London welcomed us with an amazing sunny day today. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at our hotel and were joined by ‘The Dubai Four’, before being picked up by coach and taken from the west side of London to the east side to play at the Tower of London. What an amazing backdrop for our playout in the small orchard alongside the Thames and the Tower. One of the Tower’s 37 Beefeaters conducted the band in full uniform and gave a history of the Queen’s Bodyguards. A large, meandering crowd enjoyed our first international performance, with the majority using their selfie-sticks to join us in a photo. The band members and our supporters were certainly in disbelief about our beautiful surroundings. We then enjoyed time looking through the Tower of London, learning about the history, watching the changing of the guards and visiting the Crown Jewels.
After re-grouping, we traveled to London’s famous Hyde Park, where the squirrels provided much entertainment as we tried to unpack the coach and set-up for our performance in the grand bandstand. The evening was perfect; beautiful weather, an engaging audience and hundreds of people playing and lounging in the park with their friends and family. Many people were intrigued by the details of our tour, and we have been informed that we will star in the ‘Tales of the Park’ Facebook page which provides weekly updates about happenings in the park.
After returning to our hotel, many people enjoyed a traditional meal of fish and chips in the local pubs. Others visited the London Eye, Harrods, the National History Museum, Royal Albert Hall and other attractions. Highlights from the day included:
- Alan and Karen met with their Mad Aunties from Melbourne and Shepparton – yes, we have new groupies overseas!
- Kerrie was caught asking Beefeater Ken if she could touch him, to which he replied, ‘Oooh yes!’
- We were advised that Russell Northe, our local MP, had mentioned us in Parliament to a great response, and that our tour is noted in the Hansard.
- After arriving into the hotel bar carrying his tuba and being offered a drink, Ian announced (whilst looking at his tuba) that he always like to bring his own glass.
- Chloe met with family members in London.
- Tom and Monique met with Tom’s Great Uncle and Aunty at the Tower of London.
- Victoria and Alex and family met with family in London.
- Robbie recruited a French Horn player at the pub!
- Hilly and Barney were caught posing as Tower of London officials whilst wearing their band uniforms, and they charged some lovely asian tourists for photographs, raising an impressive 14 pounds for the band’s coffers.