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TRIP TO ENGLAND MAY 2002

Spending their free time together with two teachers and going to rainy old England instead of a sunny beach somewhere south is exactly what the sixteen members of ROWAN TREE HILL did in their half term holiday from May 21st until May 31st.

The idea was to get accustomed to some of the English idiosyncrasies like eating fish and chips out of a newspaper.

The group prepared a selection of Bavarian d ances, tunes and songs in addition to their Irish and English repertoire and performed in market places, pubs, schools and concert halls to earn their keep while staying there.

 

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In our free time they went shopping or sightseeing.

Thanks to our English friends, the ones we´ve known for many years like Keith and Ernie, Rowena, Alan and Henry for their support and time, as well as those we´ve just met like John, Peter and the pupils at Northgate Junior School. You all contributed to a fabulous holiday during which many clichees and stereotypes about England had to be corrected by our students. First there was the typical English weather, which was just as bad as at home at the time, so it didn´t live up to its reputation. Then there was supposed to be appalling food. Again this wasn´t true. Even the dreaded school dinner proved to be a very well prepared tasty lasagna, leave alone barbecues or fish and chips which were really good. Then the English had this reputation of being a bit reserved and stiff. This was probably the most remarkable experience we made, that people were so extremely friendly and open towards us. Everywhere we went without any exception we felt welcome and the reception was always uncomplicated and the atmosphere relaxed. Does the Englishman with his famous reserve and stiff upper lip exist, we wonder?

 

Now here are some details about our trip:

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In Abingdon, the Reverend Michael Goode, his wife Jenny and his friends did a barbecue party for us with Michael himself slaving over the hot charcoal pot doing the burgers and sausages.

After a short concert for the Abingdon Twinning Society we easily fell into conversation with these lovely and witty Southerners.

 

We then moved up North, looking at Brodsworth Hall, a nice stately home in Yorkshire, and headed for Whitley Bay, where we spent two luxurious nights in the Belgica B&

Thursday night we were invited to the Irish Club in Newcastle- upon-Tyne and renewed our friendship with Joe Crane and many of the music lovers there. We were actually allowed to play although we couldn´t really compete with their standard, but that´s not the point, is it?

Friday night was session time at Fred Brierly´s Wayfarer Arms, a pub in one of the old mining villages of County Durham, this was another outstanding experience with drinks for us being on the house (drinksalroond, lads) and a wide selection of different musical styles. Thanks, Fred , and greetings to John Barlow, who - having met us took a couple of days off to be able to travel round with us. Hope to see you soon!

Peter Sotheran organized a concert for us in an impressive old chapel at Kirkleatham dating back to Christopher Wren´s time (St. Paul´s Cathedral, remember?). The former proprietor of the stately home the chapel belongs to was Sir William Turner, Lord Mayor of the City of London. Some of us took a seat on a chair priced 450,000 pounds! Thanks Peter for having organized the concert, and of course for spending a lovely day with us in and around Whitby

In between concerts and busking we were invited to Northgate Junior School in Guisborough, and funny enough, our students just loved to spend a day in school and could hardly be persuaded to leave. During brake Northgate pupils showed ours their school yard games and rhymes in return for what we performed beforehand- thighslapping and yodelling. Maybe we shall see some of you in Bavaria one of these days?

Ernie Scott got us a number of gigs, for example the one in Tynemouth station, a lovely Viktorian building where antique markets are frequently being held. We also had a chance to play in St. Cuthbert´s church in Durham, an ancient place, but most important was probably, that Ernie introduced us to some of St. Augustin´s congregation and the Reverend Timothy Duff, who - for the night of the concert there- put on his traditional kilt.

We were allowed to actually sleep in the church which was a bit of an eerie feeling at first, but we soon enjoyed the space and air in a large building like that.

Some days we spent touring the country, going up to the Roman Wall or visiting the Northumbrian coast, and we could in fact see a lot, as English Heritage, an organisation whose aim it is to save cultural treasures like castles, abbeys or gardens have an educational program for British and foreign students, so we didn´t have to pay any entrance fees to all these magnificent ancient buildings.

All in all it´s a pity that trips like that can´t be carried out more often. But we´ll try our best to keep in touch!!

More pictures on the gallery! 

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