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Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog: 6/1/08 - 6/8/08

Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog

Sunday, June 01, 2008

That trip to the Rhineland

Hi folks,
I think its time I wrote some about the few days holiday I had last week. It has to be said that I rate it the best holiday I've ever had. I've been really tired since I've been back and I'm just beginning to recover about now.
Here goes........

Germany - Rhineland May 2008

In my experience, getting the chance to go on a trip away with a band has been fairly rare, particularly since I returned to playing in the last 18 months. Last year a trip was planned to France, but alas it was cancelled due to lack of available players. Then there was a weekend at a UK holiday centre involving a band contest. Unfortunately, I was dropped as a player for that event. I have to say I was pretty disappointed.

Quite by chance, I recieved an email about a month ago detailing an advertisment for a trombone player required for Torbay Brass Band who had organised the trip to Germany. I immediately called the number to make enquiries and got a very positive response. I accepted the offer to go providing I could arrange time off work. It was touch and go because we have been short of staff recently. A couple of days later, I got confirmation of leave and I let the band know I was able to go with them. For the next couple of weeks it was constantly on my mind and I couldn't stop talking about it. I'd visited the Rhineland on a school trip in the 70's and had always wanted to return. I started to feel a little anxiety creep in though. Not surprising really bearing in mind I was about to go on holiday with 40 odd folk I had never met in my life before. I did my best to keep calm. Too much anxiety tends to set off bouts of depression otherwise.

I met the coach at Folkestone on Saturday 24th May at around midday. The folk from the band we very friendly. The was plenty of small talk about music as we travelled through the Channel Tunnel into France. We stopped briefly at a hotel on Mons for a quick rehersal of the music to be played and an evening meal. There was still a long way to go. We didn't get to the hotel in Lahnstein until past midnight.

The following morning I woke early and went down for breakfast at 6.30am, followed by a stroll in the park at the rear of the hotel. Hotel_from_park
The weather was warm and the atmosphere peaceful, just the birds singing. This gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my spiritual side. A little later I wandered back intom the hotel and met with some of the folk from the band who had just come down for breakfast. The food was so good, it was just too tempting, so I had some more breakfast, joking about being like a Hobbit!
Our first trip out was a longish coach journey to Rudesheim at around midday. We played at the Marketplace bandstand at 3pm. The weather was hot and sticky, mixed with a sharp heavy shower of rain.
Afterwards, I took a trip on the cable car with a view over the Rhine valley. Fantastic, what a view!
A group of us then went down into the quaint narrow streets of the town for a beer at one of the cafes.
The day ended with a return for an evening meal on the top floor of our hotel where we watched the sun go down.
Finally to the bar for a few late drinks till past midnight.

Day 2 had a slight hiccup when we were supposed to go on a boat trip down the Rhine to Bopard, but our coach got a little lost and we were too late. Instead, we arrived at Bopard by coach where we took a ride on another (more precarious) cable car that is better described as a ski lift really.
Our concert that day was at a Spa Clinic in Bad Salzig. Again, the weather was perfect. The day was not yet over. Coach back to hotel for evening meal, then out again to play at Maximillian Brauwiesen - a very popular beer garden in Lahnstein. This was really good and exactly as I'd hoped it would be. Beers served up as we played, a real joyful atmosphere and a chance for me to play the fool.
(I'd been encouraged to do something on a particular piece of music on the previous 2 concerts, but had held back. This time I went for it and it worked). Everybody was in really high spirits after this concert (being the official final one of the trip) Laughter on the coach returning to the hotel was raucous, particularly as the coach driver lost his way again. Despite the late hour, a few of us made the most the time and stopped in the bar for a last couple of beers.

Our final day was free of official concerts. We travelled down the banks of the Mosel to Cochem, then on to Koblenz and finally we managed to get a boat trip on the Rhine. The trip on the boat topped off the whole holiday for me.
It was quite an emotional experience really. I just had one of those moments where I could not believe I was really there. Everything was perfect. The warm breeze and the sun. Out on the open deck with...... yes..... you guessed it..... a cool beer! It just felt like a gift from heaven. I had people around me I had only known a couple of days, but they already felt like really close friends. We laughed and joked the whole trip.

I confess that coming home the next day as we travelled back through the Channel Tunnel I couldn't hold back any longer and shed a few tears. The memories of this trip and very precious to me and I've some great photo's and video clips to remember it by. I've got a whole bunch of new friends who have invited me to go visit them in Torbay soon. Looks like that is where my next family holiday will be taken.