Our Belgium Tour - Day 1, and Day 2 in Bruges
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
A long time in the planning, and sadly now it is all over.
Time to reflect on all the events, the joys, the emotions, the excellent fun we had together. As with any journey away with a large group, not everything goes totally to plan, but apart from an unfortunate 'bug' that affected a small number of the party (and at time of writing the toll is rising), and a couple of navigation 'faux pas' (not I hasten to add by our driver Rob), everything went pretty much as was intended.
Our journey started off at the crack of dawn in Dobwalls, with the coach going on to Lanivet and Bodmin to collect those who perhaps had the luxury of an extra half hour before rising, and despite heavy traffic at times just managed to board the intended ferry in Dover at 12.25. A very calm crossing greeted us, much to the relief of some, and we arrived at the Hotel Pax in Diksmuide on schedule. Most of us had never heard of this small town before, but it was a most pleasant surprise to have found ourselves in a very clean and tidy community, punching way above its weight in public buildings, bars and restaurants, and with a beautiful town square. We set about making use of said facilities without delay, well, after dropping cases into rooms and so forth. Belgium is renowned for its scale of beer production, boasting around 500 standard production beers, rising to around 1000 if you include special one-off brews. Few are less than 5% alcohol, and many are around 7% and 8%. The tasting began...carefully at first!
Our first evening meal together at the Salons St.Germain was an enjoyable and pleasant gathering, good food, very tasteful surroundings, and only a short walk to the corner of the town square. Some carousing took place afterwards, and a little singing too, but the early start was taking its toll and most were ready to hit the sack.
After a hearty breakfast, our first full day began with a journey to the beautiful city of Bruges. Arriving at the coach park, we all set off to undertake the not inconsiderable but nevertheless pleasant stroll into the centre. This is where we first discovered that Paul Gitsham's unfortunate fall, leaving him with a severe break to his ankle, had been an accidental Godsend. Not being allowed to venture into the city with our coach for environmental reasons, our heavy kit was some way from the Cathedral, too far to carry. Because of Pauls situation, He and Rona had decided to drive over to Belgium in their own car, and thus were able to deliver our kit virtually to the door. That was a huge relief, and this would not be the only time we would be extremely grateful to them.
We performed our concert in Bruges in the beautiful and imposing Cathedral of St.Salvator, the largest church in Bruges, parts of which date back to the 12th century, though extensive alterations and re-builds have taken place over the centuries. Before the concert we were able to enjoy a few hours of free time to refresh and enjoy the delights of Bruges, many of us taking to the water for the canal tour, spread out over a number of seperate vessels to ensure that if disaster struck, we could still put up a Choir!
As St.Salvator's is pretty much central within the city, good number of listeners had gathered for our concert at 3.00 pm, which included three lovely solo's from Marcus, and a wide variety of music that was well received by the audience that contained visitors from the UK who made themselves known to us. It is always exciting and a great privilege to be allowed to sing in the grandeur of buildings such as this, and we all went away on a high to have some refreshments before boarding the coach for our return to Diksmuide.
In Diksmuide, the local bar became our focal point for a great evening, raising a few glasses and having a sing, what else!