Tour Courier, Roy Varney, accompanied Pangbourne and District Brass Band on their 6-day 4-country tour this summer. He gives his account of the brilliant brass experience…
Our coach journey took us across Belgium, to reach our hotel in the Dutch town of Valkenburg in good time for our evening meal – a plentiful hot buffet with choices to suit everyone. Later in the evening, our band members had their first opportunity to explore the town – though some got no further than the pub across the road!
Our first excursion of the day was to the Velvet Caves and Castle Ruins in Valkenburg itself – our guide proved to be both informative and entertaining. In the afternoon, we headed back to Belgium for the first concert of the tour, in the town of Spa – which gave its name to all other ‘Spa’ towns. Our afternoon concert in a local concert hall was followed by time in the town for food and drinks in the many restaurants and cafés.
We headed off for our second concert, atop Holland’s highest mountain (just 327m above sea level!) at the ‘Drielandenpunt’ park, where the borders of Holland, Belgium and Germany all meet. The band took the opportunity to stand in a circle around the exact point, to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of our band members – so she had ‘Happy Birthday’ in three countries at the same time! We followed that up with a concert for the local cafés, cyclists and walkers, who were enjoying the Sunday sunshine. As a reward for the concert, band members who wished to, tried the Maze in the park grounds, where water jets would squirt the unwary. In the afternoon, we moved on to the third country of our tour, visiting the historic German city of Aachen, where several band members indulged in the German tradition of ‘coffee and cakes’. The day was rounded off with an evening in Valkenburg’s pubs and restaurants.
And so on to the fourth country of our tour, and the splendid bandstand in the centre of Luxembourg city, where again we played to the many guests in surrounding cafés, as well as passers-by in the town square. This was a memorable location indeed, especially for some of our band members, who hailed from the US state of Michigan. After time for food and some sight-seeing, we returned for an evening in Valkenburg.
Today we had a busy day ahead of us – our first excursion was a river trip for the whole group on the Maas at Maastricht, a pleasant cruise enjoyed by all. Then, at the request of one of our American band members, around half the group went to visit the Netherlands American Cemetery, just outside the town. Meanwhile, the rest of the group explored the town, and checked out our final concert venue, in one of the town squares. The group was then reunited for its final concert, before a large and enthusiastic audience. On our return to Valkenburg, the group enjoyed an excellent end of tour meal at the Henry VIII restaurant in the town.
After a final morning in Valkenburg, we had a leisurely drive back across Belgium, for our ferry to the UK at the end of a very successful tour.
For more information on a Four Countries band tour, visit our website!