Kirkwood Travels

Joined May 2018Living in: Kettering, United Kingdom
  • Day35

    And We're Home!

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 73 °F

    31 hours; the final 7 hours and 40 minutes was Dover to Northampton?!?!

    Equipment Van is now only 5 mins away, coaches 1 and 2 are away and we have said our(tearful in some cases) goodbyes to the wonderful students, you are all just amazing!!

    Have a lovely evening, spot the picture of the one student who forgot to take their bag with them and had to come back...!!Read more

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  • Day35

    Farewell Mr Spinner

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 82 °F

    We are still battling our way up from Dover to NMPAT! Isn't it typical that in a tour of over 2000 miles it's the last 150 or so that are taking the longest to cover? At one stage it took us over an hour to cover about 200 metres!

    The students and I have all mentioned how amazing the staff are, and the delays have forced Mr Spinner into an emergency re-think of holiday plans! Initially an eta of between 12.00-14.00 would have given Jon plenty of time to get home, sort things out and head off with his family to the Isle of Wight; however the ever moving final arrival time has meant that he left the tour party at South Mimms services in order to walk to Potter's Bar to get onto the tube/rail system and meet up with his family who have already set off from Northampton!?! There is nothing that fazes this man (well maybe Richad Roper's jokes?) and so it was that he collected his suitcase and other bags and we wished him a very safe onwards journey, not before Michael and Emma had got the obligatory 'team viola' shot!

    Thank you for all of your help on the tour Jon, and we wish you a very well deserved holiday!
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  • Day35

    Student Blog - Rachel & Michael

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    Not going to lie but we really struggled to put into words everything we could possibly want to say about teachers, friends and experiences as there is just so much to be thankful for but such little time to express our gratitude. But we’ll try for you...

    Between the two of us we’ve had the pleasure of being part of the NMPAT orchestral family for 15 years and another 6 years of music centres prior to that (shout out to Welly centre)!

    This past week has been a perfect end to a phenomenal lifetime spent in the NMPAT community but obviously it wouldn’t be a tour without a few stories worth sharing.

    Rachel - It began by being labelled as ‘the one that spread her cold through the bus’ and ended with Mrs Malitskie, Mr Spinner and Hannah Allen walking a 40 minute round trip back to my hotel room after I’d thrown away my contact lenses before a concert and didn’t have my glasses with me (thanks Courtney for lending me your glasses for the first half) This definitely shows that we do not deserve the kind staff that we are blessed with. Just one highlight of the tour for me was playing with my quartet outside the Archbishop’s Palace - our first concert venue, because it further validated that chamber music is the way forward for me.

    Going from the youngest member of the orchestra on my first tour in 2014 to the oldest member this time means I had a completely different experience, despite most of the staff being on both! The tiny, reserved violinist I was then might have shown a smile at Kirkwood or Roper but the musician that they have helped make me today cracks jokes and throws shade like there’s no tomorrow, which I think shows some kind of growth in confidence (?) and for that I cannot thank them both enough. I could never begin to show my gratitude towards everyone individually because it would take so long, so please, all NMPAT staff, include yourselves in this - you have made me who I am today, and at the age of 19 this is who I will be for at least the start of my adult life. I am proud of who I have become thanks to you, and I wish for everyone making their way through the county system to feel the same pride to be a part of the best family around.

    Michael - After an incredible first concert, I had a minor wardrobe malfunction for the second. I accidentally left my concert gear in my hotel room. I noticed 45 mins before the concert and I broke down... but miss Kelly calmed a panicked Michael and told me she’d sort it. After a coach driver looked and Sonia walked to the bus and thoroughly searched she quickly gave me her tour top (as it was tour top concert day) and we searched for some black trousers. *here enters Amy Dolphin* ‘You can wear my culottes if you want’. DAMN I looked good and they were so comfy but the very short length of the trouser was concerning so I ended up with Josh’s trousers he’d worn that day (thx bby). So thanks for everyone for saving my bacon.

    I have one particular moment that made this tour for me. We’d taken an hour boat to Devin Castle and had some time to wander and explore. We’d found a small set of stairs that lead down to the riverbank and I just sat. The quiet was a beautiful contrast to the exciting but loud previous few days and I really needed that time to think. I sat there looking back at everything I have achieved over the past 10 years and how the nurturing and loving nature of all the NMPAT staff have made me proud to be a musician and I feel that I’ve blossomed into a proud and confident person who is comfortable and accepting of myself, where as a few years ago this was not the case. As Beth has always said, being happy all the time is harmful so being sad makes the happy times better and this message has stuck with me. As Rachel said, this has set me up to go into a new chapter of my life full of pride and maturity that could only have been created through the devoted family NMPAT create.

    From the both of us we’d just like to say...
    NMPAT doesn’t stop when you leave, it’s not a hobby that you just drop after A levels and it’s definitely not something that you’ll just forget about. It’s a community, a safe place and the biggest family you could imagine. You are encouraged to thrive and grow into the best version of yourself and for that we eternally thank each and every member of both staff and students.

    Peace out ✌

    Rach n Michael
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  • Day35

    Student Blog - Ellie Holmes

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    Personally, this is going to be such a great year to remember!
    Starting right at the beginning of September with meeting new county friends in CYO, CYCB and the County Clarinet Choir! NMPAT is so important for everyone to be a part of!
    The number of Tuesday night meltdowns I have had, with Mr K there giving his expert counselling advice (he could easily be a psychiatrist), I can’t count on two hands! But I think I can safely say I, and many others can’t thank NMPAT and its unbelievably supportive staff enough for providing us with a well needed, and enjoyable escape from all the stressful things that worry us!

    I’m sure all of the students can also not thank NMPAT enough for all the opportunities they provide us with! Not forgetting NENE! (pronounced ‘nen’ - like pen). Performing alongside the rest of the orchestra, CYCh and various other school choirs in the ROYAL ALBERT HALL and Peterborough Cathedral is a memory many of us will never forget!
    Other opportunities I have been provided with this year include being conducted by a world renowned conductor Antonio Pappano, playing in the MFY festival for all 3 three groups, and getting through to the Birmingham stage ONCE AGAIN with the county clarinet choir! And for ALMOST playing in Manchester with CYCB and Big Band (is it still too soon?) which was a great experience!! can you believe no one played any wrong notes?! but then again we didn’t play any notes at all...

    Finishing the year off with an unforgettable tour just sums up what NMPAT can do for you (and to you!) (at least the coaches turned up this time!!) I am SO looking forward to making my Czech Republic and Slovakia section of my scrap book when I get home! (in about 6 weeks time at this rate! not 1 o’clock - sorry mum! :/ )This tour has also excited me for next year's tour to Poland with CYCB (assuming I am still good enough to be there!)

    A massive THANK YOU goes out to ALL the NMPAT staff who came on tour with us! (Mr Kirkwood, Mr Roper, Mr Green (even if it was for one day!) Beth, Mr Hiscock, Mrs Malitskie, Mr Spinner, Miss Allen, Mr Taylor, Miss Mcrimmon, Mr Draper, Mr Butler, and even Mr Smalley (who joined us for the last couple of days!) and all the other staff that helped with any preparation of the tour. Also my parents and teachers for being my taxi drivers for the year! (however I can relieve you from your duties now! 🚗💨 *beep beep*).

    Thanks NMPAT for a great musical year!!
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  • Day35

    Staff Blog - Beth Hodgson

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 86 °F

    Blog post:

    With the 2017/2018 NMPAT year coming to an end, a tour for both the CYO and CYCH seems a fitting way to finish. Both groups have excelled themselves this year through rehearsals, performances and multiple world premieres.

    Coming on tour is both exhausting and exhilarating for staff and students alike. Travelling on the coach is not a pleasant way to cross Europe and at the end of the journey over 130 people must all find the energy to check in to a hotel quickly and quietly.

    From that moment however the true professionalism of our students was apparent. Every concert, coach journey and mass meal has seen them come together full of fun and class...(Mostly!)

    Directing the choir is the highlight of my week and year. We instinctively know each other’s highs and lows and I am incredibly proud to know and help them perform to the standard they have this week. They help me ground myself in the most important aspect of our roles at NMPAT: our students Music making with a little love and joy mixed in.

    To all the leavers of 2018, find your happy place wherever life takes you. To our returning members, enjoy your rest... NMPAT’s 50th Birthday awaits!

    With my thanks, Beth.
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  • Day35

    Staff Blog - Sonia Kelly

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    It's been an amazing tour and it's been a privilege to spend the last week with amazing students and fantastic colleagues.
    There have been many highlights and surprises along the way....great concert venues, astounding performances by both groups and lots of laughs.
    One lasting impression of room checks would have to be Sejal and Lucy Ellen greeting me with smiling faces.....
    Something that I thought I'd never see in my time at NMPAT, Mr Roper channelling his inner diva with sparkles and Pitch Perfect! Who would have known that this macho Yorkshire man had it in him.
    To all the amazing students that are continuing their journey...be bold, be brave, be proud and always know that we are your family and go out and chase your dreams.
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  • Day35

    On the ferry!

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    Well we made it to the ferry!

    It was a really difficult night with the air-con on coach 2 failing for several hours - it needed a "master reset" on one of our stops before it managed to get going again. We also have a few students (staff too) who are coming down with a mixture of food poisoning, heatstroke and general illness-through-exhaustion but they are all muddling through so we will make it got the end relatively unscathed!

    Our ferry got into Dover at 10.25 UK time and we are hoping to go straight through to NMPAT; fingers crossed for an eta between 14.00 - 15.00 but check the Facebook page for updates too.
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  • Day35

    Staff Blog - Andy Kirkwood

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

    I have been trying to remember how many NMPAT tours I have been on and I have worked out that it's eight!

    Of the previous seven there are always special moments and particular things unique to each trip that help you remember the tours with great affection:

    2005 - CYCB & CYBB Italy
    Three weeks before my wedding day!?!
    Lots of laughs with Mr Green and Mr Bickerdike.
    Massed water polo matches in the pool.
    Terrible chat up lines from the CYCB alto clarinet player to a school group from Italy - he told them he was "in a band"; they asked "what do you play?"; he replied "lead guitar"!?! 😒

    2007 - CYCB & CYBB Poland
    Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain Potholes Backpain
    Beautiful church concerts

    2009 - CYCB & CYBB Hungary
    Two students having to return early due to illness - think it was swine flu?! Dealing with projectile vomit in concourse of Budapest airport. 
    Terrifying 2am trip to A&E with a brass player (it had to be a brass player...) to get stitches in a deep cut from a broken window?!  Our taxi driver knew no English, and my Hungarian is non-existent!
    An unbelievable storm, with branches from trees in hotel grounds being blown off!

    2011 - CYCB & CYBB Germany
    Serious one here - sitting with a student when we had to break the news that his dad had sadly passed away whilst we were on the tour and trying to offer any form of comfort to him...

    2012 - CYO Italy
    Peter Dunkley's final tour - Scheherezade - lake Como
    Van driving fun and games with Mr Green

    2014 - CYO Germany
    Nerves! First time organising a tour with Richard Roper
    Dresden (beautiful city!)

    2016 - CYO & CYCh Spain
    Nerves!
    Van driving fun and games with Mr Draper
    Burgos and Salamanca (both beautiful cities)
    Students looking after my children's two Beanie Babies and blogging with them!

    However the one thing common to every NMPAT tour is the unbelievably high musical standards achieved by the students taking part and this tour has been no exception! Both CYO and CYCh have performed to levels that are way beyond their years.  It has been an absolute pleasure to have supported them during our time here and to have listened to every concert and witness the reactions from the audiences (and the students) to the music that they created.  It has been wonderful so thank you very much to every student!!

    When an academic year finishes and we inevitably lose our Y13s it is easy to panic and think that things will never be the same and that we may not reach the same performance levels in the future.  But it is a testament to the tiered system that we operate throughout the Trust that as our much-loved and valued 'oldies' depart, there are younger players who have been looking up to them and admiring what they have achieved who will step up to the plate and "fill the shoes"...and so the cycle will begin again in September.

    So for those who are leaving we did share their tears on Wednesday evening because for many of them their journey with NMPAT has been a long one, and the memories and friendships they have made along the way will help to shape them into the adults they will become: that is one of the enduring beauties of music (and why it must be supported in schools) -- it is a subject that deals in "We"; in collective effort, sharing, supporting, empathy...basically lots of the qualities that make people nice and make life better for everyone!

    And for those of you who are not leaving us just yet, I hope that the memories and friendships you have made on this tour can be used positively to inspire you to even bigger and better things in 2018/19 - the future of NMPAT is in your hands!

    I must point out, thank and congratulate Richard, Beth and Tim for the stellar work that they have done all year with these two groups; they have been superb directors for the choir and orchestra and the students have been fortunate to have such high quality musicians and educators to work with them each week, seriously well done guys!

    My final, and I think special, thanks must go to rest of the tour staff and my amazing and wonderful colleagues - Hannah, Matt, John, Chris, Andy, Sonia, Corinne, Meghan, Jon and Adrian.

    Without their agreement to give up nine days of their time, have next to no sleep, deal with 119 teenagers (and the associated needs that come with them!), 3 conductors (and the associated needs that come with them 😂😂😂!!) and put up with a neurotic, nervy, stressy (and at times disorganised) mess that has been me on this tour then it simply would not have been possible!

    On behalf of all of the students (and their parents back in the UK) and conductors I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to you for your support throughout the tour, you have been brilliant!👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

    Best wishes for a lovely summer holidays, I look forward to seeing some of you around NMPAT in the new year, and to those moving on good luck and I hope to hear great things about your future journeys, you're all wonderful people!

    That's it from me, looking forward to seeing my wife and my boys very soon!  Xxxx
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  • Day35

    Quiz Result

    July 27, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    So as you've all been aware we have been running a quiz throughout the tour and there have been a few teams attempting to bribe/cheat their way to victory which was lovely to see and be part of!!

    However there has been one team who went above and beyond the call of duty. This team showed a real dedication to obtaining the answers, with bribes-a-plenty and subtle (sometimes!?!) questioning of the staff, they even had a spreadsheet to keep their answers on for goodness' sake!

    So huge congratulations to Luke, Jess, Agatha, Emily, Ethan, Ilana and Keren with a magnificent 323/420! This equates to 77% which we have been reliably informed is a Level 7 or maybe even a Level 8?!?!

    Just so you can cross-reference we have attached our answers!
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  • Day35

    Final 'Gallery' of tour

    July 27, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    So there really could only be one set of photos to finish our 'gallery' sessions on tour! Apologies to coach 2 but obviously I could only 'snap the sleepers' on my own coach; I would imagine the picture was very similar though!

    Music on class, then you can begin!

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