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Current page: Concert Diary 2006

Current page: Concert Diary 2006

Concert Diary 2006

Dordrecht (an Interlude) - 21st April

Linda Simpson writes - We have seen a lot of world and never tire of new places and experiences. The only problem is that Chris should be writing this because I'm so distracted by everything that I only ever get half the story and can't remember the facts too well afterwards, Chris on the other hand has an amazing memory for facts and would not give you any waffled information. I shall do my best now to describe our tour but please don't quote me on anything.

Danny and Lenie have been friends with Chris since the early days of Magna Carta. I only met them some 20 years ago, but I guess that qualifies me to also call them friends now

Knowing that we were playing in Gorinchem on the 22nd, they invited us to have dinner and stay over on the 21st in Zwijndrecht - just 20 minutes away from the gig.

Across the river from Zwijndrecht is Dordrecht, one of the oldest ports in Holland and the Dreeflings (as they have become affectionately known) very kindly offered to take us over there for a 'guided tour' of the old town - and to see a wonderful shop called 'Pandora's'. It sounded just great to us so, camera in hand, off we set to get the water taxi f rom one side of the river to the other.

The clock tower

As we crossed, one of the main landmarks we could see on the opposite bank was a huge church but the clock tower seemed a little out of proportion. Apparently it was meant to be a further 30 metres high but the foundations were too soft and the structure began to lean rather alarmingly. At two metres out of plumb it was deemed prudent to stop building and so the clocks are a little lower than they should be. I have to say that was good news for me as my eyesight might have struggled with telling the time otherwise and 'The leaning Tower of Dordrecht' doesn't sound quite right. To add to its status it has the biggest and heaviest bell in Europe, it's called the "Bourdon" and it weighs in at 10 tons. You wouldn't want to be standing right next to that at bell practice!!

The old buildings were majestic and I was struck by features such as patterns in the brickwork and impressive carved stonework, which were common at the time but are sadly scarce in modern building. These days there is little time for decorative features other than pre-cast stone or even moulded plastic, we are the poorer for it but everything bows to the cry of 'Progress'.

The city gates were interesting, built in 1672 (if I remember rightly) and guarded by a virgin, it was said that, due to her protection, the city would not fall to invaders and, despite marauding French, Spanish and various other armies the prophecy held true at least until the 20th century when city walls were no match for modern weaponry. Never the less - the virgin still looks out across the river and so Danny and Chris felt that the photo-opportunity (to be photographed with a virgin?) should not be missed.

Moving further along, our little entourage gazed skywards, catching sight of statues, high gables and fancy ironwork on the old merchant houses. A little further and we came to one of my favourite types of waterway bridge - I know nothing about them at all but they look so romantic I had to take a photograph and then Danny pointed out the beautiful steam boat moored just beyond it. These boats are maintained and run by volunteers and so their history becomes a living thing to be admired and experienced rather than read about in books or seen in 'virtual reality' on a computer screen.

The steam boat

It was time for something completely different - 'Pandora's Box'. The shop took up three houses and was full side-to-side, floor-to-ceiling, with every i maginable household item. No doubt the result of thousands of 'house clearances' where relatives are overwhelmed with the possessions of a deceased aunt or uncle. I swear you could stand still in one corner of the place for 24 hours and still keep seeing something different.

I found a really pretty teapot, sugar bowl and matching jug but daren't buy them because then I would have had to start looking for other things to go with them like little plates for cakes etc. etc. It was the kind of place that I could have stayed in for hours - but we didn't have hours so I couldn't really do it justice. Maybe I'll get chance to visit again on some future trip (I hope) if I can convince Lenie that she needs another trip... What do you think Lenie?

As we were leaving the shop I was sad to see a whole rack of rosary beads. I always feel that such items should be returned to the church somehow and handed on - seeing them in this situation with a price tag never seems right. I imagined the countless prayers that they had been witness to and had to rescue at least one. I chose one that felt right (don't ask me to explain that one) and it has now been passed on to someone who will use it and restore its dignity.

The silly lions

We were off again - this time to a café discovered and now frequented by the Dreeflings because they serve 'egg-nog' with the coffee. What a splendid idea that is. At first we were disappointed because we only got an additional glass of water but, after making further enquiries, we were told that not everyone liked the 'egg-nog' (are they all mad?) but we could of course have some if we wished. We did wish, and warmed by both the coffee and the 'egg-nog' we set off again in search of pastures new... or somewhere to buy some chips - whichever came first

The chips won and we wandered happily along and around to the Town Hall where two very silly looking lions 'guard' the main doors. Lenie explained that the lions were commissioned and the sculptor was refused a proper fee for the job so he gave them idiotic expressions to even up the score. The Town Council, having spent the money, were not able to do anything about it and have had to endure the snub - and its repercussions ever since. It's a nice story though and I'm pleased that the lions are there still - it proves that a sense of humour can fly in the face of absurdity (is that right?).

All too soon it was time to go back home, we did after all have a gig to do that evening, but on the way back to the water taxi we passed the place where we played some twenty years ago - when I first met Danny and Lenie.

Thank you for a great time you two but, all those years, where did they go?

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