We promised to create memories – and we’ve done exactly that this month…

Last month it was Cirque du Soleil – a fabulous experience, as we had anticipated after the performance we saw just before the Covid lockdown. This time I’d planned – in as much detail as I could – a visit to the Abba Voyage experience at their custom-built arena near the Olympic Park.

I’d booked a Sunday performance starting at 6.00pm so we’d have time for a meal afterwards (if we wanted one).

I’d also booked two extortionately priced tickets to the ‘Oceanbird Lounge’, where we’d get complimentary food and drink before the concert and – more importantly – where we’d gain immediate entrance to the arena without having to queue. (I didn’t fancy trying to help Rosemary to our places after she’d stiffened up following an hour in the queue…)

I waited as long as possible before booking our train tickets, in fear of another strike. Which was probably a mistake, because it was only then that I realised Greater Anglia were running their usual Sunday service. Namely, one with a big chunk of ‘rail replacement bus’ in the middle of it.

And we had commitments on Sunday morning…

So, despite the planning, it was a rather more stressful journey than I’d hoped for. Luckily there was transport to take Rosemary to the bus (avoiding a difficult walk over the railway bridge) but traffic was heavy on the A12 and we were considerably delayed. We had just enough time to grab a taxi to our hotel – the Mama Shelter in Hackney, quirky but friendly and comfortable) – before they kindly called us another to take us to the concert.

We arrived later than I’d hoped, but were duly treated like royalty (lovely Swedish cold buffet, unlimited drinks, as promised, but not quite enough time to enjoy them to the full). Then in to the concert – and rather a long climb to our seats for poor Rosemary.

The concert itself was – spectacular. (No other word will do.) It made full and ample use of the custom-built arena to combine on-stage avatars of the group (looking self-deprecatingly young), a live band, massive movable screens showing the avatars in close-up (and looking slightly more convincing by virtue of being 2D) and the biggest lightshow this side of the New Year fireworks. Plus an animated fantasy quest sequence in the middle of the show to tickle the imagination (if it needed any more tickling than it already had…)

The enjoyment was palpable, Although we were in the seated area there were plenty of people nearby who wanted to get up and boogie, including a young mother (and her delightful little daughter) who couldn’t possibly have been born when Abba first came on the scene.

Which, of course, doesn’t matter a bit. The music is timeless.

We left uplifted, delighted, and cheery enough not to balk at the (relatively) long wait for a taxi back to the hotel (and a very pleasant light supper – accompanied by vintage cartoons…)

But we weren’t finished…