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Full of beans

14 April, 2016

Thanks to Kate for being our blogger in Brattleboro. 

Having breakfasted heartily we loaded into two large people-carriers for the short journey to Brattleboro, Vermont. Fitting six people and six large suitcases into the cars was, as usual, something of an initiative test, but eventually we managed to fit everything in.

The day was cold but sunny, and the drive from New Hampshire to Vermont was one of the most beautiful we have done. Leaving Concord, we were almost immediately in stunning rolling countryside, with dense forest and picturesque lakes and streams. With such scenery to gaze at, the journey passed in a flash and we arrived in Brattleboro just as stomachs started to rumble. We had agreed to meet at an organic, vegetarian restaurant, the suggestion being greeted with surprising unanimous enthusiasm. Clearly even the most ardent carnivores felt it was time to take a break from the all-American diet. The six of us in my car arrived after the others and as we walked down the hill towards the restaurant we were met by Tom, our resident Australian, coming the other way with a face like thunder. Expressions of concern were met with two words, spoken with disgust: “it’s vegan”. He stomped off in search of a burger. Not only was the restaurant no-meat, it was also no-eggs, no-dairy, and only uncooked food! The rest of the group decided to brave it; Eleanor, who is vegetarian, was particularly excited. The general group write-up was warmly enthusiastic although the jury is out on how successful the “mylk” and “cheeze”(sic) are… Just to prove that we really did go to a vegan restaurant (and I haven’t just made it up to keep my mum happy), here is a photo of Will’s lunch.

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After lunch we had a little time to see the delights of Brattleboro – a charming town, full of antique shops, bookshops and cafes, with posters and bumper stickers expressing support for Bernie Sanders displayed everywhere. The concert was in a pretty church with a nice, warm acoustic. After 5pm the back rooms of the church are used as a homeless shelter, which made for some unexpected ‘noises off’ during the concert.

This was the second performance on the trip of Sacred or Profane. The audience were particularly appreciative, and the performance felt like we were really starting to hit our stride. The programme contains a good proportion of pieces with reduced forces and it was a real joy for us all to get a chance to listen to each other. The dramatic La Guerre, the virtuosic Monteverdi sacred madrigals, and the beautifully mournful Mort et fortune were real highlights, especially with everyone on such good vocal form. Maybe there really is something in the vegan diet!

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After a quick post-concert drink we were on the road to our hotel. The Whetstone Inn is a stunning 18th century bed-and-breakfast style place in Vermont, as far from hotels like the airport Ramada in Seattle as it is possible to get. I had previously stayed there on tour in October 2013, but that time I had been travelling with my four-month old son. I was looking forward to enjoying the homely hospitality of the Whetstone without the hourly interruptions of a small baby! It was incredibly quiet, apart from the occasional sounds from the woods outside, including a particularly persistent woodpecker.

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Breakfast the next morning was the best we have had on this trip and that, combined with another beautifully clear, crisp day, made for a group in high spirits as we loaded once more into the cars. We are bound now for Houston in Texas, which I suspect will feel a world away from the rural delights of Vermont and New Hampshire. And I think we are unlikely to encounter a vegan restaurant there, so Tom can rest secure in the knowledge that his daily meat quota will be easily fulfilled…