Our Summer tour of the Cotswolds
We have just returned home after a wonderful weekend tour to Gloucester and Monmouth, based at the Mercure Bowden Hall Hotel in Upton St Leonards near Gloucester. Travelling on Friday 21st July, the morning coach pick-ups began amidst torrential downpours, though thankfully the minimal cover of the various bus shelters along the route offered just enough protection to avoid getting thoroughly soaked. Fortunately the weather improved steadily on subsequent days, and we enjoyed some good weather and sunshine for the remainder of our tour.
Our first recital was in the magnificent surroundings of Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 22nd July at around midday, where we sang to an appreciative audience of passing visitors, and enjoyed the amazing acoustics that only buildings such as this can return. All agreed that it was a huge privilege to have performed there, and our thanks go to the Cathedral organisers for facilitating it. Many thanks also to our Accompanist David Robinson, who played here with us in public for the first time, after standing-in at very short notice, and after only two practice sessions with the Choir.
After a late lunch and free time around the historic Gloucester Quays, we returned to the hotel to prepare for our joint evening concert with the Cotswold Male Voice Choir at the Gloucester Guildhall. Cotswold MVC have been in existence since May 1949, when it was formed as a works choir at Smiths Industries in Bishops Cleeve. As you see from the programme below it was a full evening, and the event was enjoyed by a large audience supporting the 'Grenfell Tower Appeal'.
The following day Sunday 23rd July, our wonderful Driver 'Colin' took us on a sightseeing tour of the Cotswolds, taking in Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh and finally Bourton-on-the-water, where we stopped for lunch in idyllic surroundings soaking in the sun and the happy atmosphere. Of course the setting was irresistible, and before departing we assembled by the bridge and sang to a quickly gathering audience....starting with...what else but 'Down by the Riverside'. We returned to the hotel mid-afternoon to prepare for our evening concert at the Bridges Centre thirty miles away in Monmouth, with our great friends Mello'D.
What a great evening we had in Monmouth: Mello'D were at their very best melting all our hearts as always, and a large and enthusiastic audience clearly enjoyed it all. At the end of the concert several members of other Choirs including Monmouth MVC arose to the call to join us in the rousing 'Gwahoddiad' sung in both Welsh and English at the same time....! We are most grateful to Dorothy Laidler and the team at Bridges for setting up the event with us, looking after us all during the evening, and for providing a superb buffet supper for the Afterglow. The event was unticketed, but the donations on the evening amounted to an amazing £485, which will be given to projects which will help Bridges continue their work in the community. A huge thanks to Mello'D for coming up to join us and putting the 'icing on the cake', we hope we will all meet up with you again soon !
Our return home on Monday 23rd July was routed through Bath, as we had an appointment to sing in Bath Abbey at 1.05 pm to 1.50 pm (yes...quite precise!). By this time we had fewer in number, as some had other commitments, but nevertheless the beautiful setting and wonderful acoustics spurred us on to sing our hearts out as always. Our efforts were clearly enjoyed by many who sat to hear our full recital, and many of the audience spoke to us to let us know how much it was appreciated. It was an immense privilege to sing in such a wonderful place, and we thank the Abbey staff who made this possible.
After lunch and some free time in the town centre on this lovely sunny day, Colin drove us home via Cheddar Gorge, and back into the Duchy at around 7.00pm.
None of this would have been possible without the unstinting dedication of our MD Colin Arthur, it is impossible to thank him enough! A trip such as this takes a great amount of time and effort to arrange, also quite a lot of worrying along the way that things will hopefully turn out well. A huge thank you from us all therefore to Dave Williams who has shouldered that responsibility over many months, and who should now be content whilst sipping his single malt, that the trip was a great success and gave every one of us so much enjoyment.
ps. A number of video clips from the trip have been downloaded to You Tube, click the icon top left of the home page. A selection of photo's will also be downloaded to the Blog Photo Gallery as and when received.