THURSFORD CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR AND THE AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL AT CAMBRIDGE

Written and photographed by Ken Amery, 8 - 9 November 2018

 
The American Cemetery and Memorial at Cambridge
The Stars and Stripes flies above the Cemetery
The Chapel
 
The Chapel Interior
The Wall of the Missing. Not easy to find the name of the bandleader Glenn Miller,
until you realise that his first name was Alton


THURSFORD CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR


On a bright November morning, twenty-nine members of the congregation and their friends boarded the coach for our trip to the Christmas Spectacular at Thursford, Norfolk. By popular demand, this was our third annual visit!

After a trouble free journey we arrived at our first place of interest – the American cemetery at Cambridge. The cemetery is built on land given by Cambridge University and was opened on 7trh December 1943, when it was one of three temporary military cemeteries. It was later chosen as the only permanent site. There are 3,812 men and women buried here. There were many more, but the majority were repatriated by their families after the war. The Wall of the Missing records the names of 5,127 service personnel whose bodies were never recovered. The famous band leader, Glen Miller is recorded here. The search for his name caused some confusion among our travellers as his is listed with his first name, which was Alton! From the flagpole, where the Stars and Stripes fluttered proudly in the wind we were able see the whole cemetery site. Here we had a short interesting presentation from the Superintendent of the cemetery, Rich Cobb; who was of interest himself having an English mother and American father. He had previously served in the US navy for thirty years.

A short journey from here, we made a lunch stop at an excellent garden centre – Coton Orchard.  Good lunch and plenty to see and spend your money on! From here we went to our hotel for the night – Wensum Valley Hotel. This is an old friend as this is the third year we have stayed here. After an excellent dinner, we prepared ourselves for the following day.

Friday, dawned bright and clear. After breakfast we made a diversion to the resort of Wells-next-the-Sea. We stayed long enough to visit the harbour and have a brief stroll. We then reboarded our coach for our short trip to Thursford. Thursford is home to the largest collection of steam engines and fairground carousels in the country.

After last year, when, due to traffic holdups we arrived with ten minutes to spare we planned to arrive in good time to look around the site and have lunch before the show. This we did, arriving shortly after the site was officially opened for the afternoon performance. A quick lunch was the order of the day for many of us and then a walk around. Some of us visited ‘Fantasy Land’, which is housed in one of the large exhibition halls. Here you could finds polar bears, penguins, seals, elves and, of course, Father Christmas’s workshop. All of this taking place on the steam engines. There weren’t many children there but the adults certainly enjoyed it. Sadly, Santa’s Grotto was not open! One visitor said it was as good as Disneyland. There were also a number of shops on site to give shopaholics something to do.

It was then time to take our seats for the Spectacular. The arena and surrounding fairground rides, moved to the sides were as usual beautifully decorated. The show is a mixture of songs festive music and music from the shows as well as dance routines on stage and in the auditorium. There really is something here for everyone. There are over three hundred performers; dancers and musicians taking part, many drawn from west end shows and orchestras. It really does deserve the title ‘Spectacular’. The show was over far too soon and we made our way home in some particularly damp weather. A return next year? Who knows?


Ken Amery

Oliver Gooch