This year we did Hungary.
Flying out to Budapest from Gatwick the 48 strong group from all over Somerset landed into lovely sunny autumnal weather. Which was just as well as it had been bucketing down icy rain only the day before. Met off the plane by globetrotting nutjob Cllr Smedley, they stayed the first night at the Hotel Benczur in the leafy streets around the 19th Century Andrassy Avenue, next to the evocative Hosok Ter (Heroes Square).
|Anytime,Any Place Anywhere|
Several Hungarian supporters of the Bridgwater-Sarvar link were waiting in the centre for us. Well, in the Hard Rock cafe as we were so late, but they dashed out to show us around the waterfront area of downtown Pest with the stunning views looking towards Uptown Buda.
The next day the sun shone brighter and we took a tour of the main sights of the city. Starting on Buda's castle hill the group burst into song around the Fishermans Bastion and St Matyas Church, then again down the Siklo Funicular to Clark Adam Square. More singing. This time not especially entertaining the crowds who mistook them for the queue to the Funicular and waited patiently in line next to them. Lesley entertained everyone with some juggling. Nobody, not even the horticulturalists knew what exactly she was juggling, but hundreds had fallen from the trees nearby.
Crossing the Chain Bridge we wound up at St Stevens basilica, then split up for lunch. Then arranged to meet at the Parliament Square to set off out of town.
|A couple of councillors|
That evening we went to the Nadasdy Restaurant where we were welcomed by local Councillor Zsolt Nemeth and his famous palinka (that's an apple brandy) (which 'for purposes of recognition' has pictures of him on the bottles). He gave Yvette one. The portions were stupendous. But lest this descends into a Carry On script, I refer of course to the meals.Phwoar lumme etc.
On the saturday we went to the nearby town of Celdomolk and were greeted by the Deputy Mayor who spoke of the wine growing tradition and invited us to the nearby volcano. Which was extinct. Or 'probably' extinct. A big EU subsidy had built a massive building that taught you everything you wanted to know about volcanic eruptions. And then it was 'Carry on Up the Community Centre' for the highlight of the weekend -the concert!
|Tommy Tucker speaks (Hungarian) to the world|
The performance was not only terrific, it was incredibly moving in places. Apart from Yvettes enthusiasm for the power and inate talent of people wherever and whoever they are, you suddenly had to wake up and think 'bloody, hell this is a group of ordinary people from Somerset singing to the world with voices they never knew they had and not holding their own but bringing the house down.' And that's an achievement for everybody involved.
|Neptune blesses a passing choir ion Vienna|
And that evening saw more wine, beer and large plates of Hungarian food being consumed. This time local teacher Ildiko turned up with her guitar to teach them a Hungarian song. Mr Nemeth sang the praises of Yvette and the Choir while Cllr Ian 'Tommy' Tucker could relax after his third performance of a speech in Hungarian. And then was told that one of them had been filmed by Hungarian TV and was being broadcast to the Nation that night. He had another glass of wine.
The following day the group trekked off to Vienna with the assistance of local guide Gabor and had a relaxing tour of one of Europes most beautiful cities before catching the late afternoon flight back home.
|Gabor 'tells it like it is' (and later bursts into song)|
The reception in Sarvar and the groups programme had been organised with the hard work of local helpers Beata Kovacs and Mr Nemeth, and the partiicpation of Beata's students Berci and Balint helped everyone understand where they were that little bit more.
Nem tudok magyaru
Cllr Smedley on the other hand was off to Prague and decided to save his last 2 euros by walking 4km to the Meidling train station then get himself a nice cup of coffee. Which he did. And then proceeded to spill all over himself.