We left Edinburgh early, bleary-eyed after a late night at the hotel bar (no, I actually did not have whiskey in Scotland, but seeing as I have not liked any whiskey before since it just tastes like lighter fluid to me, I didn't spend my time in the Whiskey Heritage Center on the Royal Mile...sorry Robert!), then stopped for lunch in Durham on the way to Ravenscar. Poor Robin has caught a cold, and she forgot her umbrella in the Pizza Hut where we had lunch (hey, we only had an hour and it was quick with the salad bar & buffet!) so she & I ran back and luckily it was there!
After many, many winding roads taken at quite a quick clip, making several of us a bit carsick, including Daniel, we arrived in Ravenscar at the Raven Hall Hotel around 5:30pm after an all-day bus ride from Edinburgh, so we had daylight until about 10pm, then had to leave early in the morning again for York...Of course the hotel had no internet access, being on the eastern coast in the North York Moors, so no chance to tell you how I was enjoying it...too bad we didn't have more time there, since it was beautiful, with our large hotel room on the corner overlooking the North Sea...a "battlement wall" had been built around the grounds with nice gardens, so copious photos were taken of those overlooking either the rolling moors or the sea...
The hotel dinner was fine, standard British fare I guess, potatoes, boiled veggies and chicken with a custard tart for dessert. While the basses & tenors had a sectional rehearsal, Kristin, Melanie & I went for a swim in the indoor heated pool, where Denise just chatted with us since she didn't bring a swimsuit. After the swim, Melanie tried to get an early night's sleep, but I went back downstairs & sat in the bar with a decent crowd of choir members and our courier Nick..but the night did not end there... ;)
Todd was drooling over the hotel golf course on the coast, and played another 18 holes until it got too dark to see the ball! He ended up in the bar around 11ish I think, when he mentioned to Nick there was a snooker table in the hotel and suggested a game...The table was occupied, so a bit more bar chat, then the snooker match started...oh boy! You thought _I_ was competitive? hehe...well, let's just say that snooker is MUCH more complicated than pool, and Nick lost and was really not pleased about it at all...I'll have to tell you about the suspected poltergeist and the water balloon later, since I'm running short on time here...anyway, Todd 1, Nick 0, and this will be continued... ;)
After a decent hotel breakfast in Ravenscar - no more haggis or yogurt, alas! - we left early again on the bus, this time for York...we arrived at York Minster (the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe) for a group tour at 11:15, since we couldn't check into our hotel until later in the afternoon anyway. We acquired special permission to sing for 15 minutes inside the Minster, so we sang Sicut Cervus (Renaissance), the Aquilanti Ave Maria (contemporary but sounds ancient), and Hail Gladdening Light, which was absolutely glorious in there! We ended up with a crowd of tourists about 100 or so!
Robin, Jack, Johnathon, Juanita, Ryan, Ben, Nat, Ben, Steve, Melanie & I decided to be brave and climb all 275 steps up the Minster tower...little did we know that since it is a tiny circular stone staircase, it was murder on all our legs, especially thighs - even for black-belt kung fu Robin! But the view from the top was beautiful, since the sun had decided to emerge just in time for us to reach the top, then the clouds came back over as soon as we started back down...thankfully down was MUCH easier...but during rehearsal that night, I was feeling it in my thighs... ;)
Ben & Steve left to tour the crypts under the Minster while the rest of our little band looked for food, finding Betty's Cafe on Stonegate...Nat & I split a Yorkshire cream tea so I wouldn't miss out on a scone with Yorkshire clotted cream, plus I had a sandwich...cute little Victorian place, but all of us felt it was somehow Disney...something about being just a little too perfect...? ;)
We were supposed to meet back at the bus to leave at 2:15, but Barbara & Joanne weren't there...this was our first tension this tour, because we have been told repeatedly that the bus WILL leave without you if you are not there! Nick and Graham the driver decided to be nice enough to circle around twice, and just before we were pulling away, they showed up...they had gotten turned around...thankfully it ended up okay, just a bit of stress for our afternoon...
The hotel is modern this time, the Novotel just outside the city walls, and we just barely had enough time to drop off our stuff & get back on the bus for Doncaster...5:30 rehearsal, 7:30 concert in beautiful Doncaster Minster, but this time an audience of 17...ah well...the 3 older ladies in the front row more than made up for the quantity though! They were the cutest ever! One woman kept clapping enthusiastically out in front of her body, and her friend next to her was sobbing after Shenandoah, then bouncing & singing along with Jamaican Market Woman! We all spoke with them afterwards saying what a joy it is for us to have audiences like them! :) They promised to come to our concert tonight in York and bring their friends, so hopefully they'll make it.
We had a "curry" (Indian food) in Doncaster after the concert, so we didn't get back to the hotel until midnight, where there was a pool table, so a rematch was in order...it was then, after losing the first round to Todd, that Nick admitted to being a very bad loser! Good for him that he ended up winning the next three games...I told him, "Now that you're ahead 4 to 2, you can finally sleep, eh?" ;) Nick, Kevin, Melanie & I stayed up chatting until 2:15, getting up at 8am for breakfast...hehe!
Now I'm due for a women's sectional rehearsal at the hotel at 4pm, so I've got to cut this short (walking tour & lunch was about it for today so far at least)...we leave tomorrow for Lincoln by way of Chatsworth House and a concert in Baslow, so Happy 4th of July everyone! :)
Until next time...