St Mark's Venice

Rehearsal in the cloisters of St Mark's Venice
Thoughts from the  tour of Lake Garda 


Well we've been back a week or so already and in some ways it seems like it never really happened.  It went by so quickly.  It had been a long time from the seed of an idea to actual fruition with much hard work from just a few people so that many of us could enjoy the fabulous tour that resulted.

I had looked forward to going for so long and I wasn't disappointed.  I felt lots of different emotions during the week mostly of laughter, fun, excitement and a sense of belonging, together with some sadness.

After arriving mid afternoon on Saturday and getting settled into our room I went out to explore the lake side (not the one in Essex!!).  The small harbour was just a couple of minutes walk from the hotel and sitting quietly at the water's edge looking around presented a scene of such beauty with the still mountains, the penetrating blue sky and the restless waters of the lake splashing quite forcibly onto the shore.  I could have sat there for hours but dinner beckoned.

A lot of things were packed into the week.  The concerts were all great experiences in their own way but I especially enjoyed the one at the little church in Bezzecca.  The people made us feel special and very welcome.  We travelled far (and near - approximately 300 yards to church on Sunday!!!) on our own private coach with the lovely Marco, our driver, who was always in good humour with a smile on his face and happy to help in any way he could. 

Each day was filled with a variety of things such as boat trips, a day in Venice, attending the spectacular opera in Verona, singing in the church in a wonderful little mountain village and exploring the surrounding area of Riva to name just a few, or just sitting quietly around the hotel pool getting our breath back, laughing, drinking, eating and talking together. 

I think that one of the best things that I've brought back from this tour is the new sense of friendship with many of the group.  It was lovely to be with people in such a different environment, to spend time together to really have the opportunity to talk, laugh and get to know one another, to find out more about personalities rather than just the normal Friday evenings' “Hi, how are you?” type of conversation.  I think that Fridays will not be quite the same again. 

I can't wait for the next time, be it a day trip or another tour.

Views from the South Coast

Valentine Singers away weekend on the south coast 19th & 20th July 2003

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SUMMER  TOUR  2003 A brief review……from Nickie Kenning

So whose idea was it to go on the hottest weekend of the year? But far better than the wettest, although some of us did attempt to get wet inside and out as well if you believe the story of the MD's shorts, or was that the choir mascot fluttering from the vestry window at Aldrington?

We started off with good luck on our side in that the coach driver was one of the old school and really looked after his passengers. He loaded and unloaded the baggage so many times and never mislaid any - I think he deserved a medal by the time we returned. The M25 and M23 passed without problem and we almost got to Aldrington with just one scheduled stop except for Frances' insistence on inspecting the flora alongside the A27 and seeing it so dry deciding to irrigate it, but not without personal injury---Oooo the thorns.

At Aldrington we found St Leonards quite easily and then found the English Channel just down the road. Lunch was taken on the beach, or in the sea if it took your fancy. Back to St Leonards for our concert which was warmly appreciated by the audience with requests for a return visit sometime. The right mixture of music was certainly a key factor in the success of this venture, and having our own accompanist accompanying us a bonus which meant that miracles could be worked, how else could Ruth manage to explain her apparent ability to walk with two left feet??
2 left feet

On then to the Royal George at Shoreham for an evening meal. Full marks to Sean, this time for finding such a suitable venue and determining that the only rain we saw should fall during the partaking of this feast.


On then to Portsmouth for accommodation in the University's Rees Hall, (Now I know what it feels like to go on a SAGA holiday!!) and an enormous breakfast, if you wanted it. I'm told the bar was quite lively, with someone singing Irish Republican songs till quite late!!

What a gem we found at Wickham. A typical English village, and what a beautiful church at St Nicholas's to sing in. Again we were made to feel so welcome that I'm sure this made all the difference to our renditions there both during choir items and along with the resident choir and congregation.
The village also boasted a fine watering hole in the King's Head, where we lunched well and some of us took a stroll through the quaint and well preserved village to the delightful water meadows.
Water meadows

It seemed so far removed from Ilford! But sadly we had to return, which we did by means of the very picturesque Meon Valley and the rest of the M25, or most of it.

A full and rewarding weekend was the verdict from just about everyone I think and a model of expert and sympathetic planning, well done to all and let's do it again sometime!

Valentine Singers