RLPO – Czech Tour 2015 Day Two – Prague Spring Festival – Opening Concert

The view from my hotel room. One of the many stunning buildings  in the area.

The view from my hotel room. One of the many stunning buildings in the area.

The sun is out and shining bright on day two of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic tour. I think I’ll walk in to work today!

Public transport in Prague

Public transport in Prague

The Hotel Mozartava is just by Mozart Villa. The villa is now a museum dedicated to the visits of Mozart to the Dusek family and is now a popular tourist attraction. unnamed-3The walk over the Vltava/Moldau River into the Old Town takes about thirty minutes and in this glorious sunshine is a real pleasure.unnamed-2


The river itself is also a joy on such a nice day, the subject of many spectacular picture post cards.

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RLPO – Czech Republic 2015 Day One – Prague Spring Festival- A Free Evening!


Left – extra percussionist Richard Winter, Centre -Principal Percussion Graham Johns and Right, first violin David Whitehead, waiting for the coach to leave The Friary (our RLPO rehearsal facility) on the way to Manchester Airport.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra set off at midday today for the first part of our June 2015 Tour to the Czech Republic. We had been frequent visitors to this most beautiful and friendly country over the years, including being the first non-Czech orchestra to open the Spring Festival in Prague in 1993. On this occasion we would be performing two concerts in Prague to close the Spring Festival and a performance in Ostrava for the Interbnational Music Festival.


On arrival at Manchester Airport Terminal One, I was interested to see one of the famous Czech beers on offer. Well, for research purposes it would be churlish not to try one for comparison in Prague later! unnamed-4

The heavy brass plus Principal Viola Vicci Wardman awaiting the  announcement to board our Jet.2 plane to Prague.unnamed-6This is the RLPO waiting to board the plane to the Czech Republic. You can see the tall figure of Vasily Petrenko queuing with the rest of the orchestra.unnamed-1

Here’s our plane to Prague and once on board we soon set off.unnamed-8

We arrived at Vaclav Havel Airport at something about 6.30pm and set off  for our accomodation for the next three nights, the Hotel Mozartova, on the very beautiful Castle side of the Moldau/Vltava river. Well, we had an evening off, so once settled into the hotel the whole brass section descended on a nearby restaurant to eat various local pork and dumpling dishes.

The heavy brass section

The heavy brass section – from left: Me!, Simon Cowen, Dave Hooper, Rory Cartmell, Simon Powell, Simon Chappell, Paul Marsden and Robin Haggart

Many of the other sections of the RLPO were had also found their way to the same eaterie.

The RLPO First violins

The RLPO First violins




So, for our free evening in Prague, the trumpet section decided to head over the other side of the river to enjoy some famous Czech beers and to take in the stunning, historic architecture that make Prague one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. Our first stop was the famous beer hall and restaurant u Medviku. We had been to this historic hostelry on many a previous occasion.unnamed-1

u Medvidku brews it’s own beer on the premises and we decided to go for a popular mix of light and dark beer as many of the locals choose.u-medvidku

Paul Marsden and Dave Hooper - 2nd and third trumpets enjoying the beer brewed on the premises at u Medvidku

Paul Marsden and Dave Hooper – 2nd and third trumpets enjoying the beer brewed on the premises at u Medvidku

Having quenched our thirst it was off to see the city. There is so much to see! It was a shame my camera died on me, otherwise I have many more photos to show of a spectacular journey, on foot through the winding, ancient streets of Prague. Our first destination was the incredible Old Town Square to see the Tyn Church and Astronomical Clock.unnamed-10This part of Prague is always bustling with tourists, no matter what time of day or night. Many of the artisan bakeries, bars and restaurants stay open well into the night. As do the absinthe bars and marijuana beer bars. Yes, that is marijuana infused beer…_MG_8532_peThe Tyn Church provides one of the most spectacular views of the city, even in such a scenic place as Prague.unnamed-8I always enjoy the sight of the Anatomical Clock. During the day there is also a live trumpet fanfare before the clock chines and the mechanical figures appear. A large crowd always gathers to see the movements of the clock whether it is day or night time.charles_bridge_at_night_by_pingallery-d4p865m-1

After the ‘clock show’ at eleven pm we ambled down to the river to see the glorious view of the Charles Bridge at nighttime.

The Charles Bridge, Prague, at night.

The Charles Bridge, Prague, at night.

From the Charles Bridge we enjoyed views of St. Vitus’ Cathedral and Prague Castle. Prague-Castle-at-Night-Czech-Republic-1Also to be enjoyed from by the Charles Bridge is the Rudolfinum, or Dvorak Hall, the home of the famous Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Rudolfinum, or Dvorak Hall - home of the Czech Philharmonic

The Rudolfinum, or Dvorak Hall – home of the Czech Philharmonic

That was enough sight-seeing for one night. We had endured a long day of travel before this substantial look around town. As pleasurable as the jaunt was we have to rehearse and give our first import concert of Janacek, Berg and Elgar tomorrow.

We have the morning and early afternoon free tomorrow, so who knows what we will have to show you (camera phone willing!).

Night all.





Click here to check out the previous time the RLPO visited Prague

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RLPO – Czech Republic Tour – June 2015 – Preparing To Go!

This is my last day at home before the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra set off on tour to the Czech Republic tomorrow lunchtime. The RLPO have enjoyed two Czech Chief Conductors, Libor Pesek and Petr Altrichter, so as a result we have been regular visitors to that stunningly beautiful part of the world.




The RLPO lorry loading up to set off for Prague.

We will be spending the first three nights in Prague before travelling to the home town of Leos Janacek, Ostrava, for one night.

The orchestra will be conducted by Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko and will be offering two cracking programmes in Prague…

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Chat Brass – We’ve Been At It Again!

About four times a year, in the region of Chat Moss, Leigh and Wigan a calling occurs. Something is in the water, there is a crackle in the air and those who are affected receive both an urge and  inspiration through their bones, then begin to find themselves drawn without any apparent choice; converging to play for the amazing Chat Brass Band. Here is the photographic evidence…11206541_10153319209334282_4644167562184357692_o-1

Chat Brass is so named because it gave the first performance in The Chat Moss Hotel, in Chat Moss. Chat Moss is best known for being the place where Milliam Husskisson, the MP for Liverpool was run over on the maiden journey of Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ and so became the world’s first ever railway victim!

It is 12 months since Chat Brass got together and gave a concert in St. Joseph’s church. A certain amount of success was achieved one that occasion. This year we were giving another concert in St. Joseph’s Hall on Chapel Street on Monday 25th May at 2:30.

We do this on a voluntary basis and any monies made at this event go to the upkeep of St. Joseph’s Hall. A venue that is used by many local people.


St. Joseph’s Church Hall, Leigh.

Chat Brass have no set musical philosophy or pre-determined musical genre. We are brass players from far, wide and various backgrounds who are motivated by a desire to take on the classics of the genre to the highest standards and play with a smile. We never rehearse, we just all convene and perform concerts.

The group grew out of a desire to play serious music three years ago and such was the success the group has attracted a growing number of players from the professional sector, military and famous brass bands to get together, playing great, ambitious programmes, display technical wizardry and discerning musicianship for their own and the audiences delectation.

It is also a good laugh!

The voice of Classic fm, John Suchet likes to join Chat Brass when his schedule allows.

The voice of Classic fm, John Suchet likes to join Chat Brass whenever his busy schedule allows.

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Another Use For The Tuba!


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The Urban Farm – May 24th – 2015

IMG_6621Well, it is the merry month of May and that exciting time of the year when things start to really happen for the vegetable gardener. There has not been much happening over the Winter months but I have been cleaning my front and back yards and I have built a new raised vegetable bed and changed all the soil/compost in all the containers.


Apart from the raised bed, I am entirely a container gardener these days. Both my front and back yards are to hardstanding. I don’t regard this as a disadvantage at all. I maximise all the space and it is surprising how much produce I get. All this, and my urban farm has to function as an aesthetic garden, social area and a clothes drying area, too.

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How To Grow Onions in the Comfort Of Your Own Kitchen…

I have to be efficient with the way I produce vegetables in my back yard. I am very compressed for space, so I tend to use hanging baskets, the garden wall, large containers and I grow vertically quite a lot. This year, I was bemoaning the fact that I never bother growing onions because I don’t have room when I saw this neat little idea doing the rounds on social media.

Growing onions vertically!

How To Easily Grow A Supply Of Onions Indoors

Who wants to eat organic home grown food? And the best way would be if you could grow them yourselves. That way you’ll always know what you eat and it cannot get any fresher than picking it up from your window and straight on the table.

Here is how to grow your own organic onions in the comfort of your home or perhaps the greenhouse, if you are luck enough to have one. The best thing about it is that it grows by the  window, no need for an outdoor garden or any special conditions. Check it out.

The idea is to keep cutting the green ‘chives’ or stalks to use for cooking and salads and to treat the plant as a cut and come again vegetable. They will be nice and delicately flavoured when reaching about six inches long. For a stronger flavour, allow the green shoots to simply mature for longer.

Personally, when the onions get too big, I will probably empty the jar, use the bulbs for cooking in the usual way (before the onions go soft and off), and start again.

how to grow onions indoor

What You Need

  • 5 L plastic bottle
  • pair of scissors
  • onion bulbs
  • soil
  • water


Start by cutting the neck off the plastic bottle. You can tape the neck back on later, like I have, if you wish.


Cut some holes in it, with the scissors. The holes should be big enough to push the onion ‘sets’ through, if that is one of the two suggested methods you choose.


Put layers of soil and sprouts, adding them until the bottle is full. Or, fill the bottle with soil, compress it down a bit , then poke the onion sets through the holes.

unnamed-12Both ways apparently work just fine.

As I already mentioned, you can add the neck back on (simply tape it around) or leave it like that.

grow onions indoor

Water the soil and set it on your windowsill/greenhouse worktop.


In no time, onions will sprout out the bulbs, you can watch them grow, and eventually flavour your dishes with them.

The varieties I have used for this tidy little experiment are Sturon, Stutgarter Giant and a red one called Karmen.

Don’t forget to water them regularly!


Source: OrganicHealth.co



– Buy one clump of spring onions at the store.

-Use your green onion as you normally would, but reserve the roots and keep at least one to two inches of the white bulb intact.

-Place the rooted bulbs in a glass with water by a window.

-In just a couple of days, the green stalks will start growing back.

-In about a week, you’ll be able to use them again.

Just be sure to change the water ever couple of days and rinse the bulbs.

unnamed-13I also managed to set aside a little time to get some pickles on the go, this week.  Shop bought free range eggs (30 of them!) and a large bag of supermarket ‘hot’ chillies. Two jars of Sarsons pre-spiced Pickling Vinegar. I added some dried, crushed chillies to the eggs, some peppercorns, two teaspoons of sugar two tea spoons of salt and a sprinkling of dried herbs. To the jar of pickled chillies I added two teaspoons of sugar, two teaspoons of salt, some mustard seeds and peppercorns. I’ll start those in a about a month. Of course, when my own chilli chilli plants are producing later in the Summer, I will be drying, freezing and pickling them, too.


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More Trombone Humour!

 By Ricky O’Bannon
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Musical Humour…


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Trombone Humour…


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