All 8 entries tagged Holiday

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January 04, 2005

Christmas Break Highlights

Nope, didn't get highlights. Maybe I should - will try and work it out with PaintShopPro (couldn't get PhotoShop). Anyway, here's what I did last Christmas:

  • Went Christmas shopping in London. Ended up with 2 delayed birthday gifts and no Christmas presents;
  • Admired the interior of a nice club in London (somewhere in Camden, forgot its name, something with a K). Reunited with really cool Edrev people (and other cool Rev people);
  • Had a wicked Carol service in Westwood Church. Sang really loud in the choir;
  • Organized dinner for friends but didn't need to cook – hence dinner was amazing;
  • Weighed 10,5 stone. Go fish'n chips! Weighed less after Christmas dinners oddly enough;
  • Did not need to order water while eating Chicken Korma. Nor did my friend: go Frank!
  • Watched Finding Nemo. Again. Bingo!
  • Did all my personal Christmas shopping (including trying on clothes, deciding between CDs and DVDs, etc.) + family's gifts (to be fair, it was all on a list) in one afternoon;
  • Bought the same jumper for myself as my mom+sis got for my practically-brother-in-law;
  • Had 3 Christmas dinners and saw 2 of the DVDs I got;
  • Got 3 DVDs but they're of no use over here as they're not English spoken and my friends generally don't speak Portuguese (City of God), Chinese (Hero), or Japanese (Spirited Away). Subtitles in Dutch;
  • Had a kroket (unfortunately no picture);
  • Had loads of oliebollen (2 pictures);
  • Had a beer before 3pm;
  • Managed to finish another year without using drugs or setting of fireworks (*);
  • Woke up at 9.45am on the first day of the year – how promising!
  • Managed to get away with only 4 computer-related consults (installed a router – pronounce row-turr – and some more internet crappies);
  • Finished my Barbados entries;
  • Got a flight to Coventry Airport. Not sure if it landed there. We had to walk from the plane to a shed (no kidding!) where a girl checked our passports. Some bus got us to the Railway station where:
  • I had to wait less than 35 minutes for a bus 12 (2 minutes only – shocking!);
  • I realized the new ER season doesn't start till next week on C4;
  • I realized the new OC season doesn't start till 30 January on C4, which means we only have to wait till 6 March for the first decent episode (thanks Arielle for this info!);

So I can get from my sister's place in Amsterdam to my place near campus in 3 hours. Good to know. Don't worry about the mentioning of TV shows, I will work harder this term – honest. I was already in the Maths Department within the first 2 hours I was in the country!

December 23, 2004

Barbados (Friday evening and Saturday)

We swam off the JR grease with some good games of Ianball (sounded more appealing than having something to eat and drink), and got ready for an improvised trip to a local church.

The church service was great – lots of singing halleluiah, and a brilliant drama showing the problems in the Carribean – and it wasn't too hot with all fans working and some more rain outside. Yet, the evening turned out a disaster with half of us (nearly) fainting. The lack of proper food during the week (yes we had snacks and bites, but hardly a substantial dinner) in combination with sunburn, lack of water, and balance issues (from the Jolly Roger), the first one of us passed out during the service, and by the end some 5 girls were being nursed by Josie (one of the Ribits folks who fortunately stayed around!) near a huge fan.

We stayed at the church for an hour or so – presumably waiting for the girls to feel better – and got served more water and some food. Ready to leave, I suddenly found out the situation was far worse than 'just' exhaustion: an ambulance had been called for one girl had stopped breathing and another felt needles throughout her body (won't go too much into details as I don't think it's necessary, and I guess you can understand the seriousness of the situation). With the rest of us in the church's bus to bring us back to the hotel, we got worried and slowly one by one the domino effect kicked in, and almost all either freaked out or started to feel faint. Not all passed out, because that would be silly, and really unfortunate, but some (including the wonderful people from the church) stayed calm and again provided us with water and food and this time prayer as well.

The craziness didn't end there, for as soon as we got back to the hotel, and we had to tell those who hadn't come along to the church what was going on, we slowly started freaking out again. A hotel is fortunately a better place to calm down, and soon one of our rooms was turned into a ward. It must be said that by this time, some of the guys had passed out as well, and I had to sit down myself (even started undressing – apologies to any witnesses, it was really hot!) because of heavy sunburn. The rest of night we devoured all ice cubes available in the hotel and some good mac'n cheese and bananas (thank you 'nurse' Esther and 'nurse' Melody, and Amanda and Abi as well for dedicating your appartment to us 'patients'). I don't like bananas, but this one was finished in no time! I still can't imagine what the situation must have looked like for those arriving later… After 2 hours Chrisi dropped by again and dismissed me from the 'ward'. She was also able to tell us that the two girls in the hospital were both stable, so we were ready to take a rest.

Saturday was dominated by err drinking as much water as possible (peed 4 times in 2 hours or so!) and eating as well. The girls had returned early in the morning and were being taken care of by their friends (basically forcing them to eat and drink and rest as much as possible). We all felt OK enough for our flight, but once our trip back to the UK started, we seemed to start a re-run of last night's drama. Fortunately, Josie (who is actually officially a nurse) was still around to help out and make everyone feel better, and we all spent our last Bajan dollars on water so that there would never be a shortage! The flight was fine (I basically slept through all the turbulence over the Atlantic – some had to stay awake most of the time for the second night in a row however, to stand by in case any more treatment was needed) and by Sunday morning we were back at Manchester Airport, arriving at Warwick in the afternoon, within a few hours all cooled down from our hot bizarre trip to Barbados.

As far as I know, everyone who went on the trip is still breathing, and ready and tanned to celebrate Christmas. Josie caught up on her lack of sleep within 3 days. I didn't suffer from a jet lag despite a sleepless night - that one was due to my first cup of coffee ever. My house is up to temperature after I'd told my housemate to turn off regulated heating hoping to save some pounds (I had to wear scarf and hat in my living room). Watching Dutch version of Popstars right now as the losers (those evicted in the early stages) are ruining 'Winter Wonderland', good to be home...

Barbados (Friday morning and afternoon)

Just realized I promised some to finish the Barbados stuff by Christmas, so I thought I might as well do the last entry now!

Got up early on Friday for an official picture of the choir on the beach. Everyone in their concert top (bottom clothing was optional/own choice) looked good and surprisingly awake! While were at it, we did some more photo shoots on the beach (looking forward to Ian's pictures!) and slowly got excited about our last event of the week: the Jolly Roger!

Included in our whole 'Yo! We're going to Barbados!'-package was a trip on the Jolly Roger: a 'pirate' ship with plenty of rum punch and lots of partying! As soon as we got on board the rum punch started flowing freely, but when we started sailing I decided to stick to the err non-alcoholic fruit punch.

The ride was a lot of fun: continuous dancing on Bajan beats, applying sunscreen, getting more drinks (though stupid me forgot that part!), and getting sunburnt (more stupidity, I know). The ship stopped for us to go to the beach/have a swim around the boat/do some snorkelling. Since we were planning to go snorkelling the next day anyway, and I didn't really feel like jumping from the ship, the idea of exploring another beach than the one at the hotel seemed good to me.

I only needed to put one foot on the nice crispy sand and it started raining cats and dogs (using the English expression as it soon turned out to be cold 'UK rain' – quoting Phil). Since we were getting wet we thought we might as well run into the sea. This brought us the odd sensation of being warm under water with our heads in the cold rain. Obviously, as soon as the carrier came to bring us back to the ship, the rain stopped.

Back on the Jolly Roger, everyone laid out their stuff to dry (it was extremely penetrating for 'UK rain'), and dinner was served! I safely went for chicken and added all the extras (even vegetables)! The meal was very welcome after the rain and was nicely accompanied by some good old Bob (Marley, not Dylan, sorry Rick!). Afterwards, those who wanted had some time to enjoy swinging off the ship from a rope/get forced off the JR from the plank. With everyone back on board, we set sail for Bridgetown, our starting point, and got some lessons in Bajan dancing (left, right, up, down, that kind of stuff), partying till the end.

Back at the hotel we were pleasantly surprised to find some of the Ribits people still there. They were supposed to leave for England on Friday but their flight was cancelled, and there wasn't enough space on the next flight for all of them. I have never seen people so happy to miss a flight, but then again, they were on Barbados.

Barbados (Thursday)

Can't really remember what I did Thursday morning, but I guess I slept in a bit and played some Ianball. While others went to Bridgetown or for a big lunch at a pub at the beach, I decided once more to listen to the Ribits choir rehearse - this time with 'band'!

Thursday, concert day! The concert was supposed to be our main event – the Ribits choir had already had two performances, one of which was in front of 2000 people (!) in a mini festival with proper gospel choirs from the West Indies. Therefore, everyone was excited as this was what we'd been rehearsing for all term!

I lost track of time during the evening, but it turned out to be as bizarre as I promised earlier. I think we were supposed to start at 8, leaving one hour for sound check for 2 choirs and a band – ah well, we're in Barbados! Eventually, the Ribits choir started their (reduced) set at I believe half eight with 'Eyes on the Prize'. Even though they'd only met for the first time on Saturday and only had 2 or 3 rehearsals since then, and even though Chris wasn't allowed by the 'technicians' to balance the mics and all, they sounded great, and I grooved happily along!

Now, as soon as they were finished, we (the Warwick Revelation choir) took their place on stage and we could see the turn up. Had to look hard though – apart from the 40 people in the Ribits choir, and the 10 people from the Miraclettes (gospel choir that would perform this night as well), there were only 2 people – 2 girls I think I recognized from one of the schools we'd visited – but they left before we started our set (as it was already 9pm). So basically no audience coming especially to see us. But well, we're in Barbados!

Since there was still going to be a DVD on the tour and the concert, and we had worked hard for this moment last term, we decided to enjoy the moment for what it's worth. Didn't need too much to enjoy for the Ribits folks already started grooving once they recognized the chorus for 'Sign me up!'. Again, singin put a smile on my face, and with some encouraging words from Steph I never stopped singing (apart from when I realized I might need my voice later on in life and I noticed that Shaun was loud enough to sing for 2 – got some good complementary singing going on in the tenor section!) and thus smiling.

The response was great, and with a grand finale of joint singing with the Ribits choir ('My Redeemer Lives') it seemed as if most troubles of the week for forgotten. It didn't take away the disappointment, but I'm sure the DVD will look good! It was too late for the Miraclettes to perform as well, but as a nice 'dessert' (though I hadn't had any food for hours) they gave an instant workshop leaving us in awe and with loads of inspiration. I was sitting in another room snacking from some cake and thought it was a CD playing – such quality and powerful voices they have!

December 19, 2004

Barbados (Wednesday afternoon and evening)

Follow-up to Barbados (Wednesday morning) from [TBA]

Thought using the 'follow-up' feature would make this account look more professional. Anyway - after a fun-packed Christmas shopping weekend in London, where only a little shopping was done, but where I met more Rev people than expected, I now feel geared up to take on the rest of the mad day Wednesday 8 December. It wasn't as action packed as I might have made you believe earlier, I just had loads of pictures.

I don't remember what I did after getting back from the school workshop, but 90% chance I had a tasty cheese ham sandwich and a glass of pineapple juice from the really tiny and slow-but-friendly service bar at the hotel. Full of energy, I was ready to take on the biggest adventure of the week: the search for the Bajan Green Monkey. Phil had already spotted one (size: somewhat bigger than a cat, somewhat smaller than a dog; color: brown with maybe some hint of green; tail: curly like a tumbling monkey; attitude: cheeky rather than tumbling) in the streets of the Gap, but I wanted to see one with my own eyes! Unfortunately, a trip to the inland wildlife reserve seemed a bit too ambitious, so we got a great group of people together to visit the Graeme Hall Swamp (which was conveniently enough only a 10 minute walk away).

Not completely sure if I mentioned it before, but Barbados seems to be more about culture than nature. The wildlife reserve we visited was rather a piece of land (almost dedicated to more business and touristy stuff, though obviously the reserve is a tourist attraction as well) turned into a true mangrove. To be fair, the big lake was already there, but I understood they used the rest of the land to make it a true refuge for whatever birds pass by, and to reconstruct/preserve one of the last mangrove forests on the island.

Sorry – enough serious talk! Where's this monkey!? Well, I didn't spot it. We had a great tour of the park where we saw huge fish and really tiny crabs with big claws. And lots of birds and plants and trees. We had a really nice tour guide with Bajan accent who tried his best not to give us a school trip kind of feeling. Apart from the hilarious little crabs, most exciting was the bird with the spoon beak ('lepelaar', see gallery). We spent a great deal of time in the reserve, as it was really peaceful and cool and serene and all – a nice place to hang out.

Afterwards we went for ice cream (first one this week for me!) to return later to find the monkey. Stupid me didn't return for I needed to swim in the pool which I hadn't done for two days, and needed time for my shower (always needs advance planning) for the night out. Blatantly the rest did go back and most of them spotted the monkey despite Pat's exciting shrills. Picture evidence might come later.

Our night out was at Bajan Roots and Rhytms: a variety act with meal included – you know, the standard tourist deal that can either be horrible or loads of fun. Well, this one was definitely worth our time – despite a waitress kept on giving us the evil eye. It started off with some standard introduction on Barbados and the Carribean, but the rum punch kept on flowing freely, as did the ice cubes… The local food we were treated to was great although I don't really remember anymore what it was. Problem was that our week had been so busy, that after dinner we all got tired and during the variety act some dozed off.

Dozing off was unfortunate, as the variety act was of a high standard as well. With some pantomime depicting the history of the island and the Carribean, and great costumes for a carnival act, it did keep me awake. The exciting part was however when members of the audience were invited for a limbo dancing contest. Unfortunately for the other concerts, we made up about 25% of the audience and so could cheer loudest for our friends! To be fair, Timmy G deserved to win with his movements that cannot be described on this blog.

After the limbo and dessert, a live band came on and played all the tunes we love so much magnificently ('Rock the boat!' is the only one I remember – maybe because of the class movement and actions going on). Even though Beth was almost abducted by a too enthusiastic customer, the night was amazing and a worthy introduction to Rick's birthday the next day! Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures – not that I wanted pics of the show, but everyone was just having such a good time! Ah well, hopefully Top B will ever reach that level (maybe a live band would be a good idea?).

Once we got back I tried to go out again to celebrate Rick's b-day but could hardly stand so decided to go back to the hotel. After a short but nice chill on the beach it was bed time for me for a big day was gonna come!

December 15, 2004

Barbados (Wednesday morning)

Seminars done. Prince Variety Show just finished. Perfect time for some more Barbados remiserating (sorry I just learned that word last week, have to use it as much as possible).

As I implied in the previous post, Wednesday morning was by far the worst time of the week. Still troubled that I'd done something horribly wrong not knowing what, I had an early night in. The Revvers singing on TV had to wake up early and we could watch them at the hotel bar but I didn't feel like it (thought I wouldn't be doing it for myself but for them). However, after we were awakened by the phone, my roomies gently forced my to get my out of bed and watch it anyway. I was too late for the main performance – which supposedly sounded great – but had another chance – as if it were meant to be – to see them finish the show with 'Jordan' (the only Rev song that can be rehearsed in 2 minutes). The tone of the morning was set however with my roomies added to my paranoia list.

The outlook was better with another workshop at Queen's College. I was still grumpy when we arrived as in the 2,5 hours since I woke up no one had actually managed to smile at me and ask me how I was doing (cannot say I had the most welcoming attitude, but usually Revvers ignore it and just shine rays of happiness to you – it's like flower power without the drugs). I have to apologize to Esther here who happened to be that first smiley person but got all my bottled up grumpiness over her. Sorry. Anyway – we arrived at the school and soon started singing, and as soon as we started our second song and I saw the innocent joyful faces of the kids there was no inch of any way on this planet I could even pretend being unhappy.

By the time we did the 'Little green frog' warmup I even agreed to jump on stage and show the silly actions – that's how drunk with happiness I'd suddenly got. Gerrard (same as before, SU [Students' Union] officer) had a special way of making the kids even more receptive to our presence, challenging them to be more enthusiastic than their rival colleges we visited before. It certainly helped.

We'd planned out to teach them 'Pass me not' – our fastest-paced song – and by the end of the workshop each and every one of them was singing along (quite impressive as you usually get some kids too shy or too cool [or awesome] to sing with us). Whilst singing the song a few of the boys got so excited they got up on their chairs and started grooving showing us some good Bajan clapping techniques, and finished the song with some grunting noises of encouragement.

Those in charge must have liked it as they offered us a bit more time to do another song. Thank God for the genius who decided to teach them the chorus to 'My Redeemer Lives'. We already tried it in another school and it seemed to catch on, but here the kids got it in one go and voila some of them got in front of the choir conducting it even. Soon the groovy clapping resumed and we were taught some kind of thunder clap to enrich our marginal movement library. We performed the song together with the students and everyone was smiling dancing and clapping – definitely this morning had given me the best experience of the week as well!

The madness wasn't even over when we finished the song! After the staged thank you's of the principal and the class president, one of the new 'conductors' ran to the front, got on his chair – encouraged by the rest of the students – and started an enthusiastic speech thanking us for sharing our songs with them. As if that weren't enough, all who didn't had to go to class sticked around and asked us for autographs!? This seriously turned into the most bizarre day to date i).

I suddenly realize this was a more action packed day than I thought it was. I'll stop here and put the afternoon and evening stuff in another post!

i) Please remain posted for the prize for most bizarre day of the week might be claimed by another...

Barbados (Tuesday)

Though the folks from the Ribits choir (Revelation in Barbados in the Sun - a 'pick n mix' of people from various Revelation choirs in the UK) were staying in the same hotel as us, we hadn't been able to meet up till Monday night after the reception. Today - Tuesday - again we suddenly had a busier schedule than expected visiting two schools, but it was well worth it!

In the first school we sang a few songs in a huge open air hall during the morning gathering. The kids were a bit reserved but seemed to open up as soon as Jon (Finnis) started his solo for 'Lean on me' – we got a fanclub going on there I think! Although personally I'm a bit tired of singing that song, apparently it is a crowd pleaser as with the next school we visited again the kids started to cheer up as soon as they heard the first chords of this tune.

As soon as we got off the bus, we were greated by the students of the second school (Harrison College, I believe) who wanted to invite us to their afternoon prayer. Unfortunately, we couldn't stick i) around that long, but it already showed the enthusiasm these kids had for a bunch of weird English (generalisation, I know) people singing at their school. I kind of forgot what we did exactly at this school, but I think we first sang a few songs for some students, then waited for an hour chilling in their (not so much open air) hall singing and rehearsing our songs, and finally sang some more songs for some more students and actually teaching them the parts to one of our songs! The workshop (teaching the song) was great – it was hard to get the students to actually join in, but as soon as you got a few enthusiastic kids, the rest joined in as well! Seeing them groove to 'My Redeemer Lives' really puts a smile on your face!

Before everyone'd pass out we were treated on some well fried chicken wings with BBQ sauce and cold water. I was planning to go and see some green Bajan (from Barbados) monkeys but was a bit too tired by now and more up for a swim and meeting the Ribits folks. Which is basically what I did, chilling in the afternoon on the porch listening to them rehearse their songs. As they are from different choirs, they hadn't had time to rehearse any of the songs before they came to Barbados, and even though they'd already had two concerts, they wanted to do well in the final (supposedly big) concert with us. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and really got me into the relaxed-man Bajan mood!

The relaxed-man Bajan mood was soon over however, as we were told that not all of us could go sing on telly for Good Morning Barbados! Luckily I was allowed to go as I knew the song (a lush version of 'While Shepherds Washed') but had to gamble my place and lost, as for some obscure reason I thought 1 was the luckiest number in 1,2, and 3 (I know – whoever picks 1?!). Was a bit down for the rest of the night, and to make it worse I felt like everyone gave me the evil eye for the rest of the night and the next morning (it's hard to keep this angst-free sorry!). Even the most beautiful sunset in the world couldn't do anything about it, though it gave me something to do for 30 minutes.

I tried to get over myself and listen to the selected people rehearse for the TV show. Didn't really help but took some more pictures. Had a great dinner – pot-bellied flying fish, fried, so basically fish and chips – and some good drinks, plus a night on the beach and swimming in the sea to close off the day. Since drunk swimming at night isn't the brightest idea ever, I decided that no one was allowed any further in the sea than me, though Mar'yn nicely observed that everyone had to be at least to metres on shore as that was where I was standing making the statement… Ah well, at least chasing the crabs on the beach was fun!

i) Literally stick, as it was some 30-odd degrees and we were inside. Obviously windows could open but the draft changed direction every other minute so it was hard to remain cool.

December 13, 2004

Barbados (Sunday & Monday)

At the end of last year, Revelation (Warwick Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir) were invited to come to Barbados in December to perform a couple of concerts. All we had to do was pay 450 quid and be available to rehearse during term time, and to be in Barbados from 6-11 December. I couldn't go at first, for I wasn't sure I would be at Warwick this year. But fortunately, I am still here, and I could join in the adventure later on! Here is an account of the first two days.

The excitement didn't surface until we were fully aware of what we were about to do. During the last rehearsal for our concerts on Barbados, Gerrard (SU officer) dropped by to give us a good idea of what to expect – workshops in schools, cocktail party with high officers in West Indies Universities and the Barbados Tourism Board, a performance on Good Morning Barbados (i.e. West Indies version of This Morning), a joint concert with a local gospel choir and our friends from the other Revelation choirs in the UK, and of course the weather forecast and the white sunny beaches!

Since we were leaving first Sunday after term (7am) many people still had to arrange some stuff at the final stage. People from Earlsdon and Leam suddenly realised there are no buses at that time to get them to Uni – interesting they depended on buses in the first place – others still needed to get sunscreen or shorts (hard to think of in December!). Yet everyone was there before the coach arrived (yes, even that person that usually sleeps in till 11am or later…) that would bring us to Manchester Airport.

The journey was great! Despite the horrible movie selection (National Lampoon's Christmas!? There's only one Chevy Chase movie I slightly enjoyed and it surely wasn't this one! A Cinderella Story – to be honest, at least half of us [including guys] watched this simple adaptation of err the cinderella story [chapeaux to Alex who realized halfway through it resembled some fairytale he used to know]) we had enough to entertain us, and if we got bored of that, we could always start singing on the half-full plane.

I should have taken an aerial view of the island, because the first thing that came up in our minds was that it must be a Caribbean version of Holland! As soon as we had landed we saw that around the airport there already were more hills than in the whole of the Netherlands, but still. The island was also very developed and cultivated – as opposed to a mountain with rainforests around it and exotic birds and monkeys everywhere, which is what I had in mind – though lots of parts made me think of the shabbier areas of Spain or Portugal (but then with loads of green instead of red-brown).

Anyway – we arrived at the hotel around 7pm Barbados time and apart from having dinner, we didn't have much on our minds, so most went to bed afterwards. The next day (Monday) everyone was awake before 9am (1pm UK time) to jump into the sea or the pool. The beach near the hotel was big enough and the sand was gorgeous – near white and crispy as snow, so soft it was and you didn't burn your feet on it even on the sunniest day. The pool was of a good size as well and soon we invented a great game (Ianball!!!) that would entertain us for the rest of the week (though sometimes replaced by a rough version of Pig (?) in the middle – rules: there are no rules!).

In the evening we all dressed up for a special party at the beautiful Savannah Hotel. We thought we were there to perform for important people, but it turned out to be a nice cocktail party/welcome reception organised for us! And it turned out to be not the first misunderstanding of the week. Nevertheless, despite the small audience, and the girls sinking in the grass with their high heels, we had a great performance. I never had so much fun conducting a song as there – maybe because everyone was smiling at me and sounded so good, or maybe because we were in fancy dress on Barbados! Afterwards, we were nicely treated on good food and free drinks (including the drink of the week: Rum punch!).

And this is the end of the first two days. I really need to start get into the UK mood again and have lunch at err 1pm (too late for that!). Will write more asap and more pictures will come tomorrow!

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