Our Route around Europe

Our Route around Europe

Thursday, February 16

Right, I’ve decided to return to you, my expectant readers, and put the lack of Valentine’s cards behind us.
So, we woke up bright and early (is there an echo in here?) after our day of non-stop fun, and after breakfast we all piled into the coach once again, sad to be leaving our spectacular Copenhagen Danhostel. We had a short drive, broken up by the spectacular 18km long bridge from one island to the next – briefly the longest in the world, but certainly the longest in Denmark.

In a wonderful treat, we were invited to join the Skeppstam family at their summer home in Otterup for lunch, to experience some proper Danish family hospitality, and even better, some home cooked spaghetti Bolognese (a Jamie Oliver receipe, if you’re interested – quite delicious), followed by classic Danish pancakes – essentially some form of doughnut or sweet Yorkshire puddings, served with strawberries and sugar. A success, if you can believe it.

Improbably perhaps, the boys burnt off their excess energy (and possibly some doughnuts) with a run around on the nearby beach – surely this is the only tour to contain both snow and a beach in the same week? – before we once again boarded our trust coach to head on to Haderslev Cathedral and our second Danish concert.

Again, we were greeted warmly – fed and watered well – and the boys sang another great concert to a highly appreciative audience. Bed at the Ribe hostel followed, and so we finish Wednesday.

Thursday began particularly brightly – the breakfast stakes were raised even higher with pineapple carvings, a truly amazing selection of good hams and cheeses, and even candles to illuminate the buffet. Some of these subtleties may have been missed as the boys descended like unfed gannets.

The spectacular Ribe Cathedral was clearly visible from our hostel, so we took the opportunity to wander through the beautiful city, walking to the Cathedral for our rehearsal. The boys quickly got into their positions on the steps – a finely honed routine by now – and Mr DofM was asked if more light was required. Expecting perhaps some shabby standard lights, or even some Scandi design classics, everyone was blown away as the place was gradually lit up like a film set, with vast banks of professional lighting rigs. The boys have never been so bright. Well, perhaps at breakfast. Or maybe it just felt that way. *sigh*

At this stage, the cathedral was empty, so the boys retired for a quick Q&A on some Viking history (according to one, the Vikings is what happened to the Romans when they learnt how to build their boats differently and started making long boats rather than short boats. No further questions, your honour). When they processed in to the Cathedral, everybody was blown away by the vast, vast numbers of people: the programme sheets had run out twice and been photocopied again a further twice to ensure the 5-600 people could all see one. The boys, as always, rose to the occasion.

The journey from Ribe to Denmark was uneventful, and the boys quickly got absorbed into a DVD, and the border crossing into Germany was unnoticed; unfortunately, we hadn’t slipped entirely under the radar. A few minutes into Germany, our bus driver noticed an official-looking vehicle on our tail. Sure enough, their lights soon went on and we were ushered into the nearest layby. It turned out that the officials were Customs authorities, and there was some confusion over whether or not the coach company had paid the necessary German VAT tax. Unfortunately this confusion required extensive phone calls between our driver, his head-office, their lawyers and the unsmiling officials, who were eventually pacified, two hours later, by 15 faxed pages of evidence through from the UK. Again, the boys scarcely noticed – a Burger King supper from the services and they were as happy as larry, and over to Bremen we went. Our youth hostel is once again splendid, and the boys are tucked up asleep, ignoring the impressive riverside view that they have beside their full-length picture windows.

Denmark: done. In Germany once again, and bed is looking increasingly attractive. I think the time has come to say good night from me, and good night from him. 

P.s. Can't leave you without a quote of the day: The boys were playing hangman in the short gap between rehearsal and concert. They were told to use a musical theme, and the answer to one question was finally revealed as ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’ (a process that took somewhat longer than might have been anticipated given the chorister taking the lead had misspelt the composer’s name, always a tricky one in hangman….). On hearing the answer, one small boy piped up, "but what", he said, his eyes wide with outrage, his cheeks reddening with indignity, "has *he* got to do with music?”