At Aberdeen airport we sat together to decide which workshops we wanted to be in. There was a lot of choice and it took a while to find something we could all enjoy. From Amsterdam we took the high speed train to Brussels (which unfortunately could not go high speed after Rotterdam because of high winds). From there we made our way up and down many (not always functioning) escalators, dragging heavy suitcases, to the first youth hostel. The next day we dragged ourselves (same story) to the next hostel and made our way to the Bozar (Centre of Fine Arts) where the conference took place. After standing in several confusing queues we had a hat, biro, name-badge, programme booklet and a conference bag to put it all in.
In the opening session we learned that the conference was about Social Arts: creating a piece of art with all the people present. One of the participants named Jeroen (from the Netherlands) introduced a special conference song which he had composed. We heard and sang this song throughout the conference. After that we went to our chosen singing workshop with Eva, an excellent singing teacher. Marjan and she were talking a lot of Double Dutch together. Meals and tea-breaks were delicious, but it wasn’t always clear where you had to queue or where you could sit to eat it. Many people ended up sitting on the stairs. We wondered what our Health and Safety group would have to say about that!
Both afternoons we went on sightseeing tours in Brussels. We saw the Atomium, an enormous metal structure depicting an atom. This was built in 1958 for the Expo in Brussels.
We saw the impressive buildings of the European parliament. We went to “Manneke Pis”, a lovely little statue of a naked boy peeing in the pond (it would never have been allowed in Britain). We saw the “Basiliek” a beautiful Art deco structure which is also the 5th largest church in the whole world. We also saw the most delicious chocolate shops. Some of us where drooling in front of the windows. Some of us got extremely annoyed because they kept on going on about chocolate (better not to mention any names).
The first evening we had a lovely concert performed by a huge orchestra. The second night we made an early escape because by then we were in dire need of a shower and an early night. The last night we listened to the excellent brass band from Lautenbach and some of us danced the night away whereas others didn’t really like the music and would have left early if they had been given a choice. The last morning all groups presented what they had done. Some of us where singing on the stage. We also heard Russian music.
During the conference we met lots of different people from Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, America and even from Thailand and Brazil. We admired all the people who could translate everything that was said in Dutch, German, English and French. We thought the conference was very enjoyable, the food was great and it was lovely to meet new people and even some old friends.
We were asked if we could possibly organise the next conference in 2018 or 2019 in Scotland. It would be a big task because between 500 and 700 people would attend. We said we would discuss it at home. The people from Garvald were also interested - so we would not have to do it on our own. So please let us know what you think of this idea. It could be very interesting and exciting!