Our last full day was a perfect compromise between relaxing and celebratory. After a blessedly late morning, we all met outside our hotel to commence the walk to Inveraray Castle. Alex showed us a shortcut through town that brought us to the castle in about 20 minutes. Of course, we enjoyed another beautiful day as we passed through the quaint streets of Inveraray. The castle was quite a sight! Many of us compared it to a typical “princess castle” that you might see in a little girl’s bedroom. It was what childhood dreams are made of!
The surprising thing about Inveraray Castle is that actual normal people live there! The Duke of Argyll and his family live there, and the castle displayed many photos of the family doing normal family things, just coincidentally in their castle home. Not a bad gig. The castle has seen an increase of tourism since it was featured in Downton Abbey in 2012. The DA fans in the group were giddy with excitement to see stills from the show featured around the castle.
We toured the rooms of the castle, which were absolutely stunning and full of surprises. The main room was called the Armory, which artfully displayed more weapons than you could count. We saw the magnificent Dining Room and the enormous Kitchen in the basement. We also learned that the Duke is a champ at elephant polo, which is exactly what it sounds like.
After the visit to Inveraray Castle and its beautiful gardens, we were free for the rest of the afternoon. Most of us chose to peruse the cute shops in the town and look for some final souvenirs. The remainder of the day was a combination of napping, drinking, and swimming (most in the pool, but some even braved the Loch!) The drinking may have led to a sock puppet performance of some of our repertoire… More on that later 😉
At 6 pm we walked through town to head to All Saints Church for our rehearsal, this time wearing our concert attire and getting a few looks. The church is a tiny, old stone building that is very bare bones. Luckily, the stone kept the place rather cool, although it didn’t keep the midgies out! The real draw to the church is the giant bell tower next door, which contains one of the largest peals of bells in the world.
We weren’t sure how many people to expect at our concert that evening, but we ended up attracting a mix of locals and tourists (some of whom we met at the hotel). Since it was our last concert, we had a little fun to celebrate. Vikki had the ingenious idea for us all to wear argyle socks (partly in honor of the aforementioned Duke of Argyll). We took many, many photos of us displaying our socks, and we all had a laugh about it during the concert. Frank was the star of the show for using a rented electric piano that was being a bit temperamental. Yet again, folks came up to us to say how we made them cry, especially during Auld Lang Syne. That one’s a tear-jerker!
After the concert, we headed back to the hotel for our farewell dinner. Dawn presented thank-you gifts to the incredible folks who made this tour happen: Deb and Alex. And Dawn unexpectedly received a gift of her own from the choir. It was a heartfelt evening as we all wrapped up to prepare for the long trip home the next day.
On Saturday, we all woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and head on the bus to Glasgow for our flights home. Despite delays and lost baggage, we all made it to Vermont safely.