( or Drystone Walling and the Dolomites )

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

Day 5. 26 June 2006

Sunday. Church bells and rucksack related aches and pains wake me improbably early. And I drift in and out of sleep to the chorus of birdsong. Following the manic bells of seven o’clock, the clouds sink lower and we get a thunderstorm over breakfast – and some more sedate church-calling bells. As we leave around eight-thirty for C. ra Cate where we leave the rust bucket of a van and walk the sometimes paved, sometimes gravel, seemingless endless track into the mountains.

As we reach the level of the scree the path levels out through an alpine meadow, and we arrive at the old sheep fold that is to be our first worksite. But we contine on a little further to C. ra Pian de la Stete, the site of a small mountain hut and the venue for the local amateur band’s – Chies d’Alpago Municiple Band – first outdoor concert with their new conductor, Deborah; recently returned from music college to lead the band in the town of her birth.

Part of me wishes that I had brought my piccolo, and eye up the large numbers of horns jealousy. The band is as diverse, if younger, as Abingdon Concert Band, and they play a similar repertoire. I think what such a very special location this is, and how you could never get my band to do something similar, not even if we did have a handy 1500 m (4000 ft) mountain to play on. With the sun shining, and walkers, out on the ridge beyond, we are treated to wind band classics and classical arrangements for band, including a very nice arrangement of Glen Miller’s Moonlight Serenade, and an energetic rendition of Mambo Number Five.

The concert concludes with a rousing encore and is folled by a barbeque lunch and party when the old men try to ply us with wine, and we have to decline with choruses of ‘non-permeso’; we will be working later and drinking on a workday invalidates BTCV insurance. That is, we are led to understand that work on the sheep fold will begin after lunch…

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