Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Huffin, Puffin and Howling

So, after an overnight stop in Aberdeen, and a very early flight, I'm in Shetland again. The wind is howling, and there's a fair amount of rain - business as usual, thus.

We went straight from the airport to Sumburgh Head (about 10 minutes down the road), where as promised, we found some puffins (and a few cormorants, guillemots and gulls). Very pleased with the performance of my camera... hopefully the skies will clear enough over the next few days for some landscape photography too.

For the rest, a leisurely first day, meeting up with some of Jen's friends, and hatching plans for setting up a geocache (hopefully more on that later). Owl, Jen's gorgeous, rotund and rather shy cat, is getting used to having me around again, though he does have to hide under the bed every now and then when it all gets too much for him.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

GC1AZ4V - Rotterdam, NL

Cache Description

Still having some time before I caught my flight, I decided to visit a second cache in the vicinity of the airport. A nice easy find, and although only a micro, there was room to leave behind a photograph.

GCMVJA - Rotterdam, NL

Since I left plenty of time to get to the airport this evening, I continued on to find the Rotterdam Airport travel bug hotel cache. Despite the GPS running low on batteries, I managed to find it with no difficulties, and picked up a travel bug, Sea Flyer, to take up to Shetland with me. Sea Flyer has as its aim to travel the world, visiting open bodies of water, so Shetland should suit it perfectly.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Jubilee Choral Evensong

This evening, the church of St. Mary's Church, Rotterdam celebrated their 300th anniversary with a Jubilee Choral Evensong - an event which was the culmination of a weekend of celebrations, including a visit by the Queen. As the choir is low in numbers, I, and four other member of the choir in The Hague, joined forces with them for the service.

[I hadn't realised just what a long history English speaking churches had in The Netherlands... more information on the history of St. Mary's Church can be found here. The English church in The Hague, has an even longer history, stretching back to 1586...]


In what seems to becoming a pattern for choir-related travel (see "Of trains and harpsichords"), my journey to Rotterdam was nearly thwarted by an ammonia spillage at Rotterdam Central station, which caused the whole station to be shut down, and trains cancelled for most of the day. Fortunately, I arrived at Delft station just as things started moving again, and was able to catch the first train to Rotterdam, in time to meet my lift. Arriving at Rotterdam, I was met by a small amount of chaos, and a fire engine, but fortunately, no further trouble and we made it to the church in time for the start of rehearsal.

Despite the transportation problems which left a couple people stranded at home, the choir was 16-strong, including us visitors and could barely fit into the choir stalls. As a last minute substitute, I hadn't been to the previous rehearsals, so I had to think on my feet a little. Still, most of the music was familiar, so there wasn't too much sight-reading. After a bit of a shaky start as the choir settled in, we managed to run through most of the music in the hour before the service. As this was the choir's first Choral Evensong, quite a few nerves were evident, but Sonja, the choirmistress did a great job of pulling everyone together.

After a quick break to robe up, drink a cup of tea, and brush up on a few notes, we lined up for the service. Processing in a strange church is always nervewracking - you never know what obstacles may lie ahead to trip you up! When you're wearing a borrowed robe, and a member of the clergy is up ahead photographing you, it becomes even more daunting.

Although a few things went a little amiss with the order, the service itself went very well. For once, we were singing evensong in a packed church, something which is a rarity even in cathedrals, and certainly not familiar to us in The Hague (we had a turnout of 9 people for our service of Choral Evensong last Sunday night!).

When I joined the choir two years ago, I didn't realise what a large community I would find myself in. Despite my fears that I would find myself part of a closed English community, I find myself now with many friends both from the Netherlands and other expatriates from around the world. This evening was a wonderful opportunity to sing with and meet up with my friends from other parts of the Netherlands.

Music List:
  • Bless O Lord, us thy servants - Harper
  • Preces and Responses - Hopper
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis - Harwood in Ab
  • I will sing with the Spirit - Rutter
  • The strength of God - Harper

Friday, 4 April 2008

GC14RZQ - Den Haag, NL

Cache Description

It's taken some time, but finally I found my first cache in The Netherlands - a micro, near to the Peace Palace in Den Haag. The cache is just down the road from church, so I dropped in on a rainy Friday evening on my way to choir practice.