Monday, July 23, 2007

Floods and Church Music

So, this was an interesting weekend. It didn't turn out at all like I thought it would. The choir Poscimur was meant to sing at Tewkesbury Abbey on Saturday and Sunday, so M and I made plans to travel to Gloucester (nearby), do some sight-seeing and meet some friends who live nearby. We rented a car from 6pm. The first inkling of trouble was when it took us 2 hours to get out of London. The traffic was horrific! Then we decided to stop at the first service area once we got on the motorway and it was closed due to flooding! Continuing on our merry way, we ran into more traffic on the way to Gloucester because of flooding. It had rained buckets earlier in the day, but wasn't raining any longer. A few weeks ago there was flooding in Northern England and there had been a lot of rain the last 2 weeks, but I didn't realize it was so bad! M was incredulous, he just couldn't believe it. After more than 6 hours on the road, we finally arrived at our hotel only to realize that we'd left our suitcase standing in front of the car rental office! Luckily I had my robes for the choir, but no music! oops!

The next morning, we were having breakfast, and I get a call from a choir member saying that due to the flooding the choir wouldn't be singing in Tewkesbury. Gracious! The Abbey was surrounded by water, but largely not flooded. The whole town was cut off from civilization! There is a photo

It's really too bad, I was supposed to sing a duet with one of the veteran members because the other soprano who normally sings the part couldn't make it.

So, we decided to stay in the area and do more sight-seeing than we'd anticipated, have dinner with those friends. We went shopping for supplies, some clothes and toiletries and some other stuff we needed(we got the shopping bug and they were having sales!). We had lunch (Gloucestershire Chicken - chicken topped with bacon and smothered in cheese and baked in the oven -mmmm) in the Dick Wittington pub. We went to the tourist office to find out what we could do, but it really wasn't much! The area is very beautiful (the Cotswolds are nearby) and anything outdoorsy really wasn't an option. Unfortunately, we saw just about everything there was to see in Gloucester by late afternoon. The historic docks were nice and the cathedral is gorgeous, but that's about it.

We drove to Cheltenham and thought about staying there overnight, but it sort of reminded us of Baden Baden, kind of a rich and boring spa town. I got a text message from a church music director in London asking if I could sing for him on Sunday (the next day) and that prompted us to head home!

All went well until shortly before Oxford, at Eynsham, where the road was flooded out. We tried an alternate route, but everything around the village was flooded. We tried a more significant detour only to discover that the bridge over the river was under water. So we turned around and were considering an even larger detour when we found ourselves in Witney, which was just experiencing major flooding. So we talked to a policewoman, who gave us a number to call, so we could find out if there were any roads NOT flooded that would take us back to London. They told us the road by Eynsham was no longer listed as closed, so we decided to check it out. Indeed, the traffic was no longer backed up, but the road was still covered in water! The crazy thing is that there were vehicles crossing the road, driving very slowly, but crossing! And not just trucks and 4x4's! So we decided to risk it. It was pretty scary - the water was flowing across the road at a good clip. I could feel the car lift a bit, when cars passed us going to the opposite way. It was pretty freaky.

We got home around 23:00 and went straight to bed. I had to get up kind of early to go to that church to sing. It went well. I was augmenting the sopranos because they were singing a motet by a Mexican renaissance composer which had 3 soprano parts. The organist asked me to sing again next week. They're doing the Howells Mass and an Anthem by Parry. Should be fun! Thank goodness there is now some movement on the performing front. It's just choral, church stuff at the moment, but better than nothing! And now I'm meeting more people. Exactly what I need!
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