20 September 2010

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Monday, 20th September 2010

Phew, and we thought the third term was life in the fast lane! We’ve hardly had time to breathe the past three days, but oh, what fun we’re already having!

 The flight over was not without events. We’re not sure whether the aeroplane lunch, or the duty free variety was the culprit, but no fewer than SEVEN children became ill. Aunty Henriette can now add doing washing in bathroom basins, AS WELL AS getting it dry in time for landing!

  Markus was there with his bus on our arrival and the weary travelers were most impressed by the huge 65-seater. Doctor Louis has his permanent surgery set up on the back seat and all was quiet in a jiffy. In Ulm, our friend Monika (previously from the Würzburg Cathedral Choirs) was waiting with VERY welcome German pretzels, apples, juice and water, before taking us on a tour of the spectacular (a word I will surely know how to spell after the tour) Ulm Cathedral. We stood in awe of the church spire, which is the highest church spire in the whole world! Of course no singer can pass through such a magnificent building without trying the acoustics and, despite the exhaustion, we treated other visitors to a little concert. The 8 second delay (that is how long it takes from when the sound leaves your mouth until it returns to your ears) was quite something and really made our children’s voices soar.

  We arrived in Villingen right on time and were immediately enveloped with hospitality and love and we really appreciated the opportunity of a shower and a warm and comfortable bed. Erke, the conductor of the Villinger Klosterspatzen, decided to let us sleep late on Sunday. While the children were relaxing with their hosts, the adults (who stayed in hotels, kindly sponsored by our hosts) were led on a guided tour of the St Ursula Monastery by the Mother Superior, whereafter we enjoyed a delicious lunch with the four remaining nuns and their priest.

  We did not know what to expect from the Landesgarten Show in Schwenningen, but really ejoyed being outdoors, as well as all the interesting exhibits (many of them to do with the woodcutting and forestry industries). Our concert in the  Church Pavillion at the show was very warmly received by an appreciative and enthusiastic audience – a great first concert. This was followed by our singing the Britten Mass at a local Catholic Church, with an equally warmly received concert immediately after. The church was packed for both the service and the concert and the audience refused to stop clapping. Our CD’s were in high demand too!

  This morning was a relatively early start as our hosts have to go to work and school. A very happy birthday to Lionel and Adriaan! First stop was an unscheduled stop at the world’s largest cuckoo clock, where some of our wallets went on a crash diet! How we’re going to get those clocks home in one piece still remains to be seen… We got so carried away that we had to reschedule our visit to the Vogtsbauernhof outdoor museum. We were given a guided tour of a house that was built before  Jan van Riebeeck came to Cape Town!

 The Triberg Waterfall (Germany’s Highest) was next. It is a really beautiful place in the midst of the Black Forest and some lovely old trees.  We knew we were late, but it was worth it.

From here it was on to Baden-Baden and the Johannes Brahms Museum.  Here we surprised Mr Van Zyl with a card from the whole choir and the playing of some Brahms music, recorded by none other than the Eastern Cape Children’s Choir!

  As if that mouthful wasn’t enough, we were met by what seemed to be the whole of Herxheim-by-Landau this afternoon! Our hosts, the Südpfalzlerchen, first welcomed us in song, whereafter the mayor also said a few words. Lionel and Adriaan’s birthdays were celebrated in canon, Lionel received a glass of champagne and we each had the freshest ‘sweetiepie’ chocolate imaginable! We’ve just returned from a drive through Herxheim and its surrounding farms (it is in the middle of the Rhine Rift Valley and all around are vegetable, fruit and tobacco farms – a little like our own Gamtoos Valley) in a ‘train car’. We saw a wind turbine from close by – gee, it’s big!

 Tomorrow we’re off the Speyer and the big cathedral, where we have permission for a short concert, and Prof Troskie may play the organ, but more about that after the fact!

Oh, and remember to look at the photos!

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