Friday, 8 June 2012

A weekend of downs and ups

And both of those were rather extreme; the downs were pretty shitty, but the ups were fantastic.

On Friday I flew to Italy with Choir 18, which is one of the choirs we sing with.  Sadly, Jenny had to stay at home, as she had to mark Cambridge University exam papers over the weekend, and there's no escape from that.

To my amazement, Ryanair was OK in both directions; nothing like as squalid and disorganised as I remember from a couple of years ago.  On the other hand, there had been threat of a baggage handlers' strike, so I'd got hand luggage only, which made life easier, even if I did waste the £50 I'd paid for a checked bag.

 I went with three other friends, one of whom had been through Rome Ciampino airport before and knew where to catch the coach across town to Rome Termini railway station, so I just followed along.

At the railway station, we'd just missed the 6.30 train, as expected, so had time for dinner before the next train at 8.45.  We went upstairs to a balcony self-serve restaurant, where we had decent food and some nice wine.

Sadly, I was careless with my handbag, hanging it over the back of my chair, and some time later, when I went to buy more wine, I found my purse had been filleted, lightened to the tune of about 250€ and £75.  Fortunately, I keep my cash and cards separate, so the scumbag hadn't found the cards and I was able to draw more cash later.  Welcome to Italy, sucker!

The trains were all incredibly cheap, and worked fine, but about half an hour out of Filogno, our destination, I started to feel unwell.  By the time we disembarked I was feeling quite sorry for myself, and when we arrived at the convent in which we were staying, I was shivering uncontrollably, with an obvious high temperature.

In my room I piled all the bedclothes from the second bed onto my own, and still partially dressed, lay there shivering for a couple of hours.  Eventually I fell asleep, and slept fitfully through the night.

The symptoms were typical of flu, but milder, so not enough to keep me in bed over the weekend, but enough to make life pretty miserably much of the time.  The intensity ebbed and flowed, so some of the time I felt fine, some lousy.  Friends gave me paracetomol, lemsip and sympathy, all of which helped!

The weather was great and we trained to the next town up the track, Spello, and made our way up the hill.  Alex, one of the tour organisers, lead us up to the top of the hill to a balcony restaurant with a terrific view.  The photo is a stitch-up of three I took from the restaurant.  You can tell how ill I was because I drank water. Well, to tell the truth, the jugs of beer arrived first and we were all very thirsty from the climb up the hill, so I had a small glass of bee first, but the rest of the time it was water.  My lunch consisted of a smallish green salad.  I told you I was ill!

I survived the rehearsal in the afternoon, but couldn't make it past half-way through the concert, deciding it would be better to withdraw than to collapse in a heap while singing.  Fortunately there was a point where the choir separated widely into two sections, so in the confusion as they reassembled, I was able to duck out to the side without it being too obvious to the audience.

We found this picture (I swear it's Rowan Atkinson!) in the room we changed in before and after the concert.  I couldn't resist!

In the evening I joined a group of friends, intending to eat with them, but after a glass of prosecco and some nibbles, decided a full meal would be a waste of time.  When they split to find a restaurant, I stayed in the bar (outside in the main square) and had a glass of red with more nibbles.  By the time that had gone down, I'd had enough and retired, hurt, to bed.

On the Sunday we took the train to Assisi where a small group of us wandered around rubbernecking.  It really was fabulous, and I was starting to feel quite a lot better.   There are two churches in the Basilica of St Frances, an upper church, where we rehearsed first, and a lower church where we sang mass.  After mass, we returned upstairs and sang a 45 minute concert in the upper church.
Alex and Temi, our tour organisers from a company called singingholidays.com, had done a great job publicising our concerts, so both on Saturday and Sunday we had decent audiences.  Quite gratifying that we acquitted ourselves well and got lots of compliments from clergy and audience. And one of the clergy filmed the whole thing, and there was word of sticking some of it up on YouTube, though whether that will ever actually come about is anybody's guess.

Alex did post one track on YouTube for us.  It's not my favourite piece, but you get the idea.

We parked ourselves in the station bar while waiting for the train, and with waving beers, sang a few numbers, which seemed to go down quite well.  Then to dinner organised by Temi and Alex in a Foligno restaurant.  Terrific food and excellent wine.  We had a fixed, six-course meal, though I could only make it through to course four before exhaustion overcame me and I sloped off to bed.  Some of the rest were up until 2.30 the wicked people!

On Monday we took the train back to Rome, the coach to Ciampino airport and Ryanair home, all smoothly and without a hitch. I took Jenny a nice bottle of Barolo as compensation for having to stay at home marking.  Marking turned out not to have been completely bad, as the weather was filthy, so she couldn't have done any gardening anyway.

These and a few more photo's are now also here on a web page on my site.

3 comments:

Jennyta said...

We always seem to pick the most inconvenient times to be ill! Still, I hope you are fully recovered now, Rob.

ArcticFox said...

sounds positively "trying" - glad you've escaped in one piece - what a shame you couldn't enjoy the trip to the full extent...

Rob Clack said...

Thank you. All well by Monday evening when I got home, natch!