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Beating the Blizzard

25 January, 2016

We’re now safely home in the UK and thawing out after an eventful week in the States. Here’s Andrew, with the final instalment of this tour’s travel blog.

“As Will explained in his blog about our sadly-curtailed stay in Washington DC, we decided along with the Folger Consort to leave town ahead of the arrival of Storm Jonas, and head for New York City, the venue for our last concert, two days earlier than scheduled. That way we would be clear of the worst of the weather. Or so we thought!

“Our trip to NYC on Friday passed without incident (no speeding fines on this occasion) and we checked into our Harlem hotel at lunchtime. We were keen to make full use of the extra time in one of our favourite cities, and so the group was soon downtown. Many of us took advantage of the free Friday evening admission to the Museum of Modern Art, where we saw a superb exhibition of Picasso sculpture (guitars a recurrent theme), as well as the Full Fathom Five by Jackson Pollock, which offered a new perspective on our Shakespeare programme!

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“After enjoying our fill of culture, we enjoyed excellent mac-and-cheese at the Red Rooster, a Harlem hot-spot, and happily planned our sightseeing for the following day.

“The weather, of course, had other ideas. Snow was falling by midnight, and Saturday dawned with a thick covering and an ever-more-apocalyptic forecast: twelve inches, then eighteen, then twenty-four. With a concert scheduled for Sunday afternoon, and a flight home on Sunday evening, there wasn’t much room for manoeuvre, and we hunkered down in the hotel, nervously checked our travel insurance policies and watched as the city authorities took ever more drastic steps to address the situation: bus service withdrawn, Hudson bridges closed, a travel ban imposed, subway service curtailed. By the evening there were almost two feet of snow lying in Central Park.

“Sunday dawned bright and cold, and we ventured out of the hotel to find a city transformed.

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“Pedestrian crossings were rendered rather superfluous…

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“Cars lurked, camouflaged, under piles of snow.

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“In London, this sort of weather would probably have seen all work cancelled for a week. But New York is a more resilient place. Fleets of garbage trucks fitted with snow shovels roamed the streets, and by mid-morning the major arteries were passable.

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“Over brunch we received the welcome news that our concert would go ahead, and we celebrated with a walk to Central Park, which was masquerading as a ski resort.

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“Needless to say, Stile didn’t need much encouragement to join in the sport…

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Non Angli, sed angeli

“Then it was on to Corpus Christi on W 121st St for a welcome return to the Music before 1800 series. An excellent audience of hardy souls made their way through the treacherous streets to hear our performance – a great end to a sometimes-frustrating week.

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“There was still the question of whether we would be able to fly home. But here too, New York City surpassed all expectations, and we departed JFK on time, less than 24hrs after two feet of snow had fallen.

“We can’t wait to return in April for more concerts! In the meantime, we’re waiting for the remnants of Storm Jonas to cross the Atlantic, where they are set to bring the UK torrential rain. It’s almost as if we’re being stalked…”