get a view of the sea from a particular road or just where we can stop to use the loos all need thinking about.  I tend to use Google Maps to see what the views are and I try and visit - though it's not always possible - as many places as possible before time.

Anyway, the big one - the Kemptville Travel trip - is almost upon us so I'm working away on the routes and my notes.  I'll try and post a blog during it but here's the basic itinerary:
Sunday 29 July: The group arrive at Manchester Airport where I, and my trusty driver Rob, meet them for the transfer to a Manchester city centre hotel.  In the evening we meet for a sherry (Emily's favourite tipple!) and a light meal.
Monday 30 July: We take a drive around the city centre and past Granada studios so I can talk about its history.  We then do a little walk through the canal area of Castlefield before heading into the suburbs for a couple of calls at filming locations.  There's some free shopping time before we head back to the hotel for a rest before we enjoy a buffet dinner at an historic pub - with a surprise special guest (I know who but I'm not telling!)
Tuesday 31 July: We visit the Red Rec followed by some more Corrie locations then have a bit of waterside free time then it's off to the studios to visit the Coronation St sets.  This takes a couple of hours then we have free time to enjoy the city's nightlife.
Wednesday 1 August: It's off to Merseyside for a quick visit to the lovely Port Sunlight, some free time in Liverpool and then we call at the beautiful, and very old, Speke Hall before dinner.
Thursday 2 August: Again, another round of Corrie locations, free time in one of Manchester's towns and afternoon tea.  The evening is free.
Friday 3 August: More locations, a visit to a wonderful Market and then a break before another glitzy dinner with a mystery guest.
Saturday 4 August: Rob and I escort the group to Glasgow via Gretna Green - and then we hand them over to the Scottish team.
This is my last year with the Kemptville group after 13 years - so let's hope it all goes well.

I also have a day of locations for Elite Travel of Sale just two days before Kemptville arrive and then I have the Coronation Travel group in October.