Stow Pipe Band visited Cholet in France to play at their famous carnival.
As usual too many incidents to fully detail - girls blouse, hair straighteners, double beds, missing glens, keys, squeebs, 200 years, dancers, clowns, wooden heart, etc etc
However, it was a brilliant trip and SPB hope to return in the near future. Many thanks to Isabelle, our guide for the weekend.
Friday was mainly spent travelling to Cholet. Upon arrival at Tours airport we were greeted with the welcome sight of baguettes and beer. A good start. The accommodation was at Ribou Butlins Holiday Camp in 3 compact but bijou chalets. The posh folk (Councillor, Melrose folk. girlies etc) took the 2 storey Cholet Chalet. Mr McGill was quarantined in a sound proof separate wing. Later that evening the band played on the main stage in the Festival Hall and then again on the Carnival podium. After some refreshments, we played with the Cholet local band in the Float Shed and then had some more refreshments. The locals couldn’t tell the difference between the Clown Band and some of the SPB clowns. Back to the Festival Room for more refreshments where SPB and Cholet Band played all evening including some interesting busking sets. SR played Wooden Heart with Boo Hastie accompanying on drums. SPB are now trying to recruit Boo on side drums.
As well as entertaining the locals with pipes and drums, the resident SPB jive-meister Mr Stuart ‘Astaire’ Gray reluctantly showed off some of his legendary dancing moves.
Saturday was an earlyish start to get us to the Festival Rooms for some aperitifs before lunch. Lunch was a 3 hour meat festival affair although the SPB vegetarians had a tomato each with a whiff of lettuce and then it was off to play around the town. Great fun. At night there was another fantastic meat fest of a meal while all the bands did a spot on the festival stage (SPB veggies had a pickled gherkin on a carrot stick). Later that night SPB put on their own fireworks show as a prelude to the official display the next day. The conclusion reached was that bottles make better squeeb receptacles than Conor’s trainers and that 3 squeebs tied together make more noise than only 1 at a time.
Sunday - the main carnival day. Cholet put on a great show that rivalled Stow and Lauder Fancy Dress. After playing at the Town Hall, the band did an impromptu busk with the Ecole de Samba Alegria de Tours.
A performance that would have given the drumming/ensemble judges on Glasgow Green some difficult decisions to make. Then it was back to the Hi-Di-Hi chalets for a cup of tea/whisky/Dubonnet/Ricard.
Many thanks to our guest players, Bruce Hastie and Ian Graham.
Monday - back home, with another box of baguettes and beer.