Songs and Scones at Stourhead
Songs and Scones : Stourhead 2017
What a delightful experience : Stourhead on a beautiful autumn day, with the sun shining and lots of visitors to enjoy our singing.
Saturday 23rd of September, the coach takes us up the arterial road for which we are named and pulls into the car park near the visitors centre at Stourhead. Time for a quick coffee before going through the National Trust’s entrance and down the slope to the Spreadeagle, the first of three venues!
We assemble in the courtyard of the Spreadeagle Tavern, sort out music and positions and erect the Harmony 303 banner, a splash of blue against the red of the old bricks, and the golds and browns of the just turning leaves.
We were ready! Caroline called us to order and our singing could begin. With her customary energy Caroline led us in renditions of some of our favourite songs. A delightful welcome to visitors as they came through the arch into the courtyard on their way to the lake and gardens. And they stopped, listened and enjoyed if we can judge by their faces and applause.
On to the second venue, less enclosed, more open to wind and movement, the café our backdrop. We sing a couple of songs (enjoyed by the passing audience as much as the free samples of cider and cheese from the farmshop). How lovely for the visitors to sit enjoying the sun and listening to us sing.
As one of our new songs says “It’s looking like a beautiful day”, rich colours of changing leaves, lots of people to sing for, and some of our favourite songs – Bele Mama, Every Voice Shall Sing, Mingulay Boatsong – Basses with great gusto!, New Jerusalem , Alleluia!Then picnics and lunch for us – chatter and laughter with each other and with the other visitors.
Come on, we’re not finished yet! Off we go across the valley and up to the House itself, right in front of the sweeping steps and columns. Now we have the view, out across Dorset to Shaftesbury and beyond. But no dreaming there, Caroline as ever is still full of energy, and where she leads…
This is a great spot to sing. Somehow the building holds and offers the sound to the audience, who are now behind and above as well as in front. Each venue has been different from the others, each with its own ambiance and of its own ‘promenade’ audience. And here in front of aristocratic splendour, worthy of Harmony 303, members of the audience say “Best performance yet! Well done!” A splendid finale to a joyous day out!
Time for tea and a chance to relax and savour the delicious scones offered free by the National Trust as a “thank you” for coming to sing. “Oh but, by the way, you’ll have to pay if you want cream and maybe jam”!
A day with so many lovely memories!