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Across the seas . . . Margaret Littler looks at a paddle steamer during the trip she and Gary took to America, which they related to the South Canterbury Travel Club earlier this month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The December South Canterbury Travel Club speakers were Gary and Margaret Littler.

Gary has been a longtime fan of jazz and blues music, and Margaret soon became a fan, too.

Almost retired, they thought how wonderful it would be to go to America and see and hear the great performers – which they did.

They told the travel club members how they found it a fantastic experience.

The southern United States was full of this music; streets came alive and all bar doors and windows were open, so the sound was everywhere.

The performers played for tips, which went into the tip bucket, and there were many reminders to donate.

The food was really tasty, but the portions in restaurants were SO HUGE!

The blues started in the cotton fields, where pickers sang as they worked, singing sad songs thinking of home across the sea.

Then came automation and no jobs, so the centre became Chicago.

A three-day cruise on a paddle steamer took Gary and Margaret past fabulous plantations, many of which were open to view.

The homes were gorgeous, but the workers’ shacks out back were not so.

As well as enjoying the music in America, the Littlers visited many interesting places: the Houston Space Centre, Martin Luther King Museum, Graceland, Alcatraz and recording studios. They even saw a gold-plated Cadillac.

The end of their wonderful six-week trip was a three-day train ride from Chicago to San Francisco, through seven states, travelling across plains, through the Sierra mountains and part of the Rockies. In San Francisco, they spent time on cable cars, exploring and walking over the Golden Gate Bridge.

It sounded like a great trip and was a most interesting talk.

– Valerie Barber