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PIPE BAND VISIT TO GERMANY
The recent Wick RBLS Pipe Band visit to play with the Highland Pipes & Drums of Bad Waldsee in Germany was a tremendous success, the band arrived back in Wick on Monday 29th September, exhausted but elated at the success of the trip. The band had left at 7am the previous Thursday and after a tiring day of travel arrived in Bad Waldsee for a meal with their German hosts and then off to stay in the homes of members of the German band.
On Friday there was another early start with the bus leaving at 7.00am for a 2 hour journey to the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria (which is the model for the Disney logo). The castle was beautiful and the views from the windows were breathtaking. The many Japanese tourists were mystified to see over 30 men and women in kilts wandering around the castle and took many photographs. After lunch in a country inn it was time to tune the pipes and a quick practice before driving to the picturesque town of Fussen where the combined band marched through the pedestrian precinct to the delight of passers-by and soon a large crowd gathered. Afterwards there was a guided tour of this beautiful town and then back to the new Pipe Band Hall in Enzisreute not far from Bad Waldsee. The German band members had laid on a lovely meal and of course plenty of beer (from a converted fire engine!) and soft drinks before an exchange of gifts – baseball caps and books from Wick and 2 bottles of Glenfiddich from the German hosts (one for the pipers and one for the drummers). The two Wick youngest pipers, Laura Mennie and Jack Cowan performed pipe solos and were rewarded with Bad Waldsee band tee-shirts.
On Saturday the band were given a “long” lie and did not have to be off until 10am, they drove in cars to the town of Weingarten where the pipers tuned in the car park of the massive basillica (church), then a walk down into the town to play in a small square where a large crowd soon gathered. After a few sets the town centre manager arrived and lead the bands through the narrow streets with a large crowd following to another larger square. After a few more sets in the scorching sun, the centre manager presented the Wick band with a flag bearing the town coat of arms. The bands then had lunch in a restaurant courtesy of the town. In the afternoon they travelled back to Bad Waldsee for a practice on the parade ground of the local fire brigade. In addition to the Bad Waldsee and Wick bands there was also a small pipe band from Ehinger and the Bad Waldsee brass band or Stadtkapelle. After a few attempts at Highland Cathedral, Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave the bands gelled and were sounding good. The brass band left to take up their positions seated in front of the town hall for the evening outdoor concert in the Rathausplatz. The concert had been well advertised and a large crowd gathered, the pipe bands lined up out of sight and then after some speeches and some tunes from the brass band they marched through the narrow streets to the square where they received a tremendous reception. Each band took it in turn to perform a solo spot with an especially warm welcome for the Wick band. The mayor was in attendance and presented a book on the history of the town to the Wick band. Each band also received an engraved shield and a bottle of Glenfiddich from the Bad Waldsee Pipe Band. The pipe bands then joined with the brass band to play their practised sets. The large crowd loved it and clapped and cheered so much that Highland Cathedral had to be played again as an encore. The pipe bands then formed up and marched off followed by a large crowd eager for more. Afterwards a ceilidh was held in a local pub – an excellent night of German and Scottish music and dancing with good food and a wee drop drink!
Sunday saw another early start of 8am at the main church in the town, the pipes were tuned inside the church and again the brass band was to play with the two pipe bands. The church is large and extravagently decorated with wall paintings, golden surrounds, etc. The bands were located inside the large altar recess behind the priest. The Mass started with the brass band playing, they played for hymns throughout the service but just before the high point of the Mass the pipe bands and brass band played Highland Cathedral, the music soared through the church completely filling it, when they finished the congregation broke into spontaneous applause. Later the combined bands played Amazing Grace. At the end of the service the attendants left and are normally followed by the priest but he stayed on and asked the bands to play Highland Cathedral once more and this was again followed by sustained applause from the congregation who too had waited. The priest then spoke to the pipe majors as the brass band left and at his request the pipe bands struck up a rousing Scottish set, the congregation were leaving but at the sound of the pipes they flocked back in, many standing at the front of the church to enjoy the music, after more applause the band left the church for a drink of beer in a café opposite, courtesy of the priest! He enjoyed the music so much that he asked if he could accompany the Bad Waldsee band on their next visit to Scotland!. A visit to the town museum was next on the programme followed by lunch in the town’s Carnival House There was then time for a walk round the town and down to the lake before it was time to tune the pipes and then onto a very exclusive golf club and hotel where the bands played for guests and were then treated to a meal in the large dining room. A final drink in a local pub rounded off the trip. There were many handshakes and cuddles and promises of more exchange visits as farewells were made.
On Monday at 7am it was time to set off on the long journey home which eventually ended in Wick just before 10pm.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the music, the scenery, the history, the food, the drink but most of all the kindness and friendliness of the German people. Firm friendships were made or renewed and everyone vowed to do their best to make the next visit to Wick by the Bad Waldsee Pipe Band as enjoyable as the Wick one had been to Germany.
Photographs show the Wick and Bad Waldsee Pipe Bands on the steps beside the Basillica in Weingarten, Germany and other places