In Romsey we all boarded the bus for Gatwick at 7:30am – a lovely early start!
We successfully “negotiated” the security system in our own way – unfortunately by randomly distributing the boarding cards to get through the terminal entrance photo-ID gates we had some confused looks at the boarding gates when the photos taken didn’t match the named individuals!
Arrive at Lorne House
We unpacked and settled down in our rooms and explored the grounds surrounding the house before a couple of short rehearsals in the afternoon and evening. Our evening meal was prepared by our adult helpers –
the fun was trying to defrost the chicken and chorizo casserole that Marion and Chris had prepared the week during their pre-trip visit and putting it together with all the accompanying rice and garlic bread – delicious. . . .
Ulster Folk Museum
After breakfast we walked to this museum of Irish houses and homesteads (www.nmni.com/uftm) where the choir were free to explore the authentic atmosphere created in each of the buildings with the museum guides in period costumes and baking soda bread, working the print press and the forge as well as seeing new born piglets and livestock in the farmstead.
Concert at St Anne’s, Dungannon
We arrived in time for a sound check before a lovely BBQ tea provided by the church congregation in the Hall. Everyone was very excited about giving their first tour performance, the concert was really well attended and the choir sang well with lovely instrumental solo performances from Rachel on her viola and Guy on his clarinet.
Wednesday – Enniskillen
Loch Erne and Devenish Island
|Marble Arch Caves|
A quick transfer took us to this amazing limestone cave system in the Co. Fermanagh Global Geopark. We split our party into three tour groups and explored the caves, which was a mixture of a boat trip and a walking tour of the caves geological highlights.
Concert at St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen
We arrived tired and late due to the rush hour traffic but we were welcomed by the sight of an amazing high tea set out in the Cathedral Hall (for which our evening concert was due to help raise renovation funds). The food was wonderful and just what we needed after such a busy day. The concert was compered by Robert with interviews of the choir members and Rachel as it was the night before her A-level results!
After yesterday’s exertions we had a leisurely morning start and left for this Co. Antrim beauty spot in the late morning. We arrived in time to eat our packed lunch on the world heritage site in sunshine and contemplate the famous legend of the Irish giant Fin McCool and his bridge that linked Ireland to Scotland. We left just before the weather decided to change dramatically with heavy rain setting in for our return coach journey.
Concert at Lorne House
The retiring collection was in aid of the guide association but Lorne house
kindly gave us the takings from the refreshments during the interval and we sold lots of our new CDs.
Derry and the Fleadh
We had another gentle start as the journey to Derry, Londonderry was over 2 hrs so we enjoyed our pack lunch en-route. We were met by our hosts, Marion’s cousin and her husband who is the vicar of All Saints, Clooney. We were then guided by the church’s youth worker to the Peace Bridge that took us straight into the heart of the city and the bustling Fleadh Festival. This is a celebration of Irish music and culture with musicians playing all around the city and the choir joined in with some spontaneous singing performances. The weather and the craic were great!
Concert at All Saints Clooney
We returned to the church hall where the congregation had put on a fabulous outdoor BBQ for us before we walked across to the church for the evening concert. This was probably our most polished performance of the tour. As on the previous nights the vocal soloists did really great perfomrances and although the audience was our smallest of the tour – unfortunately we were in competition with some big name performances in Derry – they were still very appreciative.
Departure and Belfast Airport
Although we were expecting this to be the lowest interest day of the tour this was transformed when rumours started of a celebrity in the airport. Tinie Tempah was returning with his band from Belfast to Scotland. After a frantic re-gathering of the choir members we performed “Simi Yadech” to the crowd that had gathered round to watch.
Return to Romsey
As we returned to the bus station in steady rain we were greeted with the banner-waving parents.
More pictures from the tour: