OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND
Wow, what a three weeks it's been! I told you that I was taking a blogging break but didn't mention that I was going on an adventure (I don't like to broadcast if we're going away).
I was given the opportunity to attend the North American Brass Band Summer School in Halifax, Nova Scotia by the conductor of my brass band, who is also a director of the course. It all happened very last minute, a real whirlwind in fact - G came too, which was really nice. What an adventure it was, I was very nervous about going because of the calibre of tutors and players but it couldn't have been a more wonderful experience - I've met some amazing people from all over the world.
So, this is going to be a long post today (I've ok'd it with Julia, lol!) Brace yourselves.
But first, some crafting! My nephew and his wife had their first child while I was away so I quickly made this card when we got back and put it in the post with the blanket I'd made a while back and some Canadian paraphernalia. You gotta buy a moose for a new family member huh?
I did think of you all whilst I was in Halifax though and couldn't resist taking this shot of a very nice yarn store....
I didn't buy any though, got too much stash to work through as it is!!
Ok, travelogue time! I'm ashamed to say I knew very little about Halifax before we went but was bowled over by this friendly and historic city. The people were so lovely, we chatted to folk wherever we went.
The town Clock was a real feature, one of the oldest structures in the city. The hill behind is the Citadel, a British fort built in the 18th C and still guarded by Highland soldiers.
We spent a lot of time down by the waterfront too - the harbour at Halifax is the second largest in the world after Sydney and remains ice free through the year so it's used by a lot of shipping, commercial, military and pleasure. The boardwalk ran for a few miles and was great to people watch.
There was a lot of public art - this giant wave was surrounded by rubber matting so kids could play freely...
Loved these 'melted' lampposts too!
But I found this the most poignant of all - a memorial to the Canadian soldiers who boarded ships to go to war and who never came back. The footprints on the deck were their last on Canadian soil.
There were loads of boats in the harbour - this was originally a Swedish vessel built in 1906, G and I went for a trip on her, it was great fun.
The Harbour Hopper was always buzzing around town - it's an amphibious bus, so you got a town tour then it drove down a ramp into the harbour. Of course we had to have a go!!
But the real reason for going was to play music. There were 40 delegates and 10 tutors, who were all international players and/or professors of music. And little old me who's only been playing for 11 years. My knees were knocking. But everyone couldn't have been friendlier - we rehearsed in St Matthew's Church, where we had whole band practise, sectional rehearsals and masterclasses. It was hard work but my goodness I learned a lot.
We played at a few concerts, this was in Grand Parade in front of the memorial and oldest building in town.
The bass section!
The trombones, doing what they do best - hamming it up in 'I Will Follow Him' from Sister Act. Second from right is Brett Baker of Black Dyke Band, what a player he is.
The cornet section doing Trumpet Blues & Cantabile - the tall guy in the middle is Tom Hutchinson, Principal cornet of Cory Band, No 1 in the world and my favourite brass band ever. I did have a bit of a giggly fan-girl moment when I met him for the first time but what a funny, down to earth chap he is!
Me and the gorgeous Dr Scott Watson, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the university in Kansas. He is one laid back dude, a fantastic and thoughtful teacher and who shares a secret love of 70's disco music with me :-D
The band also played in the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo - they're in the red jackets in the distance. Unfortunately, I'd hurt my ankle so couldn't play in this part but was ok - G and I went to the dress rehearsal which was amazing. If anyone in Scotland is wondering where all the bagpipers have gone, they're all in Halifax!!
We also gave a formal concert in St Matthew's, our rehearsal venue - our Musical Director was Dr Robert Childs, who is Brass Band royalty in the UK. You can just see me in the back - I think I was the first female tuba player they've ever had.
There I am!
The organisers had clocked that G was a good photographer and asked us to find a venue for a formal group shot - we found the perfect spot in a cemetery opposite St Matthew's where there was a monument with steps!
Great shot Gordon!
As I couldn't play in the tattoo, I had a little more time to hobble around Halifax. So here's some more pics to give you a flavour of this lovely place.
We loved the weather board houses, there were loads of them even in downtown. The cafe on the corner did a mean Wildberry smoothie which was gorgeous in the very hot weather,
and good coffee too!
More public art, this time on the side of a Freaky Candy store - their proper title not my opinion, lol!
We enjoyed the food, eating a lot of lobster, scallops and this..chicken souvlaki and greek salad at Freemans (highly recommended bar!) not to mention working our way through a few Canadian craft beers! Talking of which:
We went to a sports bar one evening, it was an experience! G took the next pic cos it tickled him!
Presumably you pick which screen you want to watch while you do what you have to do!!
But it was the waterfront that we kept returning to:
A temporary pontoon bridge had been built while the construction of a new bit of harbour was taking place, it was really weird walking on it, as if you'd had one beer too many!
We loved the Adirondack chairs that were everywhere in town....
We stood and watched the start of an ocean going yacht race....
Loved the flags that were everywhere....
...and marvelled at the skill that the yachts people have - how do they know what ALL those ropes do??!
There were beautiful scenes to gaze at around every corner....
and shots that just took our fancy!
One of the best experiences was playing with the Band on Halifax Commons for the Canada Day celebrations - it was genuinely wonderful to see people so proud of their country. I have to say that people we talked to were astounded that the UK doesn't have a National Day. I think we are poorer as a nation for that. There were lots of flags sported by everyone:
in all sorts of ways.....
on the main bridge across the harbour...
and even by the Sky Hawks parachute display team! They were amazing to watch but my favourite bit was this:
Such a simple idea but what a brilliant effect. Great shot G - bet you're glad you took the long lens now :-D
But we were chickens and didn't try out the local speciality:
Google it if you don't know what it is!!
If you'd like to hear a couple of tracks from the concert then listen here ( Sing Sing Sing -start at 1.15 to avoid the talking) and here (I will follow him) and here (Shenandoah) - these recordings were done by someone else so the quality's not great but you get the idea.
So we got back ok and have been taking our time to recover as it was a VERY full on two weeks. But oh, what memories of the place, friendships, music that filled my heart with pure joy and the loveliest of countries.
Thanks Canada - we'll be back..... xxxx