IT seemed entirely appropriate that the 50-strong Adur Concert Band (ACB) should celebrate its half-term weekend sampling the delights of the incomparably beautiful Champagne region of France.
Meticulously organised by dynamic MD Andrew Burchfield and his attractive flautist partner Jo Stevens, we were soon set up and ready on the stage of the Place du Forum in central Rheims.
Smartly clad in black, white and turquoise, we played for over an hour in the evening sunshine and drew an appreciative audience of residents and visitors, including a couple from Melbourne claiming they had specifically come to France to hear our band.
After a long day and following a convivial evening at one of the popular local restaurants, most of us were ready to hit the sack.
After breakfast at our comfortable hotel, ACB entertained at the nearby Station Piazza, and sure enough our Aussie fans were again there to listen to the Beatles, Kurt Weill, Les Miserables, etc.
The rest of the day was free for us to explore this wonderful and historic city which was ‘en fete’ for the 600th anniversary of the iconic Joan of Arc.
Strolling medieval minstrels, colourful artisans and delectable refreshments among the cobble-stones were the order of the day, culminating in a spectacular light show (Reve de Couleurs) at the stunning cathedral.
Sunday was our special Champagne day, visiting the fascinating cellars of one of the many chateaux at nearby Epernay, and of course, sampling a glass of their famous bubbly. We had just travelled through the beautiful vine-clad countryside, thus following the fascinating progress of grape to vat to bottle, after which we were treated to an outdoor lunch by the local Twinning society at the multi-national Fete de la Biere (Beer Festival? Yes, that tasted good too!)
An entertainment stage had been set up on the square, with ACB being the last of three acts, and once again we wowed our audience with our superb woodwind, brass and percussion.
After our fond farewells, the Twinners very kindly sent us on our way with more champagne.
The weather had also been very kind to us throughout the weekend, and after lustily singing Happy Birthday to Jo, we relaxed in our comfortable coach for the length of our long and winding road journey home.