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14 June 2007

We conquered London!

Well its been a few days since our visit down south and about time I blogged about it!

After all the car problems referred to in the last post, the weekend went without further hitch so thanks for those who were praying for us. Don turned up in very good time to get us down to the airport and we joined a very excitable group that was already gathered. After getting through check in and security etc, we settled down for a cuppa (declined to pay £2.75 for a bacon roll!) and waited for the call to board our plane to London Gatwick.

The flight went well and we arrived safely just after half 11. After a quick routemarch, we found our slightly dodgy looking coach, persuaded the driver to let us eat our packed lunch on board, then headed off to the Royal Albert Hall. Now, I grew up down south so know the area pretty well, but was completely confused by the route the driver took to get us into London. Certainly not the most direct route and definately not the quickest as three lanes of traffic around Twickenham was reduced to one lane by roadworks! So in the end, it was quicker to fly from Edinburgh to Gatwick than it was to drive form Gatwick to the RAH. After 1hr45, we arrived at the hallowed ground for today. And not a moment too soon - we were all tired, hot and a few were getting a tad on the grumpy side (not me for a change!)

We quickly found our changing areas then were ushered into the main hall to be seated. No mean feat with over 500 'young' people to get organised! But the team from THQ Music Ministries Dept did a fine job and we all got placed. I was right up on the back row of the choir seats with my fellow tenors - a long way up, very near the lights, but with a great vantage point!
We were then taken through all the songs we were to sing - twice through each one - before finally getting a break about 4:15. We were issued with official polo shirts and, more importantly - food, then went out for some fresh air. I use the word fresh loosely as it was far from that - very close and sticky but it was outside nevertheless!

Managed to get time to link up with Mum who had come up for the gig. She bought us a drink and gave us a nice tub of biscuits from Harrods - well you have to don't you! But before long, it was time to head back in to the slightly less pleasantly fragranced mass changing rooms, to get ready to be on stage for 6 - the gig started at 6:30.

A great crowd had gathered and despite mobile phones being off and no photography allowed, somehow these pics got onto my phone! Oops! It really looked a great sight with our massed choir flanking the International Staff Band and Songsters of The Salvation Army.

One slight problem of being so far back and so high up, was that we were just behind the main screen. It didn't cover us but we just watched everything in mirror image! But it also meant that some closer image photos could miraculously appear on my phone also.

Here's the cornet section of the ISB and also the Christian Rock Group Electrolyte, who happen to be members of The Salvation Army. Great to have them there as it was the first time I'd heard them live. Check out their stuff in iTunes if you get the chance. They accompanied some of our songs and performed a solo set. One of their items was added to by the ISB which was great to see and hear a fusion of old and new styles together - and it actually worked.

After the gig, we headed back on coach (thankfully a different one!) and endured more travelling this time up to Luton. Thanks to roadworks which closed part of the M1, it took us 1hr30 to get there - should have only been an hour! Anyway, arriving at the Salvation Army there at 11pm we were met by our billets for the night. Well, ours was running late as she'd been at the RAH too, but it gave us a chance to look around the hall - more about that in a later post. Will also talk about the Sunday at Luton later too.
After the events of Sunday, we arrived at Luton airport to a 45min check in queue, then once we'd got through security, we found out there was a half hour delay on our flight. So we did the only thing you can do in this situation - headed to Starbucks for a cup of tea and a muffin. Went for the Orange and Lemon muffin this time - nice!

Finally it was time to board the plane and travel home having been met at the airport by C-A's parents and, most importantly, Kathryn!

It was a long and tiring weekend but a thrill to be part of. You can watch part of the RAH concert via The Salvation Army's website here. Carol-Anne appears more than I do!!

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