Greetings intrepid followers. Garth Coffey, 1st horn chugger and one of the elder statesmen of the band, here to enliven you on our last full day in Birmingham.
No doubt many of you have checked out the final results of the championship yesterday. Despite our obvious disappointment at our finals placing, the sun still rose this morning and after a night of celebration we firmly stand with our heads held high proud of what we have achieved on this tour. The effervescent (read fizziness) levels have not diminished even though the heads of some of the band members and supporters this morning were about as grey and foggy as a typical English day.
To walk onto the Symphony Hall stage to a full audience and play a piece of music that will forever be engrained in our minds is a dream come true and for some of us never likely to be repeated. Our performance was, from my perspective, the best we had performed and one we were very proud to have our name associated with. The fact the judges did not quite see it the same way is immaterial.
If want to pretend you were sitting in Symphony Hall then click on the following link and enjoy our performance.
We have certainly been well received here by everyone. A couple of us had the privilege of socialising with players from the top placing bands, many who's faces I had only seen on YouTube clips so to meet them was personal highlight. They were very complimentary of our bands performance and were very grateful for us attending and were great company to boot.
This afternoon we had the privilege of sitting back and being entertained by three of the UK's top brass bands (one of which we placed higher at the Open) at the Gala Concert held again at Symphony Hall. The standard of playing was outstanding and we were captivated for over 3 hours of brass banding heaven, complete with a guest appearances by Yoda. It certainly gave an insight into how high the standard of playing in this country is and reinforces the knowledge that we can hold our own in this company.
Finally tonight we concluded our official tour with a band dinner at Jamie's Italian. A request was made some weeks ago to get Jamie Oliver along on the basis that he did not open his restaurant in Wellington so we decided to go to his place in Birmingham. Unfortunately due to the filming of a new TV series along with becoming a new father Jamie was unable to attend. Despite the lack of a celebrity attendance we had a great night with great food.
Tomorrow we say farewell to each other with about two thirds staying on to continue their own private adventure through the UK and Europe. It will be hard to say goodbye to everyone as it will mark the end of this chapter in the bands history. The hard work both in the practice room and in fundraising for this epic journey has been worth every bead of sweat and at times tears. Once again we acknowledge and salute the support of our loved ones, our supporters and friends both old and new (shoutout to our Dobcross followers) who have been a significant part in getting us here, and hopefully, home. There have been so many highlights in the short time we have been here, perhaps ignoring our Rugby tour guide, which reinforces the fact this truly has been the trip of a lifetime. Yes we are still fizzing and yes this has been one of the greatest moments in our collective lives.
On a personal level this trip has taught me many things. Firstly, we are part of a great world wide family who enjoy making and listening to awesome music. It has also widened my appreciation of what a group of musicians can achieve when they work collectively together. We had numerous challenges in getting here but by staying focused we have climbed a very large and steep hill. To paraphrase an iconic New Zealander, we nearly knocked the bastard off. We certainly gave the bastard a fright!