The Band on Tour
As has been remarked on earlier pages the band had been a regular visitor to Plüderhausen in Germany during the 1990s. In 2005 the band decided to extend its horizons and visited Albufeira on the Algarve Coast in Portugal. One of our members, Brian Chambers, was a member of Skål International an organisation for professional tourism operators. As a result he was able to liaise with the Skål International organisation in Portugal and arrange some very favourable rates on hotels.
The band travelled at the end of May and enjoyed a week staying in the Hotel Montechoro at the top end of Albufera. We played concerts in Faro, Albufeira and Portimāo. The concerts were well received by both the local population and the tourists visiting the Algarve and made a change from the usual wind bands that are popular in that part of Portugal.
Inevitably, it’s not always possible for all band members to get the time off to participate in these tours and so the band is generally supplemented by a few guest players. 3 of those playing on this tour then went on to join the band on a regular basis on the band’s return. It might be a bit of strange way of recruiting players but don’t knock it if it works!
One of the features of this trip was that all the concerts were held late in the evening when the temperature had cooled down a little. This meant that the band had all day to enjoy whatever activities they fancied whether that be swimming in the pool or doing some sightseeing around the town of Albufeira.
After a return trip to Plüderhausen in 2007 the band visited Portugal again in June 2010. We stayed in the same hotel as our previous visit. This time the band had a very international feel to it with several of our guest players coming from Norway and Sweden through various connections with the band. We were well treated again and played at a number of local hotels which insisted on feeding us afterwards.
Whilst we were visiting Portugal the Skål club representative from Madeira was present and invited us to visit the island and play some concerts there. Never a group to turn down a good opportunity the band arranged to visit Madeira in October 2011. The climate in Madeira at that time of year can be relatively damp and cold but we experienced the highest temperatures they had had in a number of years and the weather was like mid-summer in the UK. There were some fantastic trips arranged for the band to tour the island. We got to go to the highest peak in the middle which provided some spectacular views which apparently aren’t always available if there is a bit of cloud about. We visited the village of Camara de Lobos where Winston Churchill used to enjoy coming to paint pictures of the harbour. We had a reception with the mayor of Funchal and played at the Skål gala dinner that was being held that week. Most of the band have great memories of that trip.
The band once again returned to Portugal in October 2014. This time we stayed much closer to the centre of Albufeira. We even took a Scottish piper with us! Indeed on one morning he paraded around the town playing the bagpipes trying to drum up some publicity for our concert that evening.
In 2015 we toured a different part of Germany visiting the town of Celle which is best known for hosting the British Army in Germany since the war up until its closure in 2012. The whole town was very influenced by the British presence and we were made to feel very welcome there. We enjoyed some interesting trips out to neighbouring towns and cities including Hamburg, Wolfsburg, Wolfenbüttel and Hildesheim.
One feature of our tour to Germany were the large enthusiastic audiences. At our first concert there were people standing all around the sides of the room as there were no more seats and some were even stood out in the corridor.
Despite it being the end of July when we visited the weather was fairly changeable. We had some days where we had great weather and others when you really needed some waterproof clothing or an umbrella.
The band are now looking forward to their next tour which will be to a new country that the band have not visited before. We will be visiting Dubrovnik in Croatia in October 2017.