A personal impression by Anne Prowse, ‘Choir Mum’

Girls’ weekend away…with a difference!

From the moment we climbed aboard the bus, the excitement and anticipation of great things to come was evident among choir and supporters alike. It was an unusual relief for Mums to hand over the responsibility for organising, controlling and entertaining lively offspring to the men of the Choir. However, we were assured that ‘no interference’ was the best – indeed the only way! I for one relinquished power very willingly and sat back to relax.

If it was a long journey, I did not notice it. The driver provided several well timed comfort stops and the rest of the time was spent catching up on lost sleep. The ferry trip was enjoyable, short and smooth and in no time we disembarked on French soil.

We soon ventured into Belgium and experienced our first ‘foreign’ stop. The first word I learned was ‘defekt’ which became a useful part of our vocabulary on several visits to the Ladies, where plumbing was suspect and charges exorbitant. There was also a lack of doors dividing male from female, which offered value for money for the keen peeping Tom.

Holland appeared quite surprisingly different to the rather monotonous terrain of Belgium. Everything from the moment we crossed the border was trim, neat and carefully cultivated. Soest, in particular, was very up-market with individual-style houses surrounded by well-kept gardens often containing sheep, goats or ponies. The Youth Hostel was clean, well-equipped and inviting, although some of the bar staff seemed to find lady customers invisible! Everyone spoke fluent English and I felt quite ashamed I could not manage a single word of Dutch.

The evening meal upon our arrival was a challenge: what should we do with gravy as an accompaniment to salad? Breakfasts on the other hand were quite an adventure. Buttermilk, tasting like yoghurt, was mistakenly poured over cornflakes – despite the fact the label was given in Dutch and English. Salami, ham and cheese were also on offer and were to become our staple diet. The children appreciated the chocolate nut spread and hundreds and thousands, with no Mum allowed to say “That’s enough, Harry and George!” I lost some street cred with the ‘cooler’ Mums for volunteering to make sandwiches for the Choir picnics. “Tell them to make their own they said!” but we all soon found out it was quicker to do it ourselves. The sandwich team, including Dennis, was formed!

Anne and Nicky in Brugge

My time among the girls was refreshing and very humorous (I can still hear Nicky’s Taylor’s bedtime giggle now). A special mention must also go to Jamie Barrett who, as well as filming, dealt calmly with my son George after he was sick during the Sunday pre-Service practice.

Strong friendships were forged and I am grateful for having been allowed to share in the pride, fun and comradeship of our lovely Abbey Choir trip. I cannot describe how it felt to see our boys behave so impeccably or hear the praise for their singing, which, along with the men, raised the roof. I can’t wait for Canterbury