A History of The Bands, so far . . .
Valkenburg - Holland
July 25th 2002 - August 1st 2002
Another midnight departure and overnight drive down to the south coast, for the morning ferry from Dover
We stopped once, as we crossed Europe, in the same Belgium service station we used last trip. (What a difference the introduction of the Euro made to this visit; we only needed one currency this time.) Arriving in Valkenburg mid-afternoon.
We had our first full day at leisure to explore, with a rehearsal in the hotel gardens in the evening. After which we congregated in the bar.
This was only a couple of weeks after completing the recording of our first CD, and we heard it for the first time played over the sound system in the bar of our hotel. We all sang along to The Lion King!
Our second day saw a mass outing to the nearby open air swimming pool, where our youngest members (who had now formed an inseparable group that got nicknamed The Tweenies), attempted synchronised swimming.
Setting up - Openluchttheater Valkenburg
Our first concert of the tour was given that evening in the Openluchttheater Valkenburg; an open air amphitheatre and fantastic venue. The audience grew as the evening went on.
Luxembourg, below the drop-off point
Day three was a return to Luxembourg. Once again it was a team effort to carry everything into the city centre; although we were a little better prepared this time and instruments were distributed by carrying ability rather than ownership - much to the relief of the drummer! Warmer weather also brought a bigger audience too.
Day four was Aachen. Only 26km from where we were staying, but over the boarder into Germany. We may not have needed a different currency, but we did need another language!
That's a LOT of water!
Following a beautiful morning, when we had opportunity to explore, the skies blacken and the heavens opened.
Our afternoon concert venue should have been playing to the patrons of an outdoor café. We waited and waited, in vain, for the rain to stop; some of us under the parasols, until it got too wet.
Tweenies enjoying the rain
The Tweenies had had great fun, running from one umbrella covered table to the next, until they were as far from the café as they could get, then sat down and played cards!
Eventually, when it was clear we would not be playing outside, we gave a short concert inside; as much to entertain ourselves as the three remaining patrons of the café.
Playing on the bandstand
Our final concert of the tour, was in Valkenburg, on the town centre bandstand. It was probably our best of the tour as we were all relaxed and enjoyed it. The Tweenies even swapped instruments for a couple of pieces (they had practised hard the night before).
Our return journey was not without event. The coach broke down so we were delayed in departure by 2½ hours. The Tweenies, who had enjoyed themselves so much they didn't want to go home, were plotting to use the (extremely large) xylophone to escape and tour Europe on; but it was already packed on the bus.
It was a clear crossing from Calais; both coastlines cold be seen for the whole sailing. By the time we had re-boarded the coach and were waiting to pass through Customs, we had started singing our parts from the tour concert repertoire. We were just bout launch into The Stripper, when our tour leader asked for quiet whilst the Customs officers came on board!
Before we left Dover, four of our number disembarked to carry on to alternative destinations.
Two of them had joined the trip in Dover.