The bandís trip to Gronau in August 2008 was a huge success, enjoyed by everyone who were able to take part and although the playing was obviously a highlight for us, there were also many other highlights too - and they did not all revolve around the wine, beer and schnaps! ..... (well, maybe for some they did, but we wonít mention any names!)
Our German hosts for the weekend, whether personal hosts who opened their homes to band members, or those who looked after members who were in pension accommodation, were generous to a fault. They simply couldnít do enough for us and we canít thank them enough for their hospitality during the visit. One person in particular deserves a special thanks from the band - Peter Klose (Euphonium player in Gronauís Band) was the man of the moment - whatever you wanted to know, wherever you wanted to go, whatever questions you wanted to ask - Peter was the man to go to and he was always rushing around, trying to accommodate everyoneís needs!
The band were pleased to be able to take part, with the Honiton Twinning Association and the Mayoral party, in the ceremonies which marked the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two towns. We were invited to play on the platform of the local cinema, where the official observations took place on the Friday and the local Firestation band gave us pride of place in the march back to the town centre - quite a challenge, as our basses didnít have their straps with them and we were sans percussion! But at least it gave us a good appetite for the civic BBQ which followed. On the Saturday afternoon we played in the town square, which was buzzing with activity as the Weinfest got into full swing. Our selection of music was given a good reception and hopefully we gave those listening a flavour of the range of music which British brass bands play today.
Along with the twinning party, we were also treated to several trips out and these included; a visit to the Freilicht Museum (Open-Air Museum) which was an absorbing look at rural life over the past 400 years and also to Marienburg Castle, which served to highlight what close links we have with this area of Germany, through our Hanoverian monarchy. Some of us were also treated by Peter, to a walking tour of Gronau, which is a pretty market town, with excellent facilities for what is quite a small population of some 5600. We also enjoyed the festivities of the Weinfest.
A special mention must be made of those who joined the us for the trip and helped to make it all possible. First of all our thanks go to Malcolm Avery who stepped in as conductor when our MD found that he was unable to travel with us. Malcolm had such fond memories of our French trip in 2004 that he couldnít resist the offer! After a gap of 4 years it was great fun working with him again. Arthur Dunn left his allotment and his banding in Chard, to return to play 1st Baritone and Nichola Conabeare, like Malcolm, enjoyed the French trip so much that she came back on trombone. Keith Allen, a stalwart in the local brass banding scene, stepped in to provide us with a Bass section, as our own bass players were unavailable (having enjoyed himself so much, he subsequently joined the band!) and then we were pleasantly surprised that Tom Betley came out of retirement to play the Bb bass - which further swelled the bass section. Luckily for us, Tomís son Pete and his family are now living in Germany and Pete and his son Josh swelled our cornet section. It was nice to see three generations playing together - a first for them as it happens. Finally, much to our delight, Peteís friends Wayne and Ed joined us - in the Bass section! But more importantly, Wayne and Ed provided translations of the restaurant menus, opened the mineral water bottles during the concert, sang Happy Birthday with gusto in both English and German (much to Sharon's embarrassment - at every opportunity, with the rest of the band, throughout the day!) and provided us with numerous, humorous, moments.
Other memories of the trip include;
- bonding at the breakfast table, by those accommodated in the pensions
- being waited on at the breakfast table, by Lynís husband, Keith - impeccable service!
- learning that the local firestationís most important piece of equipment was its bar and area for BBQs (HQ of Gronau Band)
- the resilience required to cope with the Ďfluidityí of the arrangements
- making Peter Klose an honourary Honiton Band member and presenting him with his band tie
- being able to make music with Gronau Band, in the twilight
- seeing Jackís face when he realised heíd left his uniform shoes back in his room
- the hard work of the Gronau Twinners and Gronau Band
- Johnís stupendous efforts, as our resident linguist
- the hospitality
- Keith Allenís fascination with the design of his Costa coffee cups