The LSO has a new Discovery (education) project as part of our residency with the festival in Aix en Provence involving four players visiting a few times over the next couple of months, and culminating in July when the whole orchestra will go out and give two concerts. We are coaching the Aix youth orchestra, creating a film music project with a community group and a collaboration with Cité de la Musique Marseille.
If this was a normal travel day I would have left the house at 11am, taken the train to Gatwick and could have been sitting down to Steak Frites and a glass of wine in Aix by 6pm. Plenty of time to unwind before we start working tomorrow morning.
Well of course things often aren’t so simple and the real reason I’m writing this is that our flight has been cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano. In true LSO style the show must go on, and so Craig Thorne (Discovery Projects manager now turned chauffeur and group nanny) spent yesterday afternoon working on plan B.
So I guess you maybe wondering what plan B is? I bet you are thinking – how will they get from London to the south of France without a plane? Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Aix. Well that’s what I thought too… But unfortunately both trains were fully booked!
So with a stroke of genius Craig devised plan C… Gradually the idea of an early evening dinner in Aix was slipping away into the smoke and Ash. Plan C was complicated and only a super human project manager could have even dreamt it up. Craig gave us our new itinerary and we met at Ashford International at 11 am. He had hired a large people carrier at 7 am and despite an early sat nav problem (involving driving the wrong way around the M25 [hope not literally on the wrong side of the carriageway! - Ed]) we eventually met Paul Milner (bass trombone) at the glamorous Thurrock services. Everything was going smoothly now and Ginette, Joost and I hopped into the back of the car and off we set.
I started getting quite concerned when the Sat Nav started barking orders at Craig whilst he talked to our contact in Aix about whether we would make it in time before the hotel reception closes at 11.30pm – and that was an optimistic estimate!! What had we let ourselves in for???
It was only 10 miles to the channel tunnel and I was quite excited about putting the car on the train and going under the sea. Luckily we had bought a Flexi plus ticket which meant we could get any train and jumped all of the queues, fantastic. I highly recommend this to anyone who reads this and fancies taking on this journey themselves!!
We made it through the tunnel and hit the Autoroute. Spirits were high and Ginette got stuck into a copy of Marie Claire. Joost read the Guardian and gave us detailed information about the Volcano (thanks, but a bit late Joost!!).
We were not even half way to Paris when the Craig decided it was time for lunch. If I thought English service stations had a poor selection of food, I certainly wasn’t more impressed with this one. Clearly the Discovery department aren’t used to fine dining. After a basket full of biscuits, crisps and baguettes we hit the road again with Sat Nav kindly letting us know we still had 600 miles to go…