• vjhampstead

Our Belgium Tour - Day 4 in Ghent

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Our final full day in Belgium began with a hearty breakfast complete with bread, pastries and croissant, despite threat of strike action by the local baker. Our destination for the day was Ghent, the largest city visited during our trip. As previously, upon arrival at the coach park, we had a fair stroll into the centre, but it was a clear blue sky that greeted us again that morning, and we would enjoy temperatures of mid to high 20's again.

We were not required to gather at the venue for our concert until 2.30 pm, so with free time to spare, we wandered off and enjoyed refreshment and sightseeing, partaking in canal trips and visits to the various landmarks.

Of course we had to meet up and have an impromptu sing, below is a short clip of that, sadly we ran out of time and had to return to the coach, we would have been delighted to have spent the afternoon singing at various places around the throngs of happy people enjoying lunch and a drink or two in the glorious sunshine.

Returning to the coach park, which was near the railway station, proved more difficult for some than others. One happy band of twelve was led back by tram to Saint Peters railway station....except it wasn't the same station as that at which we had arrived earlier! I am too embarrassed to disclose who was navigating....but thanks to our Accompanist Mel, and her use of the google maps app., it transpired we were only 7 minutes walk from the concert venue at St.Pauluskerk, and arrived well before the coach which was 4.5 kilometres away at Dampoort Station. Anyway, after a few palpitations, all was well in the end!

We had originally hoped to sing in Ghent Cathedral, but due to the extensive refurbishment that is underway there, this was not possible. Rayburn Tours, our organiser, had therefore booked us St Paul's, though a very fine and large church, and internally magnificent, it is unfortunately nowhere near the centre, and never likely to have given us an audience of reasonable size. And so it was, we sang to our loyal wives, partners and friends, and a small number of local people, who nevertheless showed their appreciation. We sang a good mix of songs alongside a couple of beautifully sung solo's from our Deputy MD Colin, and simply enjoyed the amazing acoustic of that beautiful church.

After refreshment and loading all our kit back in the coach, we departed for Diksmuide, and for a most pleasant  dinner together in the 'Sint Jan' restaurant. After a customary airing of 'Cornwall my Home', we retired to the hotel bar to while away the remainder of the evening, which inevitably became our afterglow party!

Our journey home on Sunday was plain sailing, other than a diversion off the M20 and the usual Sunday hiatus on the M25. A meal break at Membury services left us plenty of time to include yet another rendition of 'Cornwall my Home' before departing, greatly appreciated by all the resting travellers.

Though we used a tour company to organise this years tour, it still required a lot of effort from our side, the bulk of which, including many worries along the way, were shouldered by our Chairman Dave Williams. We thanked Dave for all his hard work and perseverance, and presented him with a fine bottle of his favourite tipple, single malt.

Our professional musical team, Marcus and Mel, were outstanding and we thank them for all their hard work. Marcus has worked tirelessly to improve all aspects of our performance since joining us, and we believe his work has borne fruit. This trip would have been impossible without them...and moreover it is fantastic how they both embrace the Choir as though we are one family. Work hard, play hard, it has often been said...and we have put this into practice!

A final heartfelt thanks must go to Rona and Paul Gitsham, who did not want to miss out on this trip after Paul broke his ankle, and therefore decided to travel using their own car. Not only did they get us out of tight spots by carrying our equipment close to venues, but when Lynda Crowle suddenly became ill badly affected by the 'bug' and was taken to hospital in Ypres, Rona collected her and Brian, returning him in time to sing at Menin, and took Lynda back to the hotel to save her the coach trip. Thank you from us all!

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