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Battle of Flowers August 2009

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday - Saturday

The Trip

With everyone ready to board the coach outside the ‘Hollingwood’ the loading operation was probably one of the smoothest on record. Very soon the Chesterfield contingency were on board and heading towards the motorway and our two pick-up points in Eastwood town. Again a smooth transaction was repeated with the stashing of all the equipment which included all uniforms instruments and a variety of food to bide the party throughout the week long stay. This left the drivers some 40minutes ahead of our schedule, this early into the trip.

Receiving the New Fleeces courtesy of "The Hollingwood"

Keeping up this momentum, we progressed past our 45 minute motorway stop before engaging in some on board entertainment provided by ‘Gloria’, our resident entertainer, with his own brand of bingo calling, which kept everyone amused for a considerable time. This was followed by an impromptu concert of accapello singing by the entire party which drew the assumption (laughably) that this was more tuneful than the band with instruments.

However, this was interrupted whilst we collected the hired transit van from the Thrifty depot in Bournemouth before travelling the final few miles down to Poole Harbour. Where we were scheduled to catch the 16:10 sailing across to Jersey via Guernsey, but the big problem to be confronted now was how much of the excessive baggage could we stash in the vehicle and we had serious thoughts that many items would become hand luggage once on the vessel.

Surprise surprise and welcome relief when the final item is declared safely on board and Malcolm, our elected driver, headed over to the vehicle loading point, full of the weekly supplies including the box of pans and dishes deep fat fryer, George Foreman and of course Andrews’s favourite teddies and his scooter, now we could all relax and wait for the sailing time.

With the usual bad sailors in our party doping themselves to the limit, to stave off the dreaded sea sickness and one or two of the new members fearing the worst it was with some trepidation that the members settled into our pre-booked area aboard the ‘Condor Express’ for the 4 hour crossing.

Transfer from ferry to Digs

Waiting for a Bus - Not sure what everyone is doing but every pose has a story

The Bitch Bed ( Mainly redundant for the week)

As boldness took over, the party began to sample the food, beers and wines on offer at Cafeteria and bar area. Then after every one was content and full the members again collectively provided a further rendition of their harmonising, each performing their particular instrumental part in the various tunes much to the surprise of the other travellers on board. Fortunately the singing was curtailed as our destination was signalled and all the passengers along with the ‘Musketeers’ disembarked to be met by our Margaret Fitzgerald our host on behalf of the ‘Battle’ Committee who soon had us climbing on the coach and followed by Malcolm in the hired van and heading up the promenade and our accommodation in the St Lawrence Community Centre.

Touring the Town & it's sites

Everyone singing on the Karaoke

Like a well oiled machine the members combined as one to turn the baron sports hall into their own vital space and a nice comfy dormitory housing the varied double and single sized air beds and sleeping bags was created.

Meanwhile all the items of food and drink were stacked in the fridge enabling Natalie to commence preparing our pre cooked evening meal of sweet and sour chicken or chicken curry and rice with the few not liking this selection, bacon butties were available for them. Once satisfied the members were organising other activities to take them through to bedtime which after the long day fortunately wasn’t to late, but before retiring the kitchen staff lead by the hollingwood’s own Pierre Marco White Mark Godfrey, organised and concocted the Breakfast Menu. Then every member pre ordered their breakfast requirements a nightly feature to assist with Jersey’s version of Hells Kitchen.

Early Tuesday morning and with the smell of frying bacon, egg, sausage mushrooms, beans tomato’s, fried bread, black pudding or cereals and toast everybody walked into the breakfast area to a well filled platter with loads of steaming hot tea and coffee.

Different Images of the "Hag Night"

Breakfast accommodated everyone prepared to catch the service bus down into town, with several electing once again to go swimming, some to visit the castle and the rest dividing and converging in the shopping area for some retail therapy. The fun started right away when entering a branch of Barratt’s shoes Mark managed to convince the sales lady that apart from the advertised discount on the sales items a further discount wouldn’t go amiss has the entire company was to close down shortly following several branches near home and informing her that he was sorry he was the bearer of such bad news, several other retail outlets suffered something of this nature along the town centre area, which included the BHS Restaurant area where a rather harassed young lady behind the counter got herself rather flustered with the orders and proceeded to cash in is order for under £14 making it £150 with change to the value of £135, a perfumery store also came under similar treatment as they attempted to understand this approach

By now, early afternoon the sun had broken through providing a very warm sunny approach to the rest of the day and with Sara having purchased her hen party costume ready for the evening celebrations at the centre, an early return to St Lawrence allowed the members to take their time in preparing along with the chance for some sunbathing on the football pitch, followed by showers and titivating up before the party started.

Natalie took over the kitchen area to finish cooking the large trays of lasagne and salad to help line everyone’s stomachs before indulging in the variety of drinks on offer, these helped set the tone of the evenings karaoke session, with several members well up for having a laugh and making Sara’s occasion a great success in Jersey.

 

As the drink took effect the members slowly drifted away to sleep of this self imposed state. Poor Kelly looking a little worst for wear after trying her first taste of hooch and also sunburns to her forehead, cheeks and one ear and being daubed with aftersun, making her look more like a chip shop counter assistant than a drummer girl much to her displeasure but it did raise a laugh to others.

At six-o-clock on Wednesday morning a big shock to everybody’s system when the piercing sound of the Centre Fire Alarm wailed around the building, bringing the party to their feet instantly, before it was quickly established that there was no immediate threat to our persons, instruments and uniforms etc; but just Mark and the early morning kitchen crew already started on breakfast arrangements causing the fracas by over cooking a few mushrooms.

 

To say what state some had gone to their beds in the early hours they appeared pretty active following this alert, but for some it just meant they could turn-over and have that bit longer before having to rise, but non the less breakfast containing similar to Tuesday was prepared and eaten much earlier than anticipated.

With this out the way the members decided what they wished to do for their day’s entertainment and once again several groups emerged, including a proposed visit by a large majority to the island’s zoo, one or two taking the trip down town and the others deciding to have a game of football outside the centre on the pitch, but before all this the ‘Musketeers’ elected to have a run through the entertainment programme on the pitch to get the ‘rust’ off prior to the main ‘Battle’ Thursday afternoon which went down very well.

On return from the varied choices everyone commented on how enjoyable their particular choice had gone down, 16 members of our party had chosen to visit the Jersey Zoo were everyone explained afterwards what a nice time they had enjoyed amongst the Gorillas, Orang-utans, and Baby Meerkats. Another 5 visited the Living Legends and experienced Adventure Golf, did some serious Go Karting and most of the youngsters played football then visited the sports shops in town.

However, on the return of everyone to the community Centre the kitchen was very active as a variety of different meals were put together as selected by the individuals which included; Burger egg and chips, pizza and chips fish fingers and a very tasty ham and egg with chips. Once these had been demolished the shower rota was brought into action for the members to catch the service bus down to the carnival fun- fair down in St Helier were the party of ‘Musketeers’ could let their hair down big style before returning to the centre and an early night (1am).

Rising Thursday morning, Mark decided to chill and enjoy the moment while the kettle was boiling by watching a family of local badgers and rabbits playing on the field, he then began to cook the now familiar selected English breakfast, after an hour he was rather confused as to the lateness of the “early breakfast birds” so he sent one of the kitchen aids to wake a few sleeping members. Slowly a few dazed members arrived to start the daily routine before relaxing around the centre or outdoors on the soccer field. Later in the morning it became apparent to Mark that his phone had switched to Central European Time, which was an hour earlier, hence being sat with the wildlife at 4:30am and not his usual 5:30am. Around 11:30am it was time for everyone to assist with loading the uniforms instruments and other necessary equipment into the transit prior to the arrival of our coach to collect and transport all members down to Lay-by one in the
Arena our scheduled starting point.

Once there the ‘Musketeers’ were each issued with a packed lunch to sit and relax with, before having to don the rest of the uniform in order to lead off the 2009 ‘Battle of Flowers’ up the seafront arena.

With the honour of leading the ‘Battle’ once again bestowed on the band the members played up to the crowded stadiums and seated areas as well as those jostling for a good vantage point that were lining the pavements each side of the arena as the ‘Musketeers’ marched past and at every opportunity were encouraged to present one of the variety of dance routines along the way. Surprisingly the first half of the parade arena appeared to pass by very quickly as the adrenalin coursed through the member’s bodies.

Time out at the turnaround to take in some water before our marshalling buddy Cathy gave the order to line up for the return march and very shortly after the band was heading off down the Avenue once more.

With the weather being much cooler this afternoon than last years ‘Battle’ everybody completed the parade in good style as we dismissed at the end of West Park where our transit van was parked awaiting our return and soon after the members were quickly changed and loading onto the coach for our short drive back to St Lawrence.

Thursday night has always been our traditional walk down to the local pub for a meal and a drink and the night when everyone can get dressed up, but afterwards it’s a return to the centre and a quick change back into the relaxing Jim Jams, shorts etc.

Rising Friday morning in leisurely fashion ready to enjoy another filling full breakfast or toast and cereal and with a clear blue sky and hot sun beckoning there was plenty of choice to be made. Again several elected to go to the Jersey War Tunnels, some decided on a shopping expedition and a few took the bus journey down to the beach to soak up the sun, the remainder stayed at the centre preparing for the evenings ‘Moonlight Parade’ and starting their packing ready for Saturdays departure home.

Right on schedule at 7:00pm the coach rolled up and everybody boarded except Malcolm our transit van driver who followed on just behind with the loaded instruments and uniforms and bottles of ice cool water. The ‘Musketeers’ had been pre-warned that they were to provide some pre parade entertainment in front of the dignitaries seated in the main stadium and the opposite side of the road where high prices had been paid to secure the seats in the packed stand before being honoured to lead this parade from the front again.

Having checked out the area for our performance we decided to present the full 15 minute display across the width of the dual carriageway which meant the members had to be well aware of their footing because of raised kerbs during their movements, however, the professionalism of the entire band shone through has a brilliant display was acknowledged by everyone around and set the tone for the evenings parade by the band.

Unfortunately at the end of the first length young Bethany, bless her, decided she’d had enough and collapsed spectacularly into the side of the carriageway for a short nap, but with immediate expert assistance, care and attention from our own party of Rhiannon and Paul before the Paramedics could get to her, she was well on the way to a good recovery very soon and she was able to be driven back in style to the starting point undeterred.

Meanwhile after more refreshments the band were soon traversing back down the other side past the thousands stretched along the way before concluding another year of the Jersey ‘Battle of Flowers’.

After changing in time to watch the giant firework display before heading back to St Lawrence for a late snack and bed, ready for the early rise to clean up the centre before departure at 9:30am.

Again the early morning sun helped raise the members from their beds and fed and with a smooth loading of the van well in hand before the coach finally arrived to get our party to the ferry port and on board the ‘Condor Express’ for the return crossing back to Poole Harbour and the coach back up north and home.

 

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The Day Parade

The Moonlight Parade

Lottory GrantChesterfield Borough Coat Of ArmsMusky