After returning to Manchester on an absolute high after the Whit Friday Contest yesterday, many of our entourage stayed up until the wee hours celebrating our successes in the foyer liquids lounge. Of course no-one was still in bed at lunchtime and no-one had a headache this afternoon.
Many spent the morning and early afternoon enjoying Manchester’s sights: wandering around, enjoying lunch in nice places, and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry and the Roman Ruins from AD 79 in Castlefield. Others visited the nearby Cathedral or the Picadilly Gardens Marketplace where there was a great variety of food. Some enjoyed ostrich burgers (which apparently tasted like emu) and the many street performers provided great entertainment, in particular the ‘Mad Drummer’ who was observed by many.
Nelson and Kim went to ‘Wilsons Peveril of the Peak Hotel’ and another group spent the afternoon at the ‘Grey Horse Inn’ sampling the ales and bitters (they were obviously the lot who didn’t stay up until breakfast time!) Many enjoyed walking along the tow paths beside the canals and watching the long boats. Prior to engines, these paths were used by horses that pulled the boats along the canals.
Today we had two wonderful washerwomen, Elsie and Barb, who took some big bags of washing to a nearby laundromat (yes, all the takers were the young blokes). Thank you to you both, and also to Silver who chaperoned the ladies in the cab.
Phil apparently lost his wife while out shopping, or maybe she lost him, and then he almost got himself run over on the Manchester tram lines. Phil had only just commented to Hilly that he didn’t think the trams were running today, when a shrill whistle from behind promptly declared him incorrect. I shall not print the ensuing conversation. In coincidental timing, John O’Connor (one of our tour sponsors) had just sent a text to Alan to check on DD (Daryl Disaster), commenting that he hoped Daryl hadn’t been lost, nor caused fire, flood or any other mayhem. So far, DD has only been involved in a pink t-shirt disaster and a near-death experience on a Manchester tram line.
We all met in the foyer in the afternoon; our first chance for Phil (who by this stage had calmed his nerves with a beverage) to congratulate the band on yesterday’s incredible results. Phil also reflected on the indescribable atmosphere that we had enjoyed in the small villages throughout Saddleworth. The crowd had certainly loved the Aussies. We felt like we had won The Ashes. George Fairhurst, our Contest guide from Pemberton Band, described our involvement in the Contest just beautifully in a post on our blog:
‘Having attended Whit Friday marches as a player (since my Bass was a Cornet) I have experienced Whit Friday on many, many occasions and have never seen a reaction from the onlookers as they did when they saw the Traralgon Band march and play at the various venues. Many comments were made in good old Yorkshire accents… ‘E’up, its thoauzeezz, best give these eer lads un lassie a good lis’nin to’, roughly translated as: ‘Now then, it is the Australian band. I think we should listen to the ladies and gentlemen of this band play’, and ‘Th’inn geet a reet good sound’, translated as, ‘I say old boy. This band really does have a well-balanced and tuneful sound.’ The band received rapturous applause and cheering after each rendition and at every venue. It was a privilege to be there and with the band during the day. Always remember that when and if other bands attend from Australia, Traralgon was the first, and no other bands will be able to beat that and all the members and players will be able to say, ‘I WAS THERE’, and so was I. Once again, thank you for the invite, you did your band and country proud.’ Thank you again George.
We also presented Steve and Heidi Mayze with a certificate of appreciation for their contribution towards our tour and thanked them for joining us on the Manchester/Whit Friday section of our tour.
At 6.30pm we departed the hotel to meet with the Pemberton Band whom we have been corresponding with for many months. Due to their small bandroom size, they had organized a function room in a sporting stadium for us to meet. We formed a massed bands arrangement and enjoyed over an hour of combined music-making, playing music from the folders of both bands, including: Sparkling Diamonds, Windows of the World, The Man from Snowy River, Proud Mary and The Seal Lullaby. We were all in awe of the rich sound of the Pemberton players. Young Lewis was only 9 years old and played the kit like a pro, and the other members of the band were just beautiful to listen to. We then enjoyed a lovely supper that had been provided by the Pemberton Band, and later shared our stories of banding and the Whit Friday Contest. Alan presented George with various tokens of our appreciation: an engraved glass plaque, a tie, Gippsland calendars, a tour jacket and shirt, and a beautiful certificate, while each player was given a golden kangaroo brooch pin. Robbie lived up to his ‘Angel Boy’ status and was a hit with the ladies, with a group of them offering him accommodation for this forthcoming 7-month stay in England. We all thoroughly enjoyed our night with Pemberton and thank them immensely for their hospitality and friendship.
Back at home we have many incredible supporters, such as Lulani Humphries and Walter Pope (Wally and Sandra’s son) who have been leaving some lovely messages on our blog. We also send a big thank you to Kerrie Demosthenous from Totally Workwear in Traralgon – our tour jackets are warm, cosy and look great. There has also been a fantastic crew running the Gippsland Coffee Cab whilst we are away – a big shout goes out to Susan, Grace, Michelle and Sam. Thank you team.
Young Lachlan has been counting Mini Coopers and saw 69 of them in London and Manchester! Leon had everyone looking for kookaburras in the courtyard area, but fooled them with his realistic impersonations. And Jeff, well he finally washed after 5 days away ;0)
Thank you to all who have left encouraging messages on our social media sites, and to those who are eagerly checking our results from the contest events.